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




1. AkoSiKuting

Posts: 88; Member since: Dec 09, 2015

Sd card is the past, for the stone age people. People who acidentally bought the fake one, he deserves it :)


Posts: 2815; Member since: Oct 03, 2012

True noob post!


Posts: 202; Member since: Dec 08, 2012

Probably an iPhone or Nexus user...

9. Felix_Gatto

Posts: 942; Member since: Jul 03, 2013

Surprise!!!!!! He is a Xiaomi Mi Note Pro user.

12. NoToFanboys

Posts: 3231; Member since: Oct 03, 2015

Why not just help reporting the troll?

20. jessyi

Posts: 327; Member since: Jan 08, 2015

If it is of stone age why you came to this forum in the first place...enjoying my 256 GB of storage in my LG V10!what a nice feel not to worry about space anymore.

39. Justlooking

Posts: 84; Member since: Aug 27, 2014

I'm with you!!! 1/4 of a Terabyte is not bad at all. Imagine how much apple would charge for an iPhone with that much storage!!!

43. ullokey

Posts: 177; Member since: Jul 28, 2015

What is the point when you have a horrible battery

10. Baracus

Posts: 223; Member since: Sep 15, 2012

Typical iPhone user mentality.

13. dimas

Posts: 3341; Member since: Jul 22, 2014

Stone age people have more freedom to expand their storage at a lower cost. These cavemen can actually move their data with ease from one phone to another without worrying too much buying expensive otgs that might not be compatible with their phones. Just because the technology is old, it doesn't mean that it's practical. Don't always join the latest trend bandwagon or else people will expose your ignorance and stupidity.

14. dimas

Posts: 3341; Member since: Jul 22, 2014

*it's not

16. avalon2105

Posts: 352; Member since: Jul 12, 2014

I'm not bashing on SD cards but moving data from one phone to the new one is easy enough even without the SD card. Plug your phone to a PC, copy the files to a newly created folder and than copy that data back to your new device. Depending on amount of data it can take you 10 minutes at most.

21. marorun

Posts: 5029; Member since: Mar 30, 2015

What if you have a micro sd card in a high end dslr camera and want to transfert the picture to your phone right away you just take the card out and put it on the other phone. Can do it anywhere pc or no pc. Also with android 6.0 you can make your sd card fuse with your main onboard memory so if you buy a very fast one like i did you can transform your 16 gb phone into a 144 gb or 272 gb phone for much less than some phone are sold with 128 gb...

28. avalon2105

Posts: 352; Member since: Jul 12, 2014

Most DSLRs I've seen have a full sized SD card and not microSD (I'm no photography buff, so I could be way off on this one) and dimas only mentioned upgrading phones. Even in your use case scenario I would still use PC as a form of central hub for storage/backup. As for Marshmallow "fuse" option I see it causing lots of trouble for users who will use it without completely understanding it. What will happen to all the apps that split their data across the internal storage and the card when the card is suddenly removed? Also having it formatted as EXT4 makes your card useless on Windows (95% of PC market) and copying files from and to PC becomes a pain in the behind. As standalone storage for your large media (music and movies) it's good but I would be wary about keeping app data on the card.

52. mrmessma

Posts: 271; Member since: Mar 28, 2012

Most micro SD cards come with an adapter allowing it to fit into a standard SD card slot on a DSLR if you're into that. Personally, I use an eye-fi card to transfer to my phone.

58. geoffphuket

Posts: 50; Member since: Feb 08, 2016

Better still, buy a camera with built in Wifi transfer.

32. TechieXP1969

Posts: 14967; Member since: Sep 25, 2013

RIGHT ON BRUTHA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! +1000k Isn't it frustrating to explain common sense to anyone who lacks it? It just makes my blood boil. I don't understand how all these peopel come here an act like they like or understand tech, and then try to claim hooking a phone to a PC to move tons of media from one device to another is somehow better than a quick solution. If I had a phone which I did once, with 128GB Internal Storage, then yes I would attach it to my PC or use the adapter for the card and make a copy of all my tunes. But I will still keep it on the card for when I am using a device that doesn't have such. Its a case by case scenario, but moving media by moving a card to another phone is way better than sitting and waiting for my library of 10,000 files ot move from one device to another.

