September 18, 2014

What To Do When Your Iomega USB 3.0 SSD Fails

Back in 2011, Iomega sent me a fantastic surprise: A blistering fast 256 GB USB 3.0 SSD. My review was extremely positive, since it really was state of the art at the time. However, like most buyers, my experience has since turned sour as the USB connector failed. Here’s how to recover some usability from it.

When the connector fails, your fancy Iomega SSD becomes an expensive paperweight

Although the Iomega USB 3.0 SSD shipped in a solid aluminum case, with shock absorbing “ribs”, it has a serious weakness: The USB connector is held on with solder rather than metal. Over time, the connector can work loose, rendering the drive unusable.

Typically, if a connector fails the internal drive can be removed from the case and used elsewhere. But the Iomega SSD has a few things going against it in this regard:

  1. The Micron C300 SSD inside is a 1.8″ drive with no mounting screws, rather than the typical 2.5″ form factor
  2. The SSD uses an unusual Micro SATA connector rather than the more common SATA or Slim SATA
  3. If, like me, you used Iomega’s hardware encryption, the data stored on the drive will be unrecoverable if the controller board fails

When my drive failed, I was relieved that I didn’t have any irreplaceable data on it. I used it for Tech Field Day video files (a speedy SSD is awesome for Final Cut Pro!) but had been careful to copy all of the data to another external drive for safekeeping. Although I didn’t lose any data, most users aren’t so careful about backups!

What To Do When It Fails

When the connector fails, the Iomega becomes a very expensive brick. Most users don’t have anything that can connect to a Micro SATA drive, and many will be concerned that the SSD wouldn’t work without Iomega’s controller. Happily, this is not the case!

Your first resort is reporting the failure to Iomega (now called Lenovo EMC) support and asking for a replacement. Users on Amazon and elsewhere have reported mixed results with this: Some have gotten a “run-around” from support, or have found that their warranty has expired. And users like me, who cracked the drive open the day I got it, might find the company unwilling to support it at all.

If you’d like to try to make use of the excellent Micron C300 SSD in some other form, there is hope. Simply order a Micro SATA to SATA with SATA Power Adapter Cable and plug the drive into any SATA port. This is what I did with mine: It’s now doing duty in my VMware ESXi lab machine.

Stephen’s Stance

If you own one of these drives, I have a few pieces of advice for you:

  1. Back up your data regularly
  2. Do not use Iomega’s proprietary hardware encryption
  3. Get ready to replace the drive or the controller when the connector fails

It’s disappointing Iomega engineered this drive so poorly.

  • Globolus

    Hi Stephen,

    you wrote:
    “If, like me, you used Iomega’s hardware encryption, the data stored on
    the drive will be unrecoverable if the controller board fails”

    Do you know if its possible to change the controller (i.e. from an identical ssd) to recover encrypted data?

    Best regards, Globolus

  • IomegaFail

    Thanks for this article. Wish I’d read it before I purchased my drive last year! A solid state drive is of no use if the ports are shoddy.

  • blenheimorange

    Thanks for this article. I have discovered it too late and regret not replacing the drive when it first started misbehaving weeks ago. This evening the internal bracket came apart from the drive, stuck on the USB cable connector.