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SSD Recovery: How Pros Bring Flash Memory Back To Life

SSD Recovery: How Pros Bring Flash Memory Back To Life
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When Bad Things Happen To Good Flash

In November of last year, I wrote Disaster Strikes: How Is Data Recovered From A Dead Hard Drive?, chronicling the process as some of my personal storage was brought back from the dead by Seagate Recovery Solutions. Of course, these days we have to worry about more than the loss of important files from mechanical disks. Whether it’s the USB drive in your pocket, the eMMC in your phone, or the SSD in your notebook, flash storage is now just as critical to personal and professional interests, and prone to failure, just like hard drives.

As a follow-up to our coverage last year, we connected with Flashback Data, an Austin-based rescue lab that handles all types of storage devices but carries special expertise in flash media. We even got a special kick when calling the company’s main office and finding Queen’s “Flash” as the on-hold music. Flashback agreed to take us on a tour behind the scenes and show what it takes for a top-level recovery lab to salvage your precious NAND-based bits from the jaws of ruin.

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Display 15 Comments.
  • 2 Hide
    Eggz , May 23, 2014 6:53 AM
    What did I just look at? Maybe it's displaying wrong on my screen, but there were no words and the pictures were pretty bad.
  • 1 Hide
    Snipergod87 , May 23, 2014 7:17 AM
    Needs more JPEG.
  • 0 Hide
    kamhagh , May 23, 2014 8:05 AM
    i would push the ssd in chest and yell BREATH BREATH !!!!!
  • 3 Hide
    artk2219 , May 23, 2014 9:43 AM
    Thanks for the story! Very cool to get a general overview of the flash media based file recovery process.
  • 1 Hide
    TechnoD , May 23, 2014 11:59 AM
    Intriguing article. This is the kind of stuff I enjoy reading on Tom's.
  • 1 Hide
    mouse24 , May 23, 2014 3:16 PM
    Theses Image articles are annoying to read.
  • 0 Hide
    TyrOd , May 23, 2014 4:24 PM
    "In an earlier article we did on data recovery, at least one commenter noted that essentially anyone could get into the recovery business and that Flashback was a small fry operation on a completely different level than more recognized names. Of course, the proof is in the recovery results and the client roster, which includes a broad spectrum of commercial and government accounts."

    No. Nobody was conflating the physical(or financial) size of the business or name recognition with the level of their technical capabilities.

    In fact, the biggest and most recognized data recovery labs are the most notorious for abandoning attempts at complex recoveries due to the shear volume of cases they receive.

    The point that you are still missing is that everything you saw at flashback was commercially available to start-ups.

    In fact there are literally dozens of labs out their that have sprung up in the past 10 years with the same array of tools.

    One laughably obvious example of the basic marketing spin is slide 12.

    Where exactly do you think "Flashback's Special Imagers" came from?

    Hw exactly do you call a commercially available tool,sold by the thousands to data recovery start ups for years "Special".

    Also, I literally Laughed out loud when I read the bit about ASCLD cert.

    Do you really believe that ASCLD Lab Cert actual says anything about the technical capabilities of a forensic lab?

    ASCLD lab is an operational certification and it's completely irrelevant to Data Recovery Labs on the technical level.
    Hoiw do I know this? because I called them and asked.
    I verbatim said "what criteria are used to test for technical the capabilities of a proprietary piece of hardware in Recovering forensically sound images?"
    There response was "...as long as it does what you say it does"
    Funny, right?

    Though Flashback seems to be making an honest effort, at least from a marketing standpoint, of doing complex recoveries(like monolithic/SSD Flash rebuilds) it says very little about their actual ability to minimize corruption and maximize recovered data.

    I was actually impressed by the thoroughness of this article, but unfortunately it could have been done at dozens of other labs with similar technology.
  • 0 Hide
    TyrOd , May 23, 2014 4:57 PM
    I also want to mention that ASCLD lab is definitely a robust qualification for Forensic Labs. But it only extend it's relevance to the Computer Forensics aspects that only sparsely overlap with physical data recovery.

    you actually see a lot of this cert padding among bigger labs, because people don't understand how different a data recovery Lab is from the rest of the IT world.

    For example: If you use a piece of encryption software or Virtual machine platform of some kind and something goes wrong, how useful is having a engineer certified by the software maker?

    For the IT professional, the answer is probably "useful' generally speaking.

    What about when their are physically damaged sectors and it's not possible to recover a few hundred sectors?

    Then what?

    Well you call the encryption software maker...you get elevated to their highest level of support...and they tell you it's not possible...in fat they don't even understand the difference between bits and sectors, claiming literally every single bit has to be read to decrypt with their software.

    That's the normal everyday of how far a certification, even from manufacturers will get you in the Data recovery field.

    Beyond that you're on your own to develop solutions.
  • 0 Hide
    oliver11 , May 25, 2014 9:35 PM
    Quote:
    What did I just look at? Maybe it's displaying wrong on my screen, but there were no words and the pictures were pretty bad.


    Texts are on the right side of the images. Perhaps you need to update your browser to make images along with text visible.

    I'm happy to see all the flash memory that has added into SSD to reliably provide fast performance as compare to traditional hard drive. Though, not sure weather recovery software like Stellar Phoenix would work on the same or not.
  • 1 Hide
    Eggz , May 26, 2014 10:13 AM
    Quote:
    Texts are on the right side of the images. Perhaps you need to update your browser to make images along with text visible.


    Thanks. For some reason, the computer I was using didn't update the text corresponding to pictures. So when I scrolled photos, the text for only the first photo was displayed. Got it now. Great article! Thanks for keeping a flow of stuff like this.
  • 1 Hide
    smeezekitty , May 26, 2014 10:51 AM
    This is why on the fly encryption is a bad idea. And not only that, its pointless.
    Because if someone has access to the drive it does exactly zero. It only stops reads directly from the flash chips.
  • 0 Hide
    TyrOd , May 27, 2014 12:28 AM
    Quote:
    This is why on the fly encryption is a bad idea. And not only that, its pointless.
    Because if someone has access to the drive it does exactly zero. It only stops reads directly from the flash chips.


    It has a second purpose as the most reliable Secure erase for SSD's. Otherwise you're right, It makes Data Recovery impossible from the bare chips. Can't say it's 100% impossible if their are backdoors built in for certain government agencies, though
  • 0 Hide
    BMoe27 , July 7, 2014 7:18 AM
    How do i retrieve erased calls from my call log and erased messages from my inbox?? My child was playing with my phone & suddenly accidently erased a couple of important calls & messages......HELP ME PLEEEEAASEE!!
  • 0 Hide
    BMoe27 , July 7, 2014 7:20 AM
    Please FREE AT ALL CHARGES,I DONT WANT TO SPEND ANY MONEY JUST TO RETRIEVE DELETED INFO. 4RM. MY PHONE....
  • 0 Hide
    artk2219 , July 7, 2014 8:30 AM
    Quote:
    Please FREE AT ALL CHARGES,I DONT WANT TO SPEND ANY MONEY JUST TO RETRIEVE DELETED INFO. 4RM. MY PHONE....


    Well you can checked your deleted items / trash for the deleted emails, as far as I know though the call log is pretty much gone once its deleted, there isn't really an easy way for you to get those numbers back.
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