When drives are damaged physically it is necessary for them to be sent to data recovery specialists. This is because the drives cannot be opened in a standard room; the particles in the room would damage the delicate platters. As such, recovery specialists make use of clean rooms, a specially made protective environment that won’t harm your drive.
Then, when you factor in the skill and knowledge needed to actually recover data, you can start to understand why data recovery is so expensive. Generally, recovering data from a solid state drive is more expensive than it is from a hard disk drive. If the data is encrypted then it’s even harder to recover, thus pushing the cost up even more.
Gillware, a data recovery company, recently published a paper that found the longer it takes to recover data then the less important it becomes to the user to get it back. While the data loses value, however, the costs to recover rise due to the manpower and facilities being used. As such, finding a way to reduce the take it takes to recover will reduce the overall recovery cost. Simple stuff, really.
However, it’s all very well saying this, but how can the recovery process actually be sped up?
The paper continues by claiming that recovery on a HDD costs around $700 on average, compared to around $3,500 for a full-disk encrypted SSD. However, Gillware say that if SSD manufacturers provided recovery companies with tools to help aid recovery, then the cost would reduce to $700. Of course, these fees don’t necessarily mean that the data was successfully recovered.
Storage device manufacturers are wary of releasing sensitive information and intellectual property, writes Forbes, which is why a lot of them don’t provide these tools.
The reason that a lot of SSDs fail is not because of anything wrong with the physicality or electronics, but because of corruption in the firmware. If a drive has been encrypted then recovery will not be successful unless the encryption key can be accessed. Some SSD manufacturers will provide a description of the NAND page layout and a runtime translator to help get the key back. However, without the ability to get clear text data with the device encryption key, recovery is not possible.
This might make encrypting your device sound scary, but it’s actually a recommended procedure, especially if you have sensitive information on your drive. Although encryption can cause some troubles should the need for data recovery ever arise, this can be overcome simply: with a backup solution. If you are backing up your files efficiently, securely and cost-effectively then you should never need to use a recovery specialist. That way you can happily encrypt your files, reaping the security benefits that offers, plus you’ll have a secondary copy of your data on hand should things go wrong.
It would be great if SSD manufacturers would co-operate with recovery specialists in providing tools to help, if Gillware’s research is true. The cost difference is incredible and paying three and a half grand for a drive recovery is cost prohibitive for many.
Reducing the Cost of SSD Recovery
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