Hard Drive

How to Recover Data from a Failed SSD on a Windows PC

6 min read


Reading Time: 6 minutesSSDs – or Solid State Drives – are a superb upgrade from your run-of-the-mill hard disk drives, offering faster reading and writing speeds, better reliability, and longer shelf life. But just like HDDs, SSDs also eventually suffer from drive failures which could lead to important data being lost.

Fortunately, there are some reliable methods to recover this information. This guide is aimed at teaching you the various ways you can perform SSD drive failure recovery, along with the different types of drive failures that are often encountered.

Common Types of SSD Failure and Its Signs

SSDs may fail due to a variety of reasons, such as age, damage, or other external factors. Here are some general kinds of SSD failure and the telltale signs that indicate them:

  • 🧊 Bad Blocks: Similar to how HDDs have bad sectors, SSDs can encounter bad blocks. This usually leads to a computer attempting to read or write to a file but fails to do so after some time. Unfortunately, this is often accompanied by an error message, rendering the data on those blocks to become inaccessible.
  • 🧮 Logical Failure: This is when the data stored within the SSD simply cannot be accessed, which may occur for a number of reasons, including viruses/malware, data corruption, bad blocks, or if your SSD crashed abruptly.
  • 📖 Read-Only Issue: Your SSD may have become read-only, which is usually accompanied by an error stating that the drive is write-protected. This can happen for a number of reasons, such as the drive going past its write limit, it being affected by a certain type of virus/malware, user-enabled write-protection, third-party software, and more. This can usually be fixed by using the “Diskpart” command in a Windows Command Prompt and should not be confused with an unallocated drive or space.

What Happens When an SSD Fails

While SSDs live longer and are more durable than their HDD predecessors, they are not infallible and will eventually wear out in time. They’re known to have a shelf life of anywhere between 5 to 10 years. This number may be even less if not properly maintained.

SSDs will naturally fail when they’ve gone past the limits of their read and write cycles. Once the drive begins to fail, more and more bad sectors will begin to appear, causing your computer to become slower.

Some other effects of a failing drive include:

  • Files becoming lost or inaccessible
  • Your computer freezing every now and then
  • Your operating system encountering failures
  • Frequent errors popping up

One of the main differences in how SSDs work compared to HDDs is that they incorporate Active Garbage Collection and Trim functions. This is because SSD blocks contain pages within them, and an entire block has to be erased before any data can be written on those pages.

Active Garbage Collection continuously moves valid data into different blocks so that blocks with invalid data can be wiped. Trim is the function that identifies the blocks that can be erased. This all primarily happens while your SSD is idle and helps extend the overall lifespan of your drive.

How to Recover Data from a Failed SSD

Failed SSDs are synonymous with data loss, but there are a few methods you can leverage to get back your files. These are the two ways that offer the best chances of recovering your lost data:

Method 1: Data Recovery Software

Data recovery programs provide users with a DIY method of retrieving files from storage media that have incurred data loss, including failed SSDs. Disk Drill is among the best data recovery software on the market, presenting users with a higher recovery rate than most of the competition, a UI that appeals to beginners as well as tech-savvy users, and compatibility with almost all kinds of files and storage devices.

It’s worth noting that it’s highly recommended that you first back up your SSD using Disk Drill’s Byte-to-Byte backup feature and attempt file recovery from the backup instead of the actual drive. This eliminates the chances of further data loss resulting from trying to retrieve files from the drive itself. Here’s how to backup your drive and perform SSD failure recovery using Disk Drill:

Backing Up Your SSD

  1. Download the Disk Drill installer from the Cleverfiles website.
    download disk drill
  2. Run the installer and follow the instructions until successfully installed.
    install disk drill
  3. Launch Disk Drill and select Drive Backup from the left side of the screen.
    homescreen drive backup
  4. Select your SSD from the list of devices and click the Byte-To-Byte Backup button on the top-right corner.
    backup select ssd
  5. A pop-up will appear. Select the properties you want for your backup and hit the OK button once you’re ready to start the backup process.
    backup properties
  6. The program will now start backing your drive. How long this takes depends on the size of your SSD. Once completed, you’ll get a completion message. Just click the Done button, and you’ll be directed back to the Disk Drill home screen.
    backup completed

Recovering Lost Files From Your SSD Backup

  1. Select Data Recovery from the left-side panel.
    select data recovery
  2. Click Attach disk image and select the backup image you created in the previous section. The image should now appear in the list of recoverable devices.
    attach image
  3. Select the image from the list and click the Search for lost data button.
    select image
  4. Disk Drill will now start scanning your SSD backup image. How long this takes depends on the size of the backup.
    scanning ssd
  5. Select the files you want to recover by ticking the checkbox on the left of the file names. Once you’re all set, click the Recover button along the bottom of the screen to proceed.
    choose recoverable files
  6. A small pop-up will appear, asking you to decide the destination where Disk Drill will save your recovered files. Click OK when you’re ready.
    select recovery destination
  7. Disk Drill will now attempt to recover your selected files from your SSD image. Upon completion, you should see a summary of the recovery process and a button labeled Show recovered data in Explorer. You can click this button if you want to be taken directly to your recovered files.
    recovery complete

Method 2: Data Recovery Service

If you have a broken SSD or it has failed beyond the rescue capabilities of a quality data recovery program, then your best course of action is to consult a data recovery service. These types of services feature recovery professionals who specialize in the retrieval of files from devices that have encountered critical data loss scenarios.

You may be able to find some of these services near your area of residence. However, there are also quite a few of them that accommodate the shipping of your storage device to their headquarters for diagnosis and to recover data from a dead SSD.