Photographers Getting Burnt Buying Fake Flash Drives

We're getting more and more calls from professional photographers who have purchased USB memory sticks from other suppliers (and occasionally direct from China) only to find when they use then that they have problems with them.

The problems typically come to light when the photographers load photos onto them from one PC and then they try to view the photos they’ve loaded on a different PC or Mac. More worrying is that their clients have problems viewing the photographs when they try to view them from the flash drive.

These problems normally occur when the supplied USB flash drives have been "masked" - that is a "B" grade flash memory chip with say only 256MB of storage has been made to look like a 1GB USB flash drive.

When these 1GB USB flash drives are connected to a PC and you view the properties of the drive it will list it as a 1GB drive, even when you copy nearly 1GB of data to the drive it will look as though it has transferred OK - the problems only begin when you take the drive out of the PC the data has been copied from and try and use it on another PC - all of a sudden "Hey Presto" the data you thought you'd originally loaded onto the drive has gone!!!!

Photographer USB Flash Drives

This problem cannot be fixed. If you have purchased USB flash drives for your business and they are acting in this way then you've been duped and you've been sold a flash drive with less memory on it that you paid for. Unfortunately this appears to be happening more and more in the promotional USB market because most companies and photographers that buy them and supply them to their clients won't check or think to check. Understandably once they have finished transferring the data to the USB flash drives they'll typically remove them thinking their data or photographs are on the sticks!

At USB2U we're happy to try and help and rush out some alternative USB flash drives that are guaranteed to work but typically these issues are only discovered at the last minute and if replacements are needed within a day or two you may have to compromise on colours, designs and sometimes print.

The only safe way to be sure you don't get stung is to:

  1. Buy from a reputable supplier, ideally a supplier that understands the USB flash drive industry and is able to demonstrate they’ve been around for a while and that they supply other customers in your sector (it doesn’t hurt to ask for references either)
  2. Don’t just buy on price alone – if you’re being offered an “incredible deal” on branded USB memory sticks and other suppliers are suggesting they can’t get close to the price then its usually an early indication that you’re heading for trouble.
  3. Make sure you have at least 12 months warranty on any flash drives you buy and that you understand the replacement process.
  4. Buy locally so you have some recourse in the event of any problems. It’s much easier dealing with a supplier in your own country if things turn nasty and you need to resort to the courts to resolve any issues (hopefully it won’t get this far)
  5. Finally, do your own checks when you take delivery of your USB flash drives – load data onto a random sample (up to the limit of the memory you’ve paid for) and then try and read the data from another PC.

Share story