Recently, we came across a user who accidentally wiped important folders from their 2TB PNY SSD. Realising their mistake, they popped open the lid of their Dell desktop system and disconnected the PNY 960GB S-ATA SSD from the motherboard. This was a very good first step to take. Because a data recovery application should never be installed on a drive which you intend to recover from.
The user then placed the PNY SSD inside an 2.5” disk enclosure. He then downloaded EaseUS, a popular data recovery application, to his laptop. He then connected the enclosure containing the disk to the laptop. EaseUS detected the disk straight away and he let the scan run over night.
What’s wrong with this?
Now you might be thinking “what’s wrong with this process?”. Surely, the user was doing everything right here? Well, he actually made a serious error here in his data recovery process. This is because when performing a deleted file recovery operation on an SSD, the disk must be imaged first. Why? Well, unlike with a conventional HDD, SSDs have use TRIM and Garbage Collection processes to permanently “clean-out” files which have been previously subject to “delete” commands from the OS. Once an SSD is connected to a system, these processes can get activated. And, yes, this happens even if you’re connecting your disk via an enclosure as many of these (enclosures) now support the UASP protocol which supports TRIM. Having TRIM and Garbage Collection active inside your SSD is like having one of those robocleaner home vacuuming devices inside your disk hoovering up deleted or lost file fragments. A process you certainly don’t want happening when trying to recover data. Our user was able to partially recover some of his files but a substantial number of them were unrecoverable.
How could this have been prevented?
This particular user missed a crucial stage in the data recovery process. This stage is called imaging. Imaging basically means that you make a bit-copy of the SSD to reflect a “point-in-time” without the influence of file corrosive TRIM or Garbage Collection. There are many disk imaging utilities on the market such as Macrium Reflect. Once you’ve made a complete disk image, then run your recovery software on that. But performing a deleted file recovery on the original disk is not a good idea!