Weird disk bug - unable to save files?

So, until 2 days ago, phone all working fine, on latest 18.04.1.

I was using Audible, and the app crashed (possibly the whole phone crashed and restarted - I was travelling and so didn’t look for 5 minutes). I couldn’t restart Audible - got either “App not responding, wait or close?” or no response to pressing the icon either. I figured I’d reinstall the app - I uninstalled it OK - but could not reinstall, Play Store would take ages, then eventually put up a warning “triangle” message saying app couldn’t install. I thought it was some weird Audible bug, maybe some corrupt memory.

Yesterday, tried to take a photo - a few seconds later got a “Camera error: There was a problem saving your photo or video” message. Tried again, this happens again. Odd. I’ve not had that problem before.

Today I thought I’d try deleting all the Audible content files, in case they had got corrupted. Used “Amaze” file browser, it seemed to say they had deleted but they didn’t go away. So plugged into laptop on USB, and deleted them from there. This time they seemed to delete. Restarted phone, tried to install Audible. Still Play Store gives an error. (This is all on excellent wifi signal)

I tried installing some other apps. One, which I had installed until about a month ago, installed OK although it was slow - a couple of minutes for a 20MB app. Well, I can live without Audible, so I give up on that for now.

But trying to take a photo again, I’m getting the same problem - cannot save file. Restarting the phone makes no difference - still unable to save an image. In Settings, I can see both the internal and SD card memories, they look OK - both about 1/3 full.

So I assume I have some sort of memory/disk error, which means that some (?) parts of memory aren’t writable? Maybe?

Ideas for how I might fix/debug this welcome. I’m not worried about Audible, but not being able to save Camera photos is a big problem. (I’ve not noticed any other problems; my other apps mostly use cloud storage eg gmail, twitter, but then i’ve not exhaustively tested things either).

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Taking photos with Instagram, twitter or Facebook Messenger also results in error messages or the app hanging…

Did you try to switch the phone off ? I once had a problem where the external SD got mounted read only for unknown reason. Simply switching the phone off and on again solved the problem. Another thing to try is to switch the phone off, remove the battery, wait about 20 min. so that everything inside the phone will discharge and then insert battery and power it up again.
Do you store your pictures on the internal or the external SD memory ? If nothing else solves the problem, you may have to back up your files, re-format the SD (try with the external first!) and put the files back on. If your external SD is already a couple of years old it might be a good idea to get a new one - they do not last forever.

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I’ve restarted the phone quite a few times. I’ll try a long gap without the battery in tonight, that’s a good idea, thanks.

I didn’t think all these things would be using the external storage, but perhaps they do. I can certainly try backing up and formatting the SD card. How do I tell where, for example, the Camera app saves photos?

So I’ve poked at the Storage on the phone a bit more. From Settings->storage I can browse the amounts of storage used on both internal and SD card, which means both are working somewhat.

Internal Storage shows me Apps (12GB) and Cached data (5GB), of 25.48GB available. The SD card has 15GB used, including Apps, Images, Videos, Audio, Other, Cached data - this seems a surprisingly long list compared to the internal disk. Is the internal disk missing some top level folders there?

When I mount the phone via USB, the filesystem I can see seems to be the SD card one (same directory list as I see in Settings->storage->SD card->Explore). I don’t seem to be able to see the internal storage that way (Android File Transfer on OS X). Only one top level directory appears to show up (although I don’t use this app a lot, so I may be missing something).

I’m not too worried about data loss, as pretty much everything I do backs up to the cloud, and I’ve backed up the SD card today. But if several of my heavily used apps (eg Camera, Instagram, Facebook messenger photos) aren’t able to store images, that’s a problem.

I tried to take screenshots of some of what I saw, but the phone can’t save those, either. I’m pretty sure they wouldn’t be stored on the external SD card?

Do you perhaps have a 16GB SD card which is (almost) full or is it a bigger one?

The SD card is a 64G one, so lots of empty space.

I tried leaving the phone without battery for 30min - still same issue.

