Kim Barloso

Using the SD card as Android internal memory


The amount of information consumed by device users is growing. Many people do not have enough internal memory of smartphones to store everything they need. Memory cards are in great demand, allowing to increase the space on the smartphone. Often sd cards have more capacity than the internal memory.

Today we will explain how to convert an SD card into internal storage for your phone.

Content :

    SD card as internal storage on Android 6 >

    Setting up an SD card as internal storage on Android is a simple task. Please note that the SD card will be formatted during the process so be sure to backup your data by copying it to a PC.

    It is possible that the Adoptable Storage is missing even if the phone is running Android 6 >. It is possible that the manufacturer of the device has forcibly disabled this feature for security reasons.

    But there are command line methods to force the device to use the media as internal storage.

    Here are the instructions to adapt the SD card as internal storage:

    1. Insert the SD card into your Android phone and wait until it is detected.
    2. Now open Settings .

    3. Scroll down and go to " Storage " (or Device Maintenance > Memory ).

    4. Click on the name of your SD card.
    5. Click on the three vertical dots in the top right corner of the screen.
    6. Click on Storage Settings .
    7. Select the Format as internal option.

      Click on " Erase and Format " if you want to format your SD card as internal memory.

    8. If Android detects that your SD card is slow, Android will inform you. Press OK to continue.
    9. You may either start the data migration now or do it later.
    10. Click Done to complete the storage adjustment for your SD card.
    Cautions.Upon completion of the formatting you are free to use your removable SD card as a permanent "internal" storage. But please be aware that a card formatted as internal card does not support hot swapping like portable SD cards. So don't remove it without using the "Eject" option.

    SD card as primary memory: advantages and disadvantages

    • SD card does not fully replace the internal storage but only extends its capacity.
    • SD cards being a pluggable storage device will inevitably be slower than the "native" internal drive.
    • The performance of an SD card will be directly related to the performance of the smartphone.
    • If the speed of the drive is not compatible with the speed of the device, your smartphone would simply not use 100% of the potential of the drive.
    • Your PC will only see one memory module and only the one installed as primary, even though the internal storage and the SD card are separated in the settings of the smartphone itself.
    • Some programs and data will be installed on the phone's "native" storage media even if the memory card is specified as primary.

    Installation instructions for Android 7 - 8

    To install the SD card as primary storage on Android 7 - 8 you need:

    1. Install the SD card into the phone correctly (optional)
    2. Check the compatibility between the media and your Smartphone (optional)
    3. Go to the tab "Storage" in the
    4. Make sure the inserted sd card is used as removable storage.
    5. Select the SD card directly by tap on the name of the SD card.
    6. Click on the three dots in the upper right corner of the screen.
    7. Go to the item "Settings".
    8. Here you can install the memory card as primary storage media having previously formatted it.

    The above instructions are more relevant for Android 7 - 8 but the differences regarding the card installation algorithm are small on later OS versions as well.

    Instructions for Android 9 - 10

    For Android 9:

    1. Find in the Android settings the section "Device Maintenance".

    2. Memory - here you can find the internal and external storage.

    3. Click on the desired SD card.

    4. In the next screen, press the menu button on the right top (three dots), go to the storage settings.

    5. Set this storage as default
    6. Format the memory card (optional).

    Do I have to format the memory card before using it?

    Please note that the process of attaching the card to your smartphone as primary storage is irreversible without data loss since the device, for security reasons, transfers the data to the storage using encryption codes unique to the particular device. Thus you will not be able to use this SD card with any other smartphone and read data from it, as long as the SD card is bound to the smartphone as primary storage.

    What to do if Adoptable Storage is not available

    There are some smartphones where this feature might not be available. LG devices, as well as the Samsung Galaxy S7-S9, and Galaxy Note series, for instance, may experience difficulties when trying to use the SD card as the primary storage for your smartphone. On these models of smartphones, there is also a way to install and format the external memory as internal using the ADB Shell. Be careful, this method is only suitable for experienced users as it may cause severe problems with your smartphone as it involves the operating system being configured manually through a command line.

    After connecting your smartphone with the SD card, performing the necessary steps of software installation, debugging via USB and running the command line with the software, to install the external storage as internal you must enter the following:

    adb shell

    sm list-disks

    score or write the disk ID which looks like dis Without this step, the data will continue to be installed on the internal drive. The SD card should then be recognized by your smartphone as the internal memory device.

    There is another way to change the installation priority of the phone using Root access rights through an application such as Root Essentials, however this method is quite risky and strictly recommended if you are running an old Android version.

    Make the SD card a main memory extension

    Only the internal memory may be fully usable. Adding an SD card will not add capacity to the main module, but only serve as an alternative.

    If you are not using the SD card as primary storage, but as a memory expander to store certain applications and /files, you will need the Link2SD App from the official Google Play store.

    Link2SD will allow you to transfer apps (even those that are not transferable by standard methods) from internal storage to external storage in a few steps. This requires:

    1. Install Link2SD and open the application.
    2. In the main menu, select the device you want to use as the default primary.
    3. Click the "Transfer to SD card" button.

    Save /files from the Internet to the memory card

    If you use a Samsung phone with Android 9,

    1. Go to the "Internet" application.

    2. Go to the "Settings" section.

    3. Click the item "Web Sites and Downloads".
    4. Select the "Place to save /files".
    5. Click the "Storage Card" item.

    6. The settings are applied.

    Detailed instructions

    In some devices these settings are missing. This is because

    • you have not opened an Internet application but a Chrome browser or a third party browser.
    • The memory card is not readable or not implemented in this mobile device.

    SD card as internal memory on the Samsung Galaxy

    As I have indicated before, the device manufacturers may control this feature. Samsung has long ago disabled available storage on its Android devices. The reason: the company can't control the performance of the device with this modification.

    For testing purposes, I inserted an SD card into the Galaxy S8 to see if anything has changed in the new Android One interface. It turns out that it hasn't.

    In addition, Samsung has created a relevant web page that confirms that Galaxy tablets and phones do not support Adoptable Storage because it will "reduce the overall performance" of the device.

    There are, however, rumors that Samsung will implement this functionality on its devices sooner or later.

    Will Adoptable Storage work in 2020 in Android 9 and 10?

    The Adaptable Storage feature appeared in Android Marshmallow and is designed for Android devices with little internal space. It's 2020, and internal storage isn't such a significant issue these days. Nevertheless, let's test some devices for the ability to format the memory card to the internal format. The feature will be tested on Android 9 and Android 10.

    For Android 9, I used Motorola and was able to use the "Format as internal" options for the microSD card.

    I installed the same microSD card on Nokia 8.1 running Android 10, but no suitable storage feature there.

    I have other Android 10 devices, but none of them have a microSD card slot. This is a regular problem I run into. Anyway, I will try to test Adoptable Storage on other Android 10 devices and update the results here.

    “Hello. My name is Kim. I discovered that technology, when used with a purpose, can be pretty amazing. To share the wonder of tech, I’ve written for blogs like and With over three years of freelance writing experience in the technology and entertainment niche, I can write a storm about a software app, a cool browser extension, a new mobile device and other geek-centric stuf... “

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    Kim Barloso