How to move apps to SD card, and why you shouldn’t

Although it seemed like a nearly disappeared feature from the mobile landscape, microSD card support is back to stay. More and more manufacturers are betting on this system to offer users of their terminals the possibility of expanding the capacity of internal storage.

One of the “advantages” that Android offers, in addition, is that it is possible to move applications to the SD card to free up mobile storage space and leave enough space for the system, documents, music, movies, or any file. But is it really an advantage to be able to install apps on the microSD? Yes and no.

How to move apps to microSD on Android

Before transferring applications to the SD card, we must consider the Android version of the mobile in which we will do it since the method is different from the Android 6.0 Marshmallow. We are going to see both cases.

A partir de Android 6.0 Marshmallow

A partir de Android 6.0 Marshmallow

As of Android 6.0, Google introduced the possibility of installing applications natively on the microSD card as a measure intended for those with low-performance terminals, with 8 or 16 GB of internal storage.

The recommended first step in moving applications to the microSD is to format it for optimal performance from minute one. It is possible to carry out this process from a computer or directly from the mobile, through the settings application, in the “Storage” section.

Once this is done, we can now proceed to move applications to the SD card. To do this, you have to follow these steps:

  • Access the System Settings application, and then the “Applications” section – from Android 8, under “Settings and notifications” -.
  • Select the desired application, and the “Change” button will appear at the top. Click on it and choose “microSD card. “
  • Once the data from the app has been transferred to the microSD card, in the header of the main settings panel of the app, “SD card” will appear instead of “Internal storage.” It is necessary to comment, of course, that some apps do not offer the possibility of moving your data in external storage.

In a version before Marshmallow

In a version before Marshmallow

You need a rooted device.

If you want to move applications to the SD card in a version older than Marshmallow, such as Lollipop or KitKat **, things get complicated. To transfer applications to external storage, it will be necessary to have superuser or root permissions. Each one, of course, will have to decide if it is worth going through this process and do so by following the corresponding steps for each device.

Create a partition on the card to store the data

Once through the rooting process, the ease of the process does not improve precisely. The second step is to create different partitions on the card, one of which will store the applications and their data. To do this, it will be necessary to connect the card to a computer and use a program such as MiniTool Partition Wizard, available for free download.

With the SD card connected to the computer, if we run the previously downloaded and installed program, it will automatically recognize it. The next step will be to format the card – and therefore delete all the data. To do this, you will have to right-click on the graphic bar that refers to the storage available on the card and click on the “Delete” option, and once finished, perform the same steps but click on “Create.”

Create a partition on the card to store the data

A new menu will appear in which to select the partition parameters. In this case, since we are creating the partition for data storage, we must choose the “Primary” option to proceed to create the primary partition and select “FAT32” in the file system section – “File System” -. The program will also ask us to give this partition a name, and finally, it is enough to choose the specific size of the partition through the sliding bar that appears at the bottom of the window.

Create another partition to store the apps

Once the partition for the data has been created, it is time to do the same with the apps partition. Just repeat the above process, right-clicking / Create on the unoccupied space of the card –in the app, it will appear as “Unallocated” -. The difference concerning the previous process lies in the type of file system that we are going to choose, being Ext2 in case the device has a cooked ROM – that is, it is not based on “stock” -, and Ext3 or Ext4 if the ROM is native, or based on “stock.” After closing the window by clicking on “Ok,” we can now click on “Apply” to apply all the changes made.

Create another partition to store the apps

Move the apps

We have already completed all the necessary steps in the aforementioned program to return to the smartphone or tablet. Now, to move the applications to the secondary partition that we have previously created, we must use an application that allows it, such as Link2SD –free on Google Play– available for free on Google Play, although it requires superuser permissions.

Once downloaded and installed, when opening the app and granting it the pertinent permissions, we must select the secondary partition destined for the applications, selecting the file system with which it has been formatted –Ext2, Ext3, or Ext4 as appropriate–. Once this is done, the application will show us a warning indicating that it is necessary to restart the phone. However, if you have chosen the wrong file system, you will have to format the card and repeat the process.

Finally, once the device is restarted, we must reopen the application and select those apps we want to move from the internal storage to the microSD card.

Move apps to microSD, why shouldn’t you

Move apps to microSD why should not you

Let’s start from the point that, today, a mid-high-end or high-end smartphone can have an internal UFS 2.0, 2.1, or eMMC 5.1 flash memory. These technologies offer to write speeds of more than 500 Mbps –up to 750 in the case of UFS 2.1–and more than 150 Mbps of writing. This makes this type of memory perfect for installing applications and running them practically instantaneously, with hardly any loading times – it will, of course, depend on how well optimized the software is and the other specifications of the phone in question.

What about microSD cards? Although there are indeed technologies such as UHS-III in external cards, which achieve transfer speeds of more than 600 Mbps, most users, without being willing to pay a third of the price of their mobile phone for a card of this type, end up opting for memories of Class 2, 4, 6 8 or 10, much more affordable … and much slower.

Choosing a card that is not suitable for the installation of applications, therefore, would result in a disastrous user experience, with high load times when installing, running, or uninstalling applications, since the transfer speed will be much lower, in most cases, you can get the internal flash memory.

If you want to use an SD card to move Android applications to it, it is best, in the case of low-end or mid-range smartphones, to opt for a card with UHS-I technology and A1 technology. An interesting option would be the following:

On the other hand, in the case of a current high-performance smartphone, it would be advisable to choose a MicroSD card with UHS-II and A1 technology, so as not to overpower the loss of speed when installing applications on it, and even UHS- III as soon as the first models start to go on sale…