WD Blue SATA SSD: possible serious issue with BitLocker

I’ve had and used a 500-GB WD Blue 2.5" SATA SSD for over 2 years without any issue until some weeks ago. WD Dashboard and CrystalDiskInfo both showed no SMART errors and 96% estimated remaining life. Windows 10 Pro 21H2 was installed on it and running without issues.

One day, though, suddenly the system became terribly slow out of nothing. It wasn’t doing any CPU- or I/O-intensive task at the time, and malware was ruled out as well. I found it strange and decided to reboot the system. And the PC hung on boot. Not even the POST screen would appear, so I couldn’t even access the BIOS setup screen, let alone boot the system. So, it wasn’t a Windows OS problem.

After a few further attempts, POST appeared and I was able to load the BIOS setup screen. All my other SATA drives (two HDDs for mass data storage and a Blu-Ray R/W drive) were listed there, but not the SSD. I turned the PC off, opened the case and connected the SSD to a different SATA port. Same results. I also switched the cables. No change.

Then I disconnected the SSD and connected one of the HDDs to the same SATA port to which the SSD had been originally connected. I could enter BIOS setup normally and it listed all the remaining drives. So, it wasn’t a SATA port problem either.

Still, not only was the SSD not working, but it was hanging the BIOS most times as well. Fortunately, I had current backups of most of my data (and all the critical data), and I had a spare HDD, so I installed Windows to that HDD as an emergency measure, as I need my PC for work and couldn’t wait for an RMA (WD Blue SSDs have 5 years’ warranty, so mine was still covered).

The RMA process was a bit problematic at first because of a bug on WD’s Web site that wouldn’t let me open an RMA ticket, but the WD support people were helpful and I was about to send them the drive when I had an idea and did something I hadn’t tried yet. As we saw, the SSD mostly hung the BIOS and wasn’t recognized when it didn’t, but that was on boot — I hadn’t tried a hot swap with the PC already on yet.

I did so, connecting the SSD with the PC on and Windows running, and lo and behold! It was recognized normally — for about an hour. Then it suddenly disappeared and Windows wouldn’t recognize it any more, but Dashboard could still see it. Fortunately, that was long enough for me to recover the few data that hadn’t been backed up when the problem happened. During the period when the SSD worked, again, both WD Dashboard and CrystalDiskInfo showed no SMART issues and 96% remaining life.

But here’s the thing: all my drives are encrypted, as a security demand from my clients. I use VeraCrypt for non-system drives, but VeraCrypt doesn’t work well on the system drive, so I use Windows BitLocker on the latter (i.e., until recently, the SSD). I started to suspect that BitLocker had something to do with the issue.

So, after recovering my data, I erased the SSD using Dashboard (meaning that BitLocker is gone on that drive now), initialized it as GPT, created an empty partition, and left it connected, even if unused at the moment. I was able to boot Windows normally (from the HDD, of course), the PC has been on for over 36 hours as of this writing, and Windows still recognizes the SSD. Dashboard and CrystalDiskInfo still show no SMART errors and 96% remaining life.

I’ve halted the RMA, as the hardware appears to be OK, but I won’t be using the SSD again any soon, not only because I’m not 100% sure of its reliability, but also because I’ve changed my plans. I’ve just bought a blazing-fast NVMe Gen4 SSD (I haven’t installed it yet because I’m in the middle of a large work project and can’t afford the disruption of a new system install at the moment, but I plan to do it soon). I upgraded my PC about a year ago; the old mainboard didn’t have an M.2 slot and that’s why I got a SATA SSD, but the new board is a flashy Asus X570 supporting TWO NVMe Gen4 drives. I also have a Ryzen 5 3600X CPU (soon to be upgraded to a Ryzen 7 5700G) and 32 GB DDR4 RAM.

However, of course I’ll be using BitLocker on the new SSD as well, and I’m worried. (The current HDD install is unsecured because it’s meant to be just a short-term interim solution.) What do you think? Can BitLocker mess up the system so much that the BIOS doesn’t even recognize the drive and hangs? As you know, BitLocker is both software and hardware, as it uses the mainboard TPM and UEFI features when available (which they currently are). Have you heard of anything like this? (I was unable to find any similar issue.) Is this a known issue, and it is specific to WD drives or not? I’m not 100% sure that BitLocker was really the culprit, but all evidence points to it.

WD needs to have a look at this (together with Microsoft), because if one uses BitLocker, that means one has important confidential data stored on the drive, and the drive is probably mission-critical, as in my case. So, this issue can have very serious consequences to the user.

Thank you very much for your attention and patience!

Bitlocker is garbage. I don’t know why you use it, the problem is yours, not the SSD

In my original post, I said why I need to use it. And sorry, Palomo, but your reply was vague, non-technical, and not helpful to me, to WD, or to anyone. Many people NEED to use BitLocker for various reasons, regardless of your dislike for it, and if there is an issue so serious that it makes whole otherwise good drives unusable and can lead to the loss of precious data, this must be investigated seriously.