SD card accidentally formatted as internal, how to get apps "unmigrated"

Similar to the issue described in this post, yesterday I hastily clicked the “migrate” option after formatting a new micro SD card as internal - I didn’t see the “portable” option at all and although I found the post above, I didn’t read it and understand the implications :frowning:

I lost all of the photos and videos on the device, from what I’ve gathered I should write those off - it has been a while since they were last backed up, but I guess that is just bad luck

My question is more concerning the apps that have been moved - I don’t see an option to move them back to the internal phone storage. One app no longer starts due to the storage location and the camera app also appears not to save new photos.

Looking under the Storage options and also in the apps themselves I don’t see any “migrate” option, only that the location is still “internal storage”… how can I get the apps away from the sd card so I can reformat it as portable?


HI Welcome to the forum

Usually apps are not installed on the SD card just data it has created.

If it is only one app, which is it?

The app that won’t start is Podkicker Pro - I don’t see it as a big problem as I can always install it again.
My biggest concern however is that loosing the app data moved does not mean loosing access to two factor apps that I need for account access - Google authenticator and Duo Mobile

Edit: I guess I can just use the backup codes for 2fa apps, so that’s not a problem

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This formatting is an oft mentioned problem, it would be nice if the after selecting the option a warning was given about the consequences of each.

They can be, if the SD is formatted as internal.

@ter9 What do you get when opening the directory of the SD-card in the stock Files app and opening the three-dots menu? I don’t have an internal SD-card to check, but you should have “Migrate data”.


I was using info from ✏ A little guide to... using SD cards

Android controls where newly installed apps are stored. After installation, many (but not all) apps can be moved from the internal storage to the SD card and vice versa by the user.

Meaning that apps can only be moved after installation, i.e. at the users discretion hence no problem moving them back. Though not stated the OS may present an option at installation, again, meaning the user has full knowledge of where the app is.

Basically my argument is that the user shouldn’t worry about whether an app may or may not be transferred back the the internal memory as the use would have selected which apps are on the SD card.

The caveat is that what I read in the SD Guide is correct. Do you think it may be wrong and could do with editing?

However reading the concern again

It is worded in such a way that the move to the SD card was known and therefore my comment about what is and is not stored on the SD card may be spurious.

Apologies if that is the case.

Yes maybe, or not complete.
If I’m not mistaken, when inserting an SD card and formatting as internal, the OS suggests migrating data to the card (including some apps).
Will have a look at it sometime.


I dont think there is anything wrong in the guide.

It clearly says that the system decides where (initial internal storage or extended internal storage (=SD card)) apps are installed and that afterwards the user might decide to move. For sure this statement is only applicable after the SD card was formatted as internal.

Edit: overall this is again an off topic discussion not really helping the OP with their problem.

Then maybe this is incorrect

Android still installs the apps on the internal memory and dumps the data on the SD card. So, you are deprived of installing any further apps if your phone has a scarcity of internal storage,

I’m still looking for a definitive statement

Despite all the perks of SD cards, they have one particular drawback- some mobile applications aren’t authorized to install on them. In simpler words, when you install an app on an Android device, the OS is programmed to install the app on your phone and transfer the app data to the SD card. This means you’ll be unable to install an application on your phone if there isn’t enough storage space on it, and it wouldn’t even matter if your external storage had 1 Terabyte of free space.How To Use SD Card As Internal Storage On Android?

The implication is that Android chooses to store apps on the internal memory.

Android does install apps on the SD-card:
From your first source:

Practically, Android allows you to install almost every app on the adopted storage.

And a screenshot showing that when formatting a card as internal, it will suggest to move data and some apps to the card:

Now this question is answered, let’s come nack to the topic.

god how I am beginning to hate this involvement, sure back to the topic of how to help the user with migrating an app back is the focus, but my comment “Usually apps are not installed on the SD card just data it has created.” it has diverged to this.

Android does install apps on the SD-card:

My argument is still that android doesn’t but the user has the option.

This is a fundamental argument that impacts a user in their decision whether to use an SD as internal or not and the primary action taken by the OP that provokes this problem.

So yes back to the problem on how to migrate the data back, but I couldn’t help with that and all subsequent posts have been related to my comment, so I am at a loss as what to suggest.

Thanks for the suggestions - I don’t have any options in the Android file app, if I open Settings > Storage, there is also no possibility to migrate the data back from the SD card. The options I have are: “rename”, “eject” and “format as portable”.

I also can’t save screenshots (“Couldn’t save screenshot due to limited storage space”), even though there is plenty of space on both the internal storage and the SD card.

I can’t see any way to manage what app data is saved to what internal storage, to me it looks like the only option is to do a fresh install.


The option to migrate only comes after selecting ‘format as portable’ :slight_smile:

If for some reason you decide to change your SD card’s configuration to the portable mode, the process is easy too.

  1. Follow the steps in the initial configuration process above up to the point where you have to tap on the three dots on your phone’s screen.
  2. Tap on the dots and from the range of options displayed, tap on ”Format as portable”
  3. Tap on the ”Format” option below on the screen. Wait for a few minutes for the process to complete, and you’re done!
    How To Use SD Card As Internal Storage On Android?

Blockquote The option to migrate only comes after selecting ‘format as portable’

Hm, ok thanks for your help but are you sure about the migrate option? The article you linked doesn’t talk about a migrate option becoming available, and if I choose “format as portable” I get a warning that all data will be erased, so I wouldn’t click on format until I’m sure of the migrate option appearing first

Ok yes that link was a bit crappy I’ll see if I can get a screen shot

I have a topic with screen shot but can’t find it, still looking. Meanwhile please look at the topics below.

I think if you manually move apps you can manually move them back to internal, if you get Android to automatically migrate when formatting as internal it reverses it when you reformat as portable.


Here’s a link with screen shots but I’m not convinced it is going to be a much better guide :frowning:

Ok, thank you for your clarification - I can’t do much more than try to reformat as portable in any case, as everything is encrypted on the SD card. I was wondering if I had corrupted it by not ejecting the card, but I don’t see there is a way of diagnosing that

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