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Android 10 - MicroSD as phone storage

Same problem here. Really grumpy about this!
First, I had random reboots due to a Kodak 256 GB SD Card (formatted as external storage). After the latest update (that would address the random reboot issue), I was notified the Kodak SD Card was not supported. So, I stored the data on the card elsewhere and took the SD card out.

I used the FP3 for a while without SD Card, but the phone appeared to be slowing down. So, I looked whether I could find a list of supported SD Cards for FP3: it does not exist. But I read that the capacity limit was 400 GB. I decided to buy a Sandisk Extreme Pro 256 GB. (I just found out that it is fully compatible with FP2, but that doesn’t mean a thing.)

I put the SD Card in the phone and started it and got the question whether to format it as external, or as internal storage. Since the permanent notification about the external storage annoyed me before, I decided to use it as internal storage. No notifications or error messages appeared, so I thought it would all be alright. Until I received an image in Whatsapp, late in the evening. It failed to download. I wanted to ask what kind of file was sent to me, so I tried to send a screenshot. I selected the edited screenshot and tried to send it, but it wasn’t sent, because ‘the file was not on the SD card’.

I cannot yet determine how much data I have lost.

What angers me, is that this apparently is a known bug. Yet the question after inserting a new SD Card is not “would you like to destroy your data, yes or no”. Instead the question and the ‘yes’ are hidden under one of the options.

This comment from 20 September should be shown on the telephone, instead of in this thread which you are only going to read when it’s too late already:
Don’t format you sd card as internal storage except if you are sure of the implications!
Formatting the sd card as phone storage is known for breaking things on the phone, and you’re not the first one to report problems that occurred when doing this under android 10.

With my limited knowledge of computer systems, it appears that there are two ways (or more) to address the (merged) internal memory: one, used by file managers and the photos app, which successfully reads the storage contents, and one, used by the GMail and Whatsapp apps which does not.

The ‘SD Card Manager’ app, I use, crashes when I ask for an app list, which may be totally unrelated. My FP3, however, did propose to me to move a number of apps to the SD card, right after formatting the SD card,

I would very strongly suggest to only enable the formatting of the SD card as internal storage in the developer mode of the telephone, making sure you only do this when the phone is brand new, or when you are willing to risk losing all your data, or when you are trying to examine and solve this issue.

And also the camera app won’t start anymore (‘camera error’… well, more like storage error)

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To mention: when I wrote this post, I was referring to common problems about internal storage: if the card breaks, or if you want to remove the card, your entire storage is broken. Most of the time, it should work.
It seems on android 10 on the FP3, it seems there is a specific problem with SD-cards formatted as internal storage (which is why I added an update in my post to mention it).

I highly agree. I have told FP about this topic, asked them to add a warning at least in their support article about SD-cards (which I was told they did, but I find the warning not sufficient).
SD-cards as internal storage aren’t a good idea in any case IMO.

@rae, would it be possible to reconsider @AnotherElk’s suggestion? I know it implies a change in FPOS and isn’t simple, but wouldn’t it be possible to add at least a warning inside the setup wizard stating “Formatting your SD-card as internal storage may cause storage issues on your phone. Are you sure you want to continue?” or similar?

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thanks for the remarks and reply. I have an update. Over here, they say the soup isn’t usually eaten as hot as it is served. And in my case, I think, I may not have lost any data at all.

What I did, was to connect the phone to a desktop and to go through all the folders and copy all usable files to the desktop storage. I then had some appointments and forgot about the issue. I was reminded, when I received a Whatsapp message and was able to see a part of a video that was sent to me. Apparently a part of the file could be stored and played. That may be useful information for someone figuring out what’s the problem.
Since I had backed up my files, I simply formatted the SD card as external storage. After a few seconds, my screen went black, I feared for the worst, but I simply unlocked the phone, and saw a message that the SD card was ready for files to be stored on it. I did a quick check on apps that had problems before. I could open Whatsapp and, yes!, see the videos in full that were sent to me. The camera opened normally, My Gmail app opened normally. So the problem is not a problem anymore, fortunately.

As to normal risks of using an SD card, I only experienced a harddisk die on me only once, somewhere in the '90s (a 640 MB fixed disk if I remember correctly). I’m also used to reliable SD cards in several phones (the one from my FP2 is already five years old). Nevertheless, I am very aware of data security, so, I regularly backup the photos I make on a NAS in RAID5 mode. The extra precautions for the SD card that could break, don’t add much weight to the risk of fatal damage to the entire phone (falling in a pond, dropping on the road, forgotten somewhere, being stolen, etc.). Just backup your data, in a cloud and on a NAS. I can also advise to make a list of important apps on your phone.

I hope this follow up was helpful.

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Hello, I am just arriving at this thread after having followed the same footsteps of previous replies.

I have two questions:

  1. Accepting full-data loss of the SD card that I migrated to internal storage - do I need to fully reset the phone, or is it only app-specific data that got lost?
  2. If I use the SD card as external-storage only, what’s the best way to encrypt the data so that it’s usable within Android, but not accessible without logging in?

Probably you’ll have to completely reset the phone because the storage is broken. I say: try without wiping everything, and if it doesn’t work, then wipe everything.

You can try the EDS app, it has a paid version on google play allowing to mount an encrypted SD-card (but I haven’t tried it, my brother has tried the free version available on F-Droid, EDS Lite, and he told me it doesn’t allow mounting the SD-card as SD-card, which means the system won’t recognize the card, and the only way to use it would be from the app itself). Other methods imply complicated manipulations I wouldn’t risk.

