How to recognize damaged or counterfeit storage drives

The possibility of purchasing data storage media through the most famous online stores is certainly an advantage: the products usually arrive at their destination in a short time (except when ordered from non-European warehouses; in these cases you have to wait longer) and you always find what you are looking for. However, it can still happen today buy counterfeit storage drives: USB sticks, SD memories, SSD drives which, as soon as they are connected to any device, indicate the capacity declared by the seller but which in practice do not allow a similar amount of data to be stored or in any case present anomalous behavior during reading and writing .

Fake USB sticks and other counterfeit storage drives: how to spot them

In case you find yourself faced with one Fake USB stick or another type of counterfeit storage unit, it is easy to be deceived because on the outside they appear completely identical to the originals. Using USB sticks, flash memories and SSDs counterfeits you face three main problems:

  • The memorization capacity is lower than indicated.
  • The use of poor quality components can lead to file corruption and data loss.
  • The performance in reading and writing may be lower than the “advertised” ones.

How to check the quality of your USB stick, SD memories and SSD drives

To verify the “goodness” of the storage units purchased, you can try: fill them with a file whose dimensions approximate the capacity of the support. This way you can easily check if you are using a device fake storage.

Alternatively, you can use a utility that checks the details in detail characteristics of the unit storage and unmask all counterfeit devices. These utilities (we recommend starting the tests at least twice or using at least two different programs) are also useful for recognize damaged storage drives which have now had their day and must therefore be put aside.

Before carrying out any test, obviously, it is essential to create a backup copy of the material possibly stored in the storage units being verified.

Fake USB devices with reprogrammed controllers

OnTrack noted that scams involving the sale of fake storage devices using reprogrammed controllers to show more space than is actually available. As the technicians of the company specialized in the analysis of storage media and data recovery (in Europe it is based in the Varese area) explain, by inserting large quantities of data into the “fake” units the result is the data loss previously stored.

In alcune Fake SSD driveswhich closely resembled the design of the original products, OnTrack found simple stick USB with reprogrammed controllers and aluminum or metal elements placed only to increase the weight of the unit. The classic “package”, in short.

Our advice is to always buy from online stores who accept the return of goods and possibly to pay with tools such as PayPal which allow you to open a dispute for a non-compliant or counterfeit item and quickly receive your money back.

The best utilities to recognize counterfeit or damaged storage drives

Per check the status of any storage unit and trace a identikit, different programs can be used. It’s about free applications which help to establish with certainty the characteristics of each data storage device while also identifying any operating problems.


Program first released in October 2023, so one of the “newcomers” for check storage drives counterfeit or damaged, ValiDrive was born from the experience of Steve Gibson and his team. The free ValiDrive utility can not only recognize counterfeit USB drives but also report any problems reading and writing data.

Check for counterfeit USB storage drives

A report similar to the one depicted in the image is what you should always get when scanning a storage drive purchased online. As you can see, all blocks that make up theUSB drive are indicated with the color green (Validated).

Otherwise, a response like the one returned by ValiDrive in the following example is a clear symptom of afake USB drive or counterfeit.

Fake or counterfeit USB drive

Gibson himself says that in September 2023 he purchased several examples of storage media, offered by different manufacturers: he also provides direct links. Well, 12 storage devices were found to be clearly fake.

While ValiDrive checks the USB drive under analysis, the utility also notes the time it takes for each random access in reading and writing. Once finished, analyze and summarize the statistics on access times in a final report: ValiDrive can therefore also be used as an excellent tool benchmarkingto check the performance of storage devices.

Check Flash

Check Flash is responsible for checking the read and write performance of storage drives, allows you to start a scan, allows you to delete all partitions (or some of them) present in the selected volume in order to carry out a complete cleaning.

With the exception of surface testCheck Flash can also access technical information about partitions and restore the MBR (Master Boot Record).
This is the fastest utility for checking storage drives.


The ultimate goal of RMPrepUSB is to make a USB medium bootable even if for this operation it is now preferable to use Rufus.

However, RMPrepUSB also includes a tool that can be used for check the actual dimensions of a storage device. It is important to highlight that the program overwrites the whole anyway content of the unit during testing.

The tool called Quick Size Test allows you to check the reality in a few minutes capacity of the unit performing a series of read and write operations.


Although the checks carried out by H2testw are rather slow, this portable program allows you to start a series of tests on the free space available or limit yourself to the amount of data indicated by the user.

Obvious differences between the “advertised” storage capacities and the real ones detected by H2testw are obviously a symptom of a damaged or counterfeit device.

H2testw is the number one utility that even many hardware distributors commonly use to ensure that batches of products purchased are not fake.

In fact, it is never a good idea to trust the information reported by the operating system regarding the capacity of any unit: it is the most common mistake that most users make. H2testw investigates the real storage capacity and unmasks any reprogrammed controllers artfully.

The program is also capable of evaluate devices that use class C and D flash memories, products that should now be definitively erased from the entire face of the Earth.

H2testw writes several files on the media to check its contents during reading tests. The program also tries to write data to the maximum speed permitted by the storage medium. To reduce it a little duration of the checks carried out by H2testw it is possible to limit the number of test files used.

In the case of counterfeit flash media the real capacity may be less than 256 GB: it is therefore reasonable to first test with H2testw using 300 GB of data.
If the test returns a negative result, the unit is certainly to be considered counterfeit; otherwise the test will have to be repeated with a larger sample…


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