Probe-storage devices employ large arrays of probes to write/read data in parallel in some storage medium, and combine ultra-high density, low access times, and low power consumption. A particular probe-storage technique utilizes thermomechanical means to store and retrieve information in thin polymer films. In this paper, a system-level channel model for the thermomechanical probe-storage channel is presented. Each of the components of the proposed model is derived by extensive characterization of experimentally obtained readback signals from probe recording tests. Moreover, detection techniques that are actually utilized in a probe-storage prototype implementation are described, followed by coding techniques for added reliability in the presence of particles or other impurities of the storage medium. In addition to low-complexity coding constructs, a concatenated coding scheme with an outer LDPC and inner modulation code is considered, in order to establish a benchmark for overall system performance. A novel methodology for joint decoding of outer LDPC and inner (d,k) modulation codes is developed. Furthermore, an optimal soft decoder for the modulation code is proposed, based on a modification of the decoder metrics to accurately account for the probe storage channel output statistics. Experimental results are used throughout the paper to validate the channel model and identify its relevant parameters, as well as to verify the system performance obtained by simulations. © 2010 IEEE.