SanDisk Extreme Portable SSD Suffer Sudden Failures: WD Responds

SanDisk Extreme portable SSD
(Image credit: SanDisk / WD)

WD has responded to the growing throng of disgruntled SanDisk Extreme and Extreme Pro portable SSD users who have been through or are facing the frightening prospect of sudden data loss. Ars Technica sought comment from the SanDisk parent company after it noted multiple social media threads complaining of data loss and drives sometimes becoming completely unreadable. SanDisk says that a firmware fix is on the way "soon," but its response only mentions 4TB versions of these portable flash storage devices, and not an update for the 2TB models. 

Prudent computer users buy data storage solutions from the likes of SanDisk to ensure their data is safe and secure. Portable SSDs like the SanDisk Extreme and Extreme Pro series come with the promise of "professional grade storage… rugged… worry-free… dependable" operation for at least five years (the warranty duration). Thus, these portable SSDs should be a good choice for a working data or backup drive.

In recent months, dissatisfaction with the SanDisk Extreme SSD series has grown, as evidenced by reddit threads like this, or this, or this. Symptoms commonly experienced are that after a sustained write to the drive, all the data on the device will appear to have been wiped. Some then find that the drive isn't just empty but has been rendered completely unwritable. Ouch.

An Ars employee has been unfortunate enough to have experienced not one but two (2TB) SanDisk Extreme Pro SSDs dying. In his experience, "a slew of read and write errors" were thrown up after the drives reached about half full. After disconnecting and reconnecting, the drives appeared to be unformatted, and it sounds like the data in place wasn't recoverable. Normally the odds of having two successive drives failing like this would be huge, but WD has admitted there is something wrong with the firmware, and it will issue an update to fix things.

"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)," wrote the storage tech company, in response to Ars Technica's inquiries. "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 Extreme portable SSD

(Image credit: SanDisk / WD)

The WD statement neglects to mention the possibility of refunds, much to some users' chagrin. Additionally, it is unclear whether the lack of mention of 2TB drives is an oversight or whether they will also get updated firmware "soon," as they should.

Some unconfirmed chatter suggests that the SanDisk Extreme SSD issues affect only those using devices "manufactured after November 2022." Still, at the time of writing, we would advise anyone using these drives to use them with extreme caution. Perhaps it is advisable to only use these storage devices for convenient duplicate or temporary data until the fix arrives and it has been tested well.

We can't help but notice that there are some hefty discounts on SanDisk Extreme / Pro SSDs on Amazon right now. However, until the above mess gets sorted out to everyone's satisfaction, buyers should stay clear - even though one of these drives performed very well during our lab testing (March 2021) and gained a place in our Best External SSDs and Hard Drives feature.

Mark Tyson
Freelance News Writer

Mark Tyson is a Freelance News Writer at Tom's Hardware US. He enjoys covering the full breadth of PC tech; from business and semiconductor design to products approaching the edge of reason.

  • corbathegeek
    I had to return my 2TB SanDisk Extreme Portable SSD. It stopped allowing backups after the first one, as if it was locking the device. Went with the Samsung T7 Shield instead. That 2TB SSD works just fine for about the same price ($120).
    Reply
  • Math Geek
    so 1 TB extreme is ok then? only talks about 2 and 4 tb models.

    first i've heard of this.
    Reply
  • plateLunch
    Spinning disks are where it's at!
    Reply
  • TechieTwo
    It sure looks like insufficient testing or QC.
    Reply
  • Exploding PSU
    That's scary. The implications of having your irreplaceable data erased because of a firmware slip up. I know that's what's backups are for, but not everyone diligent backup their data. I feel sorry for those affected by this issue.

    And come on people, backup your data, please!
    Reply
  • wbfox
    An Affiliate link to the product with the severe issues the article is discussing? Really?
    Reply
  • technoob875-2
    So maybe take it off your best portable list, SMH or at least link this to it, y'all's memory ain't that short, best list was published less than three weeks ago
    Reply
  • darobin
    Admin said:
    WD says that it is readying a firmware fix for a frightening SanDisk Extreme Portable SSD sudden failure issue, but it only mentions ups for 4TB users.

    SanDisk Extreme Portable SSD Suffer Sudden Failures: WD Responds : Read more
    So, after a lengthy battle today with WD, in which they denied there was any firmware update planned, and I explained that WD was placing user data at risk due to potential failures of the 4TB drives, WD finally relented and agreed to a replacement for a brand new drive within the serial number range stated in various articles. But an online representative declined to say if WD is actually recalling portable drives in this range. This is putting customers through a pretzel machine. First they asked if any data was corrupted using the 4TB drive. Then when challenged on the reported statements about a FW update, they denied. And then they deny any recall plans when asked directly. Finally, they agreed to replace my 4TB drive, but I'll have to send them the new SD Extreme just purchased from B&H, wth a 7 day or more wait. I would be interested to know if others have had this experience.
    Reply
  • Math Geek
    i have a 1 tb extreme model and am wondering about it since it never really got the speeds it was supposed to.

    copying from an ssd with 3.5 gb/s read speeds and it only transfers at about 50 MB/s ??? i have a spinning hdd that is faster copying from the same drive and does it at about 100 MB/s. wonder if that has anything to do with firmware issues. it has never gotten anywhere close to the 1 GB/s it is supposed to get,. (and yes it is plugged into a nice fast USB-C port. )
    Reply
  • darobin
    darobin said:
    So, after a lengthy battle today with WD, in which they denied there was any firmware update planned, and I explained that WD was placing user data at risk due to potential failures of the 4TB drives, WD finally relented and agreed to a replacement for a brand new drive within the serial number range stated in various articles. But an online representative declined to say if WD is actually recalling portable drives in this range. This is putting customers through a pretzel machine. First they asked if any data was corrupted using the 4TB drive. Then when challenged on the reported statements about a FW update, they denied. And then they deny any recall plans when asked directly. Finally, they agreed to replace my 4TB drive, but I'll have to send them the new SD Extreme just purchased from B&H, wth a 7 day or more wait. I would be interested to know if others have had this experience.

    UPDATE: An update on this issue for readers. After sending my 4TB drive to Western Digital for warranty replacement, it's now been more than two weeks with no confirmation from WD that they received the drive. Luckily I have the USPS Tracking information, but have been getting the runaround from WD, which at the time I sent my drive to them had not confirmed / offered a firmware update for the drive. I have not engaged via chat with WD twice, and each time no satisfaction, just a chat transcript and a seemingly empty promise to respond within 2 - 3 business days. Probably the last time I will purchase anything from them.
    Reply