It's 2013 - but as I warned 6 years ago in
2007 (at the
bottom of this page) don't count on always being able to recover data from a
failed flash SSD. |
Warning to readers! Anyone can in a few hours
create a plausible looking website which claims their company can perform data
recovery on flash SSDs.
Many of the sites I've seen in this market
segment make claims which are unsupportable and few of the so-called SSD
recovery companies I've queried in this market have any clear idea of the
complexity of the task involved.
Many SSD failures are in fact
unrecoverable - because if the remapping tables get trashed - the media data is
effectively randomized - and mixed up with blocks which were marked as corrupted
and unusable even before the SSD failed. Worse still if the SSD is
advice at this stage in the
expansion is to look at data recovery information on your SSD vendor's
original site and (mostly) disregard any data recovery sites you may see which
have been in operation for less than 5 years. You can verify age and content
advice I can give is - do your best to minimize the risk of needing data
recovery in the first place.
Do regular backups - using
multiple backup media - onsite and offsite.
|flooded drives article
Editor:- November 12, 2012 - Sadly for all those
affected - one of the top 10 articles on the mouse site this month is a 5 years
old article -
Data from Drowned / Flooded Hard Drives which includes useful
counter-intuitive advice about what you should do to prevent making things
even worse before you contact any
data recovery companies.
If you know people affected - you may want to pass this on.
in 2-3 minds about data recovery and striking the right balance in giving this
On the one hand it seems ghoulish to give the
subject visibility which is timed to coincide with anticipated and actual
On the other hand the right knowledge and resources can be
helpful at a difficult time - so it would be perverse not to mention it.
on the 3rd other hand (apologies to those of you who saw my alpha centauri
feature a few weeeks ago - which is still lurking around somewhere low down
on the left hand side of the home page
- and who have come across this "last" other-hand before) - but
finally on the last of these other hands - most of you - who luckily aren't
in a dire data recovery needy situation right now - aren't interested in DR or
hard drives. That's why
getting the balance right is so tricky.
SSDs or hard drives? - the data forensics differences
October 23, 2012 - When you need to retrieve critical unbacked up data from a
damaged notebook (which you left in the car when you clambered out the
window after realizing that the puddle across the road was much deeper than you
first thought) you call the process "data recovery" - but
when a court seizes a suspect's notebook to try and retrieve data which may have
been deliberately "deleted" - they call it "data forensics"
- either way - in the most demanding cases the experts who work on these tasks
are the same.
SSD Data Recovery
(as opposed to dumb flash memory recovery) is a relatively new market which
didn't exist 5 years ago.
A recent article
SSD Drives Destroy Court Evidence - on a site called
ForensicFocus.com - discusses how
techniques which are essential to the operation of flash SSDs (such as
and wear leveling)
mean that from the forensic viewpoint SSDs yield up potentially much less
deliberately deleted recoverable data than hard drives.
adaptive R/W poses new complexities for independent SSD data
Editor:-October 22, 2012 - Earlier this year I wrote an
and DSP ECC flash techniques - an important new set of technologies working
its way into all SSD markets (except
The new technology can improve
flash SSDs - and adaptive R/W DSP techniques are an essential
prerequisitie for designing reliable TLC (x3) SSDs and all future generations of
One of the characteristics of adaptive DSP is that the ECC
coding and even the size of raw data blocks within the same SSD vary. But the
IP set - which lies behind these technologies is extremely valuable, tightly
controlled and the subject of hundreds of patents.
Where am I going
I think - at this time- data recovery of SSDs which use
adaptive R/W is only feasible by the original manufacturers of the SSDs. It
will be impossible for independent data recovery companies to reverse analyse
the data - because the exact pattern of coding in the flash translation layer
is unique to each SSD and is a mixture of many different coding schemes.
high availability / fault tolerant enterprise SSD arrays
January 26, 2012 - due to the growing number of oems in the high availability
rackmount SSD market
published a new directory focusing on
HA / FT
enterprise SSD arrays.
The new directory will make it easier for
users to locate specialist HA SSD vendors, related news and articles.
you're a marketer in an SSD company, not listed in the preliminary vendor
listing on this page below, and you haven't contacted me in the past few weeks
about your HA SSD systems - then
contact me with
SandForce names trusted partner for SSD data recovery
May 5, 2011 - SandForce
today named DriveSavers
as a member of its trusted partners program.
"DriveSavers was our
first choice to expand the SandForce Trusted program to include
data recovery services,"
said Kent Smith, Senior Director of Product Marketing for SandForce. "While
SandForce SSD Processors eliminate the most common data loss scenarios through
DuraClass NAND flash management features, DriveSavers can provide the SSD a
safety net should the unexpected SSD failure happen and data loss occurs."
