What is stored on SD card on Android?

An SD card, also known as a secure digital card, is a portable storage device that can hold data like photos, videos, music, documents, and other files. On Android devices, the SD card is used as external storage to store media and documents that don’t need to be accessed frequently. Here are some of the main things stored on an SD card on Android:

Photos and Videos

One of the primary uses of SD cards on Android is to store photos and videos. The built-in storage on many Android devices is limited, so using an SD card allows you to store far more media files. Photos and videos taken with the device’s camera can be set to save directly to the SD card. You can also transfer photos and videos from a computer to the SD card.


SD cards are commonly used to store music on Android. You can transfer music files from a computer to listen to offline. Many Android devices also allow you to pin or download songs for offline listening from streaming apps like Spotify, which are then stored on the SD card.


Word documents, PDFs, spreadsheets, presentations, and other document files can be stored on an SD card. This provides additional storage space for work-related files, ebooks, or other document needs.

App Data

Some apps allow you to move their data files to the SD card, freeing up internal storage space. Games like Minecraft and GTA allow stored games files to be kept on the SD card. Media apps like Spotify also let you store offline music files on the external storage.


SD cards can be used to keep full backups of your Android device. Apps like ADB Backup and Helium Backup let you create a backup of app data, settings, WiFi passwords, and more which can be restored later.

Files and Downloads

Any other files like downloads from the internet, zip files, and more can be stored on the SD card. You can treat it just like a USB drive for general file storage and transfers.

Portable Storage

SD cards make it easy to transfer files between Android devices. You can remove the SD card from one device and plug it into another phone or tablet and access all the stored files.

Things That Should Not Be Stored on SD Cards

While SD cards provide expanded storage, there are some things you should not store on external storage:

  • Apps themselves – Apps should be installed to built-in storage
  • Private files like passwords or financial documents – External storage may not be encrypted
  • Frequently accessed files – Access speed is slower than built-in storage

Benefits of Using SD Cards for Storage on Android

Here are some of the top benefits of using SD cards for additional storage on Android devices:

  • Increased storage capacity – SD cards provide much more storage than built-in options
  • Media storage – Great for storing photos, videos, and music
  • Portability – Easily access files across different devices
  • Backups – Can keep full backups of the device storage
  • File transfers – Quickly move files between devices via the SD card
  • Cheap storage upgrades – SD cards provide an affordable way to get more storage

Choosing an SD Card for Android

Not all SD cards will work equally well in Android. Here are some tips for choosing the best SD card for your device:

  • Storage capacity – Cards are available in sizes from 8GB to 1TB. Choose based on your storage needs.
  • Speed class – Faster cards have higher speed classes, like Class 10 or UHS-1. This impacts performance.
  • Brand – Stick with major brands like SanDisk, Samsung, Kingston, etc. for reliable cards.
  • Format – Make sure the card is formatted properly for Android, usually FAT32.
  • Fake cards – Avoid fake imitation cards which often have less storage than advertised.

How to Insert an SD Card on Android

Adding external storage to your Android device is easy. Follow these steps:

  1. Locate the SD card slot on your phone or tablet. This is usually on the side or bottom edge.
  2. Gently insert the SD card into the slot with the logo facing upwards. Do not force it.
  3. Push the card into the slot until it clicks into place and is mounted.
  4. To remove the card, gently push it into the slot until it springs out.

Setting Up and Configuring an SD Card

Once your SD card is inserted, you may need to set it up before use. Here is how to get it ready for storage:

  • Open Settings > Storage on your Android device.
  • Tap on the SD card name below “Portable storage”.
  • Choose “Format” to correctly format the card for Android.
  • Set the card as your preferred storage for photos, videos, music, and downloads.
  • Move any existing files or apps to the SD card from internal storage.
  • Check for errors and test read/write speeds using an app like SD Card Test.

Once configured, your SD card will be available for storing files and data.

