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SD card 'Format as internal storage' option not available

Hi all,

I bought a micro SD card for extra internal storage for my FP3, but in the Android settings there seems to be no way to configure the SD card for internal storage. According to this article this should be possible: Get help from your device manufacturer & mobile carrier - Android Help

Finally I was able to do it using ADB with the command sm partition disk:179,64 private (thanks to this article: https://www.modaco.com/news/android/heres-how-to-configure-adoptable-storage-on-your-s7-s7-edge-r1632/)

But I was wondering why it seems to be impossible to do this in the Android settings?

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To be honest, I don’t think that doing this is very good. I don’t know how Android handles it, but data probably gets split up between the internal and external SD cards, which increases the risk of data loss.
If your regular external SD gets broken, you “just” lose the files that were on it. If it’s formatted as an internal storage extension, you’ve probably screwed your entire phone. Or what if you want to upgrade to a larger card later on? With an external SD, you can just unplug it, copy the data via your PC and put in the new one. When you’re using it internally, you probably also screw your entire phone.

To be fair, I don’t know if this the case, but if I had to guess I’d say so.

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There are other postings in this Forum - concerning the FP2 - that absolutely underscore what @Stanzi has posted.
Unless there is some specific reason that requires extending the internal storage, I would advise not to do so.
See the recent short discussion in this thread:

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OK, good points, thank you!

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I was using this option on a Samsung smartphone. After android update micro SD card got locked and I couldn’t unlock it or format it anymore and the only option was to throw it away and buy a new one, so I don’t recommend using micro SD card as internal storage.

Out of curiosity: Did you try to get it back to life on a computer?

@topic: Until now I always formatted the SD card as internal storage. Moving my Spotify stuff to the SD card didn’t work for me unless I did that. With the FP3 I might not have to do that because the internal storage is bigger but either way I think the option should be there. It seems weird that it apparently isn’t.

I have tried to format it with several apps on Windows, Mac and Linux. Some apps refuse to start formatting like SD Card Formatter and some even think they are formatting, but nothing happens. It seems to be common and only options I have are to send it to manufacturer and maybe get replacement or destroy it. Since card is locked in read only mode I’m not willing to send it anywhere as my personal data is on it. Phone doesn’t even register it, so it can’t be formatted with it.

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Have you tried thoroughly cleaning the brass contacts of the card? On multiple occasions I’ve had micro-SD cards that would kinda-sorta work, or not work at all, or just give me general grief, which could be resolved by scrubbing the brass contacts with some alcohol. They seem to be quite sensitive to dirt and finger grease.

I found out about this when I really had to get data off a nonfunctional card, and I put it under a microscope and noticed it had a fine layer of something on parts of the contacts, which came off easily with a cotton bud and IPA. Worked like a charm afterward.

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In case you want to continue using the SD card as internal storage: I wrote something about it here.

The most important part is to make a backup of the key in /data/misc/vold which can then be used to access the data on SD card from a Linux computer.

Also it is recommended to backup the data on your phone regularly.

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In case you still want to use the SD-card as internal storage, after having read all the arguments against written above: here’s how to do it.

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Don’t do this with consumer grade microSD cards. It isn’t worth it. It is a bit akin to using RAID0/JBOD with one weak medium.

[EDIT]Using a microSD card for things such as Netflix, Spotify, Amazon Prime, is perfectly fine. Just don’t try to write so much data to them, and don’t sync FROM it to a cloud (e.g. Google Drive, Nextcloud, etc).[/EDIT]

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Maybe as last resort re-partitioning could had helped using a tool like free Windows Easus partition manager or free Linux gparted…just to get it going again. I once had such a case where doing this worked fine.

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Any news about the implementation to use the SD card as internal storage. It was already possible on my FP2 without ROOT and other hackings.

Thank you!

And it was a very bad idea to do this on the Fairphone 2, too, as quite a number of users found out the hard way.

You would willingly hand over the integrity of your whole internal storage to the whims of a flimsy SD card.
If the card decides to stop working somewhen (and they tend to do that), your whole internal storage could be corrupt all of a sudden and you could be in for setting up your phone again from scratch.

