Monday, October 3, 2022
Home TECH Walmart lists a 30TB portable SSD for $39. It's naturally a scam.

Walmart lists a 30TB portable SSD for $39. It’s naturally a scam.

If someone tries to sell you 30TB of solid-state storage for less than $40, consider turning around and running, no matter how many clip art rockets they use in their images.

It seems that high-capacity SSDs are getting cheaper, but in the words of a security researcher known as redacted ray on Twitter, there are still some offers that are too good to be true. In the spirit of discovery, he bought a “30TB” external SSD from AliExpress for $31.40, which also happens to be listing on Walmart website for $39 (I’m linking it for its educational and entertainment value, please don’t buy it.)

Inside, this “SSD” looks like two small-capacity microSD cards hot-glued to a USB 2.0-compatible board. The firmware on this board has been modified so that each of these cards report your ability as “15.0TB” to the operating system, for a total of 30TB, although the actual capacity of the cards is much less. This is another gift; Windows reports drive capacities in gibibytes (1024 mebibytes) or tebibytes (1024 gibibytes), while drive manufacturers use gigabytes (1000 megabytes) and terabytes (1000 gigabytes). This is why a 1TB drive typically only has a reported capacity of 930GB, rather than a nice round number.

Inside, this
Enlarge / Inside, this “SSD” features what appears to be a couple of microSD cards or some other type of cheap, low-capacity flash memory hot-glued to a circuit board.

The unit is even smarter when it comes to tricking people into thinking it’s working. It preserves the directory structure of whatever you’re copying, but when it’s “copying” your data, it keeps writing and rewriting to the tiny microSD cards. Everything will look fine until you access a file, only to find that the data isn’t there.

The replies to Ray Redacted’s thread are littered with alternate versions of this scam, including multiple iterations of the hot-glued microSD version and at least one that hid a USB stick inside a larger enclosure.

Fake USB storage devices aren’t new or rare, though this one makes spectacularly outrageous claims about its price per gigabyte. When it comes to buying storage online, common sense advice is best: stick to the big name brands, buy from trusted sellers (not just retail sites you trust – Walmart’s listing is sold through “JD E Commerce America Limited”, whatever it is), and know that if a deal sounds too good to be true, it almost certainly is.


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