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We just lost 3TB of data on a SanDisk Extreme SSD

Originally posted on theverge.

If you’re thinking of buying a SanDisk Extreme Pro, Extreme Portable, Extreme Pro Portable, or WD MyPassport SSD, maybe just don’t.

My colleague Vjeran just lost 3TB of video we’d shot for The Verge because the drive is no longer readable.

This isn’t a drive he purchased many months or years ago — it’s the supposedly safe replacement that Western Digital recently sent after his original wiped his data all by itself. Remember when we warned you about that?

SanDisk issued a firmware fix for a variety of drives in late May, shortly after our story. They sent out Vjeran’s replacement in early June. He’d just begun to trust it with work files again. Silly him? A Reddit search suggests we may not be the only ones who’ve already lost data again.

“Lost” is not always “gone” when it comes to data. But data recovery services can be expensive, and Western Digital never offered Vjeran any the first time it left him out to dry. (Have they offered any to you?)

Honestly, it feels like WD has been trying to sweep this under the rug while it tries to offload its remaining inventory at a deep discount — they’re still 66 percent off at Amazon, for example. As far as I’m aware, WD has yet to even acknowledge the possibility of massive data loss. Here, it merely says that the drives have a “firmware issue” where they might “unexpectedly disconnect from a computer.” Doesn’t sound all that urgent?

A product page, one marketing video, one glowing review, and the “shocking results” video.
Even this vid doesn’t appear till you’re halfway through the first page of Google results.

Unfortunately, the broken state of the internet means Western Digital doesn’t have to work very hard to keep selling these drives. Google assumes you’re looking for product pages when you search for things like “4TB SanDisk SSD,” so news stories like ours and Ars Technica’s appear far down search results. The one YouTube video that I saw pop in Google is titled “Shocking Results from my 4TB SanDisk Extreme Pro Drives!” because YouTube rewards surprise, not warnings.

“The lightning-fast speed of up to 1050MB/s is nothing short of remarkable,” reads one. “One of the standout features of this portable SSD is its lightning-fast speed, boasting up to 1050MB/s transfer rates.” reads another.
Astroturfing at Amazon. Were these written by ChatGPT? I can’t say. Screenshot by Sean Hollister / The Verge

Meanwhile, the drive has 4.7 out of 5 stars at Amazon, at least partially due to astroturfing: despite being listed as a “verified purchase,” the top two Amazon reviews are clearly working off the same playbook.

I’d also like to say shame on CNETCult of Mac and G/O Media’s The Inventory for writing deal posts about this drive that don’t warn their readers at all. I can’t stop rolling my eyes at this graf in particular:

“I haven’t tested the SanDisk 4TB Extreme Portable SSD, but I have used many SanDisk products over the decades. The company built a reputation for quality products that, in my experience, it deserves.”

But perhaps they searched Google for the drive and only found product pages. I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt.

We think Western Digital and SanDisk owe the rest of their customers an explanation. Here’s a list of questions we just sent to Western Digital’s head of PR:

  • Why are these drives still on sale?
  • Will you offer free data recovery services to affected customers? When?
  • Are you proactively warning customers and retailers who have already purchased these drives that significant data loss is possible?
  • If not, why not?
  • What, exactly, is going wrong with these drives? 
  • How did this happen? 

We will print the answers — or lack of substantive answers — in a future story.

WD didn’t immediately respond to our request for comment.

Source: theverge

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