Data Recovery Services Develops Solution For Intel SSD BAD_CTX Issue

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Research and development department of Data Recovery Services came up with the first in the market recovery solution to the original “BAD_CTX” problem that allowed the company to recover data from any Intel 320 Series SSD hit by this issue.

Data Recovery Services (DRS), a subdivision of ACE Data Group LLC, has developed a sophisticated solution to recover data from the Intel 320 Series solid state drives (SSDs) failed with “BAD_CTX”/”NO_CONTEXT” family of errors.

Solid state drives are here to stay. They can be found almost everywhere nowadays – from smartphones to data centers’ racks. SSDs have their benefits which are well known, but they also have their shortcomings. One of them is the complexity when it comes to data recovery. This complexity comes from several technologies employed inside an SSD. Among them is a wear leveling technique designed to extend the reliability and operational life of an SSD by making sure that all available storage blocks of an SSD are used evenly. The information about how and when every storage block is used is kept in so called translation tables. If for any reason the tables become corrupted or empty, an SSD fails and stops working.

After Intel introduced their Solid-State Drive 320 Series with faster 25nm NAND flash memory in 2011, reports started to show up indicating that these drives could fail under some circumstances identifying themselves as 8 Mb in size and giving the error code “BAD_CTX 0000013F”. The only solution to make them operational again was to secure erase a drive with a complete data loss. The bug was eventually traced to the firmware and translation tables’ corruption in particular caused by an unexpected power loss. Intel posted a firmware update to address this issue. However, reports continued to appear that the 320 Series drives failed with the same symptoms – exhibiting a drive capacity of 8 Mb and showing an error code “BAD_CTX 00000xxx”. It became apparent that the Intel firmware update only fixed the original “13F” issue, and there were other problems that could lead to a similar failure.

In January 2012, the research and development department of Data Recovery Services came up with the first in the market recovery solution to the original “BAD_CTX” problem that allowed the company to recover data from any Intel 320 Series SSD hit by this issue. Moreover, the software was designed in such a way as to easily tackle different problems with the translation tables, for example, less known “NO_CONTEXT” error which is reported by a drive when the translation tables appear to be empty or completely gone. Expectedly, after Intel introduced their firmware update, the DRS’ research and development engineers adapted their translation tables’ solution to be able to recover as much data as possible from the 320 Series SSDs affected not only by the original “BAD_CTX” bug but by the other similar issues as well. As of now, DRS is the only data recovery company in the market that has independently come up with the comprehensive and flexible solution which allows it to successfully recover data from Intel 320 Series SSDs failed due to “BAD_CTX”/”NO_CONTEXT” family of issues also known in the community as “Bad Context” and “No Context” bugs or “8 Mb” bugs.

“Our 320 Series solution is unique in the way it is designed to be flexible and not oriented to resolve only one or two particular problems,” said Yevgeniy Tolkunov, Director of the R&D department of Data Recovery Services. “It is also naturally incorporated in our solid state drives recovery (http://www.datarecovery.net/solid-state-drive-recovery.html) process, so that if there is a massive corruption to the translation tables or there are no tables at all, we can work around it using different methods.”

Data Recovery Services (http://www.datarecovery.net) is a part of ACE Data Group, LLC. ACE Data Group, headquartered in Dallas, Texas, provides best in class, single-source data processing, consulting, and forensic services for enterprise clients and consumers alike. The Data Recovery Services division specializes in recovering data from corrupted media like: hard drives, RAID/SAN/NAS systems, flash drives, CD/DVDs, solid state drives, tapes, and proprietary devices. Their clients include most of the largest Fortune 100 companies, government entities, non-profit corporations, and individuals.

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