When buying memory cards from online stores such as Amazon and Ebay, it is very easy to come across fakes that imitate legitimate brands or misrepresent their true capacity. Accidentally purchasing these cards can result in unrecoverable data loss, so it is very important to know the difference between real and fake when buying online.
There are a few kinds of counterfeit cards:
- Brand Imitation – These cards look very similar to cards from reputable manufacturers, but are instead made from cheaper parts. This can lead to many problems, ranging from reduced speeds to data loss.
- Overstated Speed – These cards will have labels that state transfer speeds higher than what the card is actually capable of. While this isn’t particularly dangerous for the data stored on the card, making these more of a minor inconvenience to come across.
- Overstated/Unrealistic Capacity – These cards advertise higher capacity than they are capable of, with some cards advertising higher than any card on the market is capable of. They usually use modified microchips to report a larger capacity than the card actually has, and overwrite data once the small amount of real storage is full. These cards are easy to spot by their price, as 256GB and 512GB cards are still particularly expensive (£100+). Cards with capacities over 512GB are almost certainly fake. CDR has covered the technical aspects of counterfeit memory cards/sticks in several case studies.
Usually the best way to tell if a card is fake or not is the price and the seller. If an SD card is being sold from a verified seller on Amazon at a price similar to other SD cards around that capacity, that card is most likely real. A 512GB nameless SD card on Ebay being sold for £20 is not going to be real. However, the easiest method to avoid counterfeit memory cards (or sticks) is to buy direct from a retailer such as PC World or eBuyer.