Lawsuits and Data Loss: SanDisk’s Reputation Keeps Sinking

SanDisk Extreme Pro drive

Despite a whole slew of recent claims by pissed-off users about abrupt failures with its external SSDs, SanDisk hasn’t done much to fix its image.

More specifically, despite being openly accused of selling defective external SSD products to many customers, SanDisk has completely failed to issue any kind of response against the accusations.

The brand’s only moves so far have been to issue a tepid firmware update, and then just start selling a number of its Extreme Pro SSDs at enormous 50-60% discounts on online retail sites.


This might be a terribly timed coincidence, but it looks more like a rather shoddy effort at offloading potentially defective products as quickly as possible to whoever will buy them.

The Western Digital-owned SanDisk brand first started being accused of selling low-quality external SSDs months ago by numerous unhappy customers online.

SanDisk hasn’t bothered to respond with any statement at all, maybe hoping the problem would just go away. It didn’t.

Instead, just weeks ago, the complaints became much more visible as several staff members at major tech websites also went public about their own very new, supposedly functional SSDs failing suddenly and catastrophically.

With cases of disk failure that happened to writers at The Verge, PetaPixel and Ars Tecnica, SanDisk suddenly had a much bigger PR problem on its hands.

In the case of staff at Ars Tecnica, two different Extreme Pro 2TB drives failed one after the other, while the writer for The Verge, Vjeran Pavic, had not just one Extreme Pro 4TB drive fail after only months of use, but also the replacement sent by SanDisk!

Regardless of all the above, its parent, Western Digital, seems to think the problem will disappear maybe like the data on customers’ SSDs.

The company’s odd reaction hints at the quiet negation of a problem: Instead of any public statement or much less an apology, WD has confined itself to selective price discounts and the above-mentioned firmware update.

Now the company is also being sued by angry customers, and yes, maybe somebody in its PR and engineering departments should really be fired soon.

Considering the importance of a really good reputation for reliable hardware in the data storage industry, you’d think that Western Digital would have been all over this product problem as soon as it became noticeable.

Instead, the executives in charge seem to be either unable to recall their suspect drives or just unwilling to even acknowledge anything’s wrong.

Either way, the result has so far only meant bad tidings for the brand’s image.

SanDisk SSD failure

How bad can the hit to their reputation be?

To name just one example in this publicity-sensitive product industry: A decade ago, WD competitor Seagate suffered a similar problem with failures among some of its hard drives. Consequently, the company suffered enough reputation damage that even today many serious users are leery of its drives.

When your product is specifically about protecting people’s highly valued information from disaster, you can’t afford to let the product itself have a reputation for causing disasters.

So far at least one customer in California has already filed a class-action lawsuit against Western Digital for misrepresentation of capabilities in its external SSD drives.

In case you’re wondering, because it’s useful to know, the specific SSD models being accused of failure by so many different people are mostly from the SanDisk Extreme Pro, Extreme Portable and Extreme Pro Portable lineups.

According to the recent California lawsuit, which is mainly aimed at these drive models,

“A series of SanDisk Extreme Pro SSD portable solid-state hard drives thus do not conform with their core functionality, as well as Western Digital’s basic promise that the hard drives they sell will do what they are supposed to do — store data safely for later access,”

The lawsuit also mentions SanDisk’s fairly recent Band-Aid measure of releasing nothing more than an “unreliable” firmware update to address the problems with select drives.

Apparently, this firmware isn’t delivering results either, and its description text on the WD page for the download borders on being mendacious in downplaying the problems with these drives.

It simply states that “We have identified a firmware issue that can cause SanDisk Extreme Portable SSD V2, SanDisk Extreme Pro Portable SSD V2, and WD My Passport SSD products to unexpectedly disconnect from a computer.”

Based on numerous consumer reports, the defect can sometimes be a lot worse than that.

I’ve also reached out to Western Digital for a bit of clarification about these persisting data failures with their Extreme Pro and other drives and am waiting for a response.

For the time being, the drives continue to be sold, but I’d suggest being careful despite any discount prices you see for them. You might obtain a perfectly decent drive very cheaply, or you might lose your photos.

An elevated risk of having terabytes of your media files vanish isn’t worth a product discount of a couple of hundred dollars.

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Shotkit Journalist, Writer & Reviewer

Stephan Jukic is a technology and photography journalist and experimental photographer who spends his time living in both Canada and Mexico. He loves cross-cultural street photo exploration and creating fine art photo compositions.

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