Beware of fake microSD cards! Here's how to tell a counterfeit from the original

It is an amazing invention if you think about it. The humble microSD card may be no bigger than the nail of your thumb, but is capable of storing immense amounts of data – anything from the full discography of Queen to all episodes of The Big Bang Theory or The IT Crowd. And all this information is accessible instantly on a phone or tablet. Anytime. Anywhere. It is just mind-blowing!

Fake microSD cards, on the other hand, aren't exciting. In fact, they suck quite a bit. They're a bad investment, they're risky to use, and worst of all, they may cause you to lose data forever. Alas, the unassuming buyer may not be aware of that, as the counterfeits can be nearly indistinguishable from the real deal. They come in convincing packaging and are labeled under familiar brand names – Samsung, Kingston, SanDisk, to name a few. But worry not, as we're here to show you how to spot a fake microSD card.

Technically, what's the difference between fake and real microSD cards?

We were inspired to write this post when a buddy of ours complained about his phone acting up after having a new 64GB microSD card installed. He was right to assume that the card was to blame, but wrong to think that his phone was technically incapable of handling cards of this capacity. Simply, he had bought a fake microSD card.

Мany of today's counterfeit microSD cards have much less actual storage than advertised. For example, a card may have as little as 8GB of actual storage space, but the label on it may read 64GB. The worse part is that your device may also “see” it as a 64GB card – firmware hacks are a common practice and allow this to happen. In fact, your device can and will try to write data to the gigs that don't exist. This will either overwrite existing data or result in an error. In either case, your data may get corrupted irreversibly.

On top of all this, fake microSD cards are guaranteed to be slow at reading and writing data. They can be so painfully sluggish that they may have a serious impact on a phone's performance, causing it to lag or even crash. If your device is having these symptoms, you might want to check if the microSD card in it is genuine. We'll show you how to do that in a bit.

What do fake microSD cards look like?

There's this thing about Chinese culture – copying isn't and has never been considered a bad thing. That explains why some of the best product imitations come from China. It is common for a fake microSD card, as well as its packaging, to look almost like the real deal. But they're never an exact reproduction. If the print on the package seems off and if the logos don't look quite right, you're probably looking at a fake. If the text on the microSD card itself is misaligned or poorly printed, then it is most likely a fake. If the price of the product is too good to be true, then – you guessed it – you most likely have a fake on your hands.

How to avoid buying a fake microSD card?

As always, common sense is your friend. Buying your smartphone accessories from a well-known retail chain is a wise thing to do. Shopping from a reputable online electronics store is also a safe bet. Fakes, however, are easy to come by if you go to eBay or its Chinese counterparts, such as AliExpress.

For the record, we haven't actually bought any from the fakes listed there, but we don't think that's necessary when the scam is so obvious. Right now, SanDisk's 200GB microSD card is the largest in existence and costs $99 at BestBuy. It doesn't take a scientist to figure out that a 512GB card on sale for under $10 is a fraud.

How do I check if my microSD card is fake?

There's an easy way of checking if your microSD card is genuine or not. If you have an Android phone or tablet, go to the Play Store and download SD Insight (pictured on the right). It is a free app that lists details about the microSD card installed in your device. Real microSD cards will have data about them listed, including their manufacturer. Counterfeits, on the other hand, will have no manufacturer name stated.

But while SD Insight is a reliable piece of software, it might not be able to read the data from each and every card in existence. So to test your microSD card without relying on the app, just fill it with data. Copy a bunch of files onto your microSD card and fill it up as much as you can. Or record a test video using your phone with the microSD card set as storage location. Once your card is nearly or completely full, see if the data you just put on it is accessible. The best thing to do if you get an error is to forget about ever using that microSD card again.
  • Download SD Insight from the Play Store right here




2. KonaStang4.6

Posts: 285; Member since: Nov 04, 2011

Even though I have an iPhone, the SD cards are good because you can remove the storage and put it in another device without synching and all that other stuff. Saying that SD cards are for the stone age is a little ridiculous. Having tangible media is still important. Making a purchase and realizing that it is a counterfeit is a horrible feeling especially if you can't get a refund. No one deserves anything, get over yourself.

