Solid State Drives (SSDs) have become the standard type of drive in modern desktops and laptops. Why? Because they are faster, cheaper to produce, and (because they have no moving parts) are less likely to fail. 

But just because a drive is less likely to fail, it doesn’t mean they are less prone to data loss than standard (platter-driven) drives. Why? User error and software failures—both issues that cannot be blamed on hardware.

how to recover deleted files from an ssd drive

So when you lose data on an SSD, are you out of luck? In most situations, probably not. There are plenty of software tools available to help you recover that data. However, there is one issue that could possibly prevent you from using the standard recovery software to succeed in this task.

Said issue is TRIM.

TRIM is an Advanced Technology Attachment command that makes it possible for an operating system to inform an SSD which blocks of data are no longer considered in use and can be wiped internally. TRIM is very helpful for the long term functionality of SSDs. However, when TRIM is used, data recovery software isn’t capable of functioning properly. 

How Can SSD Drives Be Recovered?

Typically, on an SSD that’s in good health, TRIM won’t affect your recovering lost files. However, because TRIM is enabled by default, when you lose your data on an SSD that’s failing, you’ll have to take extra steps for the recovery. Those extra steps are to create a byte-by-byte disk image of the failing SSD and then use data recovery software to scan the backup image. When your SSD is failing, this method will only perform a single (possible final) read on the drive. Having that backup image will go a long way to ensuring you can recover your lost data. And with TRIM enabled, it may be your only chance for successful recovery on a failing drive.

So if the S.M.A.R.T. tools on your operating system are giving you warnings that your SSD is failing, you should immediately stop using the drive, make a backup copy (with a tool like CloneZilla for Linux and Windows drives or Disk Drill).

Accidentally Deleted Data on My SSD Drive

Pro Tip: If your drive is failing, it’s important to shut the computer down, remove the drive from the PC, connect the drive (in read-only mode) to a functioning computer. This might give you an opportunity to easily recover your data when TRIM is the cause of the malfunction.

But what if your SSD isn’t failing, you simply accidentally deleted data from it and cannot locate it anywhere? Where do you turn? Fortunately, there are plenty of solutions that can help you get those lost files and folders back. 

how to recover files from an SSD on Mac

Let’s take a look at one such solution, Disk Drill. I’ll demonstrate how to use data recovery software to recover deleted files from an SSD drive on both Windows 10 and macOS.

This will examine the process of locating files that weren’t just deleted (and still hanging out in your Trash), but were permanently deleted from the Solid State Drive. You might think those files are lost forever, but they’re not. With just a bit of care, you can get them back.

Let’s find out how.

How to Recover Permanently Deleted Files from an SSD on Windows 10

First, we’ll examine the process from the Windows perspective. This should work, even if you’ve emptied the Windows Recycle bin, to recover those accidentally (or intentionally) deleted files.

I will assume you already have Disk Drill installed (as the process is nothing more than a point-and-click affair). Do note, with the free version of Disk Drill you can scan that drive and view the files available for recovery. In order to actually recover those files, you’ll have to purchase a license for the software. 

With that said, let’s recover.

Step 1. Open Disk Drill for Windows 

The first thing to do is open Disk Drill. Once the software appears on your desktop, you should see your SSD listed, but not the letter for the drive. To view the C: partition, expand the drive, and Local Disk (C:) will appear. It is important, however, that you scan the entire drive, not just a partition. If your disk is failing, and you only look on the C partition, your data might be in a different partition and your chances of finding the data are slim. So, select the entire drive, as opposed to a specific partition.

The C drive is where your files will be found.

Step 2. Initiate the scan

Now that you’ve selected the drive (or whatever drive the files were deleted from), make sure All recovery methods is selected from the drop-down in the right sidebar, and click Search for lost data.

The scan will immediately start and Disk Drill should begin seeing lost files almost immediately. If you don’t see files appear in the filter listing, let the scan complete. Depending on how large the drive is (and how much data it contains), the process can take some time.

It is important that you allow Disk Drill to complete the scan without interruptions. Instead of stopping the scan, you want to allow Disk Drill to find as many files as possible, so it has the best chance of recovery. This is especially true on a disk that is failing.

Step 3. Filter the recovered files

If you want to check and see if Disk Drill has located your files, click “Review Found Items” to examine the list of files the application has discovered. If you know the type(s) of file(s) you deleted, you can click one of the filters in the left sidebar. Say, for example, you accidentally deleted pictures that you must get back. For that, click Pictures and Disk Drill will filter out everything but images.

Filter the results from the left sidebar

Step 4. Recover your files from an SSD drive

Expand the Found Files entry and keep expanding until you see the deleted files listed. Once they appear, select the files to be recovered and click Recover.

A popup window will appear, where you can instruct Disk Drill where to save the recovered files. Click the folder icon, locate a folder to house the files, and click OK. Disk Drill will save the files to the location you’ve set and your files are ready to use again.