Editor's comments:- although many data recovery companies have
to deal with SSDs - some SSDs are difficult or impossible to recover without
the support of the original
This is a significant announcement because it makes SandForce SSDs more
attractive in consumer
markets. Over 90% of consumers don't do reliable
new article - SSD Data Recovery Concepts and Technologies
December 1, 2010 -
published a new article -
Introduction to SSD
Data Recovery Concepts and Technologies - written by Jeremy Brock,
It's hard enough understanding the
design of any single SSD. And there are so many different designs in the
If you've ever wondered what it looks like at the other end of
the SSD supply chain - when a user has a damaged SSD which contains priceless
data with no usable backup - this article - written by one of a rare new
breed of SSD recovery
experts will give you some idea. I've waited more than 3 years to find
someone to write an article on this subject for you. And now it's only a click
away - read the
bad block management in flash SSDs
26, 2010 - StorageSearch.com
today published a new article -
bad block management in flash SSDs.
It's a non technical
introduction to the thinking behind one of the many vital functions inside a
flash SSD controller.
The new article - started out life this morning as a long email reply to one of
my readers with whom I have been discussing various aspects of SSD data
Hyperstone will use Toshiba tech in new SSD controllers
October 12, 2010 -
(Europe) has agreed to provide the company with a variety of
ASIC design and
controllers based on Toshiba semiconductor process technology will sample
in Q1, 2011.
Editor's comments:- Some of Hyperstone's products appear in
consumer SSDs - and this is a market which is noted for its lack of effective
backups (unlike the enterprise
SSD market) - so I asked the company if they had any views about the
emerging SSD data
Axel Mehnert, VP
Marketing at Hyperstone told me - "Regarding data recovery, we do not
really have any particular statement or policy. It depends on the firmware.
Customers (SSD oems) use different implementations. Depending on the deletion
process or errors' root causes data recovery might be possible or, in other
cases, not even desired. Our customers specify their requirements and we adopt
our firmware accordingly. Quite possibly, you will find different types of
implementations when looking at the same controller ID."
SandForce shows x2 SSD controller
Editor:- October 7,
2010 - SandForce
availability of its next generation
family SSD processors - for oems designing
SAS 3 class (6Gbps)
The SF-2000 supports 500MB/s sequential R/W,
60,000 sustained random IOPS, wire speed encryption, end to end
data integrity checks
and industrial temperature operation in a
Also new in this controller generation is support
for sector sizes additional to 512-bytes e.g., 520, 524, 528, 4K, etc., with
Data Integrity Field (DIF) for true enterprise-class SAS drive behavior and
Editor's comments:- one simple way of looking at
the SF-2000 would be as an incremental x2 version of what SandForce has
done before - which also demonstrates that the glass ceiling for their
architecture is much higher than some people might have thought.
briefing yesterday I asked about the data recoverability of the SSDs based on
the new controllers - while acknowledging that the market it was aimed at - the
datacenter- does adequate backups so DR shouldn't be necessary.
Smith, Director of Product Marketing, SandForce told me that in this family of
SSD controllers - the company would be moving even closer towards what already
exists in military SSDs
- and offering the option of having on board
The data in SF-2000 driven SSDs is double encrypted (encrypted on the way in
from the SATA controller and then encrypted again as it is written to the flash
array. The company's view is that it would be impossible for a DR company to
reconstruct data from the flash chips in the SSD without having access to
the SSD oem's unique key generation technology. (The oem has the ability to do
this as a one time programmable function.) Without that data - even SandForce
would be unable to read the contents of the SSD.
These technologies are
designed to make customer data secure. It would be possible for SSD oems to
select DR partners to whom they entrusted their own keys - but that was a
matter for the SSD maker. Proliferation of such data is likely to be restricted
- because otherwise it defeats the security of the product.
SSD Data Recovery - update
Editor:- September 15,
2010 - regular readers of
StorageSearch.com know that
I'm skeptical about the claims which most data recovery companies put on their
web sites about their abilities to
recover data from
General Manager of Memofix
emailed me to say - "I was reading what you were saying about SSD drives
and data recovery. I agree 100% with your view that most recovery companies
cannot deal with most SSD hardware issues. But please remember a large portion
of the cases any recovery company sees are the result of file system damaged or
corruption .. and these cases are easily handled by any half descent DR
"Memofix has only ever seen 3 SSD drives for data
recovery and 2 cases were file system damage including a simple deletion case.
In the other case we were able to replace a non-memory component and make the
device accessible again.
"Additionally we do dozens of
USB flash drives with
anywhere from 1-4 actual memory chips onboard, so we do intimately understand
the intricies of translation tables and putting all the pieces back together."
Editor:- it's good to hear from people who know what they're doing in
this new area of SSD data recovery. David Foster also writes a
blog in which he
reliability and recovery in a more informative way than many others I've
seen - based on his long experience in the industry.
For example - did
you know that 2.5"
drives are more recoverable than 3.5" drives? - I didn't - and would
have expected it to be the other way round.
new article - SSD training and education
July 19, 2010 -
published a new article and directory on the subject of -
SSD training and
There are many people out there on the web who say
they can help you. But choosing an SSD training supplier could be as tricky as
finding a new SSD - or as risky as choosing an SSD recovery company.
