If you have an Android smartphone or tablet with a small amount of storage, you’ll probably continue uninstalling apps to make room for other apps. But there is a way to expand the storage of an Android device if it has an SD card slot.
By default, Android apps are installed in your phone’s internal storage, which may be too small. If you have an SD card, you can set it as the default installation location for some applications, freeing up space for more applications than you would have been able to install. You can also move almost any application currently installed to the SD card.
There are a few different ways to do this, and you depend on the version of Android and the apps you want to move. Before we get started, we should note: running an application outside of your SD card will almost always be slower than running internal storage, so use it only if absolutely necessary – and if you can, try using it to applications that do not require a lot of speed to work well.
Installing applications on a memory card: using a memory card
Traditionally, SD cards on Android devices are used as portable storage. This means that you can store files, such as videos, music and photos, to use them on your device and connect the SD card to your computer to transfer files from one place to another. When used as portable storage, an SD card can be removed without affecting the functionality of the device.
However, from Android 6.0 Marshmallow it is possible for you to adopt your SD card as internal storage, essentially making the SD card part of the internal storage in the device. Adopting your SD card as internal storage will install new applications to your SD card by default, if the application developer allows it. You can move the application back to the internal storage later, if desired.
In addition, when you adopt the SD card as internal storage, you can not remove the SD card from the device without affecting the functionality of the device, and the SD card can not be used on any other device, including the PC. The SD card is formatted as a local EXT4 drive, encrypted using 128-bit AES encryption, and mounted as part of the system. Once you’ve adopted an SD card on an Android device, it will only work with that device. Therefore, dedicate this card only to that particular device.
Be sure to back up the data on your SD card to your computer before adopting the SD card as internal storage. The adoption process will erase all data on the SD card. You can put the data back into the SD card after it is adopted as internal storage, but for this you must connect the Android device itself to the computer to transfer the data. You can not remove the SD card from the device and connect it directly to your PC to transfer files.
If you used the SD card as portable storage and moved some applications to the SD card, you need to move those applications back to the internal storage before adopting the SD card as internal storage. If you do not, these applications will be deleted and have to be reinstalled.
When adopting an SD card as internal storage, make sure you are using a fast SD card. Look for Class 10 or higher and UHS when buying a new SD card. If the SD card is a cheaper, slower SD card, it will slow down your applications and devices. If you plan to dedicate the SD card to the device by adopting it as internal storage, it is better to spend a little extra money for a faster card. Android will test the speed of the SD card during the adoption process and warn you if it is too slow and will negatively affect the performance of your device.
Insert the SD card into your device. You should see a notification that a new SD card has been detected. Touch “Configure”. If you do not see this notification, open the Android settings application, go to “Storage and USB” and click the “Format as internal” menu button.
A screen appears allowing you to choose whether to configure the SD card as portable storage or internal storage. Tap “Use as internal storage,” then tap “Next.”
A message is displayed advising that after the SD card is formatted as internal storage, it will work only on that device. You are also advised to back up the data on the card. When you are ready to continue to adopt the SD card as internal storage, touch “Erase and Format”.
If there are still applications installed on the SD card that you forgot to return to the internal storage, the device will display a warning that the applications will be erased. To see which apps are still installed on the SD card, touch “View apps.” If it does not matter to you that applications will be deleted, touch the delete option.
Android will format and encrypt your SD card. Once the formatting process is complete, you will be asked if you want to move data currently in the device’s internal storage to the SD card. This step will move your photos, files and some applications to the SD card. To migrate the data to the SD card now, tap “Move now.” This selects the SD card as the preferred storage location for all applications, databases, and data. If you still do not want to migrate your data, tap Move later. Internal storage remains the preferred storage for all content.
If you choose “Move Later”, you can migrate the data later by going to Settings> Storage and USB. Tap the SD card drive, tap the menu button and select “Migrate data.”
When the process is complete, a message is displayed stating that the SD card is working. Touch Done.
After the SD card is formatted as internal storage, the device’s internal storage and adopted SD card will be displayed on the Device Storage screen when you access Settings -> Storage.
Tapping one of the items in Device Storage on the Storage screen in the Settings application lets you view usage information about that storage location.
From now on, when you install an application, Android cleverly decides where to place it based on the developer’s recommendations.
