SanDisk responds to external SSD unreliability claims

A data recovery company has raised concerns over the reliability of some SanDisk portable SSD products. It alleges that poor design and construction are causing a high number of drive failures.

What’s the issue?

Attingo is a data recovery company based in Austria. Markus Häfele, the company’s Managing Director, raised the issues in a recent interview with the Austrian Futurezone website. “We have at least one person every week who brings an external SanDisk hard drive to us because it no longer works,” Häfele said, “There are a noticeable number of errors.” The problems include external hard drives that can’t be read or displayed in the data storage management.

Solder issues

Häfele went on to say, “It’s definitely a hardware problem. It is a design and construction weakness. The entire soldering process of the SSD is a problem. The soldering material used, i.e. the solder, creates bubbles and therefore breaks more easily.” Solder is a soft metal that is melted and used to attach components to a circuit board in an electronic device.

Häfele also criticized the design of the SSDs. “In addition, the components used are far too large for the layout intended on the board,” he said. “As a result, the components are a little higher than the board and the contact with the intended pads is weaker. All it takes is a little something for solder joints to suddenly break.”

SanDisk denies hardware issues

In response to the concerns raised by Attingo, SanDisk gave a statement to the PetaPixel website. SanDisk said, “We are reviewing recent statements that have been made about hardware components in our SanDisk Extreme and SanDisk Extreme Pro portable SSDs. We want to assure our valued customers, that we take the quality of our products very seriously and we employ rigorous testing procedures for our portable SSD products:

  • We conduct an intensive DFM (design for manufacturing) process to ensure product quality
  • We follow industry-standard IPC guidelines for PCB assembly and design
  • We use solder paste from an industry-leading supplier
  • We conduct rigorous product-level qualifications prior to shipping including thermal, vibration, humidity, shock and more

The recent statements suggest that hardware components may have been responsible for the firmware issue that impacted certain SanDisk Extreme Pro 1TB, 2TB, and 4TB, SanDisk Extreme 4TB and WD My Passport SSD 4TB portable SSDs earlier this year. While we are working to gather more information, at this time we do not believe hardware issues played a role in the product concerns that we successfully addressed with the firmware update.”

What we think

It’s been a difficult year for SanDisk and its parent company Western Digital. SanDisk had to issue a firmware update in response to widespread reports in the media that its external SSDs were wiping data. Western Digital is also facing a class action lawsuit from customers whose drives have failed. However, it seems that SanDisk has taken steps to address some of the design concerns. It’s been reported that some components in newer SanDisk Extreme Pro SSDs have been secured with extra epoxy resin. It’s essential that you can trust the security of your data when you back it up to a hard drive. Hopefully, SanDisk and Western Digital can quickly reassure customers that their products are safe and reliable in use.

Pete Tomkies
Pete Tomkies
Pete Tomkies is a freelance cinematographer and camera operator from Manchester, UK. He also produces and directs short films as Duck66 Films. Pete's latest short Once Bitten... won 15 awards and was selected for 105 film festivals around the world.

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