Stop using SanDisk SSDs or risk losing your data with no warning

Aug 9, 2023

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

Aug 9, 2023

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

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It’s been reported that quite a number of SanDisk SSD users have been suffering complete failures with total data losses recently. Between devices bricking themselves, vulnerabilities in their NAS line, and now this, WD’s not having a great time.

The latest major report comes as one of the staff at The Verge lost 3TB of data, something that the reported was already a problem back in May. At the time, WD acknowledged an issue in one capacity of one model, but it looks like there are more affected units.

The Verge isn’t the only high-profile website to see SanDisk SSDs dying during regular use. Ars Technica wrote on the 19th of May that they lost a pair of 2TB SanDisk Extreme/Extreme Pro SSDs. Two units completely failed during the course of normal operation.

At the time, SanDisk admitted there was a problem with the 4TB SSDs, stating:

Western Digital is aware of reports indicating some customers have experienced an issue with 4TB SanDisk Extreme and/or Extreme Pro portable SSDs (SDSSDE61-4T00 and SDSSDE81-4T00 respectively). We have resolved the issue and will publish a firmware update to our website soon. Customers with questions or who are experiencing issues should contact our Customer Support team for assistance.

What’s affected now?

According to Ars Technica’s experience, it’s not just the 4TB units affected. The drives they had issues with were 2TB capacity. Vjeran Pavic, the staffer at The Verge, lost a 4TB SSD containing 3TB worth of video footage that had been shot for The Verge, but many users are reporting issues with 2TB drives.

The 4TB drive that Vjeran lost was actually a replacement drive for another one that had already previously failed. So it wasn’t an old, old drive that had been misused and mishandled over time. It was a virtually new drive that Vjeran had only received at the beginning of June 2023.

The Verge believes that this affects all SanDisk Extreme, SanDisk Extreme Pro and SanDisk MyPassport SSD units of potentially all capacities. PetaPixel also reports that their team members have experienced similar issues with the SanDisk Pro-G40 SSD. There are also many reports on Reddit with similar experiences.

It’s difficult to say exactly which models might potentially bring problems because SanDisk has yet to make an official statement about the wide array of drives that are failing. But if it covers the four models mentioned so far in all capacities, that’s pretty much their whole mainstream SSD lineup.

Slightly worrying is the fact that the Verge also suggests that Western Digital may be trying to quietly cover the whole thing up. The company is still offloading drives at a 66% discount. Are they hoping to just get rid of the stock and that either the majority of drives won’t fail for people who’ll give them little use or they just won’t complain?

I’d like to believe that this isn’t the case. However, the circumstantial evidence is pretty strong.

What can we do?

Well, the best advice I can offer right now is to get the data on those drives backed up as soon as possible. Of course, this is always good advice for any storage device, but particularly so with these ones, apparently.

I would suggest, though, that you start looking into other brands of SSD. I don’t use any SanDisk SSDs, so I can’t comment on their failure rates from personal experience. But I’ve been having great success with the OWC Envoy Pro FX (buy here), Crucial X8 (buy here ) and Samsung T5/7 (buy here) SSDs.

With any brand of portable SSD like this, though, you want to make sure that it’s regularly backed up to either the cloud, a NAS or, at the very minimum, to another portable SSD, hard drive or even your camera memory cards.

I make a habit when working on location to copy the memory cards to my SSD and then don’t format the memory cards so that I have two copies of everything until I get home and can back up across the network.

Response from SanDisk

At the time of posting this article, representatives from neither SanDisk nor Western Digital have responded to DIYP’s email about these issues. We’ll update this post when we hear back from them.

As of right now, though, SanDisk has yet to really make a response anywhere. Yes, they did give a response to Ars Technical back in May. But that was already incorrect, given that it didn’t address the drives the AT team had issues with.

Until there is a statement from SanDisk or Western Digital addressing not only the issues but how the company will help people who’ve already experienced drive failure and data loss, DIYP is not recommending the purchase SanDisk SSDs.

