Admittedly, you have to be pretty skeptical about a portable SSD going for about a dollar per terabyte. It probably would not make our list of best external hard drives. Still, that has not stopped major retailers from selling a fake portable SSD drive that is making waves for what it really is — a scam.
First discovered by Twitter user Ray [REDACTED] (opens in new tab) and reported on by Ars Technica (opens in new tab), a 30TB SSD drive has appeared on AliExpress and Walmart for under $40. Unfortunately, those who purchased the drive don’t get what they paid for. Instead, they get an SSD drive that doesn’t work and is not even an SSD drive.
Board says HUB-TF2 and has two glued down cards (trans flash? SD Cards?). pic.twitter.com/gKd84tXIXIAugust 25, 2022
If you want to see the drive in question Walmart (opens in new tab) still has it up, though it is now listed as out of stock. This is good news since this SSD is basically a paperweight.
SSD scam: How does it work?
Admittedly, this fake SSD is fairly impressive, which is probably why it’s making such an impression. It is designed to look like a Samsung SSD T5, a very popular external hard drive that is the predecessor to the Samsung SSD T7. And at first glance, it seems to be surprisingly well made. There are no screws holding the chassis together, or a pinhole that would allow for a SIM tool to pry the case open.
Additionally, when you plug the SSD into your computer, two 15TB drives appear — this is a red flag we will cover later. When you try and copy over files it even shows the files writing onto the SSD as a normal drive would.
Well, except that it’s actually not copying your data over. It just writes new data on top of old data and when you open the drive in your computer, nothing is there. This is just one of several red flags. Remember how the drive shows as two separate 15TB drives? Those drives should actually be slightly less than 15TB due to a number of factors, including that storage sizes are typically marketed as round numbers (1TB = 1,000GB) but Windows does not view them that way (1TB = 1,024GB). Typically, 1TB drives have reported capacities of less than 1TB.
Once you get the case open, it is pretty clear that the level of craftsmanship is subpar. The SSD that Ray [REDACTED] managed to open with a razor was made up of two flash storage cards, though other purchasers have reported USB thumb drives inside the enclosure. Additionally, the USB-C to USB-3.1 cable only works as USB 2.0, so in addition to getting a scammy hard drive, you get a scammy USB cable too.
How to avoid these SSD scams
These scams, unfortunately, are all too common. Even the most popular retailers often use third-party sellers who are not strongly vetted. To avoid buying a faulty external SSD driv,e make sure to check out our external drive buying guide. No scams hiding there — promise.