If you're looking for cheap USB flash drives these days, you'll quickly find them: devices with high memory capacity from established manufacturers at very low prices are available abundantly in online shops. Blinded by chance of a great deal, it may be too late to realize that it is a fake.
We'll give you tips on how to detect counterfeit products and how to check the storage of devices you've already purchased.
How can I check if the purchased flash drive is counterfeit?
Before you use the purchased flash drive, you should first check its capacity with your PC. With the test programs H2testw (Windows) and F3 (Linux/Mac) you can find out whether the available memory size matches the seller's specifications. Depending on the size of the storage medium, the verification process can take several hours. However, if you want to avoid data loss, it is worth the time. Some fake devices have less than 5% of the indicated capacity.
If unreadable sectors or errors occur during the test run, you should exchange or return the device. If the products do not contain information about the read and write speed, this is not yet a clear indication that it is a counterfeit. Even some large manufacturers do not provide this information. With high-quality storage media, however, usually come specific speed specifications.
Rules of thumb about speed: A USB 2.0 memory can achieve more than 30 MBytes/s, good USB 3.0 should achieve more than 60 MBytes/s. Many storage media are usually slower in writing than in reading. You can easily test the speed with Windows tools like Crystal Disk Mark. Results that are clearly too slow should be reported to the manufacturer.
Unfortunately the programs can't expose all forgeries. USB flash drives, for example, which are sold under the wrong brand, run without a problem at the beginning, but can give up after a while. To avoid the accidental purchase of a counterfeit, it's best to buy storage media from your trusted retailer. To check the purchase with the programs H2testw or F3 recommandable nevertheless. That way you can be confident that the device is intact and keeps its promises.
What to do in case of data loss?
A USB flash drive with incorrect memory information can have fatal consequences: If the device is written with more data than it can store, data will be lost forever. With fake storage media there is no way back, the data cannot be recovered. The only way to prevent this is to make backup copies. Duplicate important data, such as precious holiday pictures and important documents, and save them on at least one other storage medium. That way, you can make sure your data doesn't get lost.
How do I return the fake items?
If you are sure that you have purchased a fake device, you should return it to the retailer immediately. For sellers in the EU, this is especially possible for online shops within the first 14 days and without giving reasons.
However, this is not the case for dealers outside the EU. If a return is possible at all, it is much more complicated to conclude. The sales contract would not be concluded under the conditions of German or European law, but to the laws of countries in which the dealer is located.
How do I avoid purchasing fake USB flash drives?
The selling price is the first important note: A USB flash drive from Kingston with 2 TB memory for example costs more than 1100 Euro. If retailers on Amazon or eBay offer this flash drive for less than 20 Euro, you as a buyer should immediately become suspicious. Such price differences can only be a fake. Usually, these devices offer only a fraction of the specified storage space.
Before making a purchase it is advisable to compare offers of similiar devices on other search engines. That way can get a rough idea of the current market price and see how realistic the prices on the net are.
A closer look at the product's labelling can also be helpful. Even small spelling mistakes can unveil a fake.
For online platforms such as eBay or Amazon, you should pay attention to the seller's location. Most counterfeit USB flash drives come from the Far East. Here the import can already become problematic, if e.g. necessary documents are missing or the product does not have a CE mark. If product counterfeiting is suspected, customs will confiscate the goods and destroy them or send them back. In the worst case you will not get the goods nor your money back.
In order to avoid such problems you should buy from a trustworthy dealer if possible. With a reputable seller, you have the strongest consumer protection and can successfully complain about the products.
Important questions before the purchase
You should ask following questions in order to avoid buying counterfeit USB sticks.
- Is the price in line with the market?
- Is the capacity realistic?
- Is the speed of the device indicated? If so, is it high enough?
- Are there product specifications on the manufacturer's side?
- Is the seller located in the EU?
- Does the seller make a sincere impression?
If you can answer most of the questions with "yes", there is a very high probability that it is a real device and you can buy the desired stick without hesitation.