Moved To New State What To Do With Old Plates Recovering Files From SSD Drives

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Recovering Files From SSD Drives

There is a lot of conflicting information floating around about SSD recovery. The purpose of this article is an attempt to clarify what, when and how can be recovered in the very specific case of SSD drives.

Why are SSD drives different?

There is no doubt that solid state drives (SSDs) are very different compared to traditional hard disk drives (HDDs). The obvious part, of course, is the use of flash chips to hold information instead of spinning platters and moving heads as in traditional hard drives. But that’s not what makes them so alien to modern data recovery tools.

Your familiar USB flash drives and memory cards, such as those used in smartphones, digital cameras, MP3 players and e-book readers are also using flash chips to store information – but recovering deleted files from memory cards and USB drives is no different from recovering files from hard drives. So what sets SSDs apart isn’t the underlying technology, but something that runs on top of it.

SSD Data Recovery – The reason SSD drives are so unpredictable when it comes to data recovery is their background garbage collection and write leveling mechanisms combined with the existence (and operation) of the TRIM command. Without going into too much technical detail (hundreds of editions are available on those mechanisms), SSD continuous cleanup space marked as “available” via the TRIM command which is issued by the operating system whenever you, the operating system or an application deletes a file or formats the disk. The space marked as available will sooner or later be physically cleaned by the garbage collection mechanism running in the background. You can never predict when exactly the space occupied by a particular deleted file will be cleaned up. And the worst part is that you really can’t stop this from happening. Even if you remove the drive and put it in another computer, and even if you use a sophisticated “write-blocking” device, garbage collection will start regardless of when you activate the drive.

Hope

As you can see, the culprit here is the TRIM command that is issued at the time you delete a file. However, the TRIM command will not be issued if at least one of the following is true.

1. The operating system does not support TRIM. Windows Vista, XP and older do not! Only Windows 7 and above support and issue the TRIM command. So if your drive was used with Windows XP, Vista or an older system, you can forget about TRIM and just recover your files as if your SSD was a hard drive.

2. The file system is not NTFS. At this time, TRIM is only supported on NTFS drives. This is a limitation of the Windows operating system, but you can use it to your advantage. If the drive is formatted with FAT, you can safely recover deleted files.

3. The drive was not directly connected to SATA. TRIM is an ATA command, which means that if your drive was connected to your computer via a USB cable, or if it was used on a network attached storage (NAS) device, or if it was part of a RAID array, the TRIM command will not be issued.

4. TRIM was disabled in Windows settings. Yes, you can disable TRIM. This will significantly shorten the lifespan of your SSD and give you very slow write speeds very quickly, but sometimes you may have good reasons to disable TRIM.

Tools to recover files from SSD drives

To recover files from SSD drives, use the same file recovery (RS File Recovery) or data recovery (RS Partition Recovery, RS NTFS Recovery or RS FAT Recovery) tools as you do with hard drives. The only thing that is different: there is much less guarantee of success.

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