Beware fake memory cards

If it sounds too good to be true, maybe it isCounterfeiting is a huge business. Handbags we know about.

If it sounds too good to be true, maybe it is Counterfeiting is a huge business. Handbags we know about. Car parts, maybe. But flash memory cards? It's true.

Flash is a brutally competitive business Real flash cards - Compact Flash (CF), SD and the rest - are a great deal. Flash memory maufacturing plants cost billions and should be run at near full capacity for maximum efficiency. But flash product demand peaks around Christmas - all those cameras, MP3 players and cellphones - meaning a lot of flash product gets shipped at below full cost.

Translation: we get very good deals on real flash memory cards.

Counterfeits don't give you what you paid for The cost of the flash chip is about a quarter of the retail price. Packaging, shipping and margin account for the rest. That doesn't leave counterfeiters much margin to cut costs. So they cut out the flash quantity and/or quality.

Flash chips are programmable devices, so small flash chips can be programmed to report that they are large flash chips. Or slow flash chips substituted for the high-speed chip you thought you were buying.

They also cut corners on printing, plastic molding, packaging and card cases.

Avoid being gypped Ebay sellers have been a major outlet for counterfeits. An Ebay user has published a guide to the counterfeits to help buyers identify counterfeits - see FAKE SanDisk Ultra Compact Flash Cards Exposed - but scammers don't like to give refunds.

Your best bet is to avoid counterfeits in the first place.

  • Buy from established commercial vendors. Some scammers have had excellent Ebay ratings, because most folks can't tell a real card from a fake before they rate the seller.
  • Check out pricing on sites like DealRam or Google Products (3 star sellers and above only!) to find current prices.
  • If a deal sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

The Storage Bits take The plummeting price of flash make flash a great deal. Avoiding counterfeits make it an even better deal.

Comments welcome, of course.