Wednesday, 13 April 2011

Bad Aldi Fission 8Gig USB sticks.

After receiving two faulty USB sticks from Aldi, I decided to publish the results as a warning to others.

The device is a 'Fission' branded 8Gig USB stick. Fission is a registered trademark of Aldi Stores.

The first USB stick was DOA. Although the OS detected something, no actual drive was found. The second stick showed symptoms comparable to the same model owned by another family member (bought from an Aldi store in a different location).

First symptoms:

  • Some files appear not to work properly (in this case AVI files).
  • Some files appear to be missing from the directory after they were copied.
  • Writing files is terribly slow.

The USB stick was reformatted in preparation for more rigorous testing. First, a 100MB file of random data was created and then copied across to the USB stick as discreet files until the filesystem was full. Using the 'direct' flag with dd circumvents OS buffering, giving us a more accurate average write speed: 1.6 MB/s. DirectIO can degrade throughput for small block sizes, so we use 1MB here.

$ dd if=/dev/urandom of=./testfile bs=1M count=100 ... $ for i in `seq -w 0 85`; do > dd if=./testfile of=/media/New\ Volume/testfile.$i bs=1M oflag=direct > done ... 104857600 bytes (105 MB) copied, 66.1858 s, 1.6 MB/s ...

This created 80 files, the last one truncated, and five zero byte files as the space was exhausted. Testing one file for read using dd shows an average read speed of 8.0MB/s.

$ dd if=/media/New\ Volume/testfile.00 of=/dev/null bs=1M iflag=direct ... 104857600 bytes (105 MB) copied, 13.0471 s, 8.0 MB/s

Finally the file content was checked with md5sum.

$ md5sum testfile /media/New\ Volume/testfile.*

Only the first 62 files were checked, the rest had disappeared. Each file had a unique checksum. None of them were the same as the original. On un-mounting , removing the device, re-inserting and re-mounting, the test was repeated. The same 62 files existed, all but one repeated same unique (but incorrect) checksum. Listing the filesystem contents showed directory corruption.

At this point the device had stopped being writable and could not be reformatted or erased.

As a comparison, a new Kingston DataTraveler 16Gig was used.

They show a modest 10 MB/s and 5 MB/s for read and write on the packaging, actual results were a far more impressive 27.3 MB/s and 12.9 MB/s respectively.

$ dd if=/dev/urandom of=./testfile bs=1M count=100 ... $ for i in `seq -w 0 160`; do > dd if=./testfile of=/media/KINGSTON/testfile.$i bs=1M oflag=direct > done ... 104857600 bytes (105 MB) copied, 8.13906 s, 12.9 MB/s ... $ dd if=/media/KINGSTON/testfile.000 of=/dev/null bs=1M iflag=direct ... 104857600 bytes (105 MB) copied, 3.83913 s, 27.3 MB/s

There were no errors in any files tested with the Kingston USB stick.

As a final note, Aldi Australia were selling the Fission 8Gig stick for $15.99, and MSY were selling the Kingston 16Gig stick for $25.00.


  1. Seems I'm not the only one. First stick used for recording TV on a PVR. Didn't work, reported as too slow. Checked on computer, nothing there, couldn't format etc. Assumed it had beem removed too soon from PVR. Second stick used in computer, loaded with 500 Mb of photos. All well until the next day when only about 1/3 of them were readable. All the folders had "Garbage Names". Reformatted the stick and started again. I left the stick connected and tested it every couple of hours with no problems. Removed the stick and tested it 8 hours later. At least half the files were garbage.

  2. @alan.torrens: Thanks for adding your experience, I hope it helps inform others.

    I made a distinct point of warning the Aldi staff of the issue, and kindly asked that they notify their head office.

    Aldi are still selling the same sticks today, although they don't seem to be moving quickly.

    Woe to anyone who uses them to backup something important.

  3. An old scam rife on Ebay for years now, involving Mp players, memory cards & thumb drives.
    Cheap low capacity rejects are doctored with special software that falsifies true capacity, mimics the reported size & writes 0byte entries once actual capacity is exceeded.
    Visit sosfakeflash site for details.
    Google for the free tool "H2testw" to test yours.