You can manually move the applications between internal storage and SD card, but this is not recommended and can cause unexpected consequences on some devices. If you absolutely must do it, go to Settings -> Storage and USB. Select the storage that currently contains the application you want to move (internal or SD card) and touch “Applications.” Select the application you want to move from the list and tap the “Change” button.
You do not have to specify where to store the content of each application. By default, applications always store their content in the preferred storage location.
If you just want to store photos, movies and music on your SD card, using the SD card as portable storage is the best option for you. However, if you have a device running Marshmallow with an SD card slot with limited internal storage, this is an easy solution to expand the device’s internal storage capacity.
Install app on memory card with SD partitioning
Unfortunately, Android can only move applications to the SD card if the application developer allows. If you want to move unapproved apps, you can do so, but you’ll need to root on your phone . So if you did not do this, do it first and then go back to this guide. Then follow the steps below to the letter, and you should have some extra space on your SD card for applications.
Step One: Partition Your SD Card
Before partitioning your SD card, be sure to back up all the data on your SD card. This partitioning procedure will delete everything in it. Turn off your Android device, remove the SD card, insert it into an SD card reader on your PC and copy the files to your PC. Once you have backed up your data, leave the SD card in your PC for the partitioning process.
To get started, download and install a program such as the MiniTool Partition Wizard on your PC and start the program. In the main program window, you will notice several disks listed. Hard disks on your PC are listed first, followed by the SD card. Select the disc for your SD drive. Be very careful when selecting the SD card disc because you do not want to accidentally delete any of the other discs.
Let’s delete the current partition on the SD card. This is the point where all data on the SD card will be erased. Then again, make sure you backed up your data before continuing with this process. Right-click the SD card partition and select “Delete” from the pop-up menu.
Now, let’s partition the drive to our Android device. The first partition will be used for data. Right-click what is now the unallocated partition on your SD card and select “Create” from the pop-up menu.
Creating partitions on an SD card so that you can install applications on an Android device is different from partitioning a drive to a PC. For this to work, you must set both partitions on the SD card as “Primary.” Then, in the “Create New Partition” dialog box, select “Primary” from the “Create As” drop-down list. You then need to set the file system type for the data partition. Select “FAT32” from the “File System” drop-down list.
You do not need to assign a “partition label” to the partition. By default, the size of this partition is the available size of the SD card. We need to resize it down to accommodate the second partition we will then create for the applications. Since this is the data partition, you will almost certainly want to make it larger than the second “apps” partition.
To change the partition size, move the cursor over the right edge of the yellow border in the “Size and location” section until it is displayed as a double line with two arrows, as shown below. Click and hold the yellow border and drag it to the left until you get the approximate size you want for your data.
After completing the data partition setup, click “OK.” The remaining space on the SD card is listed as unallocated below the data partition you just created. You now need to set the second partition for the applications. Right-click the second unallocated partition and select “Create.”
You will receive a dialog box advising that the new partition will not work in Windows (Remember when we said that partitioning an SD card to install applications directly on the card is different from partitioning a drive for use on a Windows PC?) Windows can only recognize the first partition on a removable disk. However, since we are not using this SD card on a Windows PC, we can continue to create the second partition. Click “Yes.”
As we mentioned earlier, both partitions should be set to “Primary,” then select “Primary” from the “Create as” drop-down list. For the application partition, the “File System” must be “Ext2”, “Ext3” or “Ext4”. If you are using a standard ROM , select “Ext2”. Otherwise, select “Ext3” or “Ext4”. If you are not sure which one to choose, start with “Ext3” or “Ext4”. You can change the “File System” if your selection does not work.
Enter a name for the “Partition Label” if desired, and click “OK.” You do not need to change the size of the partition. The remaining space on the SD card is automatically used for the second partition. The two partitions are listed under the heading of the number “Disk” (“Disk 2” in our case). However, the changes are not yet final. To end the partitions, click “Apply” on the toolbar.
A confirmation dialog box appears, making sure that you want to apply the changes. Click “Yes” to apply the changes.
The dialog box for applying the pending operations is displayed showing the progress of the operations.
When all changes have been applied, the “Successful” dialog box appears. Click OK. ”
Select “Exit” from the “General” menu to close MiniTool.
Before you remove the SD card from your PC, you can copy all the files back to the SD card that you want to make available on your Android device. Do not worry about Windows dealing with both partitions. It will only see the “FAT32” partition, or data, where you want to put your files anyway.
