-Does your computer fail to bootup?
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Our blog will provide the relevant information on free tools, techniques, and approaches to recover your computer and get your valuable data back.

Fake Flash Drives from eBay and how to deal with them

I like eBay, and most of my electronic “toys” and accessories are coming from this source. Where can you buy two spare batteries with charging cradle for HTC Incredible for $5 tax-free with free delivery? Only on eBay! My experience with eBay purchases was mostly positive: no delays in delivery, no scams or bad quality items. Until my recent purchase of the Sony 64G flash drive for about $20. Excellent price, free delivery. What can be better? The same day, I made a purchase, I got email from eBay with claim that the product is a scam, and they suggested submitting request to the audit department for the purchase refund, which I did immediately. In about a week, I got a full refund for the purchase, and forgot about this transaction. A month later, to my surprise, the purchased flash drive arrived. That was a clear profit. It looked normal, my computer easily recognized it as 64G. However, when I transferred the video files to the drive, I found out that the first file is working, and others – not. This way, I got personally acquainted with fake USB drive.

As I got it as a freebie, I was not too concerned about the consequence, so I checked on the Internet on other users experience, and found out how big the problem is. Many bargains hunters got really slammed by these counterfeit products. And for many of them, the monetary lost was quite significant.

This post will address those who purchased a fake flash drive and wants to test it properly and fix it, if that is possible. As in my cases, even though Windows reports the listed capacity of the drive, that is not true. The drive chips are taken from rejects, or from the very low capacity, and reprogrammed to show the fake capacity of much higher than it is in reality. Many users reported that announced 32 and 64GB were, in fact, less of 1 GB of real memory due to the errors. Going forward, I can say that my “64GB” Sony drive appeared to be just 2.5 GB, which is not so bad, in comparison.

Testing USB drive

The most popular tool for testing the real capacity of the flash drive is called H2testw. It is extremely easy to use and proves detailed information. Created by Harald Bögeholz, the default language of the interface is in German but can be changed to English.

H2testw was developed to test USB sticks for various kinds of errors. It can also be used for any other storage media like memory cards, internal and external hard drives and even network volumes. To run the test for your drive, just plug in the drive, format it in Windows, run H2testw, select the target, and click Write + Verify button. H2testw writes files of up to 1GB to the chosen destination and names them 1.h2w, 2.h2w, 3.h2w and so on. If the target directory already contains such a set of files H2testw will offer to verify them. After it is done the software leaves its test files on the medium. You can erase them if you like or verify them again.


If the drive that you tested passes the test of H2testw without errors, then the advertised capacity is correct (minus a small overhead for operating system file formatting). However, if you are seeing a sample output like below, then it is a counterfeit. This is 4GB USB flash drive not a 64GB USB flash drive. As 4GB drive it should be about 3.9 GB not 3.8 GB formatted. This indicates in low level formatting a lot of bad sectors had to be locked out. Usually flash chips like these are rejected for major brands but somehow are being resold and reprogrammed.

The media is likely to be defective.
3.8 GByte OK (8084847 sectors)
58.6 GByte DATA LOST (122921617 sectors)
Details:710.5 KByte overwritten (1421 sectors)
7.6 MByte slightly changed (< 8 bit/sector, 15630 sectors)
58.6 byte corrupted (122904566 sectors)
710.5 KByte aliased memory (1421 sectors)
First error at offset: 0×000000003cef8470
Expected: 0xeb7ac43a237c5170
Found: 0xeb7a843a237c5170
H2testw version 1.3
Writing speed: 9.24 MByte/s
Reading speed: 10.8 MByte/s
H2testw v1.4

Don’t panic if H2testw detects an error on your USB flash drive. It could be other factors, so here’s what you need to do. Don’t use USB extension cords, make sure you insert it directly to the USB port on your computer. Try using a different USB/Firewire port especially the ones at the back of the case. Try a different cable if you are testing external hard drives. If you still get errors after following the guidelines above, then it’s surely something wrong with the drive.

The executable file H2testw.exe is absolutely portable, needs no installation and can be directly run from any external storage. It was developed for Windows XP and Vista but I’ve tested it on Windows 7 32-bit which worked without problems.

Downloading page (in German, but just click Download): http://www.heise.de/software/download/h2testw/50539

Fixing Fake Flash Drive

When you found out that your purchase is fake, you can discard it directly to the garbage can, but you can also try to fix it by identifying of the real capacity of the drive and formatting it correctly. Note that the regular built-in formatting utility will not be much help for you at the moment, since the OS is not detecting the real drive capacity and is not able to format it properly.

There are several ways to fix the drive.

Method 1

Step 1:
Download chipgenius, this program will automatically detect an inserted flash drive and read out the 4 digit VID code and 4 digit PID code.

Step 2:
Go to the iFlash website and search for a matching VID and PID, download the corresponding software from the site.
In most cases I have been able to use the software provided to reflash the controller chip and do a low level format and restore correct capacity.

This method did not work for me since chipgenius was not able to retrieve the required characteristics from my drive. Some users recommend bypass this step, open physically the flash drive and take a look on the chip. But in my case, opening the drive was impossible. So, I had to look for another method.

Method 2

The second method did not require from me identifying the technical characteristics of the device. This method may not work in all cases, but it is safer than some others, found on the web, since you do not run the risk of killing the low quality device you got.

Step 1:
Step 2:
Connect your drive to the computer, select it, and then choose the option “create new or replace existing configuration”, and then the option “hard drive”, and “create new file system”.

Step 3:
After the program will finish low format of the USB drive, select the option “HP Firmware Flash package”.

Step 4:
Close the program and format the flash with Windows or any other formatting utility. At the end you will find the fake USB Flash has been completely fixed to its real capacity.

There are more tools you can find online if you want to go further. I decided to stop like there.

On more word of wisdom. Even thou my drive is now at workable condition, I do not trust it much. Many users reported that several months later, the fixed drives stopped working. Rejected product is a rejected product, and you cannot fix manufacturing quality issues by any of the software tools. So, do not trust it much, placing important data there. Use it, while keeping in mind that once you may lose everything you have there.

Sources and Additional Information:

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