    Purchased two 8GB "Voissy" brand (made in China for Aldi on package) flash drives today from my local Aldi store. The display housed at least 50 identical units retailing at $13.99AU.
    My customary testing immediately I arrived home produced the following:

    Flash drive 1 test result:

    The media is likely to be defective.
    99.4 MByte OK (203672 sectors)
    341.5 MByte DATA LOST (699496 sectors)
    Details:0 KByte overwritten (0 sectors)
    0 KByte slightly changed (< 8 bit/sector, 0 sectors)
    341.5 MByte corrupted (699496 sectors)
    0 KByte aliased memory (0 sectors)
    First error at offset: 0x0000000006373000
    Expected: 0x0000000006373000
    Found: 0x0000000000000000
    H2testw version 1.3

    Flash drive 2 result:

    The media is likely to be defective.
    762.2 MByte OK (1561140 sectors)
    6.2 GByte DATA LOST (13087652 sectors)
    Details:6.2 GByte overwritten (13049096 sectors)
    0 KByte slightly changed (< 8 bit/sector, 0 sectors)
    18.8 MByte corrupted (38556 sectors)
    62.6 MByte aliased memory (128394 sectors)
    First error at offset: 0x000000002fa46800
    Expected: 0x000000002fa46800
    Found: 0x00000001f7800800
    H2testw version 1.3

    Both came in at under 1GB true capacity which was confirmed when both failed a follow up test using a 1.2GB file.
    Printed out the H2TESTW reports & took them back to Aldi for a refund where I informed the manager that he most likely had a whole batch of fakes. He replied that he had received multiple complaints from customers that their units had failed & would forward my printed report to Head Office.

  4. @Grump: It didn't even occur to me that Aldi might have been distributing USB sticks with falsified capacities. Thanks for the insightful comment.

    If this is true, then it's possible that all of the sticks (of the same brand) are bogus, as opposed to a batch of faulty sticks due to poor quality control.

    Once Aldi lowered the price to $13.99, the boxes emptied pretty quickly. The complaints obviously haven't stopped them selling the stock!

  5. A report from January 15, 2011 on this occuring to someone else who purchased an 8Gig Fission stick from Aldi in October 2010:
    (Just search the page for "Fission" or "Aldi").

    A thread on whirlpool here:

    Common Aldi, there's no way you are ignorant to this.

  6. More info:
    Regarding brand name I mentioned earlier "Voissy".
    I was almost sure that was the name on the 2 Aldi units I purchased a week back, but as they had been returned by the time I posted here I could have been mistaken as that same store is still selling a stock of "Fission" ones.

    However today I went to a different Aldi store 50Klm distant & purchased 2 more 8GB "Fission"
    branded "8GB" Thumb Drives & immediately tested them with the H2testw tool.
    Both came in at under 1GB true capacity. Same results as the 2 I reported on before.

    So it seems to more widespread than just one batch & it's disappointing to see them still on sale considering I had even phoned their distribution centre a week back with this info as well as supplying them with the testing printouts.

  7. On contacting the manager at my local Aldi store I was informed that these units have now been withdrawn from sale.
    (Apparently from all stores)

  8. My 8Gb Fission USB stick from Aldi (bought last week) was a total dud and didn't work at all. I took it back to Aldi today and got my $13.99 refunded even though I didn't have the receipt any more. No questions asked. Suspect the previous one I bought there was faulty as well since large numbers of music files which were copied onto it were corrupted. Might try and return it as well.

  9. My 8Gb Fission USB Stick is bad as well corrupted and will not let you format it or check for file system errors. I don't have my receipt but will try to return it to Aldi for a refund. My advice is stick to Transcend or Kingston for a more accurate device. Great blog I hope this helps others who are having problems with this USB drive from Aldi's.

  10. not all stores have removed them...I bought one 2 weeks ago from our store..and found this while looking for solutions to my problem...will be returning it..thanks