Identifying Counterfeit MicroSD Cards

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There are many listings on Amazon or Ebay for cheap MicroSD cards, and everyone is looking for a good deal. But beware, there are also counterfeiters that may attempt to scam a consumer. If you found yourself on this article, it’s very likely you have a MicroSD card that you think is counterfeit or fake. Let’s talk about some signs and symptoms you can observe when identifying counterfeit MicroSD cards.

Counterfeit SanDisk MicroSD Card
Counterfeit “SanDian” MicroSD Card

Identify a fake MicroSD Card by sight

In most cases the MicroSD will be visibly different from the product listing online. If you happen to have a second of the same make and model, you can compare the two side by side. In most cases the prominent visible red flag will be a slight discoloration. Often, a red coloring will appear faded or inversely, too saturated. This applies to other colors too, but most often red. Other times a font will be different. It will seem similar, but there will be a kerning (the spacing between letters) inconsistency or serif ( difference.

In the pictures below, I’ve starred next to some obvious signs of counterfeiting.

Counterfeit SanDisk Extreme Pro MicroSD Cards
Counterfeit SanDisk Extreme Pro MicroSD Cards
Counterfeit SanDisk Extreme Pro MicroSD Cards

Red is for font discrepency, blue is for graphic spacing issues, green is for printing lines, yellow is for the color of graphics being off, purple is for the major colors of the background not matching, and orange is for the resolution of the counterfeit being low quality. In photo 1, you can see there is a significant difference in graphic color and size of the “TB”. Another difference you can find is the area where the black meets the red is a golden yellow color. This isn’t present in the genuine product. Photo 2 is similar, except the biggest difference is how close the “1” is to the MicroSD card lip. The last photo here is a noticeable orange instead of red, as well as orange graphic coloring.

Besides color and font, there can be some physical form factor differences. For example, it is most likely that a 1TB high capacity MicroSD card is counterfeit. A real SanDisk 1TB Extreme Pro has a bump on the back to make space for more NAND flash. A sign that your card is counterfeit could be a missing bump. As you can see below, the genuine 1TB MicroSD card has a small bump added on to the back.

Lastly and most obviously is the name of the manufacturer. Everyone knows SanDisk, Samsung, Kingston, etc. But, keep an eye out for unauthorized resellers and brand names you’ve never heard of. Do a quick google search on the brand if the deal seems too good to be true. This Reddit post has a list of potentially fraudulent brands found on Amazon.

Identify Counterfeit MicroSD Cards
Major identifier here is the printing quality, the resolution is low and the graphics print right to the edge

Identify a counterfeit MicroSD Card by Testing

It is possible that your MicroSD card passes the visual inspection. However, there is still a chance that a counterfeiter replaced the housing assembly or did a very good job imitating the colors and font of your card. In this case, it is likely that your flash drive is labeled a larger capacity than reality.

Unfortunately, it is not as easy as plugging the MicroSD into your computer and viewing the listed GB capacity. There is a way to trick your computer into reading the card as any GB amount. To test this, copy and paste a large volume of data onto the card. You can use video files or photo files to take up the most space. Alternatively, there is software online you can use to fill up a drive with miscellaneous data to test the capacity, which we will talk about next. If your drive is counterfeit, it will attempt to paste in the data. But once it reaches the actual capacity, it will stop and display an error or it will keep going but when you go to review the files after, you will notice a chunk missing. Often, a 1TB MicroSD will be counterfeited with a 64GB internal capacity.

Identify a counterfeit MicroSD Card with Software Tools

As mentioned before, there is software to test the legitimacy of any flash device. This will work great to test your MicroSD card if it is counterfeit. There are several tools you can use, the two most popular are F3 Flash and H2testw. Both of these tools will meticulously examine the sectors of your MicroSD card to determine if the capacity and speed are matching the declared amounts. At the end of the test, the application will tell you if it’s legitimate or not. This is probably the easiest method to determine if the inside’s are counterfeit or not, as long as you are willing and able to install software.

H2testw Fail
H2testw Fail

3 Main ways to identify a Counterfeit MicroSD Card

Let’s review the 3 main ways to identify a counterfeit MicroSD card. First is by sight, you can see a color shift difference or an incorrect font when comparing a counterfeit card to a genuine one. In some cases you can also see the labels on the card are rearranged. The second way to identify a counterfeit MicroSD card is by testing the capacity of the card. A counterfeit MicroSD card will usually not be able to hold the full capacity declared on the label. Lastly, you can identify a counterfeit MicroSD card by by running software tools on it like F3 Flash and H2testw that will verify the device for you.

Wrong background color, and low resolution printing

How to avoid Counterfeit MicroSD Cards

The best way to avoid a counterfeit MicroSD card is to buy from a reputible business or brand and stay away from deals that are too good to be true. At EBS, we have been providing our customers with genuine SanDisk, Kingston, Samsung, and PNY product for more than 15 years. We are a family owned, small business, with real people working in customer service that want to make your experience great. You can shop MicroSD cards, SD cards, Flash Drives, and more on our website. All with the peace of mind in genuine product.