Your data might not be safe on a SanDisk portable SSD

Your data might not be safe on a SanDisk portable SSD
SanDisk Extreme Pro Portable SSD V2 review

(Image credit: Angela Nicholson / Digital Camera World)

In recent weeks we’ve seen multiple accounts of high-profile tech websites experiencing problems with SanDisk portable SSDs. The issue was first widely raised by Ars Technica and The Verge in May, though there are reports of individual users experiencing drive failure earlier in the year. The Verge’s supervising producer suddenly lost all data he had stored on a 4TB SanDisk Extreme Pro portable SSD, but was assured by SanDisk’s parent company, Western Digital (often branded WD on its consumer products), that a firmware fix would resolve the spontaneous data loss fault.

SanDisk Extreme Pro Portable SSD V2

The SanDisk Extreme Pro Portable SSD V2: the SSD at the center of the allegations (Image credit: Angela Nicholson / Digital Camera World)

However, the turd really hit the proverbial fan earlier in August when the new, supposedly safe replacement SanDisk drive sent to the same Verge staffer also failed, again wiping a considerable amount of valuable work. What made the issue even more worrying is that the replacement SanDisk drive was a different capacity to the original failed unit, suggesting the problem might not be restricted to only one capacity variant of the Extreme Pro.

For two respected tech publications to both experience these drive failures is worrying, but now PetaPixel has also reported similar reliability issues with SanDisk’s Pro-G40 SSD – a super-fast, premium portable SSD from Western Digital’s SanDisk Professional sub brand.

SanDisk Professional Pro-G40 SSD

The SanDisk Professional Pro-G40 SSD – another potentially faulty SanDisk portable SSD (Image credit: WD)

What’s really needed now is a full, frank and transparent statement from Western Digital addressing these issues head-on, admitting any faults if there indeed are any, and offering suitable resolutions should they be required. We have reached out to Western Digital’s PR company about this issue, but have yet to receive a response, and it appears from other reports that WD is remaining silent on the issue worldwide. The only ‘action’ the company seems to have taken is to slash prices of its SanDisk SSDs: a badly timed price restructuring, or a more sinister attempt to offload stock while it still can? The jury’s out on that one.

The WD My Passport SSD

The WD My Passport SSD hasn’t made headlines like its SanDisk siblings, but it comes from the same parent company and shares identical specs. Therefore we can’t rule out similar potential problems with this portable SSD, either. (Image credit: WD)

It’s worth noting that no storage media is immune from failure and resultant data loss: naturally any make and model of portable SSD will have a small percentage of drives fail. But, if the recent negative media press is anything to go by, SanDisk drives at least appear to have a greater risk of failure than SSDs from competing brands. This perceived failure rate could in large part be due to SanDisk’s huge market penetration, but conversely the simplicity of solid state storage (and its lack of moving parts, as you’d find in a mechanical hard disk drive) would suggest a lower risk of drive failure.

SanDisk 4TB Extreme PRO Portable SSD V2 deal

An old, expired discount offer on a SanDisk portable SSD that we promoted in the past (Image credit: Future)

Digital Camera World has long recommended these very SanDisk Extreme Pro portable SSDs, as during our time reviewing them we encountered no reliability issues. However as none of our staff members use these drives long-term, we’re not in a position to categorically say whether or not SanDisk SSDs are hiding a fundamental hardware flaw. Consequently, until Western Digital breaks its silence on the issue, we will treat the numerous accounts of drive failure from other credible tech journalists as being worthy of concern. Digital Camera World is therefore suspending its recommendations of SanDisk and WD-branded portable SSDs until the matter has been decisively resolved.

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Ben is the Imaging Labs manager, responsible for all the testing on Digital Camera World and across the entire photography portfolio at Future. Whether he’s in the lab testing the sharpness of new lenses, the resolution of the latest image sensors, the zoom range of monster bridge cameras or even the latest camera phones, Ben is our go-to guy for technical insight. He’s also the team’s man-at-arms when it comes to camera bags, filters, memory cards, and all manner of camera accessories – his lab is a bit like the Batcave of photography! With years of experience trialling and testing kit, he’s a human encyclopedia of benchmarks when it comes to recommending the best buys. 

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