3. Firedrops

Posts: 254; Member since: Sep 06, 2011

Most of these tell signs are relatively trivial print/alignment issues. What's stopping the Chinese from just realigning the text, or checking against a genuine product? What's so hard about those?

42. JC557

Posts: 1925; Member since: Dec 07, 2011

I notice that the genuine cards have more plastic around them and better cut vs the fakes. Also if you are in the US, especially near NYC, you can get low cost high density cards from B&H which is authorized. When shopping on Amazon check the seller underneath the product name and stick with well known shops or the actual OEM.

5. barcas

Posts: 59; Member since: Sep 01, 2014

May not be so easy to tell when you dont have a genuine one to compare it to

7. Dee79

Posts: 307; Member since: Jun 19, 2014

Here's how to tell a counterfeit from the original Simple, don't go on eBay etc... go to the shops or a legit website to buy them.

22. marorun

Posts: 5029; Member since: Mar 30, 2015

Go on and get item thats are prime those are stocked directly at Amazon and are certified.

33. TechieXP1969

Posts: 14967; Member since: Sep 25, 2013

That's what I do.

56. cp1024

Posts: 10; Member since: May 16, 2010

I got a Scam micro SD card via amazon before, the same Chinese knockoffs are on ebay, alibaba, amazon, (paying for prime is soo not worth it) and a host of other sources, at least at somepoint in the past it was this way. on a side note to the writer, you should have 3 categories, real, fake, and scam, have had plenty of knockoffs where the manufacturer reported size correctly, and card worked well. on second side note the microSD card/transflash, was not an "Invention"'s an innovation, leave the writing to a real writer.

8. Planterz

Posts: 2120; Member since: Apr 30, 2012

If the deal is too good to be true, it is. Unless it's on Amazon or the like. If people get burned by Aliexpress or from some eBay seller that joined yesterday and has 0 feedback, then they don't deserve to keep their money.

11. Baracus

Posts: 223; Member since: Sep 15, 2012

Well I'd never be stupid enough to buy a memory card from any seller on ebay and only buy direct from Amazon or from other reputable stores because protecting my data is worth more than the $5 you might save possibly getting a fake card.

15. jellmoo

Posts: 2645; Member since: Oct 31, 2011

I've gotten fakes from Amazon before, as the re-sellers aren't always trustworthy. These weren't even amazing deals. Just a solid deal that seemed legit. Part of the problem is that the majority of people never even realize the card is a fake, so you won't see a ton of bad reviews. The fakes are usually pretty easy to spot if you've handled legit cards from that brand before. The ones I had issue with were Samsung cards (my preferred brand) so it was painfully obvious. In addition to SD Insight, a Windows program like h2testw can do a relatively quick read/write speed test on the card, which will show terrible results if you have a fake.

23. marorun

Posts: 5029; Member since: Mar 30, 2015

Jellmoo get prime account and buy prime item those are certified.

36. jellmoo

Posts: 2645; Member since: Oct 31, 2011

I totally would, but Prime in Canada is an absolute joke. We get only about a quarter of the benefits that Prime in the US gets.

17. Odeira

Posts: 300; Member since: Jun 29, 2012

Here's some ideas. 1/ STOP BEING A CHEAPSKATE. Pay up for technology, otherwise YOU are going to pay, and that happens 1000% of the time. 2/ STOP BUYING ELECTRONICS ON EBAY. Or online for that matter. Almost every piece of tech on eBay is fake. Amazon's just barely better, but they're bad as well. Get your butts off your chairs and go to the nearest Best Buy or your local mall and/or electronics shop. Convenience my ---, you'll be inconvenienced when that card goes bye-bye!

24. marorun

Posts: 5029; Member since: Mar 30, 2015

I been buying electronics and other thing from Amazon since 3 years not a single time i had a fake or issue i was unable to resolve by amazon directly. I had one exchange on warranty for a device covered by 2 year warranty. Amazon sent me a replacement with a free return label. If you dont know how to buy online yeah go to a mall.

27. VZWuser76

Posts: 4974; Member since: Mar 04, 2010

"Almost every piece of tech on eBay is fake." Proof? I've bought plenty of electronics off of both eBay and Amazon, and haven't had a single issue. But you're right, go to a place like Best Buy and pay a premium for it. They charge way more than dedicated computer and A/V retailers do, why would you support that? You sound like one of the people who I remember telling everyone that if you didn't want to have to worry about having issues with your electronics, you bought it at RadioShack, because they were the experts.

