If you accidentally format a hard drive, your chances of successful data recovery are quite high. Unfortunately, solid-state drives (SSDs) manage data differently using a completely different technology; when you delete data from an SSD, you have much lower chances of success.
This is also the case when an SSD is unintentionally formatted. We’ll explain why in a moment, but first: If you’ve accidentally formatted an SSD, turn it off immediately. Don’t go through a normal shutdown process — unplug the computer or the drive. Contact a professional data recovery provider as soon as possible.
Datarecovery.com provides free media evaluations for SSD data recovery, and all of our services are supported by our no data, no charge guarantee: If we can’t recover your data, you don’t pay for the attempt.
With that out of the way, let’s discuss the basics of SSD trim commands and how they impact data recovery.
Why Accidentally Formatting an SSD May Cause Permanent Data Loss
Hard drives write data to a thin layer of magnetic material on the platters (the disks that spin as the hard drive operates). When the user deletes a file or formats the drive, that data still exists; the computer simply marks the space as “available,” enabling the operating system to use the space when needed.
But solid-state media stores data electronically. In another article, we go into detail about the TRIM command, but here’s an overview: The TRIM command marks invalid data, which allows the SSD to clear the space during garbage collection (a process that optimizes space and efficiency).
The garbage collection process occurs in the background as the SSD operates. Essentially, as soon as the drive receives the TRIM command, the data is unrecoverable — it’s physically erased from the drive.
If you’ve accidentally formatted your SSD, there is some good news: On certain models, the affected sectors may still be readable with appropriate software. This is only possible for a short period of time after the TRIM command is sent.
For that reason, we recommend taking the following steps:
- Turn the SSD off immediately. The longer the device operates, the lower the chances of a successful recovery.
- Make a list of important files. On a formatted SSD, full data recovery is unlikely, but a partial recovery may be possible. Credible data recovery companies offer guarantees — if the data you need isn’t recoverable, there’s no charge. However, if you fail to identify the target data, you’ll likely pay for a partially successful attempt.
- Contact a professional data recovery provider. Do not attempt to use data recovery software — if the drive operates, the TRIM command also operates, and your chances for a successful result will be limited.
While you can make a clone of your SSD and attempt to use software to restore the missing data, be aware that any operation carries the risk of permanent data loss. Even powering on the SSD will trigger garbage collection routines.
If you’ve lost data from an SSD, we’re here to help. Call 1-800-237-4200 to speak with an expert or set up a case online.