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Data Recovery from a Hybrid Drive

A hybrid drive is a device that combines a standard hard drive and a flash memory module. The latter part controls the data that is most frequently written to or accessed from storage. They were first introduced in 2007 by Seagate and Samsung who were targeting notebook manufacturers. Other companies eventually followed suit, with Hitachi and Apple now having their own drives that use hybrid technology.

Manufacturers say that the benefits of a hybrid drive are that it speeds up data access, makes the computer boot up faster, decreases power consumption and reduces the amount of heat generated. In turn, all this means that the drive should be more reliable and have a longer battery life.

However, there are limitations to a hybrid drive. The first of these is that there is a longer seek time for data that is stored on the hard drive. Also, there are more frequent spin cycles (which in turn could lead to a reduced lifetime due to wear that comes from this process) and the hardware cost for the system is greater overall. Perhaps the greatest downside is that there is a lower chance of data recovery on a hybrid drive than there is over a hard disk or solid state drive. This is because it is hard to get back data that is stored on failed flash memory modules.

The good thing about the hybrid drive is that it uses flash memory for the operating system and program files, so the flash memory is being accessed less frequently than it would be in a solid state drive. As such, the NAND is not going to wear out as quickly, which can be a problem for some cheaper solid state drives.

Although data recovery from the flash memory can be difficult, if you store program files or your operating system there rather than personal data then it can make data recovery easier (restoring the operating system and reinstalling programs can be done from disc, for example). This is because recovering data from a hard disk drive that has logically failed is a relatively easy process thanks to programs like R-Studio. This will allow you to scan the hybrid drive and see what it can pull out and recover. Always remember to store the recovered data on a different drive. Also, you should make sure that you perform the data recovery as soon as possible. To keep using the drive could cause further damage. If the damage is mechanical then it would be best to contact recovery professionals, since to try and fix that yourself is very unadvisable.

You should always ensure that you are making consistent backups of your data. A hybrid drive may offer increased reliability over something like a hard disk drive, but that doesn’t mean it is invulnerable to damage. It could very easily get corrupted, either logically or mechanically, and regular backups will mean that it is will be far less stressful to restore all your data should disaster strike.


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