There is a difference between HDDs and SDDs

The Differences Between HDDs and SDDs

When you look at the history of computer technology, HDDs are dinosaurs and SDDs are the new kid on the block. Not only are HDDs old school, but they were also originally very bulky. There are historical photos of IBM computers from the 1950s that used 50 two-foot-wide circular platters that held less than 4 MB of storage space. To put this in modern perspective, that’s the size of an average MP3 file being held in the physical space that could hold two large refrigerators.

By the time the early 1980s came around, the personal computer standardized hard drives at a little over 5 inches; soon after two and a half inch drives were being used for notebook computers.

The average computer user during the last several decades has been at least somewhat familiar with the traditional spinning HDD on a computer. The HDD is considered “non-volatile,” meaning the information doesn’t disappear when you turn off the system, unlike RAM memory does. The HDD is basically a metal platter that has a magnetic coating on it. That coating is what stores the data. A read/write head on a moving arm accesses the data while the platter is spinning.

SSDs have a much shorter history. Technology such as bubble memory which was a precursor to SDDs was popular for a while in the 1970s and 1980s, but that was short-lived. Flash memory currently being used is an extension of the same technology as bubble memory because it doesn’t require a constant source of power to make sure the data stored is retained.

In the 2000s the first SSD drives started showing up in netbook computers late in that decade. The SSD chips on these computers were soldered permanently to the computer’s motherboard.

SSDs basically do the same thing as an HDD, but the data is stored on connected flash memory chips that allow the data to be retained even when there’s no power going through them. These chips are often referred to as NAND. Computer users are usually familiar with USB thumb drives, but the flash chips on an SSD are not the same as a thumb drive. However, just like thumb drives, SSDs are often smaller than HDDs and they offer computer manufacturers more flexibility when designing PCs.

HDD Data Recovery Process

Most HDDs divide or partition the entire physical HDD into one or several independent parts which are also known as partitions. In Windows-based systems, these separate parts are called logical disks. All logical disks are assigned drive letters and description labels. Examples that most computer users are familiar with are C: (System) or D: (Data). Each individual partition has its own file system type, completely independent from other partitions on the same physical disk. For example, an HDD for a Windows operating system may contain two logical disks: one called NTFS and another called FAT32. There is a partition map stored at the beginning of the HDD which contains information about the partitions on the HDD.

The HDD service data and information regarding the structure of the partition is known as meta-data. In other words, it’s information about the data on the disk as opposed to the data itself.

Each partition is divided into two parts. One part stores information about the disk itself (such as folder structures, file systems, and so on. The other part stores the data that makes up those files on the HDD. From an HDD standpoint, the dividing of meta-data allows for better management of disk space, faster file searches, and increased reliability.

Disk service information will contain specifics about the size of the partition, the system type, etc. This is required for the computer to be able to correctly find specific data on the partition.

There is also information about files and folders that contain filenames, sizes, time and date, and other technical information. This will also have the exact physical locations of the files on the HDD. Normally, this information is backed up on the HDD itself just in case the first copy becomes corrupted or damaged. Different file systems will have different forms of storing this information on the HDD. As an example, the File Allocation Table will store information in what is called a FAT. An NTFS file system will store information in what is known as a Master File Table, or MFT. When a computer needs to read a file, it goes first into the about files and folders and searches for some record of that file. It then looks for the address of the file and once found, it reads the file data. When the computer wants to delete a file it doesn’t immediately destroy the data. Rather, it makes some changes to the info about files and folders to designate that the file is now deleted. In other operating systems, such as Mac OS X, the file is completely destroyed.

Before we get into the specifics of HDD data recovery methods, it’s important to remember that if the data on the HDD is overwritten, the old data is gone. There is no program or commercially available program or HDD data recovery method that can recover it. For this reason, it’s imperative that no new files should be written to the disk before attempting an HDD data recovery.

For files that have not been overwritten, there are two main options:

The first possible HDD data recovery method is through analysis of the information about files and folders. This is the first method that an HDD data recovery program will attempt. This is because it can recover files with their original file names, date and time stamps, paths, and if successful, their data too.

The second possible HDD data recovery method is what is a recovery using what is known as raw file recovery. If the first method is unsuccessful, this method can recover file data with greater results than the first method, but it can’t reconstruct the original file names, entire folders, or date and time stamps.

While all HDD data recovery programs use a variation of the two methods mentioned above, there are a number of data recovery techniques that can bring better results. There are advanced file recovery programs that allow to manually specify very complex and advanced file set parameters, including custom file signatures.

SSD Data Recovery Process

When solid-state drives became available in the marketplace,  they received a lot of applause for their speed and reliability. People assume that because an SSD comes with no mechanical parts, it’s not as likely to be affected by a mechanical failure. This is true to a large extent. SSDs generally will last longer and give better performance over a period of time.  But that doesn’t mean that you will need SSD data recovery at some point in time. If it does, there is help available.

A good way to stop a catastrophic loss of data from your SSD is to understand the advance warning signs. Your old hard drive would whirr, click, grind, and beep before it finally hit the dust. But your SSD doesn’t give those audible warning signs. You may notice bad block errors, which means you can’t write to a specific block on the SSD, or you may experience random freezes, errors or crashes. You might notice that you can’t write to the SSD disk, or you may find you need to repair your operating system on an increased basis. Another sign that you need SSD data recovery help is when the SSD switches into read-only mode by itself. The odds of successful SSD data recovery hang on a number of things, particularly the problem that caused the data loss to begin with.

Don’t Try This At Home

Regardless of what kind of drive you have (HDD or SSD), it’s wise to not try to fix the problem yourself. HDD and SSD data recovery is a highly specialized undertaking. Even though there are software apps available on the market that you could use yourself to fix the problem(s), it’s not a wise decision. Think of your drive as an automobile transmission. Unless you already had the necessary training, tools, and facility to repair a transmission, you know it would be prudent to have someone who’s an expert deal with the problem. That’s why we recommend that you let us take care of your HDD and SSD data recovery for you. It’s safer and smarter than trying to become a computer repair person overnight. When you do have an HDD or SSD data recovery problem, reach out to us and we’ll be glad to help.