Way back in Feb 2010 we reported on an intrepid geek investigation into the manufacture of fake microSD cards, and it seems the problem hasn’t gone away. In fact it’s probably got worse. So bad has the situation become there’s even a blog about it, called Fake Flash News, which reports on all the dodgy products that arrive on eBay and other retail sites. The problem is the copies are so good that they’re fooling lots of people, who then suffer from memory cards which won’t work properly, if at all.
So how do you protect yourself? Well the first warning sign is usually a very cheap, almost too good to be true, price. If everyone else is selling 32GB microSD cards for £20 and your vendor has them at £4, then be suspicious. These cards may look absolutely authentic, but chances are they’re either discarded quality assurance failures which have been stolen from a factory dumpster, or they’re knock offs which have been run at night while the authentic factory line is ‘asleep’.
One good way to avoid being scammed is to buy your flash memory cards from Amazon, (not the marketplace). Amazon products are usually verified at source, so you can be assured that the Sandisk you buy is actually a real one. eBay is a lottery, and chances are you’ll lose, as the percentage of fakes on there is usually significant.
I did find one very useful review post on Amazon in the UK by a Dr Sanjeev Sharma which gives a very handy list of things to look out for in determining fake from authentic cards. The post, How to detect fake Sandisk microSD 32GB, gives 7 tips. Basically check the packaging carefully, as well as the barcode. Make sure the type of card you’ve bought actually exists, watch out for a short serial number (usually the sign of a fake) and use a test program called H2TestW to check the capacity and performance of your card. Generally if the card runs like a dog, or has problems storing the maximum capacity it should, it’s probably a fake.
All in all, it pays to be alert, and if you suspect anything is amiss with your phone or other gadget, check that you haven’t just upgraded to a cheap, and therefore suspect, microSD card, because that could be the culprit. Good luck and caveat emptor, as they say.