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No firmware may ever fix SanDisk Extreme Pro fails and deaths as it can be hardware issue

SanDisk Extreme PRO Portable SSD

The SanDisk Extreme Pro is one of the fastest external (portable) SSDs available on the market. And while that is one of the reasons why people want to purchase it, and also because SanDisk drives and other storage solutions have a reputation for being reliable, the same is not the case with this one.

A quick Google search related to SanDisk Extreme Pro failures or fails throws up multiple posts, reports and threads related to the failure of this particular model. While plenty of people have been expecting to receive a firmware update that fixes this problem once and for all, a new report suggests that the problem could be related to the hardware itself and is a consequence of a design flaw and a manufacturing defect.

Markus Häfele, a Managing Director of Attingo Data Rescue, a data recovery firm, alleges the problem is a result of improper contacts due to bubble-creation in the solders which consequently leads to breaking of the solders that aid in the coupling of the components with the PCB. And the component sizes too are not appropriate as per the layout of PCB.

Häfele said in a statement to FutureZone:

We have at least one person every week who brings an external SanDisk hard drive to us because it no longer works

There are a noticeable number of errors.

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.

In addition, the components used are far too large for the layout intended on the board,

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 Extreme Pro failing solder and components

Solder bubbling

SanDisk Extreme Pro failing solder and components

Components not fitting

WD, however, says there is no such hardware issue at play that it is aware of. The company provided the following statement to PetaPixel:

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.

Häfele apparently also believes that WD could be aware of the underlying manufacturing problems even though it has not acknowledged it. They note that certain newer batches of the model have been upgraded with the inclusion of epoxy resins. "It is reasonable to suspect that Western Digital has recognized the problem and wants to make the parts more durable. They want to offer an additional safety factor, but these models also end up with us" said Häfele.

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