We’re also going a step further and suggesting that if you’re using SanDisk SSDs right now, you should probably back them up, find an alternative brand, and then stop using them altogether.

As has been seen by the reports, it doesn’t matter if the drive is a couple of years old or a couple of months old. It can fail at any moment. Is it worth the risk for important data?

Have you had a SanDisk (or any brand) portable SSD fail on you?

[via The Verge]

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John Aldred

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

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11 responses to “Stop using SanDisk SSDs or risk losing your data with no warning”

  1. Andy Thien Avatar
    Andy Thien

    I purchased a SanDisk 4TB Extreme PRO Portable SSD in November, 2022. It failed within 2 months. SanDisk eventually replaced it, but it took them 3 months (!) to do so. I had to call them repeatedly to finally get a replacement drive. Their customer service was terrible.

    When mine failed, it would not mount on my MacBook Pro. The drive would not display in Finder or Disk Utility.

  2. Samsung User Avatar
    Samsung User

    Perhaps it is worth mentioning, that SanDisk (or WD, whatever) calls them “SanDisk Extreme/Extreme PRO Portable SSD (V2)”. So the title is a bit misleading. According to this teardown video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ojefw94QXSw the innards of the fancy little case just seems to be a boilerplate NVMe SSD and a USB-to-NVMe adapter. Depending on what exactly caused the failure, other SanDisk NVMe drives might of course be affected as well, but if it’s just the adapter that died from a heat stroke, you would at least be able to restore your data.

    So far, I had no SanDisk flash media fail on me (mostly Extreme SDXD and SDHC Class 10 V30 SD and uSD cards, one TransFlash Class 4, a few Cruzer Titanium). The SSDs I’m using were all Samsung 840 EVO, 850 EVO, 860 EVO, 860 PRO with 120GB-1TB. After 10 years of heavy use and many TBW, the 120GB got a little slow. Reformatting and TRIMming did not help. No bad sectors however, SMART readings still OK. I’m still using this thing in an external 2.5″ USB enclosure for timeshifting. The rest is still running strong.

    1. Samsung User Avatar
      Samsung User

      Oh. Some people report that the SanDisk NVMe drive inside the portable case seems to be hardware-encrypted or at least tightly coupled with the controller in the USB-to-NVMe.So extracting the NVMe and running it in another enclosure might not be possible and probably no option to upgrade the capacity either. Oh well. Sounds like a lemon.

  3. Stan A. Malek Avatar
    Stan A. Malek

    I bought one about 3 yrs ago. It crapped out within a week. I bought another, same story. Done. Returned. Have seen them on sale ever since. Got a G-Tech portable drive instead and it’s been perfect so far.

  4. Don Navarro Avatar
    Don Navarro

    Every WD SSD has failed on me! 😞

  5. José Lemos Avatar
    José Lemos

    Not a SSD but a SD card 2 weeks ago. A Sabrent V90 busted on the first shoot and lost all the work.

  6. Vincent Reyna Avatar
    Vincent Reyna

    Haven’t had any issues but I’ve only used the 1tb drives for the past like 5 years. Only recently have i for a 2 tb drive but i don’t work off of them. Only storage.

  7. jsm Avatar
    jsm

    If you don’t have a backup its YOUR fault.

  8. Steve KJ Avatar
    Steve KJ

    I have the 1/2 & 1 TB drives with no problems. But, I know this has been an ongoing problem for (maybe) a year now. I buy the Samsung ones now.

  9. Vasil Kuyov Avatar
    Vasil Kuyov

    I loved SanDisk but now WD is the owner of the company and I started having problems with my new portable disks too.

  10. Micha van Neerwijk Avatar
    Micha van Neerwijk

    Yes I had 2 128Gb SSD’s fail me within 2 months of each other after several years of use. It was the early days of the technology. Paid a small fortune for those things and of course they were out of warranty… 😔 One was in a Mac & the other in a Windows machine. All my data was lost. 🔥 -Since then I keep a VERY strict backup schedule (onsite/offsite/cloud)-