WD refused to answer our questions about its self-wiping SanDisk SSDs

WD refused to answer our questions about its self-wiping SanDisk SSDs

WD refused to answer our questions about its self-wiping SanDisk SSDs

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Months later, the company has nothing to say for itself.

By Sean Hollister, a senior editor and founding member of The Verge who covers gadgets, games, and toys. He spent 15 years editing the likes of CNET, Gizmodo, and Engadget.

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An image showing the SanDisk Extreme Pro Portable SSD

Don’t buy the SanDisk Extreme.

Image: Western Digital

Eleven days ago, we sent these questions to Western Digital’s head of PR and published them publicly on The Verge:

  • 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? 

What’s the fuss? For months, the company has been laughably silent about how its pricey portable SanDisk Extreme SSDs might lose all your data. It happened to my colleague Vjeran Pavic twice. It happened to Ars Technica. It happened to PetaPixel.

Months after our inquiries, Western Digital continues to sell these drives due to deep discounts, fake Amazon reviews, and issues with Google Search that rank favorable results far higher than warnings about potential failures.

We have now received a response from Western Digital head of PR Robin Schultz, but nothing about the company’s stance has changed. Schultz repeatedly refused to answer any of our questions. Her statement doesn’t even contain an acknowledgment of the issue and has no specific timeline for any real answers.

The only reason we’re printing Western Digital’s statement is so you can see it for yourself:

In response to recent reports of concerns about specific Western Digital portable SSD products, we want to assure our valued customers that we are taking all measures necessary to address any product-related issues. We understand the significance of our products to our customers and we take these matters very seriously. We are conducting a comprehensive review to gain a thorough understanding of the issues.

After getting the statement, we asked Schultz three times whether Western Digital would answer our questions. Each time, she deflected. She also wouldn’t provide any idea of when the company might share its conclusions — if ever.

There is one possible reason Western Digital is finally speaking up and yet saying nothing: the company just got sued. As The Register reports, California resident Nathan Krum has filed a prospective class action lawsuit, citing breach of contract, fraudulent and unfair business practices, and many other claims. Krum is suing over both the SanDisk Extreme drive itself and damages for any data lost. You can read the full complaint at the bottom of this story.

Western Digital was already forced into a class action settlement over a previous questionable practice: in 2020, the company brazenly tried to sneak SMR drives into its “WD Red” lineup marketed for network-attached storage devices. The company paid $5.7 million to settle those claims.

The company’s tricks didn’t end there: Western Digital’s NAS disks have started triggering warnings even if there’s nothing wrong with a drive, seemingly to scare people into buying new ones simply after three years have gone by.

I won’t be buying a Western Digital or SanDisk product anytime soon.

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