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As @AnotherElk has said, it’s a bad idea. This is why the GUI option has been removed - to shield users from creating a situation where they can lose all of their data should their SD card malfunction.

That said, I don’t think it’s a bad thing for this option to be available and findable for those who really want it. Keep it out of the GUI so unsuspecting users don’t set themselves up for disaster, but have a ready set of instructions online for those users who have use cases where the internal storage option makes sense.

I don’t think anyone has written up that guide so far. Someone willing to experiment on their own FP3 would perhaps try something like this (:warning: untested, may break all sorts of things, will definitely erase everything off your SD-card):

adb shell sm list-disks adoptable

And you’ll get a response like

Public: 000_00 mounted XXXX-XXXX

With the numbers and Xes being different for each device. Then run

adb shell sm list-disks adoptable

And it’ll return that public disk again, though it may give you a different set of numbers; these are the numbers you’ll use in the next step.

In the case of my FP2, it returned 179_65 in the first step, but 179_64 in the second. I used 179_64.

To format the card, run

adb shell sm set-force-adoptable true
adb shell sm partition disk:000_00 private 100
adb shell sm set-force-adoptable false

With the 0s being replaced with the numbers of your disk. Then run

adb shell sm list-volumes all

And see if it now has 000_00 listed as ‘private’ rather than ‘public’.

Reboot the phone:

adb reboot

and pray that you haven’t broken your system. I tested it on an FP2 running AOSP 7.1.2 (FPOpen 19.11.2) and it worked. Of course there’s no need for this on the FP2 as the option is available through the GUI, and it isn’t proof that it’ll work on the FP3.

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SD card set up as internal storage has the advantage, that it is secure. Otherweise, if you loose your phone, everyone can access the data on the card.
As was mentioned earlier: save the key. And you can backup the card with an external card reader and a software copying 1:1.

Android doesn’t handle external storage well at all when it comes to allocating data. Basically it acts as a USB device that you have to manually move your files to. That means if you want to expand the extremely modest storage present on most devices, you need to use a workaround. Some devices let you use SD storage as internal storage natively, and some don’t. Either way, it’s common practice. When I got my phone they did it outright with my purchase of an SD card.

Most people don’t want to have a hot swappable SD card, they want expanded internal storage. This is exactly what the OP posted about, so I don’t know why you’d guess that they wanted to swap it out.

Furthermore, Android system files aren’t available to storage outside of the native internal storage, even if an SD card is redesignated as internal storage. They’re kept on the actual phone’s memory. It’s likely a lot of data would be lost forever if you switched your SD card, but most people in this situation aren’t ever going to do that. But certainly the phone would still work fine.

This is commonplace and common practice. I only showed up here because I was digging into doing it on my own device w/ 32gb internal memory, with a 256gb SD card I want to upgrade it with. I will likely never remove that card. That said, 32gb is absolute trash. It needs to be upgraded.

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It’s not a bad idea, and that’s not why most OEMs remove the GUI option. They do it because SD storage is slower than internal storage, which could reflect negatively on their device. This is something that is done in cell phone stores all across America every single day. As long as the SD card is kept in the device and not moved around it’s only as flimsy as the device itself. Since it’s used as internal storage (and removing it could cause problems) there should never be a reason to remove it. And if you choose to use a modular phone, you should understand the risks of doing so.

Experiences by users in this forum say otherwise time and time again.

Common practice is not automatically good practice.

It’s not a question of removing or not removing. I have a collection of flash memory cards lying around which simply refused to work at some point, mostly they stopped being writable. They were happily sitting in devices and not removed until they caused trouble.
It looks to me it’s a question of how the controller part in the cards decides to behave, but in the end it doesn’t really matter. Which part breaks functionality doesn’t change the result.

There are certainly use cases for more space, but not everybody has them.

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I have no idea why you think that, but it doesn’t. I’ve been using my FP2 for almost 5 years now and I’m currently only using 20 of the 32GB. Maybe you want to copy your entire music library onto your phone like @urs_lesse who bought a 512GB SD card for that, but not everyone needs to have tons of storage space on their phones.

Also, please stay civil. Just because my opinion is different than yours you don’t have to get overly confrontative :slight_smile:

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