Recalibrating Consumer Assumptions about SSD Data Recovery
December 7, 2009 - this is an update on the theme of
Data Recovery for
The ability to recover data (or not) from a damaged
flash SSD could become an important way of segmenting SSD products. In this
context (as always) an
defined as a device which has internal
wear-leveling - as
opposed to simpler flash
drives which don't. The loss of data which maps logical to physical
addresses inside the SSD
controller presents a tough challenge for recovery.
Recoverability segments can be broadly defined as
- easily recoverable. This includes devices which have internal
support to facilitate data recovery - designed into the controller architecture.
Although such products are in the design stage - they are not yet widely
available. This type of SSD could be as economic to recover as a current
notebook hard drive.
- recoverable at high cost. This is the case for nearly all flash
SSDs currently shipping. (See comments from a
data recovery expert
- non recoverable (unlucky). This is one step beyond the category
above. Most flash SSDs with internal encryption would not be economic to recover
- if the internal translation tables were corrupted. This includes many new
- and will come as an unwelcome surprise to their owners should they be unlucky
enough to need data recovery services.
been talking to data recovery experts about SSD recovery for many years - but
it's only recently that the market has reached the size where this is starting
to become part of their daily experience.
- non recoverable (intrinsic). These are SSDs which have been
to thwart any prospects for data recovery. In these SSDs - data destruction
circuits are part of the product design - and you pay more for this feature.
Andy Butler, founder
of ABC Data Recovery
today told me - "I have 3 technicians who all trained on NAND
readers. On average we do about 30 per week but can handle more. It gets
more time consuming - therefore costly - as you move into larger SSDs. A
64GB PCIe SSD unit
could take a technician over a week of nonstop work.
" It's more complex than a
RAID recovery, but consumers
assume their data is safe and a recovery will be cheap because it's not a
mechanical repair. As the recovery tools / technology develops we should be
able to speed the process up, but for the time being any SSD over 8GB are
charged on a case by case basis. Anyone with an encrypted SSD should be
warned to backup, if the
controller gets damaged, it's most likely we would only recover encrypted data."
for flash SSDs? - don't count on it
September 24, 2007 - if the
flash SSD market
reaches the levels of penetration predicted by many
analysts - then in a
handful of years nearly half of all new
PCs will use flash SSDs instead of
hard disk drives.|
happens when those SSDs inevitably fail - and there's no
consumers don't do regular backups - and most small businesses don't either.
hard drives fail, get
water or get damaged in fires - the solution of last resort - is to call a
data recovery company.
These superheroes can often recover a lot of data - even if the pcbs
and chips in the disk drive have been damaged. Superheroes don't come cheap.
The cost for a difficult recovery can run into thousands of dollars (for a
single disk) but for many satisfied customers that's a much better result than
being left with no business or months of lost time rewriting reports, novels
Although flash SSDs are new to the consumer market - they've been
around for many
years in markets which absolutely needed their levels of ruggedness (and
could bear the high cost). So you may be thinking that there's a well
established industry already out there ready to process your flash SSD - if you
are unlucky enough to need a data recovery service today.
You would be
The reason is that the biggest traditional customers of flash
SSDs have been the military
or industrial users who didn't want enemies / competitors stealing their
Erstwhile flash SSD manufacturers like
STEC specialised in
of various forms to make sure that that the data is never recovered by the wrong
So there isn't an established data recovery market track
record for flash SSDs in those applications which have been around the
The nearest that the market has to offer - is experience
with recovering data from simple
flash memory storage
(like USB keyring style
devices or camera memory cards). Unlike SSDs - those devices aren't designed for
intensive write applications - and there is nothing very complicated between the
interface controller and the flash chips themselves. So if the controller gets
zapped by static - or crunched by your car driving over it - the data is
relatively easy for experts to recover from the flash chips.
the case with most flash SSDs - which use complicated
to extend the reliability
and speed of storage. The architecture inside a high performance SSD is more
complicated than that in most
RAID systems. The
algorithms which map addresses to physical media locations vary from
manufacturer to manufacturer - and in many cases - like the
formula for making
Coke or Pepsi - the details are closely guarded commercial secrets.
at the server market and data recovery (at the single SSD level) is not a
burning issue for datacenter applications - because most often the SSDs operate
in some kind of RAID
protected array - and are also backed up (internally or externally) to other
missing in the consumer
market is a clear signal by oems - that data in their devices can be easily
recovered - if there is no backup - or the backup failed. Maybe the next
generation of products will address that issue. It would be another way of
segmenting the consumer flash SSD market - and a market need and opportunity
which hasn't been understood by SSD product marketers at the close of 2008.
flash SSDs are inherently much more
reliable than hard
drives - that's no consolation for the customers who will be the pioneers in SSD