Who produces fake memory cards?

For the production of memory cards billions of dollars have to be invested, so the production can not take place in a garage. Currently (2019) only 6 companies worldwide are capable to produce these memory chips (Nandflash):
  • Micron (Singapore)
  • Toshiba (Japan)
  • SK Hynix (South Korea)
  • Samsung (South Korea)
  • Tsinghua Unigroup (China)
  • YMTC (China)
But, these companies are guaranteed not to produce fake chips. They sell the chips (such as Micro SD cards) to other companies, who then print their logo on the front.

How are memory cards forged?

micro SD card 32GB

micro SD card 256GB

With a 256GB memory card, 8 x 32GB memory chips are stacked and connected together. So that these memory chips can be installed in a Micro SD card, they must be ground down on the relatively thick substrate side. This procedure is very expensive and must be reflected in the price. A 256GB memory card will be considerably more expensive than a 32GB card.
The scammers manipulate the controller of the memory card so that it expands an incorrect memory size. The codes are provided by the SD Association only for a fee to members who probably can not always keep this secret. Worldwide there are about 1000 members.
The perfidious thing about the manipulation is that you do not notice it immediately. The card can be formatted and recognized even with the promised size of PC, camera or smartphone. However, if the actual capacity limit is reached during data storage, further images or videos are no longer stored, but only the file name entered in the file allocation table. The supposedly taken pictures or videos are lost forever. It can take a long time until you realize this, because a warning or error message is not output.
Many users never realize that they have fake memory cards, but attribute the failure of the card to a quality defect or the age of the card. Incidentally, memory cards are designed to never fail due to wear (card age).

Recognize card counterfeits?

Identifying counterfeits in the appearance is not possible, the prints have no defects.

micro SD fake
These are all fakes with perfect printing.

Counterfeits can be recognized first on the sales price. Compare the indicated retail price with the price of branded products (Samsung, SanDisk, Transcend ..). If there is a difference of more than 20%, that is certainly a forgery.
The distribution channels of branded products are well-known, reputable distributors will not source brand products from dubious sources. Therefore, fakes are offered under fancy names, see picture above. These products are not always sold directly, even middlemen fall for it. There is a real invasion of counterfeits. Buy only branded products from reputable dealers, otherwise there is a high risk to receive a fake.

How are memory cards tested for counterfeiting?

Each memory card should be tested before use. There is a small, very reliable, free program that you can find here: H2testw
The program works as follows: It stores files of 1 GB each on the memory chip. When this is done, the files are read out one after another and at the same time checked whether the content should correspond to what should be stored. If not, an alarm is given immediately and the program interface is colored reddish. Watch out: The card must be formatted before the test.
Unfortunately, everywhere on the Internet complained that the test takes a long time, sometimes days.

How can the falsification test be shortened?

The capacity of a fake memory card is always the multiple of a common memory size. Currently, 126GB, 256GB or 512GB memory cards are being faked with a 32GB chip. 64GB or 32GB cards with a 4GB chip. It is sufficient to test a 256GB card when testing 32GB. Because memory chips never use space in the specified size, for 32GB cards this is about 30GB, it is sufficient to test for 32GB. So enter 32000 in the test program.

fake test micro SD
in the program, make the information marked in red

With a 256GB card, the test will be shortened from about 10 hours to 1.5 hours. But it is even faster when the test time is eliminated.
Follow these steps: Download this small, free program HxD Hex-Editor
If the test program no longer writes data to the card, but already begins the data check, interrupt the programm. Open the memory card with the Explorer, use the HxD program to load each stored H2testw file one after the other, check the files for consecutive 00 data.

micro SD catrds test
saved files for 32GB test

spot micro SD card fakes
incorrect file with 00 data

For 00 data, the data could not be saved because there was no more storage space, the memory card is guaranteed to be a fake.
This test takes only 45 minutes for a 256 GB card.

How are memory cards tested that were already in use?

After many good files, your memory card suddenly shows files that can not be opened or files have disappeared completely behind good files, then it will most likely be a fake. In order to determine that for sure the card would have to be formatted and then the above mentioned test should be carried out.
It is in this case, but also different. Download this simple text file: speichertest.txt
and then copy the file to the memory card you want to test. Next, examine the file speichertest.txt on the memory card with the HxD Hex-Editor. If you find the 00 data it is a fake.
Watch out: Before you open the file with the hex editor, you must first remove the memory card from the PC and paste it again, otherwise it is possible that the speichertest.txt file from a temporary memory of the PC is called and then displays no errors.
The listed tests work not only with micro SD cards, but also with USB flash drives and all other memory cards.

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