It is important to note, however, if you are recovering files from a failing drive, you must recover them to a separate drive. If you are only recovering deleted files from a working drive, you can recover them to the same drive.


How to Recover Permanently Deleted Files from an SSD on Mac

Let’s do the same thing on macOS. Fundamentally the process is the same, with slight variations on the interface and the steps.

Step 1. Download and Install Disk Drill for Mac

Step 2. Initiate the scan

Open Disk Drill on your Mac and it should show all drives attached to your machine. Click the Recover button associated with the drive that you deleted your files from (such as Macintosh HD, under Logical volumes). 

ssd recovery process using Disk Drill for Mac

Step 3. Provide a Full Disk Access 

Since macOS Catalina, Full Disk Access is a native requirement for Disk Drill to access your storage devices for data recovery purposes. When you click Recover, you’ll be prompted to enable this. Click Open System Preferences and then, click the lock in the lower left corner of the window. When prompted, type your user password and then click Allow. 

Enabling Full Disk Access on macOS

You should find yourself back at the Disk Drill window. Click Recover again and Disk Drill will start the recovery process. Depending on how large your disk is, and how much data you have on said drive, the scan can take some time. 

Eventually, you should see files appear. What you’re looking for is anything labeled Deleted. You can always filter the results to show deleted files with X period (where X is a numerical value), by clicking the drop-down in the upper right corner. 

Step 4. Recover your files from an SSD drive on Mac

Let’s say, for example, you’ve deleted a specific file for an application, which caused the program to no longer run. Expand the Quick Scan – deleted entry until you find the file in question. Select the file, select the location to house the recovered file (from the Recover to drop-down at the top of the window), and click Recover.

Locating a specific file to be recovered on macOS.

Your file should immediately be recovered and saved to the location you defined in the Recover to drop-down. 

Congratulations, you’ve recovered that deleted file.

How do SSD’s Fail?

You might be asking yourself, “Why do SSDs fail?” There are three main reasons why these types of drives do so:

  • Age – SSD drives are only capable of sustaining a certain number of writes before they begin to fail (it’s quite a high number, so it’s usually not something to be concerned about).
  • Physical damage – you could drop your laptop or drop the SSD drive, which could inflict enough damage to cause it to fail.
  • Heat – when your device overheats repeatedly or is left in the hot sun.

The most common reason for SSD drive failure is heat, so be careful not to leave that device in the sun. If you feel your laptop getting excessively hot (or you hear your desktop fans running constantly), close all running applications, shut the machine down, and let it cool off. If the problem persists, you might have to have the computer looked at by a professional.

How to Restore Data from a Corrupted SSD?

If you find your SSD corrupted, what do you do? When a tool like Disk Drill fails, you might have to send the drive off to a recovery service (such as CleverFiles). Many such services offer a “no data, no fee” policy, so if they can’t recover your data, you’re not out any money.

SSD Protection Best Practices 

There are a few things you can do to help protect your SSD drives from failing. For example, in Windows you can move your page files to a different disk, turn off hibernation, and never run disk defragmentation on the SSD.

On all platforms, you should never fill your SSD to capacity and avoid heavy use of swap space (you can help that by adding more RAM to your system). Outside of that, keep those machines out of the heat and your SSD should last a long time.

Conclusion

With just a little care, those SSD drives shouldn’t fail. And on the occasion you wind up accidentally deleting necessary files from that drive, you can always recover them with the help of a tool like Disk Drill. 

FAQ

Can I recover data from a formatted SSD?

Yes. Although it’s a bit more challenging, you can recover data from a formatted SSD drive. This will require a much deeper scan (using a tool like Disk Drill), or (in extreme cases, where the drive has been formatted multiple times), using a data recovery service. Most often, tools like Disk Drill will do the trick. 

How to know whether my PC has SSD or HDD?

Starting with the 2004 release, Windows 10 will list the type of drive in the task manager. Another method is by way of the Windows Drive Optimizer, which will clearly report whether a drive is HDD or SSD. To open this utility, press the Windows key and search for “optimize.” Select Defragment and optimize your drives. Windows Drive Optimizer will list out the type of drive in the Media Type column.

Why isn’t my SSD showing up on my computer?

The most common reason for this is due to driver issues. If you’re using Windows, and you’ve added an SSD drive to the system, you might also have to download and install the necessary device driver from the drive manufacturer in order for the drive to show up in the system.

Another reason why an SSD might not show up is because older PCs do not support the PCI-e connection of NVME drives, even though those drives can be connected to the motherboard. An older BIOS simple will not be able to detect them.

Jack Wallen

Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic, ZDNet, TechTarget and Linux.com.

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Brett Johnson

This article has been approved by Brett Johnson, Data Recovery Engineer at ACE Data Recovery. Brett has a Bachelor's Degree in Computer Systems and Network, 12 years of experience.