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Data Recovery from Intel 5400s (Intel 540) Pro 240GB SSD

A customer recently dropped in an Intel 5400s Pro solid-state disk to us for data recovery. They first noticed a problem with the disk when, upon starting their Dell Inspiron laptop, they received the “no boot device found” error message.  They removed it from their laptop and connected to another computer using a USB dock – but the disk could still not be seen.

Disk architecture

The solid-state disk, an Intel 5400 (lately, this model has been marketed as the 540 as Intel has recently abandoned the four-digit naming convention for their SSDs) holds 240GB of data and uses a Silicon Motion 2258 controller. The PCB holds 8 x 30GB SK Hynix memory chips using TLC NAND and uses an S-ATA 3.0 interface.

Diagnosis

Upon delivery of the disk, we connected it to a standard Windows PC. The make or model number was not detected by the BIOS. At this stage, we were beginning to suspect controller failure. But making assumptions in data recovery can easily set your recovery methodology on the wrong track – so more analysis was needed. Physical inspection of the PCB revealed dies tightly bonded to the board and no signs of thermal stress.  Using a multi-meter in voltage mode, readouts showed that all areas of the disk’s PCB were getting the correct voltage. So, we could safely eliminate a power issue as being the problem.

SSD data recovery process

We then put the disk into what is known as technological mode. This is a mode used by disk manufacturers themselves to perform diagnosis on disks which have been returned to them. It helps them spot design defects (with the disk controller, NAND, DRAM, etc.) which are then used by their R&D departments to (hopefully) make reliable disks. But technological mode also allows data recovery technicians to bypass the inbuilt controller and use an emulator. (I’m sure this “backdoor” access to a disk also comes in very handy for the NSA…). The controller plays a vital role in the operation of an SSD. It performs bad block management, logical block addressing, wear-leveling, error correction control and interleaving. We uploaded a Silicon Motion 2258 translator module to our recovery system. The disk successfully ID’ed. The NTFS volume finally appeared, but with errors.  We made an image of the volume and then using this image made reparations to the NTFS partitions.

The result

After several hours work, we now had the disk’s two NTFS partitions fully recovered. The files, mostly V3D (medical imagery) files and one gigantic 33GB PST (Outlook store folder) were extracted onto external USB 3.0 drive for the more-than-satisfied client.

 

Drive Rescue Data Recovery is based in Dublin, Ireland.  We perform SSD data recovery from most brands of SSD including Samsung Evo, Crucial, SanDisk, Toshiba OCZ, Integral, Adata and PNY. For more information log onto www.datarecoverydublin.ie or phone us on: 1890 571 571