Sunday, 10 July 2016

Beware of fake SD cards

One of the most counterfeited electronics item is probably memory cards. Brand awareness is very high in this market, e.g., a brand like Sandisk has a high confidence and can charge premium prices.

Also, the speed rating on memory cards can be confusing, and on top of this, many people buy faster cards than they actually need, and don't have any way of knowing what to expect from a given speed rating. With this background, it is only to be expected that someone will repackage lesser value cards as faster ones from a premium brand, and sell them at a high profit.

Sadly, I happened to buy one of these myself recently. The packaging looks nice, just what I would expect from a Sandisk Extreme 64GB Micro SD card. I have used this type of cards for years: It is fast enough for all the video modes on the Lumix GH4 camera, and with the adapter, it fits into most cameras:


However, when looking at the rear of the packaging, I started noticing the poor print quality. You would not find this mess on a genuine Sandisk card:


The card itself looks ok. Here, the fake card is on the top, while my older, and worn genuine card is on the bottom. The fake card has a strange font for the "4" number, though:


The rear side of the cards is quite different. The fake card has a weird hologram sticker, which I have never seen on a real card:


To test it, I downloaded the freeware program H2testw 1.4, which can be used to test the integrity of the card: Read and write speeds, data correctness, and capacity. Here is the test of my card:


It has a sustained write speed of around 20MB/s, which is way too slow for this kind of card. My other Sandisk Extreme 64GB Micro SD cards get 60MB/s write performance, and reports from the web indicate that you should get at least 45MB/s.

Hence, this is a cheaper card which has been repackaged as a Sandisk Extreme. It has a worse write performance, and probably not the same quality and durability as well.

The positive side is that if you end up with a fake card, most reputable web shops, like Amazon and Ebay, will refund your payment. However, my guess is that many users never notice that they have a fake card in the first place.

1 comment:

  1. I got a fake Kingston 256 GB thumb Drive on eBay a few years back that was really only 4 GB - so you couldn't miss it. Complained and got my money back. Fake SD cards that are merely slow are a much more subtle and insidious problem. I think it might be a good idea to test our SD cards using H2TestW So I thank you for another post that provides truly practical information.

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