SanDisk customers have been complaining about the company’s Extreme and Extreme Pro portable SSDs suddenly wiping data and, in some cases, becoming unreadable. Complaints go back at least four months, and SanDisk told Ars today that a firmware fix is coming “soon.” However, SanDisk only confirmed a firmware update for the 4TB models, despite an Ars staffer and online users reporting issues with 2TB drives.
An Ars reader tipped us (thanks!) to online discussions filled with panicked and disappointed users detailing experiences with recently purchased Extreme V2 and Extreme Pro V2 portable SSDs. Most users seemed to be using a 4TB model, but there were also complaints from owners of 2TB drives.
In a thread about 4TB Extreme Pro drives in a film and video editors subreddit, a Reddit user called ian__ wrote:
Multiple DITs/Loaders/ACs on both coasts have experienced the exact same failure with these drives over the last month.The symptom seems to be that after a sustained write they will completely lose their filesystem and it’s a total crap shoot [whether] you can recover it or not. The primary way you will see this is that the drive will unmount and you will not be able to get it to mount again, despite showing up in Disk Utility. You can sometimes recover it using DiskDrill’s filesystem rebuild, but occasionally that does nothing. It persists with any filesystem type.
The thread, as well as other threads on Reddit (here, here, and here), show the problem extending to the non-Pro 4TB drive, as well as the 2TB Pro drive (it’s unclear if the 2TB non-Pro Extreme is affected).
Ars Technica’s Lee Hutchinson confirmed suffering not one, but two 2TB Extreme Pros dying. After filling about halfway, each drive met a slew of read and write errors. When he disconnected and reconnected the SSD, it showed it was unformatted with the drive completely wiped, including its file system. Wiping and reformatting didn’t help, and this happened with two different units.
Lee’s story is echoed by many people, including those on SanDisk’s forums, who bought one of the external SSDs within the past few months. The problem seems to only affect a recent batch of drives, with one user claiming they were told via a Japanese distributor that “this problem is causing a fuss and is only for those manufactured after November 2022” (Ars couldn’t confirm this). The Reddit user ian__, who claimed to be collecting error reports to share with SanDisk, agreed that the issue only affects recent batches. And some users said they used several Extreme and Extreme Pros over the years but only saw ones purchased recently fail.
Until now, there’s been little public response from SanDisk, which has mostly referred online users to open a support ticket with SanDisk’s technical support team. Questions about refunds have been left unanswered.
When Ars contacted SanDisk about the issue, a company representative said:
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.
SanDisk didn’t answer our questions about refunds, whether or not the firmware would address issues with the 2TB models, what caused the issue, or when exactly this firmware fix will come.
Some Reddit users have suggested that SanDisk has dragged its feet on the monthlong saga, with ian__ claiming they needed to collect “data to prove to SanDisk that it actually is more than a fluke.” SanDisk’s brief response to Ars’ questions fails to clarify what’s been going on behind the scenes.
“Good luck to SanDisk”
Wiped drives and broken storage devices have a special knack for ruining someone’s day. Many online complaints detail people spending hours trying to restore data (some unsuccessfully) and some seeing their work impacted.
SanDisk’s minimal response thus far is especially disappointing considering the popularity of SanDisk’s Extreme portable SSDs. Many tech publications (including Ars in 2020) have recommended the drive. Its rugged build particularly appeals to users who don’t want physical issues resulting in data loss. Turns out, it wasn’t just drops and splashes of water they had to worry about.
SanDisk hasn’t made an official statement on returns, but depending on where people bought the drive and how long it took them to realize it would fail, they may be able to get a refund from the retailer. Some online users regretted that their retailer would only give them a new unit of the same exact drive, likely resulting in (and in some cases, confirmed) the same issue.
SanDisk’s online store is supposed to support refunds within 30 days. The drives have a five-year limited warranty, which states customers can “return the Product after first obtaining a Return Material Authorization number and following any other guidelines listed. For further information see shop.westerndigital.com/sandisk and select ‘support.'”
It also says SanDisk can “repair or replace the Product with a new reconditioned or refurbished Product of equal or greater capacity, or another equivalent product” or “refund the current market value” if SanDisk can’t repair or replace it.
But a new or repaired drive is little compensation for those who lost data and/or time and saw their personal lives, jobs, and/or wallets impacted. And, of course, only time will tell if SanDisk’s impending firmware fix is a success and whether or not it’ll address issues with 2TB drives.
In the meantime, SanDisk may want to be more proactive about how it handles this moving forward. Failed tech and a vendor response that lacks urgency and detail can put longstanding customers off a brand. That includes Ars’ own Lee, who returned two SanDisk Extreme Pros in two days. After I detailed SanDisk’s response to the problem, he had this to say:
Good luck to SanDisk, because this has put me off of buying anything with their name on it for life.
Now’s a good time to remind those you love about the 3-2-1 backup rule.