I wondered if I should try reinstalling the OS from scratch, but as I don’t have a spare phone, this seems rather a risk. At the moment i have a mostly working phone (although no camera etc). If there’s a problem with the internal disk, I imagine that a reinstall attempt could leave the whole thing broken…

Backup as much data as possible.
Maybe first reformat and perform a check of your sd card using an external sd card reader on a computer . Windows test tool.
Before reinserting the card into the phone again try if saving data on your internal storage works reliable.
Maybe the filesystem or the card itself is damaged. But internal memory should be working properly.
If there is no problem to be seen reinsert the card and reformat with the phone again (preferable as external storage).

At last you still can reset the phone before going through the entire procedure of reinstalling the OS from scratch.

Yes, that’s what I also know how this works. Reassure there is enough internal storage remaining.

Thanks both.

Internal storage showed lots of free space - Settings says “16.37GB used of 25.48GB”

I’ve removed, backed up, checked on a computer, the external SD card. It seemed fine. I’ve tried using the phone without the SD card; some apps gave errors, the camera app says “insert SD card to use camera”, I still get a screenshot error “can’t take screenshot due to limited storage space, or it isn’t allowed by the app or your organisation”. So that’s the same as with the SD card in place.

Tried a different SD card - formatted it in the phone. Told the phone to “forget” the old card (as otherwise it seemed unhappy). Plugged into USB, restored old SD card data to the new card from my backup. At this point the phone takes photos fine and saves them. I even save a screenshot!

I checked the Settings and it showed the internal storage is as before, but the SD card is still showing as empty except for a 56KB, which is a bit weird. I restart the phone, reinstall a number of apps that have disappeared (maybe they were on the old SD card?).

For some time the Settings still showed an empty external storage device in terms of data usage, despite the Amaze file browser showing lots of folders (my restored backup). It’s now started to show some data which is great, but I am slightly confused as to why this was empty for so long. That might be something to watch out for if folks are struggling with this in the future.

To conclude: it seems this was a broken or worn out SD card, despite that not seeming likely. (I would never have guessed that the Camera app and screenshots etc would save to the external storage!).

Replacing the card with a different one, formatting in the phone, restoring what files I had been able to backup from the old SD card, and reinstalling apps, seems to have fixed the problem.

Thanks everyone for the help!

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In your case it looked quite strange and uncommon. I would tend to state that afterwards added sd cards rather break before the internal memory chip.

Yes, as saving screenshots did not even work I was a bit confused too. I don’t know where else than to the internal storage they are saved by default. I don’t know of any option to redirect their save path.

The standard camera app as I know it would only allow saving to the internal storage, but many third party camera apps give you a choice.

Anyway you seem to have found and eliminated the cause.

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I actually have the same problems. Can’t delete or download anything, can’t take pictures. Can’t try something on my computer because I’m on a holiday/roadtrip at the moment. Brought a new memorycard, doesn’t work either. Actually I am pretty lost right now because I can’t take pictures or download anything and nothing is working :frowning:
Haven’t rooted my phone, don’t know how to reboot it from my old SD card. Since I put the new SDcard in, my fairphone updater ‘unfortunately has stopped’ while I try to have a look at which version I have (I had the latest one like 2 days ago, that’s not the problem).
Is there any idea someone has I could try?

…so… It looks like in my case there’s no storage available overall… repectively my fairphone hasn’t got the permission to write on my internal storage & SD card anymore (yes, I tried a new SD card. No, it came overnight without me doing any updates or something. No, I don’t want to ‘forget’ the old SD card, because I’m a.) on the road and don’t have any computer access -> so I can’t save my files and b.) don’t know if it’s worth it because I’m not sure if it would work at all) I tried to search in the fairphone forum but haven’t found anyone with the same thing. Is this still the same problem/topic as Laurel got or should I open up a new tab?

Any new sd card requires formatting directly in the phone preferable as external storage for easier data exchange but with the sacrifice of encryption.

Is the sd card listed among the FP2 compatible types as listed here?

