Blog: How Tos

Dodgy disks. My 32TB SSD Adventure

Jack Barradell-Johns 21 Jun 2024


  • “Hard drive” had reflashed firmware to make it look larger
  • Buyer beware: Cheap storage may not be the value you think it is


Earlier this year I found myself in need of various cheap electronic components. So naturally I turned to AliExpress. I came across a listing for a cheap “32TB Portable SSD”. I knew this was too good to be true but at £21 I thought it would be interesting to take a look at what I actually got.

The Device

Once the order finally arrived I began to test what they had actually sent me. First, I took a look at the packaging, and the device itself. The box was surprisingly high quality, printed on decent cardboard.

The device itself looked almost exactly like a portable SSD I already owned, but noticeably lighter. There was a USB-C port for connecting it, along with a provided USB-C to USB-A cable. The outer casing of the device also felt incredibly brittle, and cheap, likely very low-quality aluminium and plastic.

Next up, connecting it up and seeing what it really is.

But Is It 32TB?

So, when I first connected the device to a computer, it instantly registered in Windows as being a 32TB drive. Both in Explorer, and Disk Manager.

I also did some initial tests of writing files to it and plugging it into another machine. These files made it with no problems, so it at least has some real storage!

The next test was to see how much storage there really was. To do this, I created a 500 MB file, and copied it onto the device repeatedly, until Windows was unable to copy the file. This happened once I had written 97.5 GB to the disk, so I therefore assumed the device was in reality, approximately 98 GB in real capacity. I later found out this was true, it was 97.67 GB.


Having confirmed it was not 32 TB I  wanted to know what was really inside the case. The case turned out to be fairly easy to disassemble. By prying the bottom plastic off (I did cause some damage doing this, low quality plastic and all), the internals slid out with minimal resistance.

The internals turned out to be a very small PCB, on which was a Micro SD card, and electronic components for the USB-C port. It is likely this board has been flashed with firmware that fakes the drive capacity to Windows.

Removing the hot glue blob on top of the SD card, allowed it to be removed from the port easily. Looking over the SD card itself revealed no useful information, as it was unbranded.

Taking the SD card and plugging it into another SD card to USB adapter immediately showed my earlier size estimate was fairly accurate. This was a 98GB SD card.

I repeated my storage capacity test on the card using my own adapter, and found it could store up to 98GB of data without any immediate corruption or errors being displayed, so at least this bit wasn’t fake!


Overall digging into this device revealed exactly what I expected, high capacity drives on AliExpress, are likely to be fake. But it made for a fun hour or two to dig into, and I came out of it with a weird capacity SD card! My biggest takeaway from this is very simple. If it seems too good to be true, it very likely is.