Are you interested to use your MicroSD card as a real memory extension and install apps on it?
Then you need to format it as internal memory. Easy enough on most phones, but unfortunately, some manufacturers such as Sony, LG or Samsung, can’t do this by default. However, if your smartphone’s OS is Android Marshmallow, a command-line prompt will help. Avoid grief from system updates by following the new tips at the beginning of this article.
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The most easy way
If you’re lucky, your android phone will allow you to do this without having to connect it to a PC or laptop. This method is your only hope, if you run a newer version of Android (7.0 Nougat or 8.0 Oreo). Here’s how to verify:
- insert SD card on your smartphone and wait for it to be recognized
- Open Settings > Storage
- Tap the name of your SD card.
- Tap the three vertical dots on the top right corner of the screen.
- Tap Storage Settings.
- Select format as internal option.
- Tap Erase & Format at the prompt
- Android will then offer to migrate your data
If your android phone doesn’t allow you to do this, then will be more complicated. We’ll get to this in the method below.
What to do if your smartphone does not allow you to format microSD as internal memory
Some unhelpful phone manufacturers disable Android’s default function to format microSD as internal memory by hiding the option from your smartphone. However, it’s still possible to activate this using a PC o Laptop, no root or special privileges required.
The steps vary depending on the Android version of your smartphone. This technique worked well with Android 6.0 Marshmallow and Android 8.0 Oreo, however, is more difficult working with Android Nougat.
For phones using Android 6.0 Marshmallow
When a Micro SD card is formatted as internal memory, apps can be fully stored on Micro SD Card. This means that if you download applications with a total size of 1 GB, then there should be 1 GB of space taken up on the MicroSD . If, however, the MicroSD is only formatted as a backup memory, this is not the case.
Just because the menu option is no visible does not mean that it doesn’t work. A few days after the Reddit post, a command line prompt became known, with which you could also format MicroSD as internal memory on the Samsung Galaxy S7. We tested the instructions with the Galaxy S7, the Xperia Z5 and the LG G4, while running Android 6.0 Marshmallow.
All three smartphones run on Android 6.0 Marshmallow and have a slot for MicroSD. In addition, the menu option for formatting the MicroSD as internal memory is missing. The entry is only available on HTC One A9 and on Motorola in all Moto phones.
Why Samsung, LG and Sony don’t show us this menu option, I don’t know. I connected each of the 3 phones to the PC, and each had one MicroSD inside.
Then I typed into the ADB tools the command-line commands that Paul O’Brien described in the blog . As soon as you have the command line window open and the phone connected, you can enter the 1st command:
- adb shell
Now the command line is ready to issue system commands to your smartphone. Now, we want to format the SD card or a part of its memory as internal memory. Even if Manufacturers deny us the possibility via the UI, we can still transfer the command to the smartphone as a console command. First, however, we need the ID of the SD card. You’ll find it with the following command:
- sm list-disks
In my case, the disk is called 179.64. For you, perhaps, it is different. Note the exact identifier. In the next command, we’ll format and partition the MicroSD. Your content will be deleted. If important files are on the card, make a backup to another disk. If you want to keep the MicroSD permanently in the phone, you can now partition all of your memory. To do this, type:
- sm partition disk: 179,64 private
The operation may takes seconds or minutes, depending on the capacity of the memory card. If you want to use a certain percentage so that it can be read by other devices, you must exclude it from the private partition. The 50:50 partitioning command looks like this:
- sm partition disk: 179,64 mixed 50
This is not the end of the work. If you now want to use the adopted memory as such, you must also migrate data and apps. This can be done through the storage section of your Android settings menu. Tap the MicroSD, then you move to the top right of the menu and click on Move data. You can’t select this menu item before partitioning.
From now, downloaded apps are fully written to the MicroSD . Only updates and system apps use the internal memory. This means that you should never get error messages due to lack of space if an app update is pending.
System updates and Nougat (Problems)
Some readers are talking about difficulties when installing system updates from Android 6 after using the methods above. The update to Android 7.0 Nougat specifically does not seem possible with the manually partitioned MicroSD, as described below. Our test devices with Android 7.0 Nougat don’t even respond to the console commands shown below.
In the absence of documentation on the net, we can therefore only advise you to reverse the steps described below before a system update. BackUp photos and music on your PC or in the cloud and free up as much memory on the MicroSD and phone as you can.
Uninstall apps you no use and migrate your data back into the internal memory. after format the MicroSD as removable media. Only then is it safe to install the Android update.
What’s the catch?
MicroSD are not as fast as the internal memory of the phone. So don’t waste money on the cheaper ones, and instead get yourself memory cards with a reasonable read throughput. The Extreme Pros and the Extreme Plus MicroSD by Sandisk have proved to be one of the best value for the money, in my opinion. With 74 MB/s write throughput, you should not experience any delays in everyday life and benefit from considerably more memory.
Curiously, only the LG G4 was able to correctly read the acquired memory. Samsung showed unnaturally high amounts of occupied memory and Sony’s value was even negative. Nevertheless, we did not have any complications, and even when we were connected to a PC, we were able to access all data properly. However, we could only see the shared, and not private, portion of the memory there. problems arose only when it came to system updates (see above).
Gain storage space: Done!
We have submitted the manually partition devices to a uniform endurance test. We installed Final Fantasy IX on all devices. The game is 1.8 GB in size. After installation, it’s easy to see which of the two memories, internal or SD card, had its memory space used. In all cases, after the installation on the Micro SD, 1.8 GB less space was available. A success of this extent can’t be achieved with MicroSD formatted as interchangeable memory, since complete data migration is not possible.
Compare the values of the internal memory and the MicroSD memory in the screenshot for proof.
What happens if the SD card is removed?
The question is what happens when the MicroSD is removed from the system. Actually, it creates a serious problem for your apps. After all, they can no longer access their data. Since the partitions with your operating system and the information for a factory reset are still stored in the internal memory, a removed or broken MicroSD card cannot do any harm. When removed the MicroSD, app icons were quickly replaced by a placeholder, which were immediately restored when reinstalled.
If you lose the MicroSD card or it has a defect, your data is lost. Since these are encrypted as the internal memory, you should not hope for a data recovery. Instead, a regularly backups are appropriate. But this rule applies anyway. So have fun with the cheap memory expansion on your Marshmallow android phone.
Safely remove an internally partitioned MicroSD card
To safely remove the MicroSD card from the phone, you must reverse the above process. Since your storage space on the internal memory is probably not sufficient, you 1st have to transfer pictures to another form of storage and uninstall apps.
Then you go back to the Memory & USB settings and tap Move data under Internal memory in the menu. Then you go to the MicroSD and format it as mobile memory. Perform both steps (backing up and formatting) so that your data can’t be lost and you can use the MicroSD card on other devices.
Has this process worked for you? Which MicroSD do you use? Let us know in the comments below.
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