Recovering data from different types of storage media require very different approaches. With a large variety of storage technologies and storage issues unique to certain types of storage media, data recovery from a damaged disk can be a matter of simply pushing a few buttons in a data recovery tool – or an extremely complex endeavor depending on what exactly caused the damage, what type of storage media is concerned, and what the user has done to the disk before resorting to a professional solution.
Files deleted from the Recycle Bin or erased directly should be the easiest to recover, right? Well, undeleting files used to be the easiest thing to do, but not anymore. The introduction of TRIM-enabled solid-state drives (SSD) has turned the entire data recovery business upside down. Unlike traditional magnetic media, SSDs have the capability to permanently destroy deleted information in background, without any additional user or system activities. There is literally nothing that can be done to undo a file delete operation performed on a TRIM-enabled SSD.
Fortunately, other types of media including flash drives and traditional spinning-disk hard drives are much easier. Undeleting files from these types of media is a simple matter of using the right tool.
Depending on the type of storage media, certain types of logical damage can be repaired – or not. For example, TRIM-enabled SSD drives cannot be restored if repartitioned or formatted (even with Quick Format), while most hard drives can. On the other hand, a genuinely corrupted file system or partition table can be the simplest thing to recover on a physically intact drive – or require a clean lab if the hard drive is worn out to the point of being not recognizable by the system BIOS. Either way, trying a good partition recovery tool immediately after the accident will be the first thing you should do when encountering this type of damage.
Physically damaged media should be brought immediately to a data recovery lab. By running software-based data recovery tools, you are risking in causing complete failure of the already damaged components. If you’re lucky, a physically damaged disk will be possible to read by connecting it to a special bench. If not, the lab workers will have to disassemble your drive in order to obtain physical access to disk plates (magnetic hard drives) or flash chips (USB drives, SSDs and memory cards). This will come at significant cost, so it will be up to you to decide how much exactly your data is worth to you.