How do I revive a failed SSD?

A solid-state drive (SSD) is a storage device that uses integrated circuit assemblies and flash memory to store data persistently. Unlike a traditional hard disk drive (HDD) that uses rotating platters and a mechanical arm, SSDs have no moving parts, making them faster, quieter, and less prone to mechanical failures.

However, SSDs can still fail for other reasons like controller malfunctions, wear and tear, firmware issues, etc. Excessive read/writes, overheating, firmware bugs, power outages, etc. can cause the SSD to become unresponsive or lose data. Physical damage is another cause of SSD failure.

When an SSD fails, there are several troubleshooting steps you can try before concluding it’s dead. This includes updating firmware, trying different cables and ports, resetting the SSD, repairing file system errors, and data recovery. As a last resort, the SSD may need replacement if none of these steps successfully revive it.

Back Up Your Data

Backing up your data is one of the most important things you can do to prevent permanent data loss when your SSD fails. According to the U.S. Geological Survey, “Making backups of collected data is critically important in data management. Backups protect against human errors, hardware failure, virus attacks, power outages, and natural disasters” (

There are a few options for backing up an SSD:

  • External hard drives: You can regularly back up your SSD to an external hard drive. This gives you a physical copy of your data that can be easily accessed if needed.
  • Cloud storage: Services like Google Drive, Dropbox, and iCloud allow you to back up your files online. This protects your data even if both your SSD and external drive fail.
  • File history: Windows has a built-in file history option that regularly backs up files to another drive.

Ideally, you should use a combination of physical external drives and cloud storage for a redundant backup. This minimizes the risk of permanent data loss if your SSD fails.

Check Connections and Cables

One of the most common reasons an SSD can fail is due to a loose cable connection. Over time, cables can vibrate loose from their ports. Before assuming your SSD is completely dead, it’s worth checking all the cable connections to make sure everything is seated properly.

Carefully remove the SSD from your computer or external enclosure and check that all the cables are fitted snugly into their ports on both the SSD and motherboard/enclosure. Pay particular attention to the SATA data and power cables connected to the SSD. Reseat each cable by unplugging completely and then plugging back in. You may need to use a bit of gentle wiggling motion to ensure the cable is fully inserted.

If possible, try swapping out the cables entirely. Use a known good SATA cable to connect the SSD. Faulty or worn out cables can mimic SSD failure by corrupting data transfer. If you have access to extra cables, replace each one and test if the SSD responds.

While disconnected, it’s also a good idea to inspect the SSD ports and connectors for any dirt, dust or debris that could impede the connection. Use compressed air to clear away any particles. Check for any signs of damage or bent pins on the connectors. If the ports appear damaged, the SSD may need professional repair.

After reseating connections and cables, attempt to access the SSD again through your PC or enclosure. If the SSD now appears and functions normally, the issue was likely just a loose connection rather than an internal component failure.

Update SSD Firmware

Researching and installing firmware updates from your SSD manufacturer can often fix issues with a failed drive. SSD makers like Samsung, Crucial, and Western Digital periodically release new firmware versions that include bug fixes, performance enhancements, and improved compatibility (Source). Before updating, be sure to check the release notes to confirm the new firmware addresses any problems you’ve experienced.

To update, first identify the make and model of your SSD, then visit the manufacturer’s website and look for firmware downloads. For example, Samsung provides an SSD firmware update tool called Samsung Magician. Download the latest version and install it on your PC. Connect the SSD, launch the tool, and click on “Firmware Update” to check for and install any available updates. The process is largely automated, but be sure to follow all prompts as the firmware installs. Allow time for the update to complete – do not interrupt it or you risk bricking your drive.

In general, updating SSD firmware is a straightforward process. But be cautious and make sure you are installing an update specifically for your make and model. Confirm latest firmware details with your manufacturer if unsure. With an update successfully installed, reboot and see if your SSD performance and reliability improves (Source).

Try a Different Port or PC

One way to troubleshoot an SSD that is not being detected is to try connecting it to a different port or PC entirely. This can help isolate whether the issue is with the SSD itself, or something to do with the specific port or PC you are trying to use.

First, try connecting the SSD to a different SATA or M.2 port on your motherboard if available. For example, move the SSD from SATA port 1 to port 2. Or if you have multiple M.2 slots, try moving the SSD to a different slot.

If trying a new port does not work, the next step is to connect the SSD to a completely separate computer if you have access to one. Use a SATA to USB adapter or external enclosure to connect the SSD externally via USB. Or install the SSD internally in the second PC if it has available ports or slots.

If the SSD is detected in another PC without issue, then the problem likely lies with the original motherboard port, cable, or PC settings. However, if it still fails to be recognized, then there is an issue with the SSD itself that will require additional troubleshooting steps.

