Quite literally, there is nothing you can do, and while you can try deep scanning, it will more often than not result in artificial file flagging: the software can see the presence of files, and knows that something might have been there, but due to the way solid state drives basically are empty blocks of memory that either hold information or don’t, it also can’t reach it.

When a solid-state drive (SSD) fails, recovery software approaches it like walking through the desert and seeing a mirage: there’s something in the distance, and you convince yourself it’s there, like a mirage with plenty of water and palm trees, but it’s not there at all, and so you blink and it’s just sand, or empty file space.

Unfortunately, when a hard drive begins to show signs of weakness, it’s a sign that the drive is on its last legs. Failures aren’t easy to see coming on all drives, either.

Recovering files from a dying solid-state drive borders on impossible: file recovery solutions can probably see ghosts of files, but can't figure out how or where to resurrect them.

Recovering files from a dying solid-state drive borders on impossible: file recovery solutions can probably see ghosts of files, but can’t figure out how or where to resurrect them.

How do I tell when a drive is failing?

On a conventional hard drive, the moment it starts clicking or making audible noises that weren’t there a day or two ago, your drive is failing.

At this point, start taking stuff off the drive and moving it to something else, because your drive doesn’t have long. It could be tomorrow or it could be four weeks from now or even longer, but you have your sign and it’s not good.

Don’t waste the knowledge, though, because while it could survive far longer than anyone could expect, it is terminal and when it fails, you’ve at least been given some element of warning signs.

That’s more than you can say for owners of solid-state drives.

For an SSD, it’s usually an issue with speed and some slow downs, but not always as SSDs can fail just like the snapping of fingers together.

Just like that, your files are gone, as the memory essentially becomes transient and your files disappear into the ether.

Unfortunately, SSDs don’t really have warning signs. Rather, they just sort of stop working.

If you’re lucky — and we use that term loosely — you may find your files are there one moment and then not, as the circuits fail to connect and then start working again. That could be a sign that something is wrong, but it also might just be the operating system playing silly buggers, which can also happen.

Solid state drives lack the moving parts like regular conventional hard drives, and when they die, your data tends to die with it.

Solid state drives lack the moving parts like regular conventional hard drives, and when they die, your data tends to die with it.

What can I do to make sure I’m always backed up?

You’ve probably heard the term “safety in numbers” and thought of how it applies to being around people, but it’s also true of data backup.

Specifically, the more backups you have, the better protected you are long term.