SanDisk Extreme SSDs are still wiping data after firmware “fix,” users say

Enlarge / SanDisk’s Extreme Pro Portable SSD V2.

SanDisk’s silence this week has been deafening. Its portable SSDs are being lambasted as users and tech publications call for them to be pulled. The recent scrutiny of the drives follows problems from this spring when users, including an Ars Technica staff member, saw Extreme-series portable SSDs wipe data and become unmountable. A firmware update was supposed to fix things, but new complaints dispute its effectiveness. SanDisk has stayed mum on recent complaints and hasn’t explained what caused the problems.

In May, Ars Technica reported on SanDisk Extreme V2 and Extreme Pro V2 SSDs wiping data before often becoming unreadable to the user’s system. At least four months of complaints had piled up by then, including on SanDisk’s forums and all over Reddit (examples one, two, and three).

Even Ars’ Lee Hutchinson fell victim to the faulty drives. Two whole Extreme Pros died on him. Both times they filled about 50 percent and then showed a bunch of read and write errors. Upon disconnecting and reconnecting, the drive was unformatted and wiped, and he could not fix either drive by wiping and reformatting.

When Ars reached out to SanDisk about the problem in May, it didn’t answer most of our questions about why these problems happened (and, oddly, excluded certain models we saw affected when naming which models were affected). Parent company Western Digital released a firmware update at the end of May, though, and named these affected drives as supposedly fixed via the update:

  • SanDisk Extreme Portable 4TB (SDSSDE61-4T00)
  • SanDisk Extreme Pro Portable 4TB (SDSSDE81-4T00)
  • SanDisk Extreme Pro Portable 2TB (SDSSDE81-2T00)
  • SanDisk Extreme Pro Portable 1TB (SDSSDE81-1T00)
  • Western Digital My Passport 4TB (WDBAGF0040BGY)

“We addressed this firmware issue in the manufacturing process, and we can confirm that the issue is not impacting currently shipping products,” Western Digital’s firmware update page says.

Despite that affirmation, The Verge’s supervising producer is having a very bad week, and the site’s blaming it on SanDisk.

SanDisk SSD troubles continue

On Monday, The Verge reported that the replacement portable SSD SanDisk sent supervising producer Vjeran Pavic after his 4TB Extreme Pro Portable inadvertently wiped 4TB of video. The drive was supposed to include the firmware fix, but The Verge reportedly still “lost 3TB of video we’d shot for The Verge because the drive is no longer readable.” It shared a screenshot saying, “The disk you attached was not readable by this computer.”

Additionally, people on social media claim their Extreme portable SSDs aren’t working either.

For example, Natural-Opposite-633 on Reddit posted on July 26 that they updated their 4TB Extreme SSD’s firmware, but then….

… about a week after that, I was transferring some files from my Android device to it, and it did the same thing, unmounted and would no longer mount unless you formatted it. The data could be recovered with Diskdrill, but with generic serialized names. … I have 4 of these drives in total, one 4TB and one 2TB that are not flagged as being affected and have been pretty solid. One new 4TB that was flagged as being affected and [had] data loss twice as described above, and one new 4TB I got through an Amazon sale that I’m regretting buying.

Additional instances are less clear about whether or not they deployed SanDisk’s firmware update before experiencing problems. However, people continue to struggle with and distrust these portable SSDs.

A user known as Shopping_Particular posted on Reddit three days ago that their 4TB Extreme SSD became unreadable to its Mac.

“After shooting for a couple days I went to back up the data and my computer can’t read it/it won’t mount,” they wrote.

Another Reddit user, Psychological_Bee687, posted last month that their 1TB SanDisk drive dismounted from their MacBook Pro before refusing to mount.

“I tried to get it to mount—or even show up in Disk Utility—on my old [MacBook Pro] 2015 but no luck. After trying everything I know, and a few things I didn’t, I can’t get it to even mount or be seen by Disk Utility,” they wrote.

There is at least one example of the firmware update working. Is that why SanDisk isn’t addressing customers’ remaining concerns, even after a popular publication like The Verge calls them out based on first-hand experience?

The Verge isn’t the only tech publication “furious” with SanDisk. On Tuesday, PetaPixel aired its grievances, starting with a damning headline: “SanDisk Portable SSDs Are Failing So Frequently, We Can No Longer Recommend Them.”

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