This simple test of trying different connection ports and PCs can rapidly help isolate if the SSD itself has failed, or if the problem exists within the specific PC configuration. Before proceeding with more complex software fixes or data recovery options, it is wise to first rule out any underlying hardware faults in this manner. Source

Reset SSD to Factory Settings

One option to revive a failed SSD is to reset it to factory settings using a secure erase process. This wipes the SSD clean and restores it to a like-new state.

To secure erase an SSD in Windows 10 or 11:
1. Type “diskpart” in the Windows search box and open the DiskPart tool.
2. Type “list disk” to see all connected drives. Identify the disk number for your SSD.
3. Type “select disk X” where X is your SSD’s disk number. This selects the SSD.

4. Type “clean”. This wipes all data from the SSD by overwriting it.
5. Type “create partition primary” to recreate the main partition on the SSD.
6. Type “format quick fs=ntfs” to quick format the drive.
7. Type “assign” to assign a drive letter to the SSD.
8. Type “exit” to close DiskPart.

The SSD is now reset to a clean, out-of-box state with a formatted partition. You can try reconnecting it to see if this resolved any issues.

For other methods, refer to this Crucial guide.

Repair File System Errors

One cause of SSD failure is file system errors like bad sectors. You can scan for and repair these errors using built-in Windows tools like chkdsk or third-party filesystem repair software.

Chkdsk scans the drive and fixes logical file system errors. It can detect bad sectors and mark them as unusable so data is not stored there. Running chkdsk regularly can help extend the life of an SSD by mapping out any bad sectors before they cause problems.[1] While chkdsk is read-intensive, it’s generally considered safe for SSDs as long as you don’t run it excessively.[2]

To run chkdsk in Windows, open the Command Prompt as administrator and use the command “chkdsk /f C:”. Replace “C:” with the letter of your SSD drive. This scans and fixes file system errors.

Third-party tools like DiskGenius, EaseUS Partition Master, and Active@ Partition Recovery can also scan for bad sectors and repair SSDs. These give you more options to test SSD health and repair errors.

Replace Cabling

One potential cause of SSD failure is a faulty SATA or PCIe data cable. Cabling issues can mimic SSD failure symptoms like slow speeds, data corruption, and drive not detected errors. SATA cables in particular have a fragile connector design, with a lifespan of only around 50 insertions before failure.

If you suspect a bad cable, try replacing the SATA or PCIe data cable between the SSD and motherboard. This is an inexpensive fix that could potentially get your SSD working again. When replacing cables, use high quality cables from reputable brands to minimize the chances of future cable failure.

One source notes SATA cable failure rates have been an issue for many years, with the fragile SATA connector prone to damage over time. Replacing worn SATA cables is an easy first step before assuming the SSD itself has failed. For NVMe SSDs, also inspect the PCIe slot and check for any damaged pins or debris.

Swapping cables can often resolve intermittent SSD issues caused by poor connections. However overall SSD reliability remains high, with failure rates only slightly higher than traditional hard drives. Still, cables are a simple component to replace that could potentially revive a failing SSD.

Use Data Recovery Software

If the SSD failure is not hardware related, using data recovery software can potentially help rescue data from a failed drive. There are a few options to try:

Data Recovery Success Rates show that software has around a 70% success rate for SSD data recovery.

Tools like SSD Data Recovery vs HDD Data Recovery Success Rate can help recover deleted files and lost partitions. Follow the steps to scan the drive and restore data.

For more complex recovery, send the SSD to a professional data recovery service like Solid State Drive (SSD) Data Recovery Services, which advertise over 95% successful file recovery.

As a last resort, if the SSD is not detected or data recovery software cannot access it, data recovery specialists may be able to repair the drive hardware and extract the data in a cleanroom environment.

Keep in mind, DIY software recovery can sometimes make matters worse. If the data is critical, consider professional recovery first to avoid overwriting data during the recovery attempt.

Replace the SSD

If your SSD has reached the end of its lifespan and is no longer functional, replacing it with a new SSD may be necessary. The lifespan of an SSD depends on factors like how much data is written to it over time and operating temperatures (Enterprise Storage Forum). Manufacturers typically rate SSDs for a certain number of write cycles before failure, but real-world conditions can shorten the lifespan.

When replacing a dead SSD, first consider migration options. You’ll need to move your data from the old drive to the new one. This may require connecting both drives to a computer simultaneously or using disk cloning software. If the old SSD is totally unresponsive, data recovery software or professional services may be required to extract the data before replacing the drive.

Choose an SSD with sufficient capacity and performance for your needs. Match form factors between old and new drives for easier physical installation. Once the new SSD is in place, you can restore your data and settings from backup.