Kingston 256 GB USB Drive (?!?)

Spotted in the electronics market at the southwest corner of Huaihai Rd. and S. Xizang Rd.:

Kingston 256 GB USB Drive (?!?)

The 256 GB drive is fake. The vendor in the electronics market admitted to me that the actual hardware was a 64 GB drive (pictured to the right). He said he wouldn’t sell a fake USB drive to foreigners like me who speak Chinese. (Get ripped off less: Another reason to learn Chinese.)


John Pasden

John is a Shanghai-based linguist and entrepreneur, founder of AllSet Learning.


  1. It does exist, though.

  2. He wont sell it to you because he knows you can come back and give a tongue lashing, loss of face maybe? I doubt its out of any respect he may have for foreigners that bother to learn the language.

    • I think it’s more a policy of “rip off the tourists, because they never come back, but be a bit more careful with the laowai that live here, because they represent possible repeat business or word of mouth.”

  3. I encountered the same problem a few weeks ago with a 4GB drive. My Chinese is at that ‘deceptively appears fluent’ stage and I made it clear to the seller that I would be testing it as soon as I got home. When I went back to replace it the next day, she had to search around in her store trying to find one that was actually 4GB.

  4. These guys have usually got a computer around though – if nothing else so that they can chat on QQ (if they’re not running 360!).

    Just asking them to plug it in and display the Properties page sorts out the size issue.

    • Be careful, because the Properties dialogue is hackable.

      These are all over Taobao too. I think it’s some opportunists taking advantage of the fact that, like John B pointed out, this capacity of thumb drive actually does exist! So if you do a cursory Google search it may influence you into believing that you are getting the real thing.

      • Wow, I didn’t know “properties” is hackable!

        So how do you test reliably? Do you have to actually copy a huge file over?

      • Yes, it will show 256Gb under properties but probably you will not be able to fill more than 1Gb, if ever. The answer is simple, just do not buy this kind of stuff ever. iPhone cables, on the other hand, are a good bargain…

    • SalmonFish Says: November 18, 2010 at 6:19 pm

      I tried to buy a 2gb SD card in Beijing a number of years ago and it appeared to be 2gb but got full surprisingly quick. I formatted it (using the camera itself) and it suddenly revealed its true size of 147 MB (rather a random size…). So to make sure format the card first too….

  5. The 256GB USB flash drive in the photo retails around $600. The real value is the 32GB and 64GB USB dongles, super convenient and eliminates the need for a “personal” computer. All computers, notebooks, netbooks with USB ports can be yours.

    A Shanghai experience (at the wedding) was purchasing a flash drive for my camera at a strip mall vendor with my credit card (at near full USD retail). The card was defective, a fake Sony memory card, I had found out later when the photos were corrupted and did some research online – just search the words “Chinese” “Fake” and “____ brand/model”. I challenged via my credit card company (VISA) and won. This, even with the seller in China and me based in the USA. The situation that John illustrates is real – a typical Western tourist that buys something with cash in hand and returns home, not able to return it or respond with any likely action. So the lesson learned is LEARN CHINESE or BUY WITH CREDIT CARD.

  6. Did the seller tell you it was fake from the get go or did you need to ask?

  7. I was in Jilin city in the northeast and my friend bought a “32 GB” thumb drive that crashed after the first few files and turned out to hold about 4 GB.

  8. One can tell that is a fake because 256 gb of memory on a usb stick harddrive is very big this one is too small. But thx for this post now i will be very wary of the chinese tech marketplace.

  9. You could always tell the shop owner that you WANT to buy a fake one, as a joke or something. Might show you which are which.

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