Buying a used SSD or hard drive is becoming a bit of a minefield

Image of the innards of a hard drive
(Image credit: Pixabay)

Those looking to snag a bargain on an SSD or hard drive should be wary right now, as Chia miners who are abandoning their pursuit of this cryptocurrency are selling off used drives in droves apparently (with some even advertised as new models). The main problem here being that drives used for Chia mining are possibly near worn-out.

Chia is a relatively new cryptocurrency that launch back in May 2021, and got off to a somewhat shaky start, but then grew in value quite quickly – but has since plunged back down and now stands at around a sixth of the price it sold for at the coin’s peak (at the time of writing).

The big difference with Chia compared to other crypto assets is that it was designed to be more eco-friendly and use a ‘proof of space’ model which relies on storage capacity, meaning you need drives rather than more power-hungry GPUs (or ASICs). As you might imagine, in the earlier days of Chia, there was something of a drive-buying frenzy as a result.

However, as Wccftech spotted, VNExpress International has highlighted that given the huge drop in the value of Chia, over in Asia miners have started selling off their drives in order to switch tack to a different cryptocurrency.

No other coin uses drives, so the only real option for miners is to try and offload them and switch to an entirely different model with an alternative cryptocurrency. Hence there are now a lot of drives coming onto the used market, with some more nefarious types advertising SSDs or HDDs as ‘new’ (or renewed) models when in fact they are used.

And not just used, but perhaps seriously heavily used: Chia mining is really intensive in terms of drive wear, meaning that a 1TB SSD, for example, might only last 80 days of mining (plotting) rather than the many years of life it should have. So, anyone buying an ex-Chia workhorse drive might be purchasing something which is literally about to die.

Analysis: Sowing the (Chia) seeds of distrust

The used market for drives has certainly become a more hazardous place because of this activity, at least in Asia as this report underlines. However, there could of course be Chia miners in other regions across the globe giving up on this cryptocurrency and going through a similar sell-off of their (potentially failing) hardware.

Obviously, it’s even more galling to hear that some of these drives could be passed off as new, and clearly, it pays to be careful of where you’re making a purchase from. Be wary of any third-party marketplaces, and also what might be apparent bargains from miners who’ve slashed prices, likely because the drive in question is on the cusp of giving up the ghost.

More than ever, then, at the current time it’s best to stick to known and trusted online retailers when it comes to your storage purchases – although that’s generally a good idea anyway.

Darren is a freelancer writing news and features for TechRadar (and occasionally T3) across a broad range of computing topics including CPUs, GPUs, various other hardware, VPNs, antivirus and more. He has written about tech for the best part of three decades, and writes books in his spare time (his debut novel - 'I Know What You Did Last Supper' - was published by Hachette UK in 2013).