Running out of storage always is a crucial situation even these days. It´s like being blocked in a parking lot without any space to maneuver.

Swapping the sd card alone if your internal storage is full as well won’t help much as most file transactions are on the internal storage. Your OS (+the apps) -> the phone needs room to operate and perform. If all space is used up things will be blocked and maybe cause unpredictable errors or behavior ->read only permission.

Most important now is to free enough space to at least get the OS +apps running.

Since the option of using any computer to move data to is not available atm you have to find an alternative way to achieve this.
With data I mean personal things such as music, pictures, videos which you have direct access to.
Usually starting with smaller files (file size) get you going.

To stop further data input (via messenger etc.) any network/mobile connection should be disabled to keep auto-synching/updating apps from gathering more data.
One reboot should then be performed.

If you don’t wan’t to delete personal data, you could delete apps or look out for a trusty person to maybe temporary store some of your data on their phone using a bluetooth connection. Activating this should require little to none further space. Actually data have to be moved not simply copied.
If you have (thrust) the google drive cloud storage would do too (other apps will also keep on using the connectivity probably causing error messages). But if not active it may not work getting the google drive activated if there is no further free storage in your phone left.
You have to free enough space to have the phone in an operational state for:

  • read + write permissions again

  • formatting your new sd card

  • delete or move some apps/personal data to the sd card

  • recover your temporarily stored data via bluetooth again (or from the google drive)

  • eventually activate network connectivity again

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Dear Patrick, thanks for answering. :slight_smile:
…I already formatted the new card, moved an app there, so that means my phone can write on that one, I guess.
My internal storage says that there’s only 4GB of 25 used though, I’m not sure if clearing up any more space is useful here?
My updater keeps reminding me that it has stopped working, my camera says I have to insert a SD card before using and when I try to download a picture from WhatsApp, it says ‘can’t download because no internal storage is available. Please unmount it as a disk drive and try again’ All in all its super weird

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When my phone was being strange, I got “fairphone updater” reminders that it was not working (along with Dropbox, and a few other apps). I too had lots of free internal storage space. Have you tried turning the phone off and on, to help it ‘take’ the new SD card?

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Yes, turned it off and on again a few times, put the battery out a while. Nothing helped :frowning:

Yes indeed it is. @LaurieJ could solve his issue with a new sd card, but this step actually could not help you…:thinking:

Obviously it can…

4GB of 25GB looks ok.

Generally there should be enough internal free space to get the phone operating without any sd card. To eliminate any problems with additional storage I would rather tend to remove it (unmount first) until the phone operates rational again.

Afaik the standard camera app only saved to the internal storage? Or are you using a third party app which let you change the default save path to somewhere on external storage?
Generally spoken, apps wanting to write to external storage usually request you by a message to grant write access to the sd card. This is a per app permission lasting until the card was unmounted/removed/reinserted.
Maybe check your camera app where it has its save path set to if there is such an option.

I am not familiar with whatsapp. In general to me it sounds as if it could be a cache issue. Sometimes clearing the apps cache can help settings->apps->whatsapp->cache
I am not sure if there is some kind of cache limit available and if so a non-root user probably can’t do anything about it.

If you go into settings->storage, how is your internal storage used up?
The largest may be apps using up a few GBs and what’s the next big hunk pictures,videos? audio? cached data?

This gives you a raw idea what to concentrate on when clearing your storage or moving data. If your cache uses a few GBs I think it’s about time to reduce it’s amount. This space also keeps temporary files which are likely to fill up storage time after time.
Again it is built up as a work space summing up all used caches from each installed app just as you could see for whatsapp.

You can lookup the cache of each most frequently used app. Probably among them there is also the largest.

You can clear the entire cache when taping on cached data at settings->storage or do it individually or use a third party cleaning tool such as ccleaner for android.

Once you have got your phone operating normal again there is nothing against reinserting any sd card. If you prefer to use the old one assure that you shovel enough space free to keep it usable.
Having several GBs of free space left on your internal storage should give you enough room for a trouble less operation.

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