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August 3, 2020

War Story: Interesting SSD Recovery Battle

When I tried to back one of my test machines up this morning, I soon recognized a problem with the targeted backup media. That item consists of a Syba USB to dual mSATA adapter, plus a pair of older Samsung 840EVO 250GB SSDs (part number MZMTE250HMHP, not readily available for purchase any more). The way I had the device configured, each SSD shows up as a separate 250 GiB storage device (JBOD). But neither device appeared in Explorer. When I tried the two devices out independently, one came up as it should have. And the other showed RAW with no drive letter nor Windows-readable content. Luckily for me, I have a license for a full-blown version of MiniTool Partition Wizard, which includes a pretty decent data recovery facility. (The free version of MTPW is covered here as a Toolkit Item, as is the for-a-fee Data Recovery tool; nowadays, when you pay for an MTPW license, you get the Data Recovery tool along with the rest of the program.)

Getting the Lost Bits Back

Right now, as shown in the lead-in graphic for this story, MTPW Data Recovery is a bit over 20% through grabbing the files I wanted to save from the corrupted drive. Once I get the backups from that drive, I’ll reformat it, and then copy them back onto that SSD yet again. I’ll have an extra copy in case this strange hiccup is a sign of a failing SSD — which it very well could be — should I need to access that data again even in the face of drive failure. The other drive comes up just fine inside the Syba adapter. I’ve got the second (failing/failed) drive in a simple Sabrent M.2 SSD enclosure right now and it’s plugged into a USB 3 hub connection on one of my Dell 2717 monitors right now, doing the data recovery thing.

If I needed any further convincing that my “naked” Syba adapter card MUST go into a USB drive enclosure I think this latest glitch has finally convinced me to do just that. I just popped an idle Seagate 2TB 2.5″ drive out of an Inatek FE2010 drive enclosure. Once I get the funky EVO drive backed up, I’ll reformat it and put it back into the Syba adapter (along with the other known-to-be working SSD), then pop the whole thing into that Inatek enclosure. Hopefully, this will keep the device out of further trouble. If not, I’ll replace that failing M.2 drive with something new (I see a Kingston 480GB mSATA at Amazon for under US$80 — seems like a potentially worthwhile replacement).

So now, I’m crossing my fingers that the restore operation will complete successfully, and the media will go back to steady, normal and reliable operation. Stay tuned: I’ll let you know if (or should I say when) it or something else goes sideways.

Noted Added 1 Hour Later

It gets more interesting. When I plug the adapter card into the Inatek drive enclosure, the drives become unreadable. But when I leave the device in the Inatek Drive sled and plug into the back of the card, everything worked fine AFTER I went into DiskMgmt.msc and re-assigned drive letters for the two SSDs. I’ve got them working now, with letters F and G assigned on my “other” Lenovo X380 Yoga, as shown in the following screenshot. So (a) there is something flaky about the circuitry around the SATA connectors, and (b) the built-in mini-USB 3.1 connector seems to be working just fine. Now, I’m starting to believe that something is going flaky with the adapter card. Easily replaced (only costs $23.99 at Newegg: I’ll order one the next time I need something).

Author: Ed Tittel

Ed Tittel is a 30-plus-year computer industry veteran. He’s a Princeton and multiple University of Texas graduate who’s worked in IT since 1981 when he started his first programming job. Over the past three decades he’s also worked as a manager, technical evangelist, consultant, trainer, and an expert witness. See his professional bio for all the details.

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