Brand New Portable SSD 1TB 2TB External Hard Drive Type-C USB 3.0 High-Speed External Storage Hard Disks For Laptops/Desktop/Mac (WHL #95)

AliExpress and their stupid game rules finally made me (inadvertently) buy* something that I heard about at least 13 years ago…a full-sized USB hard disk that only houses a tiny USB stick!

*Ackchyually, that is not quite correct. Like with the NVMe drive of WHL #92 that took me a long time to get refunded (and it only happened via PayPal, since AE to this day strongly believes in returns to fake warehouses in Afghanistan), this one also ended in a dispute and now I get to return it in exchange for a full refund. This time, though, to a warehouse in Germany, so I unfortunately cannot keep it, but now that I know how to find these…

But first things first, this is the fake USB drive that I remember seeing all over the interwebs:

Funny back then, but it probably consisted of a fully working USB drive, just a very small one compared to the expected HDD. But since then, flash fraud has clearly taken over, so one doesn’t even get the advertised capacity of the USB drive in return.
This is what I got:

Price was 8.81€ including shipping and VAT. I wasn’t greedy with the fake terabytes, so I just ordered the 1TB version (a 2TB one was offered, see title).

Looks legit, innit? Problems start right with the packaging – the inner plastic shell (sorry, haven’t taken photos) didn’t even fit the drive, it was moving around in the package. And clearly any software shipped with a scammy product is 100% trustworthy, especially for backups. But it did include a nice Micro USB 3.0 cable…while the device was advertised having USB-C, but that’s a minor technicality.

Unfortunately, I don’t have any photos of the unit being new and untouched – it was strikingly light and also has a screwless design where both halves of the shell are simply clipped together and then held by some metal protrusion. I had a go with it right away, sorry

Here’s the closest shot of what the unboxed device looks like – also note the SATA logo on top. Doesn’t make sense an any ready-to-go HDD, but this clearly is no empty case for DIY purposes…so why would anyone put it there?

Anyway, here’s what I mean with strikingly light: This is my (heaviest) USB thumb drive, a Sandisk Extreme Pro 256GB from before WD snatched Sandisk. 16.8g.

Here’s a NVMe to USB-C (10Gb/s) from SSK that even works with the strange Lenovo OEM SSD from my Thinkpad 25. Admittedly, that one is a solid aluminium case since most NVMes do require decent heat sinking, and it does get toasty indeed – but this is still pretty small compared to the USB drive of this post. It clocks in at 51.6g.

Taking the piss, this is a 40GB OCZ Vertex2 drive that I got brand new from Amazon quite a while back for absolute peanuts – solid metal construction, not quite on the level of the server grade Oracle branded HGST SSDs, but very sturdy nonetheless. 83.3g.

And now the star of the show – the “1TB” “USB-C” “SSD”. 42.6g. Half the weight of a similar-sized regular SSD, and 20% lighter than a NVMe drive. It should be obvious to anyone that has handled an internal or external SSD before that something fishy is going on with that unit.

What’s inside? Glad you asked. Hot snot. About seven grams or 1/6 of total weight, I checked

Oh, and there’s also a USB drive present within the paper-thin metal walls (a “Kuchenblechmafia” product, as we say here). One with an unusual Micro USB 3.0 plug, so no adapters like on the classic scam photo shown on top. This “CF-868” board has to be purpose-built for that application, no one would carry around these strange (wide!) USB cables to use this as an USB drive. Glad they were instantly replaced once USB-C became available.

Back of the board is empty, with a footprint for some 66-ball BGA chip (array of 8×11). I checked and couldn’t find any, maybe this is a dual-purpose footprint. If I ever encounter another one that I can desolder, I’ll check if the front IC is also of that strange type.

Close-up shot:

Chip number YXV7A11697202320 does unfortunately not yield any results on The Googles. Chip is blank (but not laser-erased) otherwise. The controller nearby says “FC2279”, and, what do you know, that one is known to Google: Some poor soul asked in a data recovery forum about his options for retrieving data from his “2TB drive”…good luck with that mate

The 24-pin (?) QFP-type footprint is clearly not able to connect to the full 66-ball flash chip, even if half of those were like power and GND pins. Maybe modern flash can run in reduced speed mode with a minimal set of pins, a bit like SD cards do?

And this is where I just throw in four screenshots from the AliExpress dispute, since this is pretty much all one needs to know: The drive accepted around 32GB twice and then fully died on me.

Not even a SuperSpeed device that utilizes the Micro 3.0 connector, but a regular HighSpeed 2.0 device. Great! Name is “SDK PSSD”, idVendor=048d, meaning Integrated Technology Express, Inc. – I’ve had these before on other drives with fake capacity readings….

First 32GB caused a disconnect

Second run did as well, but it only ever came back as “no medium present”, deleted USB ID (“USB2DISK”), empty vendor ID, serial number and so on. Maybe writing beyond the flash chip limits does cause weird things to the controller?

So much for the advertised one terabye of write-only memory ;)

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