Step 2: Download and install a program like Link2SD
Now that you have a properly partitioned SD card, reinsert it into your Android device and boot the device. Look for “Link2SD” in the Play Store or similar programs and install. The guide we’ll give here works for basically every app in this line. Once the application is installed, touch the “Link2SD” icon that appears on the home screen or touch the “Applications” drawer and start it from there.
If you created your device using our guide, SuperSU is installed on your device and you will see a dialog box asking you to grant full access to Link2SD. Touch to authorize.
The following dialog box displays the first time you open Link2SD, prompting you to select the file system used on the second partition of the SD card. Do not select FAT32 / FAT16. This is the file system you used for the first partition, for the data. You have used “ext2”, “ext3” or “ext4”, then select the appropriate option for your second partition. Tap “OK”.
If things are working correctly, you’ll see the “Reboot your device” dialog box. Touch “Restart device.”
If you get a mount script error, you probably chose the wrong “ext” file system type when creating the second partition. Close Link2SD, turn off your device, remove the SD card and put it back on your PC. Open the MiniTool Partition Wizard again, delete the second partition and re-create it, this time using the other configuration (probably “Ext3” or “Ext4”) that you have not used before. Go through the steps again until you reach this point and you should get the “Restart your device” dialog box. If you do not see the dialog box above to select the file system of the second partition of your SD card, you can uninstall Link2SD and reinstall it. This should reset the application.
Once your device has restarted, open Link2SD again. You should not see any dialog box views. Instead, you’ll see a list of apps and a few options at the top of the app screen. In this case, you have successfully installed and configured Link2SD.
Step Three: Change your app’s default installation location
If you want to automatically install new applications to your SD card instead of internal storage, we recommend that you do so now. To do this, touch the menu button (three vertical dots) in the upper right corner of the screen.
Touch “Settings” in the pop-up menu.
In the “Auto Link” section, touch the “Auto Link” check box and then “Auto Link Settings”.
Make sure the first three check boxes are selected. The last checkbox, “Link internal data”, can not be activated in the free version of Link2SD. Therefore, the data files for applications installed on the SD card will still be stored in internal storage.
Use the back arrows at the top of each screen in Link2SD to go back to the previous screen. You can also use the Back button on your device.
For information about internal storage and SD card storage, select “Storage information” from the same menu that you previously accessed “Settings”. The “External SD” item in the list is the data partition of your SD card, where you can store document files, media files, etc. Any files transferred from your PC to the SD card are in that partition.
Step Four: Move Already Installed Applications to the SD Card
It is likely that you have some applications already installed on your smartphone that you would like to migrate to the SD card . If we enter the device settings and access the “App Info” (via the app settings menu) for any app, we can see that we can not normally move some apps to the SD card. The “Move to SD card” button is grayed out. However, we can go beyond this limitation. We opened Link2SD and rolled into the list of applications until we got to the program and tapped it.
The “Application Information” in Link2SD is similar to the application information screen in the device settings, but this application information screen allows us to move the application to the SD card. To do this, scroll to the application and click “Link to SD card”. In this way, as much of the app as possible will be transferred to the SD card.
A confirmation screen appears, making sure we want to move the selected application. Tap “OK”. A progress screen appears while the application is being moved.
The “Link to SD card” screen is displayed, allowing you to specify which types of application files will be moved and linked to the second partition of your SD card. Leave the first three types of files selected. Tap “OK” to continue.
A progress screen is displayed while links are created. Tap “OK” on the screen that follows. You are returned to the “Application Information” screen. Note that much of the app now resides on the SD card. Data is still stored in internal storage.
If you want to move any application installed directly to the SD card or moved from the internal storage to the SD card back to the internal storage, just open “Link2SD”. Open the “App info” screen for this app and touch “Remove link” “The app will be moved to the device’s internal storage.
After installing and moving the applications to the SD card, you must leave the card in the device while using it. If you remove the device, all applications moved to the SD card can not be used without the SD card.
Installing app in SD is not difficult
This may seem like a complicated process, but if you have an Android device with limited internal storage and you have an SD card slot like us, this can be a life saver. Buying a microSD card with a decent amount of storage is a lot cheaper than buying a new device.
Any questions? Leave comments your questions!