I really hope Fairphone will manage to reproduce and fix this issue at some point.

Edit: Typos

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I just ran into this problem myself and found a temporary solution so I wanted to share my experience with the rest of the community.

I have a Fairphone 3, after setting it up and restoring my data from a Google Drive backup I added a 128GB SanDisk Ultra micro-SD and formatted it as internal storage. I did not migrate my data at the time because I needed to use the phone right away and the procedure is rather long.

Fast forward one year the photo app informed me that I was running out of storage so I plugged my FP3 into the charger and started the migration procedure to move data to the SD card. The procedure finished successfully and the settings app showed the correct amount of data on both the onboard storage and SD card.

That’s when the trouble began: the photo app would take pictures but refused to save them and WhatsApp refused to download any kind of media (audio, video, PDF files, etc…).

I did not want to reformat my phone so I tried the following:

  • From the storage settings I ejected the SD card
  • I shut down my phone and physically removed the SD card
  • I rebooted my phone without the SD card, it complained that it was missing
  • I shut down my phone again and re-inserted the SD card
  • I rebooted the phone again and it picked up the SD card. Now the photo app works correctly and WhatsApp is also working as excepted

I’d like to consider the issue fixed by this little roundabout but I’m not sure if it really is: the storage settings don’t show the same amount of storage in use compared to when I did the migration. Additionally it shows that all the storage used on the SD card is taken by apps, but that’s not the case, the vast majority of it should be pictures and videos, but the corresponding entries show as if none of them were stored on the card.

I have extensive experience in Android development so I can help debug this issue. If Fairphone’s developers would like to contact me directly I’d be glad to help.

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That’s quite good news! Is it still working?

You can #contactsupport as I said to take contact.
Otherwise perhaps @rae could relay this to the team.

I just discovered this issue myself.
I installed a 128Gb Sandisk class 10 microSD card, and formatted it as internal storage.

My camera app wasn’t saving photos anymore, so I formatted the SD card as external storage as recommended.

My camera app is working again but photos are saved to my internal storage just like before, so this is quite useless or I am missing something ?

Some apps allow to save their data straight to the SD card, although it can be tricky to correctly set this up. Anyway, I think especially with a camera app, it makes most sense to move the photos to the SD card every once in a while manually (using your file manager app). You will still be able to view your photos in the gallery (and perhaps even within the camera app).

Why is it useless? You can store your music, videos or whatever you want on this card.

This is the reason, why I switched from google-Cam-Ports back to openCamera. In oC you’re able to activate the Storage Access Framework - this is not possible in google-Cam(Ports), maybe because, google wants you to upload all your pictures into google-drive.

Actually, I believe it was because of the introduction of scoped storage in android 11. It was recently dropped from LOS as well for this reason.
That doesn’t totally invalidate your argument of course.

Does this (dropping the option to save app data straight to an external SD card) affect manually moving files to an external SD card?

Oops, I had seen your post and then forgotten to answer.

Short answer: it doesn’t.

Half-long answer: scoped storage is something quite complicated and I haven’t understood everything. It shouldn’t affect the moving as long as the app used for moving the files has the rights to access whole storage, which should at least be the case for the stock file manager.

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I really wish I read all this before I installed my SD-card today. It took me 4 hours to install all my apps and log in and set everything up the way I wanted, but if it’s true that I have to reset my phone I need to start all over again. :frowning:
What is the best way to reset and reinstall everything on my FairPhone 3+?
Is there an option to move all the data that is on the SD-card, back to the phone’s internal storage?

Until now I made the problems worse with everything I tried so I hope I can still fix things without losing any data. :frowning:

What exactly have you tried already? It could help telling it.

Otherwise, a workaround has been found to avoid resetting everything, maybe you could try it. See post#26 in this topic. This could at least temporarily allow you to retrieve your data.

If it doesn’t work, you may want to try this method (not 100% sure it still works though):

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Please help!

Am I a naive user, who thinks I can buy an SD card, insert it into my phone and it will work?

This is what I did today. And I selected “interal storage”. Then most part of my data was stored on the card. Then several apps couldn´t access the data. So I came to this forum and proceeded like post #26. The procedure didn´t work. So from the settings I removed the card.

Now the phone won´t recognize the card anymore. And asks me the same question again, if I want to use card as interal or external storage. I am not selecting anything now, because this will probably overwrite the data on the card. But I also don´t seem to be able to access the card via the phone anymore.

Is my data now gone? I´ve tried to remove, reboot, insert, reboot again. But it simply won´t recognize the card anymore. What now?!

Please tell me I haven´t lost my data…

I have bad news…
It’s now unlikely you’ll access your data again. Removing a card formatted as internal storage is a bad idea… Formatting it as internal storage is a bad idea from the beginning, though I understand you didn’t know.

Be reassured, before formatting the card the phone should ask you if you are sure you want to proceed. It should have ask you this the first time, didn’t it? So you can try both options and see if it works again, without losing the data directly. Perhaps if you just select “use as internal storage” it will work again the time for you to copy the data.

Otherwise, I don’t have any other idea…

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Have a look at this post and topic

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Thanks, but that sounds very tech to me. I am just a normal user that wanted to insert a MicroSD card and use it as internal storage. A normal use case, I guess. And now my data is lost.

These kind of issues drive me away from Fairphone. It´s so sad.