SanDisk’s Name is Now Mud


Due in large part to its abysmal response — or rather, complete lack thereof — to widespread reports of the failure of its portable SSD products, the SanDisk brand name is now mud.

For those unfamiliar, the phrase “one’s name is mud” means that a person, or in this case a brand, is widely unpopular due to disgrace or scandal. Some believe that the term originates from Doctor Samuel Mudd’s choice to render medical aid to John Wilkes Booth after he assassinated President Abraham Lincoln (Booth broke his leg after jumping down from the box seats above the stage). However, the phrase likely dates back even further to a book written in 1823.

Whatever the case, there are fewer phrases that aptly describe the situation that SanDisk is presently in. Months after the first reports started coming in and nearly a week after widespread reporting by The Verge, Ars Technica, and PetaPixel, SanDisk — and its parent company Western Digital — appears to have chosen to bury its head in the sand and hope it all blows over.

Well, almost. SanDisk and Western Digital actually did choose to respond, in a way, by slashing the price of affected SSDs by as much half in the past week (B&H Photo lists the 4TB version drive as regularly priced at $800, now available for $400, which is a 50% discount). That price drop is coming directly from the manufacturer, who lists the same price on its online store.

SanDisk at least appears to be attempting to offload as many of these drives as it can — the same drives that are failing. Of course the price cuts could be totally unrelated to the failure reports, but the optics aren’t great, and optics are what matter here.

Data storage is perhaps the most dependent on strong confidence in a brand than any other in the photo and video industry. If a photographer can’t trust a company to keep photos safe, then there is no value in those products to them. I know this is true, because almost 10 years ago, Seagate had a slightly higher percentage rate of failure than dries from HGST or WD and that was enough to hear “I won’t buy Seagate” from a vast majority of photographers I spoke to for years. We are talking single digit percentage points worse in that case, yet it tarnished photographers’ opinions so strongly.

SanDisk’s response, or lack thereof, likely points to fear: fear that admitting a problem will result similarly. Unfortunately, saying nothing in this case appears to be just as bad.

We don’t actually know what is going on at the company though, since it has not responded to repeated requests for comment from PetaPixel or other publications.

Normally I would have some sympathy for a company going through a rough patch like this because it happens to basically every product manufacturer at some point, but the company’s choice to pretend there is no problem and instead offload affected drives onto unsuspecting customers at a massive discount really rubs me the wrong way. That, combined with regular issues with privacy and data integrity from WD’s NAS division has really soured how I feel about a company that I have for years recommended.

This story is part of PetaPixel’s weekly newsletter Clipped Highlights. The opinions expressed above are those solely of the author.

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Image credits: Header photo licensed via Depositphotos.