Counterfeit computer peripherals let users down
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.