Data Recovery from Lenovo Thinkpad X1 Carbon SSD (SanDisk)

A customer recently delivered a Lenovo Thinkpad X1 to us for data recovery. When the system would start, the error message “a disk read error occurred” would appear on the screen. The POST process will halt at this point.

We opened up the system and found a proprietary SSD made by SanDisk (SD5SG2-256G) using a form factor of (70mm x 20mm) and a 20+6 connector pin. Proprietary SSD form factors and connectors were common in the early days of mass SSD deployment in laptops and tablets as device manufacturers raced to make their devices as thin and light as possible.

The SanDisk SSD recovery process.

We put the drive into “technological mode”. This is the same mode SSD manufacturers use to perform disk repair and diagnostics. Then using a custom-adaptor for this SSD we connected it to our firmware emulator and uploaded a Marvell 88SS9174 firmware module. The Windows 10 and recovery partition appeared but was still not readable. However, adjusting read parameters on our equipment (which dynamically adjusts voltages used to read NAND cells), we able to access the volume in full. All the customer’s Word, Excel, Calc and Quantrix were successfully recovered onto a USB external disk.