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: the so-called TRIM command.

How Does TRIM Affect SSD Recovery?

TRIM is an Advanced Technology Attachment (ATA) 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 to prepare the blocks for new data.

There are two main reasons why SSD manufacturers use TRIM:

  • ⚡ Improved performance: Because the TRIM command makes the garbage collection process more efficient by reducing the number of necessary erase cycles, it can significantly improve SSD performance.
  • ❤️‍🩹 Drive longevity: All SSDs have a limited life span because the flash-based memory chips inside of them support only a certain number of write cycles. The TRIM command can improve drive longevity by eliminating unnecessary write cycles.

Unfortunately, the TRIM command significantly lowers your recovery chances by wiping the blocks where the deleted data you want to recover are stored.

How Can a Failing SSD Be Recovered?

When you lose your data on an SSD that’s failing, you’ll have to take extra steps for its 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.

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 10/11 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 10/11

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. Initiate the scan

disk drill windows search for lost data

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.

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.

Step 2. Wait for the scan to finish

disk drill windows scanning

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

disk drill filter results

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.

Step 4. Recover your files from an SSD drive

disk drill recovery folder

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

disk drill mac install

Start by downloading Disk Drill for Mac from its official website. Then, open the downloaded file and drag Disk Drill’s icon to the Applications folder.

Keep in mind, however, that you shouldn’t download and install Disk Drill on the same SSD drive that you want to recover. If you want to recover data from your system drive, then we recommend you don’t move it Disk Drill to your Applications folder. Instead, you can download and install it on an external drive.

Step 2. Initiate the scan

disk drill select drive mac

Launch Disk Drill and give it the necessary permissions. Since macOS Catalina, Full Disk Access is a native requirement for Disk Drill to access your storage devices for data recovery purposes. This help page explains everything you need to do, and so does Disk Drill itself.

Once you see the main Disk Drill window, it should display all drives attached to your machine. Select the drive you want to recover and click the Search for lost data button.

By default, Disk Drill runs all recovery methods in the optimal order, and we recommend you don’t change this setting when using the data recovery software for the first time.

Step 3. Wait for the scan to finish

disk drill scan progress

Depending on how large your disk is, and how much data you have on said drive, the scan can take some time. Be patient and don’t interrupt the scan process.

If you want to see the files Disk Drill has discovered so far, then you can click the Review found items button while the scan is still in progress. Just keep in mind that the files you’re looking for may not be included just yet.

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

disk drill recover mac

Use the scan results filters to narrow down the recoverable files. Select the file you want to recover. Click the Recover button and specify a suitable recovery destination.

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 SSDs 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.

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.

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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.