31. TechieXP1969

Posts: 14967; Member since: Sep 25, 2013

Maybe people dont want to do that. Let me show you how pathetic that is. So I typically have 55Gb worth of music on my device. Now here is YOUR way. I take an iPhone attach it to iTunes and sync my files to the PC all of them. Takes? About 3 hours via itunes. With a typical Android which mostly have USB 2.0 connectors, using Windows Explorer, I could transfer the same files in maybe 2 hours. But if I have it all on a microSD card, I pull it from one phone, shove it into another and I'm done. Now, based on facts, which one is better? Oh and my music dosnt have to share the same space as my data. Because here is another fact. Even with Samsung phones having UFS 2.0 and does allow for faster copying, if I copy 55GB worth of music onto the internal flash, the phone is laggy and slow...considerably. I know because I did it when I got my Note 5. I sat for 90 mins anc copied 55GB worth of music and I watch the device lag like it was old as dirt when I had basically just pulled it out the box. I deleted them and the phone ran normal. Now I use a small MicroUSD adapter that sticks out roughly 1/2" below the device. I only need it when I am in the office or car so I can hear my music. I take it off at other times. It is a nice solution. One of the reason I went Android is I wanted more space because Apple surely wasn't upping the space in the iPhone 16GB of internal flash is a joke at $649. 32GB isn't enough anymore either. Every Apple/Samsung/Sony/whoever phone that costs $599 or more should right now come 64GB minimum and 128 maximum. I dont think we really need 256 yet. Any phone that supports 4K recording should be 64GB period, no matter the brand. Since they can get 128GB cheaper than I can, there really is no benefit to charge different phone prices. Just sell one top end model liek an iPhoen or Galaxy Note or S with 128GB and raise the presnt price $100. That woudl be fair and then we wouldn't even need SDcards. But they still offer a major benefit when moving media to a device that can use them.

44. avalon2105

Posts: 352; Member since: Jul 12, 2014

I won't argue your numbers for copying files but they seem really unlikely to me. When I'm copying files to disk I get around 20-25MB per second or 1,2GB per minute. That is using USB2.0 cable to copy to my laptop with 7200RPM HDD. Using USB3.0 and SSD would cut that time considerably so I think copying 55GB shouldn't take that long. Only way I can see it happening is if you are copying 55GBs of really small files (pictures or other files


Posts: 89; Member since: Nov 09, 2013

File transfers rates on PCs are based on a variety of factors HDD vs SSD. USB 2.0 vs 3.0 cpu and ram speed and the storage speed of the portable device. His rates are not outside of the relm of possibility, nor are yours. But they're both slow as f**k to be totally honest.

55. avalon2105

Posts: 352; Member since: Jul 12, 2014

I know my read/write speeds are slow as f**k since I'm running on pretty obsolete hardware. 2,5'' HDD at 7200RPM, RAM is clocked at 1066MHz (my laptop doesn't support anything faster) and USB2.0 cables with USB2.0 ports on both sides. I'm basically set for minimum possible transfer speeds so it seemed strange he has even worse speeds. My hardware is on it's last legs and barely runs W10, Office 2013, browser and games up to 2013 so I assume he is running something 10 years old.

45. avalon2105

Posts: 352; Member since: Jul 12, 2014

Sorry for double reply, comment system is really yanking my chain. I haven't used iTunes so I can't comment on those but simple copy-paste always worked for me (Symbian/Android). Regarding your minimal storage paragraph, I fully agree. Any flagship phone in 2015/16. should start with at least 64GB and making 16GB base models (iPhone 6s, Nexus 5X) is really unacceptable. Again, I wasn't arguing against SD cared, just that moving data from your old to your new phone is not that hard or time consuming, even without the SD card.

47. joey_sfb

Posts: 6794; Member since: Mar 29, 2012

I hope you are finally happy, given yourself so many reasons why microSD is not for you.

59. geoffphuket

Posts: 50; Member since: Feb 08, 2016

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: 1918; 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: 58; 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.

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