18. marorun

Posts: 5029; Member since: Mar 30, 2015

200 gb is maximum... as usual PA dont take time to do real search. 256 gb exist!

19. Mford926

Posts: 1; Member since: Jan 28, 2016

They said 200gb "sandisk" "micro" SD card. Not just SD card so they did do their research

25. marorun

Posts: 5029; Member since: Mar 30, 2015

They said sandisk 200 gb is the biggest micro sd in existance wich is false.

34. TechieXP1969

Posts: 14967; Member since: Sep 25, 2013

Well it's 50/50. Depends on how you read it. 200GB is the largest legit sized microSD card from Sandisk. Are their 256GB claimed ones? Sure I see one right now for $23.00 on Amazon

35. BattleBrat

Posts: 1476; Member since: Oct 26, 2011

No the largest MICRO SD card available is the 200gb Sandisk one, what you've linked is a FULL SIZED SD card, those are available up to 512gb. A 512gb MICRO SD card is coming around July, but it's going to be $1000

26. MrElectrifyer

Posts: 3960; Member since: Oct 21, 2014

I use PayPal to make my purchases on eBay. I check seller reputation too prior to purchase, but PayPal is the guaranteed way to avoid scammers. If anything is fake, I'm NEVER at the mercy of the scammer. The scammer is ALWAYS the loser and I ALWAYS get my money back if it's a fake. Most times I don't even need to waste time sending back the fake 'cause the scammer was too scared to respond to the dispute given my evidence. Thus the dispute just times out and I get the full refund...they just lost a fake product and got no money.

29. Podrick

Posts: 1285; Member since: Aug 19, 2015

Lol, I would love if I could get a real high speed/quality 512 GB Micro SD card for just 9 dollars. Everyone will! And before the Terabytes era.

30. TechieXP1969

Posts: 14967; Member since: Sep 25, 2013

Now this is very helpful information! Thanks PA! Every article should be exactly like this.

37. kintamanate unregistered

I recommend the H2testw 1.4 Windows app to test your flash memory cards and USB sticks. I can't link to it, but you can Google that freeware. It's German/English software. You can find it on, or as I said, just Google it. The site unfortunately isn't maintained or updated anymore, but you can still get the software off the home page.

38. kevin91202

Posts: 642; Member since: Jun 08, 2014

"There's this thing about Chinese culture – copying isn't and has never been considered a bad thing." -PA (Nick T.) So, you place blame on the entire Chinese race because of some greedy counterfeiter? You're an idiot. Even more pathetic is that PA actually condones this type of racism and idiocy. What a bunch of morons.

40. Justlooking

Posts: 84; Member since: Aug 27, 2014

He didn't blame the race. He blamed the culture. counterfeit Chinese products are everywhere and he is right the Chinese don't seem to mind or care as long as they can make a quick buck.

41. aleunge

Posts: 34; Member since: Sep 22, 2014

No, he's right. It's too bold of statement, one which would be hard pressed for support if published anywhere more prestigious (or perhaps even more unfitting on a tech blog since it's not even necessary). You understand this yourself too since you typed "the Chinese DON'T SEEM to mind/care". The author is saying the Chinese "DO NOT" mind/care. We all like our generalizations and some are true-ish I'm sure, but stating it without a doubt is just bad writing and comes of as bigotry. But kevin, you can't take it too seriously. I don't think anyone expects much from PA these days... or Nick would probably write, no one expects anything from PA these days.

46. kevin91202

Posts: 642; Member since: Jun 08, 2014

@Justlooking. He blamed the culture, which happens to be Chinese. So I guess American culture is the same since their most beloved company, Apple, was built on stealing other people's ideas. Better yet, why not mention that American culture is all about greed, laziness, and hypocrisy. They still cant manufacture quality cars, love social welfare, and hate on Communism but continue to support the Chinese economy and government with billions trade dollars.

48. Justlooking

Posts: 84; Member since: Aug 27, 2014

OK Kevin you're comparing Apples to oranges!!! But cool story anyways!!!

* Some comments have been hidden, because they don't meet the discussions rules.

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