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03-25-2012, 11:35 AM   #1
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Has anyone used h2testw to check for "fake" flash drives?

Just wondering whether this is a safe program to use & whether any of you have experience with it. I've looked around a bit online & there seem to be a great number of articles on "fake" flash memory. Having wasted a lot of time I could better spend getting things accomplished, I have learned some basic things about it, & am wondering about using this program. What I've found suggests that it might be the best of those available.

Let us suppose that I am among the first to think that if a deal sounds too good to be true it probably is, & let us assume that my usual response to a "great deal" is "What's the catch?"
Then let us assume that I have a small budget & that for the price, I might be willing to take a punt at an eBay flash drive which I understand has a decent chance of being fake.

I just want to know if this program to check it, or any others that I might purchase, is any good.
Thanks!

03-25-2012, 12:05 PM   #2
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There are some things that are worth spending the precious little time have available on and others not.
Memory becomes cheaper all the time. I feel it is better to buy from a trusted seller and be done with it.
03-25-2012, 02:59 PM   #3
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Because of all the internet chatter about counterfeit top-of-the line Sandisk cards, I asked their support team how to verify authenticity. They said to send them a snap of both sides of the card and showing the imprinted serial# on it. I have been doing that because its easy and allows me to pick up some of those special deals with less worry.
03-25-2012, 04:07 PM   #4
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The program h2testw is from the German computer magazine c't, which is part of the German publishing house Heise Verlag. They are publishing news about science and technology, and run laboratories for computer and electronics tests. They were also with the first who found out about the fakes.

To be sure you get the right thing, you should download the newest version from their website, the link is

ftp://ftp.heise.de/pub/ct/ctsi/h2testw_1.4.zip

03-25-2012, 04:39 PM   #5
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@ crewl1

This does not necessarily help. The c't magazine I mentioned in my previous post had, in co-operation with the retailers, tried to trace down the source of faked USB memory sticks. These sticks, of which tenths of thousands were offered on the European market by ALL KINDS of traders and shops, had memory chips built in which had only 50% of the Gigabytes they should have had. The firmware of the controller was manipulated, so from the operating system everything seemed to be OK. Only if your storage exceeded the size of really built in memory, the controller would delete some older files, without showing any error.

The first versions of the program h2testw (and some sister programs) were written to show the true memory size, because no other tool available would find anything wrong with these sticks. Only after a while the number of files you couldn't find any more would increase.

Obviously these faked sticks were mixed with the good ones when they were packaged for export. For a while, about 10% of most charges were "infected". They were sent to all European dealers, so buying at a shop with good reputation did not help.
03-25-2012, 07:11 PM   #6
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RKKS08, thanks for answering the question. It's interesting to know a little of the story behind this program that I'd heard about. I will try it if I get a USB from somewhere random. I'll probably waffle about that purchase till the last one in stock is gone; the seller has had a couple of feedbacks about cards that were smaller capacity than advertised; he did refund the buyers' money. So I figure the flash drives he's selling might be fake too -- you could probably flip a coin on the odds. The people who gave positives may not have encountered a problem yet. I'm not sure it's worth the effort. I just hate spending more $$ on things that are likely to fail anyway; as someone said in another thread, there are only 2 kinds of drives, those that have failed & those that haven't yet...
I did a little more reading about fake USB capacity & there seems to be less info about whether you can, or how to, format them to their proper capacity. I gather it's possible but what I've found so far makes it sound complicated & not worth the time even for a discount drive.
Does this German company have any programs to "fix" the drives h2testw detects as fake? Is it do-able, or easy?
03-26-2012, 09:16 AM   #7
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I've used h2testw before. It found that an SD card I had purchased was fake. I got a refund and have never bought memory from ebay again. Just buy memory from reputable retailers. They're so cheap now anyways. Don't bother trying to fix fake cards. I'm pretty sure that isn't possible.
03-26-2012, 03:29 PM   #8
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@ Alliecat

Either the flash memory isn't what it states to be - then nothing to do, you can't restore what never existed.
Or the ROM routines of the controller are faulty - but this isn't what we are speaking about.

What it makes it difficult to verify the true memory size, and virtually impossible to hack the controller ROM, is the fact that handling of external memory (hard drives, flash, etc) has completely changed over time. In the old days, programs and applications would call DOS interrupts and/or BIOS routines to deal with floppies and HDs. At the time when hardware drivers moved to the kernel area which became heavily restricted (stability reasons, Windows NT4), the routines it selves step by step moved to external ROMs integrated in the drives. And flash memory is a very special case. As you may know, every "cell" of a flash chip can only make a limited amount of write cycles before it "dies". To extend life span, the controllers use sophisticated patterns to wear all parts about the same amount (in the beginning of the life span), a strategy which may change coming nearer to final failure. The real amount of memory is bigger (can be MUCH bigger) than the specifications, so dead cells will be replaced by new, before hidden ones for a long time. All this is not transparent for the operating system. The controller gets a detailed command or request by the OS, analyses it, and then acts with a replacement routine. On completing the task, it will send a confirmation to the OS, which is completely "faked" (because it has done something quite different from what the OS requested). These ROM routines are top secret and heavily protected against hacks of any kind, as their cleverness decides about speed and average life span much more than the hardware itself.

03-27-2012, 10:16 AM   #9
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I didn't know these things, so I learned something from this thread. Thanks. Somewhere something I read suggested that you could reformat them to their "proper" size. Or at least you'd get "some" memory even if it wasn't the advertised size.
I wound up not buying the cheap great deal; maybe I'll check the guy's feedback in a while to see if the people who did buy them are reporting fakes, but I bet a lot of people have no clue about this stuff, as I didn't. I'm just kind of fed up with the whole memory/storage thing thanks to a dead 500GB drive from a reputable retailer which I posted about elsewhere & then trying to find alternatives... I'd like to know I'm going to make some $$ off the photos I need to store before I throw more $$ into the project!
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