How to spot a fake SD Card

Anyone looking for cheap SD Cards, Micro SD Cards or flash memory on the Internet today will quickly find them: high storage capacity cards from recognisable brands at an extremely low cost. While the cost of high storage cards has dropped significantly over the years, the market is rife with fake SD Cards. And the temptation to give in and buy one of these fake SD or MicroSD cards is tempting. We’ve got some tips on how to recognise fake SD Cards (and Micro SD cards) before you buy them and how to check if your SD Card is fake if you’ve already bought one.

How to avoid fake SD Cards and MicroSD Cards

We’ve created a very handy guide: “The SD Card Buyers Guide: Everything you need to know before you buy” – which explains all the technical details surrounding SD Cards and deciphers all the numbers and symbols on the cards themselves.

Today, virtually everything that you buy is bought online. The comfort and ease is hard to beat – but it also comes with a few caveats. 70% of all fake products are sold online – and no product is safe, even something as trivial as an SD Card. While websites such as eBay, Alibaba and Aliexpress are known to be viewed with a degree of suspicion even Amazon customers aren’t safe from being scammed. We’ve got a few questions that you should ask yourself before you make any purchase online:

  • Does the price correspond to the usual market price range?
  • Is the listed storage capacity realistic?
  • Is a Card Speed listed alongside the product details? If so, is it high enough?
  • Can you find product information on the manufacturer’s website?
  • Does the sellers profile look professional?
  • If you’re in the EU: Is the seller based in the EU?

If you can answer “yes” to most of these questions, there is a very high chance that the SD Card you are looking at is a real product.

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Identifying a fake SD Card

The Price

The first indication that you might be buying a fake SD Card is the price. While the cost of high capacity SD cards have dropped significantly over the years, many of the larger cards still costs upwards of $40-$50. If the SD or MicroSD Card that you are looking at normally cost around $40 – but can be found for less than $15 on sites like Alibaba, this should be an immediate red flag. Such bargain prices are almost always too good to be true. While great deals can be had from time to time, its definitely better to err on the side of caution here.

aliexpress fake sd card scam
This price is just too good to be true.

The Storage Capacity

This one might be a bit harder to spot, but as it also mostly targets microsd card – which again makes it easier once you know what to look for. Some Ebay Sellers (as well as on the usual chinese merchant sites), youll quickly spot a whole host of cheap microsd cards with capacaties as large as 2TB.

The only hook here is that the largest capacity MircoSD card currently only supports 1TB and costs a cool $450. It used to be easier to spot these fakes a few years ago, as the largest capacity microsd card available was 512GB. Nevertheless, if you see a MicroSD Card on sale with more than 1TB Storage , stay away – chances are very high that its a fake.

Fake Branding

This is quite likely something that you’ll only be able to spot once you’ve purchased the card. Fake SD Cards normally copy the logo and branding of other big brand manufacturers. Online listings will just reuse stolen images, so theres no way of telling what the SD Card will look like when you receive it. But when you do receive the SD Card, take a good look at the packging and the card itself.

  • Does the product packaging look cheap?
  • How do the branding on the card look like? are they smudged? misaligned? or just look off?
  • And most importantly – does the Card have a unique serial number printed on it? If not, it’s most likely fake.
obvious fake sd card ebay scam
A very obvious fake SD Card scam on eBay
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How can I test if my SD Card is fake?

Before you actually use your newly bought SD Card, you should test its true capacity on your computer. Sadly its not enough to plug the card in your phone, camera or computer and checking its capacity, as scammers have perfected the art of fooling your computer by reprogramming the cards. What this means is that while the card might only have about 8GB worth of storage space, its telling your computer that its capacity is 512GB or even 1TB.

If you start saving data onto the card, in the worst case what might happen is that it just continuously overwrites the previously saved data. Meaning that you loose everything that you had saved.

Software to check if your SD Card is real

There are two pieces of really useful software that you can use to check the true capacity of your SD or Mico SD card. If you use Windows, you can download that program H2testw, and if you’re using Mac, you can use F3. Both pieces of software requite a little set up, but they are both documented well and are easy enough to use.

Both tools essentially figure out the actual available memory size of your SD Card. But beware, depending on the site of the card, this process can take several hours. While this might seem long, its worth it considering the alternative of loosing your data due to a fake SD Card.

f3 software screenshot
F3 Screenshot
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TL;DR – Avoiding fake SD Cards

If it’s too good to be true, it probably is. The best thing you can do to identify fake MicroSD and SD cards is to buy them from a reputable source. While we tend to buy and trust amazon with almost all of our purchases, even their platform isn’t safe from scammers.

  • If you purchase something from eBay, Alibaba or Amazon, make sure to check that the seller is legitimate. If you aren’t sure – buy from a more trusted source like B&H.
  • If you do end up buying a fake SD Card, contact both the seller and/or the customer service of the platform and try to resolve the dispute that way.
  • Take your time to inspect the packaging and the card itself. If the packaging and product labelling seems cheap or “off” in any way, return the item.
  • Refrain from buying used or refurbished SD cards. The saving in price is not worth it.
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How can you tell a fake SD card?

You can easily tell if an SD Card is fake if the price is too good to be true, the packaging and logo printing is of poor quality and the SD card is missing important logos and identification numbers.

How can I tell if my SanDisk Micro SD card is real?

The easiest way to tell if your SanDisk Micro SD Card is real if it has a serial number on the lower back of the card.

Are Amazon SD Cards fake?

No. While Amazon does have some issues with fake good due to third party sellers – the majority of the SD Cards that you can purchase genuine (as long as you purchase them directly from Amazon).

  1. […] it is. Because this is such an expansive topic – we’ve written a separate guide: How to spot fake SD cards – which tells you how to avoid being scammed, as well as checking if your SD Card or MicroSD […]

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