Amazon Prime Day warning: Be careful about fake USB drives and suspicious microSD cards

(Image credit: Future)

Amazon has been warned many times about the presence on their sites of potentially storage products (by myself and my peers) including fake external microSD and fake USB flash drives. While the online retailer can be applauded for doing as much as it can to stem the flood of fake devices, there’s still a lot to be done.

Prime Day starts in a few hours and when I searched for the generic term flash drive on, a bunch of too-good-to-be-true 1TB USB flash drives with a low number of positive customer ratings appeared on the first page of results.

Now, I am not saying that ALL of them are fakes - that could land me in trouble. But think about it, you wouldn't buy milk that only had the word milk printed on the carton, would you? The lack of clear branding is a telltale sign of something fishy as is poor image editing. See examples below.

pictures of random USB drives

Guess who manufactures those USB flash drives? (Image credit: Future)

My 4 tips when buying USB drives
➡️ Go for a known brand Check out reviews that are not published on Amazon (or Youtube). Fake products don't get independent reviews (otherwise the reviewer is complicit of any fraud). Simples!
➡️ Consider a dual interface The ubiquity of USB Type-C connectors means that it if you transfer data to and from your (fairly recent) smartphone, a dual interface flash drive (one that offer a Type-C and Type-A connector) may be an option
➡️ Consider buying two drives rather than one 256GB is the sweet spot for flash drives, so if you need 512B total capacity, it may make more sense to buy two drives for cheaper.
➡️ Consider a microSD card instead MicroSD cards are generally cheaper, GB for GB, than their USB Flash Drive counterparts. They are more versatile and smaller as well, so these tiny cards may be a compelling option for some.

The cheapest genuine 1TB I could find costs around $80 (Sandisk 1TB); the too-good-to-be-true ones retail for less than $30 and that is a problem as cash-strapped customers may be fooled into buying these false “bargains” since quite a few of them made their way into Amazon’s hot new releases list, one that gets a good amount of exposure on Amazon’s own website. Thousands, if not tens of thousands, of Amazon shoppers may have been stung with the fake products.

Outside of USB Flash drives, microSD cards are also favorite targets for storage scammers. So yes, that 1TB microSD card that sells for an incredible $19.99 is likely to be a disappointment. To Amazon’s credit though (and a proof that this problem can be eradicated), fake large capacity external SSD (like the ones I flagged in my article) have been eliminated completely.

Remember that a fake USB flash drive or other storage device can not only cost you short change you but also damage your computer or even worse, compromise your security by loading malware onto your computer without you knowing.

Desire Athow
Managing Editor, TechRadar Pro

Désiré has been musing and writing about technology during a career spanning four decades. He dabbled in website builders and web hosting when DHTML and frames were in vogue and started narrating about the impact of technology on society just before the start of the Y2K hysteria at the turn of the last millennium.