Transferring Files to the SD Card

There are a few ways to transfer your files to external storage on Android:

  • Using a computer – Plug your Android device into your PC via USB and transfer files onto the SD card.
  • On device transfer – Use the native Android file manager to select and move files to the card.
  • Apps – Apps like astro File Manager and Files by Google allow easy SD card file transfer.
  • Wireless transfer – Send files to your device via services like Dropbox or Google Drive.

Make sure to use the “Save to SD Card” or similar option when transferring files to direct them to external rather than internal storage.

Backing Up an SD Card

It is important to regularly back up your SD card to avoid losing your files. Here are some backup options:

  • Computer backup – Manually copy SD card contents to a computer periodically.
  • Cloud backup – Use a cloud service like Google Photos to upload files.
  • External hard drive – Use a portable hard drive to create SD card backups.
  • Backup app – Use an app like Migrate or SD Backup to automate backups.

Backups should be done on a regular basis, such as once a month or whenever many new files are added.

Troubleshooting SD Card Issues

SD cards can sometimes experience technical issues. Here are solutions for some common problems:

SD Card Not Detected

  • Reinsert card to ensure it is seated properly.
  • Check for physical damage or broken pieces in the card slot.
  • Try another SD card to confirm the slot is working.
  • Check if card is inserted upside down.
  • Confirm card meets minimum speed and capacity requirements.

SD Card Not Reading Files

  • Try reinserting and remounting the SD card.
  • Connect Android to PC and run error checks on the card.
  • Back up files and reformat the SD card.
  • Test card read/write speeds for poor performance.
  • Confirm card file system (FAT32) and capacity is supported.

SD Card Files Corrupted

  • Copy off any accessible files and reformat the card.
  • Scan card for errors using SD tools like SD Card Test.
  • Use data recovery software to rescue corrupted files.
  • If unrecoverable, discard and replace damaged SD card.

Maximizing SD Card Lifespan

SD cards can wear out after extensive long term use. Follow these tips to maximize lifespan:

  • Avoid excessive read/write cycles – Minimize transferring files repeatedly.
  • Use reputable branded SD cards – Cheap cards often have shorter lifespans.
  • Handle gently and store safely – Physical damage can ruin cards.
  • Eject properly before removal – Unmount via Settings before removing.
  • Maintain latest Android OS – Keep device software updated for stability.

Deciding Between Built-In Storage and SD Card

Should you use your Android’s internal storage or the external SD card? Here are some guidelines:

Storage Type Benefits Drawbacks
Built-In Storage Faster read/write speeds, encrypted, stores apps Limited capacity, not portable
SD Card Removable, expandable capacity, portable Slower than built-in storage, lacks encryption

In general, use built-in storage for active apps and data, and SD card for media files and backups. With both available, you get the best of both worlds!

Managing SD Card Storage

To effectively manage your SD card storage on Android:

  • Regularly transfer photos and videos from internal storage.
  • Uninstall unused apps to clear up space.
  • Move apps with large data files like games and music to SD card.
  • Automate backups from internal storage to your card.
  • Set your camera to directly save photos to the SD card.
  • Use cloud storage selectively for files you access often.
  • Check SD card memory status under Settings > Storage.

Adoptable Storage – Using SD as Internal Storage

Some Android devices support using your SD card as adoptable storage, which treats it as built-in internal storage:

  • Supports installing apps and app data on card.
  • Card is encrypted and integrated with system storage.
  • Simplifies managing storage in Settings.
  • Downside is SD card cannot be easily removed.

Enabling adoptable storage requires formatting – this erases all data on the SD card.


SD cards provide a great portable way to expand storage for photos, videos, music, and files on your Android device. Choosing the right SD card and using it effectively allows you to make the most of your device’s external storage capabilities.

Follow best practices like regular backups and storage management to ensure your irreplaceable data is secure. With robust expandable storage options, you never have to worry about running out of space again.