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New Group Formed To Address Data Recovery, Erasing In Solid State Storage

By - Source: SNIA

The Storage Networking Industry Association (SNIA) and its Solid State Storage Initiative (SSSI) announced the creation of a new Data Recovery/Erase Special Interest Group (DR/E SIG) to tackle the challenges preventing the mainstream enterprise adoption of solid state storage.

One of the most difficult challenges enterprise IT departments face is disaster and data recovery. The hardware we depend on to house our most critical data can sometimes irreparably fail, and it is then we turn to data recovery services to retrieve the vital information. Furthermore, the ability to selectively erase data -- specific data -- securely and with 100 percent accuracy is a must-have for high-security firms dealing with sensitive information.

With costs decreasing and reliability increasing, solid state storage is quickly becoming a viable option for enterprise users. However, SSDs present several issues that are holding it back from mainstream enterprise adoption, specifically the way it erases data and how recoverable it is.

"SSDs present particular challenges when trying to erase all data or attempting to recover data from a nonoperational drive," said Scott Holewinski of Gillware Data Recovery and Chair, Data Recovery/Erase SIG, in a press release. "The DR/E SIG provides a forum in which solution providers and solid state storage manufacturers can collaborate to enable data recovery and erase capabilities in solid state storage in such a way as to ensure that customer demands for these services can be met in a cost-effective and timely manner with a high likelihood of success."

The native TRIM command, which constantly moves data around in the background, makes data recovery very difficult. The ability to selectively erase data, not just whole SSDs, is also a challenge not yet conquered by the industry, preventing many consumer segments and government agencies from taking the SSD plunge.

This new DR/E SIG was formed with the goal of obtaining cooperation between solid state manufacturers and data recovery services and expressed a need to create standards of dumping data, compile lists of technical assets and capabilities from vendors (and develop a means to protect that sensitive data provided by the vendors), and also work with standards bodies such as T13, SATA-IO, T10 (SAS), PCI-SIG, JEDEC (eMMC and UFS) and NVM Express (NVMe) to collaborate and encourage them to consider data recovery and erase capabilities during product design instead of retroactively developing solutions, which can be more costly and less effective.

The group is still very much in its infancy, but it would behoove solid state manufacturers to jump on board. The standards and practices being proposed already exist for standard hard disk drives (HDDs), which offer an average recovery rate between 85 and 90 percent on self-encrypted drives, so long as the physical media is in good shape. However, HDDs can sometimes degrade to where the platters get powdered or "dust[ed]," and the media is gone forever.

With proper vendor support, including tools that allow recovery specialists to access, decrypt and work with the solid state storage, the recovery rate for self-encrypted SSDs is almost guaranteed at 95-100 percent. NAND storage is never totally bad after failure, and it is a holy grail of sorts from a recovery standpoint as a result of this. However, without the proper relationship and standards between SSD manufacturers and recovery services, self-encrypted SSDs are currently unrecoverable.

Solid state storage is the future, and the formation of a special interest group dedicated to bringing SSDs to the level of capabilities that its enterprise HDD counterparts have with recoverability and erasing is a huge step to creating that future.

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