Coun­ter­feit com­puter pe­riph­er­als let users down

DEMM Engineering & Manufacturing - - COUNTERFEIT -

While in this coun­try the pri­mary con­cern about coun­ter­feit prod­ucts within the man­u­fac­tur­ing and engi­neer­ing in­dus­tries is in re­gards to hard­ware, any­one who uses a com­puter – and th­ese days that is all of us – should also be aware of coun­ter­feit com­puter pe­riph­er­als.

For ex­am­ple, over the past few years, many on-line stores have been f looded with what ap­pears to be bar­gain USB f lash drives and mem­ory cards priced as lit­tle as a tenth of the price of an equiv­a­lent ca­pac­ity drive sold by a rep­utable dealer, says UK in­dus­try watcher Sean Byrne. How­ever, the vast ma­jor­ity are in fact hacked f lash drives con­tain­ing as lit­tle as 4GB of real stor­age. Like coun­ter­feit branded goods, some of th­ese repli­cate the look, pack­ag­ing and brand­ing of prod­ucts such as Kingston, San­Disk, Toshiba and ADATA.

The price of an en­try level 128GB USB f lash drive does not vary much from one brand to an­other and the same goes for a 128GB mem­ory card or a 128GB Solid State Disk (SSD). Fake prod­ucts make use of real ca­pac­ity within them, usu­ally enough to con­vince most buy­ers the drive works fine and to give the seller pos­i­tive feed­back. How­ever, once that real stor­age is used up, the drive will ei­ther start over­writ­ing ex­ist­ing data, cre­ate 0-filled files or give an er­ror when any fur­ther write re­quests are made. Un­for­tu­nately, the user may not re­alise some­thing is wrong un­til they later re­trieve files. The vast ma­jor­ity of USB f lash drives and mem­ory cards sold through Ama­zon are gen­uine prod­ucts but a few of its mar­ket­place sell­ers clearly ap­pear to be sell­ing fake USB f lash drives gen­er­ally an un­usu­ally low price – a clear indi­ca­tor of a too-good-tobe-true prod­uct. The US Ama­zon web­site ap­pears to have a larger num­ber of fake USB f lash drive prod­ucts, in­clude one claim­ing to be a Sony 128GB USB stick for USD19.99 al­though the Ama­zon UK web­site ap­pears to have very few 128GB f lash drives that Byrne is con­fi­dent are fake.

Be­fore us­ing any new USB f lash drive or mem­ory card prod­uct, even from what ap­pears to be a rep­utable seller, Byrne strongly rec­om­mends run­ning a util­ity that tests the full stor­age ca­pac­ity of the drive. One pop­u­lar util­ity is H2TestW, which fills the drive to ca­pac­ity and then reads it back to ver­ify ev­ery­thing is ex­actly as the same as how it was writ­ten. A fake f lash prod­uct will usu­ally com­plete the write test, but fail dur­ing the ver­i­fi­ca­tion stage at the point where the real ca­pac­ity ends. An­other ad­van­tage of run­ning H2TestW is that it may also iden­tify a de­fec­tive prod­uct.

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