Everything that seems too good to be true probably is. This is the first thing you should consider when you see a portable SSD with 30 terabytes of storage space for only $39 at Walmart (hat tip to Ars Technica). The drive is not among the top SSDs, but it is good enough to be on everyone’s blacklist.
An AliExpress customer named Ray Redacted(opens in new tab) decided to buy a portable SSD with 30 terabytes of storage just for kicks. The drive is available from a third-party seller on Walmart for a slight premium, bringing the total price to $31.41.
The “Portable SSD” is a visual copy of the best-selling Samsung T5. The Chinese imitation is so close to the T5 that it even utilizes the same text. Despite being marketed as a USB 3.1 drive, Ray found out that it could only operate at USB 2.0 speeds. The portable SSD has two microSD cards adhered to a tiny green printed circuit board (PCB; HUB-TF2).
The same con can be found in various forms. The portable solid-state drive (SSD) of one Twitter user, for instance, included a USB pen drive rather than two microSD cards, as the user had previously disclosed (opens in new tab). Simply put, the portable SSD is a USB hub with many microSD card slots, or else a USB flash drive.
These storage devices with questionable specs are not the first time we’ve seen them. There are several counterfeit USB drives, solid-state drives, and secure digital (SD) cards available for purchase.
In any case, the complexity of this portable SSD is fascinating. Using two microSD cards and modified firmware, the con artist exaggerates the capacity of the device. The firmware tricks Windows into thinking the microSD cards are larger than they are, therefore the card size is irrelevant.
To Windows, Ray’s drive seems like two 15TB drives. In fact, microSD cards were noticeably more compact. He pointed out that the disk only supports transfer rates of up to 60 MBps via the older USB 2.0 standard and that the included USB-C to USB-C 3.1 adapter is a fake.
The modified firmware overwrites existing data while preserving the file system structure. It acts OK, but when you attempt to view your files, you find nothing.
Consumers should use caution while shopping for any product, including computer hardware, on the Internet. Since major retailers like Newegg and Walmart now permit third-party vendors to use their marketplace systems for online transactions, this is more crucial than ever.
Fake Portable SSD?
While @RayRedacted was skeptical of AliExpress’s capacity estimates, he nevertheless bought the suspect SSD. He opened it, and what looked like two microSD cards were attached randomly to a board.
Plugging in the drive triggered a second warning sign. Even though 1TB drives are reported as having a capacity of around 930GB, this is because Windows reports drive size in GB but actually measures in gibibytes (GiB) and tebibytes (TiB). In this scenario, however, the SSD appeared to be two independent drives, each with the exact same storage capacity of 15 terabytes (TB).
According to @RayRedacted, the mismatch is the result of a firmware hack that makes a little drive (perhaps 1GB or less) appear to be considerably larger. He added that when a large file is being written, “hacked firmware just puts all new data on top of old data while keeping directory intact (sic).”
It appears the manufacturer has also taken measures to reduce the bus speed, making it such that validation of the drive’s true capacity will take well over a year.
The Walmart reviews section is rife with comments from dissatisfied consumers, lending credence to the charges made in the Twitter thread.
Warning: “Do not buy this,” one reviewer said. “There is no possibility that this useless piece of junk could ever be useful.” Others said that just one file in a hundred was successfully uploaded, that speeds were poor, and that file corruption was prevalent.