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Message says "SD card is full" when it's not

Discussion in 'Android Devices' started by coffent, Jun 25, 2017.

  1. coffent

    coffent Newbie
    Thread Starter

    I keep getting a message that my SD card is full. When I checked it showed that only 5 GB of an 8-GB card were used. Nevertheless, I copied over all the data to a 16-GB card, but I still keep getting this message (& apps seem to be malfunctioning) even though Settings shows there's now over 9 GB of space available. How can I fix this?
     



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  2. tube517

    tube517 Android Expert

    Use the app "SD Insight" to check if the sd card is legit.

    What is the brand name and where did you buy the sd card?
     
  3. coffent

    coffent Newbie
    Thread Starter

    The 8-GB one is Adata, and has worked fine for 6 years until now. The 16-GB one is Kingston. To test the actual capacity, I tried copying a 2.48-GB file onto the Adata card, which Windows says has 2.65 GB free, and it worked, leaving 180 MB free.
     
  4. lunatic59

    lunatic59 Moderati ergo sum
    Moderator

    Technically if you have a real SD card, you have two sd card partitions. It's the internal /sdcard partition that is probably full and giving you the message.
     
    Dannydet likes this.
  5. coffent

    coffent Newbie
    Thread Starter

    That's probably the problem. (Why do they call it an SD card if it's not an SD card?)
    Looking at Settings/Storage, it says:
    Device memory: Total space 1.12 GB; App's 741 MB; Available 233 MB
    USB storage: Total space 1.40 GB; App's 595 MB; Pictures, audio, downloads ~1 GB; Misc. files 4.90 GB; Available 832 kB
    SD card: Total space 14.4 GB; Available 9.4 GB

    So USB storage definitely looks short on space. (Is this the 2nd "SD" card? Why do they call it USB storage if it doesn't use USB?) What's really puzzling is that the sum of the files stored is about 6 GB, whereas total space is listed as only 1.4 GB!

    Can I move some or all of the files in USB storage to the "real" SD card? How can I tell what can/cannot be moved?

    Thanks!
     
  6. lunatic59

    lunatic59 Moderati ergo sum
    Moderator

    A couple of things you need to understand. First, Android can't use every byte of space. For any OS to function, you have to have enough of a buffer for it to perform temporary file read/write operations. With Android (depending on installed ram and version) that limit is usually between 200MB~300MB and when you reach that threshold you get the low storage warning, plus you probably won't be able to install any new apps or save large files, if the default is set to phone storage.

    Files you can easily move are things like photos and media (music and video). It looks like, however, that most of your storage is apps, which means one of two things. One, you can delete some apps that you aren't using, or two, root your phone and install apps2sd. The first is only a temporary solution. You'll always be hitting your limit and having to deal with this. The second, we'll it's got its problems, too. First, I don't trust SD cards enough to run apps on them and frankly, they were never intended to do that. They have a tendency to fail at the most inconvenient times. Apps2sd also can't move just any app, it has to be compatible and the biggest storage users like Facebook, Instagram or Whatsapp can't be moved. Finally, even those apps you can move don't move completely so you don't regain much space with any app you move.

    What I find more troubling is that you report only 1.12 GB total device memory and 1.4 GB of storage. That's almost nothing these days. What phone is this? And what version of Android does it run? (menu>settings>about phone)

    Now, why it's like that ... we have to go back to the early days of android when phones have very little memory and no storage. But, they all had an SD card slot, so if you wanted to expand it's capabilities you just put in an SD card. You must understand that Android is based on Linux and because of that, certain file system conventions are similar. In this case we are talking about mount points. That's where the OS knows where files are located. We start with root which is represented as "/". from there you begin your folder/directory structure. For app developers to take advantage of sd card storage there had to be a common standardized mount point, otherwise a developer would either have to account for all phones, models and configurations (which probably wouldn't be possible) or ask the user to set the location at installation which defeats the purpose of easy interchangeable apps and services. So it was determined that the SD card would mount at "/sdcard".

    This is where ALL apps look for storage space. Fast forward a year or two and phones with 4GB, 8GB and even 16GB of internal memory started showing up in the stores. Android needed space for the system and for apps, so the rest was used for storage, which Android expected to be an SD card. So, manufacturers mounted the internal storage at "/sdcard" which worked just fine. If those phones also had a slot for an external SD card, then it got mounted someplace else. And, because not all phones have an SD card slot, there was no standard set, so it could be anything. It's usually something like "/sdcard/external" but you'll see enough variations so that all it can be used for is file/media storage. Not an elegant solution, but it worked for most people.

    Still, it caused problems as apps and games required more and more. Today you'll see phones with 32GB and 64GB of internal memory, and those that have SD card slots can support perhaps an additional 256BG of storage. With all this memory there had to be some advancement in how it's used. Newer versions of Android (6.x and later) off you a choice of how you want to use it when you insert an SD card. You can select /file/media storage only, which means pretty much that. If you have a huge music library, download videos and take tons of pictures, this is ideal. The second option is adoptable storage. What this does is use your SD card as an extension of the internal memory. The card is encrypted and tied to the phone so that you can't remove it without reformatting it and losing everything stored on it. With file storage only, you can pop the card in and out without consequence.

    I suspect you have an older phone with limited resources. If you intend on keeping it a while longer, I think your best bet is to move all your media files to the sd card (and please, back them up off the phone, too -- I do not completely trust SD cards) and delete those apps you aren't using. That will buy you some time, but the real answer is ... (sorry) get a new phone.
     
    Deleted User and PitCarver like this.
  7. coffent

    coffent Newbie
    Thread Starter

    Thanks very much for your very thorough reply - it's the first time I've seen a really good explanation of how this strange nomenclature came about. I've learned a lot about Windows operating systems over the years, but as you can probably tell, very little about Android (or other) phones, so it was helpful to get a little insight..

    And you're right - it's probably time that I pony up for a new phone to replace my long-in-the-tooth Galaxy S Blaze (Android 4.0.4).

    Finally, I'm in your camp re backups. I've had too many brushes with death not to be paranoid about this!
     
    lunatic59 likes this.
  8. lunatic59

    lunatic59 Moderati ergo sum
    Moderator

    From what I can see based on spec's, it's a miracle that it still works at all. ;) Seriously, some very nice phones that run much more current versions of Android can be had at very reasonable prices (under $100.00) if you don't need the latest and greatest. Even at the base model, it will be light years ahead of what you've got now.

    Here's a really good phone for $150. :D

    https://www.amazon.com/Moto-Play-4t...&qid=1498485836&sr=1-5&keywords=mobile+phones
     
  9. coffent

    coffent Newbie
    Thread Starter

    Your previous reply inspired me to look for new phones, and I've more or less settled on the Motorola G5 Plus, which Amazon sells for $185 (if you put up with some ads, which reviewers didn't seem to find objectionable).
     
    lunatic59 likes this.
  10. lunatic59

    lunatic59 Moderati ergo sum
    Moderator

    Personally I find the pushed ads to be obnoxious, and not worth the $50 you save buying the non-ad version, but to each his/her own.
     
  11. coffent

    coffent Newbie
    Thread Starter

    Fortunately, Amazon allows one to remove the ads at any time by sending them the extra $50, so I'll see how it goes.
     
    lunatic59 likes this.
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