If something sounds too good to be true, then it is. That's the first thing that should go through your mind when you see a 30TB portable SSD selling for $39 (opens in new tab) at Walmart (h/t to Ars Technica (opens in new tab)). The drive is far from being one of the best SSDs - but it deserves a spot on everyone's blocklist.
Twitter user Ray Redacted (opens in new tab) recently purchased a 30TB portable SSD on AliExpress for the giggles. The drive sells for $31.40 but is available at a third-party seller on Walmart for a small premium. Aesthetically, the "Portable SSD" is a clone of the popular Samsung T5. The Chinese knockoff even uses a similar text as the T5. Although advertised as a USB 3.1 drive, Ray later discovered that it's limited to USB 2.0 speeds. Internally, the portable SSD features a small, green PCB (HUB-TF2) that carries two microSD cards glued to it.
There are different versions of the same scam. For example, another Twitter user (opens in new tab) revealed that his portable SSD came with a USB pen drive inside instead of two microSD cards. In other words, the portable SSD is just a USB hub with various microSD slots or, in the other case, a USB pen drive.
It's not the first time we've seen storage devices with dubious specifications. Fake USB pen drives, SSDs, and SD cards are all over the market, and one must be careful when purchasing. Nonetheless, the intricacy of this particular portable SSD is pretty interesting. The swindler uses two microSD cards and slaps a hacked firmware on them to misreport the capacity. The actual size of the microSD card isn't important since the firmware fools Windows into thinking the cards are bigger than they are.
In the case of Ray's drive, Windows detects the unit as two 15TB drives. In reality, the microSD cards were smaller. He noted that the USB-C to USB-C 3.1 cable is a sham and the drive sticks to the USB 2.0 standard, allowing transfer speeds up to 60 MBps. The hacked firmware writes new data on top of the old data and keeps the directory. It appears to be working, but when you try to access your files, there's nothing there.
Consumers must be careful when purchasing goods online, whether computer hardware or not. It's even more important nowadays since big-name retailers such as Newegg and Walmart have allowed third-party sellers to use their marketplace platforms for e-commerce.