A friend of ours recently had a burning urge to back up his large collection of music onto a single USB memory stick. Up until now, his collection has been spread between a number of hard drives and a ramshackle collection of USB sticks. Not entirely trusting cloud-based services, he favoured a single physical device to keep his music safe, and he was delighted to discover that 64GB USB sticks are now on the market, ample space for all of his music. The one thing that didn't delight him – even when the cost of flash memory is cheaper than ever – was the price, and he baulked at paying anything from £22 to over £100 for his storage.
We've written at length before on the price of memory compared to what computer users were paying in years gone by, and relatively speaking, just over £20 for a pocket-sized 64GB device represents extraordinary value. However, our intrepid friend dipped his toe into eBay to see what was on offer in the world's great online tat market, and was stunned to see branded 64GB devices selling for less than ten pounds. Too good to be true? In some cases, the answer is a stone-cold "yes".
A closer look at the small print ("Actual memory may be lower than that advertised", "No refunds, you accept the terms of this sale") and angry customer feedback ("Device was actually a hacked drive with a lower memory," and "64GB? I only got 3.8GB!") reveals the danger of buying from sellers with poor reviews and lower scruples. It's not difficult for scammers to "mask" USB sticks so that they look like they've got more memory than actually exists. It might be some time before the victim comes up against the 3.8GB limit on the hacked device after being told by their computer they have 64GB free. By then, the crooks are long gone with your money, having passed off a cheaper drive at a 200-300% mark-up. For individuals and businesses that buy a lot of USB memory, that could mean substantial sums.
Undoubtedly there are genuine sellers stocking good quality 64GB USB memory sticks on eBay and other shopping websites, and their prices reflect the current going rate for the devices. If you're buying USB memory either for yourself, or for an organisation or business, it pays to do your research and only deal with reputable dealers. We're certain that a seller called xxzzyy4152 who has only been registered for a couple of weeks probably doesn't fit the bill.