There was a big dustup a while ago about power failures killing SSDs. It turns out that when this happens, you can usually unbrick it. If your SSD died, here’s how to recover or fix your dead SSD in 61 minutes using the power cycle method.
Yes, it really does take 61 minutes to revive a dead SSD, but you only have direct involvement for a few minutes. The rest of the time, you can do something else while you wait for the drive to do its thing. This trick will even let you recover drives that won’t show up in Windows Device Manager or disk management if you transplant them into another machine.
Note that this trick generally only works for drives corrupted by power loss. But it doesn’t hurt to try it on any old dead drive, say one corrupted by a bad firmware update or a blue screen. It’s nice that it’s possible to recover from SSD failure using a free, easy trick. First I’ll cover SATA drives, then I’ll cover a trick that works for NVMe and M.2 drives.
SSD repair without tools: What you need
The SSD power cycle trick works better in a desktop PC, since you need to connect the power cable but not the data cable. If you’re recovering a drive from a laptop, you can use a spare power supply with my neato paper clip trick. Then you don’t have to open up an extra computer.
If a laptop is all you have, you can use a USB SATA adapter as long as it’s possible to plug in just the power cable. My USB SATA adapters use a single connector. Or you can try the alternate method below that works on NVMe or M.2 SSDs.
Power cycle the SSD
If the SSD is already in a desktop computer, pull the data cable, but not the power cable.
If you’re installing the SSD in a desktop or connecting it to a loose power supply temporarily, do this instead. Connect the power cable, but no data cable, to the SSD. The power cable is the larger of the two connectors.
Turn on the power and leave the power on for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, power down or pull the power cable. Wait 30 seconds, then restore power. Let the drive sit powered on for another 30 minutes. Power down again, then wait 30 seconds.
At that point, if all went well, the drive will come back to life when you connect the data cable, or plug the drive back into a laptop.
What about an NVMe or M.2 SSD
Of course, if you have an NVMe or M.2 SSD, you can’t unplug the data connection while leaving the power connection in like you can with SATA. You’ll need to use the alternative method below to fix your dead SSD of the NVMe or M.2 type.
The alternate method
Supposedly this trick can work without disassembling anything at all. If it’s a PC, turn the PC on and then hit whatever key boots the PC into the BIOS. Frequently it’s the DEL key or one of the function keys like F1, F2, F8 or F10. Let it sit for 30 minutes at the BIOS screen, then power down for 30 seconds and repeat.
On a Mac, power up while you hold down the ALT key, which is supposed to pull up a boot menu. Let it sit at the boot menu for 30 minutes, then power down for 30 seconds and repeat.
One more thing to try in Dell laptops
In Dell laptops and possibly others, the smaller size of SATA SSDs compared to traditional hard drives can cause electrical contact issues. If your SSD suddenly died in a computer like that, you can probably fix it by shimming it with an old gift card. Try that if the power cycle trick doesn’t work. Or feel free to try it first.
A last resort
And as a last resort, sometimes an SSD will overheat and break one or more solder joints. You can fix that issue by baking an SSD in an oven to reflow its solder joints. This issue is rather rare though, so it’s a last resort.
Possible residual issues
Once you get the drive working, you could still have problems that keep it from booting, so you may have to do some further data recovery. But recovering data in those cases isn’t as hard as it sounds.
If you have a Missing Operating System error or a similar indication of an MBR problem, here’s how to rebuild an MBR and recover partitions. The MBR trick will also recover the file system after it rebuilds the MBR. If the system appears to work but goes into a loop, here’s how to fix a Windows boot loop. All using free tools of course.
I also have a trick for fixing SD and micro SD cards, if you’re interested.
Using one or more of the tricks above will restore your system to a bootable state and get your lost data back.
Fix your dead SSD with the power cycle method: In conclusion
There are no guarantees, and the trick sounds a lot like MacGyver or even witchcraft. But this works often enough that many people now do it routinely. If the drive isn’t working, you don’t have anything to lose by trying to fix your SSD this way. Unlike some data loss tricks we used to do with hard drives, this one does no harm.
This DIY SSD drive repair trick works with most drives. I’m familiar with it working with Crucial, Samsung, and OCZ drives. Even if you have a different brand, it’s worth a try with other makes of drive as well.
And aside from the power loss weakness, SSDs tend to outlive their advertised life expectancy. So it’s good to be able to bring one back when it dies from power loss.
The right answer, of course, is to have backup copies so you can restore data from a backup if something goes wrong. But your backup won’t fix a nonfunctioning drive, so it’s nice to be able to bring bricked hardware back from the deadm, usually with data intact.