One of the things we know about SSDs versus HHDs is that SSDs have a significantly lower read and write limit before something goes wrong and the drive fails. Granted there are exceptions, such as some of our video drives, which get an excessive amount of wear and tear, but overall, SSDs have a shorter life for most users. However, when an SSD's failure rate is so high that it leads to a class action lawsuit against the manufacturer, something has gone very wrong. That's where Western Digital has found itself with the SanDisk Extreme Pro SSD.
The fall from grace
At one point in history, and not that long ago, SanDisk was the only brand of flash memory you wanted. Whether it was an AD card for your camera, a microSD card for your phone, or a flash drive to transfer data, SanDisk was it. But, after the acquisition by Western Digital, the brand's reputation began to fumble. Sensing the problems, other companies began to enter the field.
Samsung took a large chunk out of the flash memory business. Between cards, drives, and SSDs, Samsung became the new go-to brand. But other companies, like PNY, Kingston, and Transcend started gaining steam. Just as SSDs began to take hold because their prices were finally dropping, SanDisk was losing market share.
The failure of the SanDisk Extreme Pro SSD
But, it wasn't until the introduction of the SanDisk Extreme Pro SSD that things began to really go south. The drive played on the legacy of the SanDisk name by using the words Extreme and Pro - both brands used by SanDisk to define the levels of SD card read and write speeds. But, the product began to fail, and fail spectacularly.
Earlier this year, reports began swirling that a high percentage of the units were beginning to fail with no warning. The reports were coming from social media and even SanDisk's user forums. Consumers were complaining that they were losing data and, in some cases, entire drives. Eventually, users would get the message, "The disk you attached was not readable by this computer."
In May 2023, WD finally responded to the reports, saying that they were aware of the issue and had a firmware update in the works. However, the update was only mentioned to be for drives of high capacity. The problem is that drives of all sizes were having the issue. This suggested that WD was either unaware of the full scope of the problem or was ignoring the size of the problem.
The legal action
Possibly as a result of the tone deaf way WD was handling the issue, or possibly just good timing, a class action lawsuit was considered and, eventually, filed. Plaintiffs are looking for $5 million plus costs, fees, and interest. Nathan Krum is the lead and named plaintiff, but because of the status, it will be covering all owners of failed drives.
Krum's claim is likely on the extreme side, but not unique. After purchasing the SanDisk Extreme Pro 2TB model for $179.99 on Amazon, the drive began to fail. When it did, it took all of his data with it, as one would expect. Because of the nature of the lost data, he needed to engage a data recovery service. Those services are expensive in dollars, but the process also costs a lot of time and energy from the person who has been affected. To make things worse, he was unable to return the drive for a return.
According to the filing document released by the United States District Court For The Northern District Of California, San Jose Division, the class includes,
All persons in the United States who purchased a SanDisk Extreme Pro SSD portable solid-state hard drive, including the SanDisk Extreme Pro, Extreme Portable, Extreme Pro Portable, and WD MyPassport SSD models, at retail since at least January 2023.
Exceptions include WD and SanDisk employees and retailers. This is likely going to be a long and drawn-out process. Discovery, depositions, and a possible trial is going to run well over a year. We'll keep you updated on the case as it proceeds.