Data Loss Disasters – Fake Flash Drives

Flash memory storage media has become the most popular form of portable storage in the world today notably because of the ease of use and flexibility of USB devices and helped along by both the reliability of USB flash memory and of course the ever increasing amount of data that these devices can now hold, which is a plus point for many users.

This doesn’t explain the huge number of failures noted in recent months, in fact the whole of the data recovery industry seem to be focusing a lot of attention in the USB Memory Stick Recovery sector, but why should good old trustworthy Flash Memory require such devoted attention?

USB storage devices are also dropping in cost all of the time. They are growing in popularity at such a rate that the number of devices shipped in 2007 was double that shipped in 2006. By the end of 2008, annual sales are estimated to be in the region of 300 million shipped units.

With such large numbers of devices actually being shipped and purchased by consumers and increase in the number of failures is in reality inevitable, however the actual level of failure is a cause of concern and is reported to be running far higher than is acceptable.

electric apricot divx So why is it that a storage media famed for its reliability fail in such high numbers? Well in about 98% of cases it is not the Flash memory that fails, in fact, following a failure it is not uncommon that the NAND memory chip within the USB device is found to be in perfect working order.

Part of the problem lies with the consumer to some extent as the demand for ever cheaper products leads to the need for lean and more efficient or cheaper manufacturing requirements. A lot of failed devices are said to originate in the far east and are marketed as generic memory devices. In addition, there is also a large increase in the number of fake devices in the market place.

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These fake devices often take advantage of the consumer by reporting much higher storage capacity than is actually available which is very misleading right from the beginning. Another problem here as well is the cost, yes they are cheaper but what are you actually getting for your money? The manufacturing process can only go so far and that only leaves one option, cheaper and substandard components!

The best advice that anyone can give you here is to buy branded devices if the cost is affordable (which it generally is). And also ask your self this question, is the risk of losing all my data really worth the risk of saving a relatively small amount of money?

Mike White is a technology enthusiast with a keen interest in business computing, Data Recovery, Raid Data Recovery consumer electronics and design and technology news and events.

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Comments (4)

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  1. InspectorTech says:

    The war against data loss from fake flash drives (false capacity) is what inspired the FrankenFlash Project. The problem is global. Individual consumers have been affected but also institutions. At the end of August the situation was so bad they went public and have a series of websites to help people.

    For help see

    They have linked sites, including sites with translation. Even information to help people try and repair fake flash devices.

    You are correct, many people fall into the fake flash trap. It's not just people who simply drive PC's and laptops – tech savvy people are also ending up in the same mess. Part of the problem is that people assume (wrongly) that the price offered is "cheaper" because the middle men have been removed from the picture – the overhead.

    "Unbranded" and Brand Name drives are being counterfeited, ie the controller chip reprogrammed to lie to the operating system(s) about the true capacity of the flash drive chips.

    It is not just an issue of money people are losing – it is the files, gone forever! Money you can always earn anew, but files if transfered and then deleted from the sourcxe – that you can never get back. It is sad. It is frightening. Those involved in the counterfeit trade have no concern about the harm they are doing. As far as they are concerned – the consumer is getting what they "deserve". Not fair – most people are trusting and also naive. The techo geeks are as likely to be victims as the grannies and grandpa's of our technological age.

    If you are a victim of a fake flash device purchase or just interested in the subject google for


    and see that people are trying to fight the issue. They offer help to victims and have a lot of posts. The issue is not likely to go away any time soon. It is too easy to use software to lie about the true capacity of flash devices and reprogram them. A lot of genuine flash device manufacturers are suffering the consequences as well.

    False capacity flash devices are – data poison!

  2. I heard about these type of flash drives. Someone once warned me about buying generic ones on eBay. They'll say 8GB, but when you get it, they're only a couple of gigs. Most of them originate from China wholesalers.


    Bryan –'s Recent post…”_blank”>How To Fix a Red Eye and Save Your Precious Pictures

  3. Only buy big brand name USB SD drives! You will save alot of time and money.

  4. Only buy big brand name USB SD drives! You will save alot of time and money.

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