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Baking SSDs: The SSD oven trick

This sounds crazy, but sometimes baking SSDs fixes them if they break. This process causes the solder to reflow. So here’s how to do the SSD oven trick.

Why baking SSDs or the SSD oven trick works

SSD oven trick or baking SSDs

Removing an SSD’s circuit board and baking it should never be your first resort. But when all else fails, the SSD oven trick is worth a shot. Use a junk toaster oven, not your good kitchen one, or your regular kitchen oven.

I enjoy MacGyver-style repairs. I once recovered a USB drive with two clothespins. Putting an SSD in the oven definitely ranks up there with my clothespin trick. But here’s why it can work.

Baking SSDs causes the solder to reflow. If the problem is due to a bad solder joint, either from a factory defect or from overheating, reflowing solder via the SSD oven trick can help. And it’s much easier than traditional ways of fixing bad solder joints, especially on modern surface-mounted components.

This trick does present some risks, so I can’t take any responsibility for the results. I’ll tell you how to do it. But I can’t guarantee it will work every time. I can’t even guarantee it will work a majority of the time. But if my power cycle trick doesn’t work and the other option is sending the drive to Ontrack, you might want to give this a try.

But always try the power cycle trick before the oven trick. Always. And if that doesn’t work, try shimming the drive with an old gift card. Both things are relatively quick to try and guaranteed to do no harm.

Safety first

Don’t bake your SSD in your kitchen oven. Get a secondhand toaster oven at a thrift store and use that, and don’t ever use the oven for food preparation again. Reflowing solder can release chemicals and heavy metals into the air. You don’t want them landing on the walls of your oven, then getting re-released and deposited on your food.

It won’t kill you right away, but the effects are cumulative. I have an old toaster oven I only use for hobby use, like solder reflowing and baking paint.

I also recommend taking your toaster oven outdoors or at least into the garage, with the garage door open, when you do this. You don’t want to be breathing the fumes.

Performing the SSD oven trick

To bake an SSD, remove the circuit board and place it on a piece of aluminum foil. Since low-temperature solder was mostly banned around 2006, we have to assume the board used newer solder. Bake the board at about 450 or 475 degrees Fahrenheit for about 8 minutes without preheating it. Check periodically and if you see the solder get bright and shiny, go ahead and shut it down.

After 8 minutes or when the solder gets shiny, shut off the oven, open the door, and let everything sit for about 30 minutes.

Once the board is good and cool, reassemble it. Put the drive in a computer and try it out. Always assume the fix is temporary and immediately copy the data if the drive works.

Is the SSD oven trick a temporary or permanent fix?

The life expectancy of a baked SSD depends. If the problem was a bad solder joint from the factory, its prognosis is rather good. If some of the drive’s components run so hot that they damage their solder joints, the problem will probably happen again. The latter problem is unusual, especially for SSDs. They don’t normally run hot enough to crack solder joints.

Baking SSDs repeatedly shouldn’t damage the chips or the board, as long as you don’t preheat the oven. Too much heat too fast shocks the board, but an oven with ramp-up time is fine. Heat is bad for computer chips while they’re working. But powered off, the chips shouldn’t care about heat. Some chips even seem to like it. Baking repeatedly isn’t great for the plastic SATA and power connectors though.

If I had an SSD that I had to throw back into the oven more than once to keep it working, I certainly wouldn’t use it in a computer I needed to rely on.

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