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SD card issue irks me

Discussion in 'Android Lounge' started by Trom, Aug 23, 2021.

  1. Trom

    Trom Android Enthusiast
    Thread Starter

    I ended up with a phone I never asked for from a company that says I can't use my one plus on their network anymore.

    AT&T sent me Galaxy s9+ with a wimpy 64g storage, so I put an SD card in, make a couple of directories, move some files to the card, but the effing phone insists on erasing the directories and files, and making a directory called /Android where it seems to keep a bunch of app info. What the hell, man?

    puppykickr likes this.

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  2. puppykickr

    puppykickr Android Expert

    You will find an empty 'copy' of each folder from the internal memory on the SD card.

    To store your own stuff, I would advise to make your own folders and put files into those.

    64 GB is wimpy?
    I only recently got a device with 32 GB.

    Anyway, SD cards are not so great in my experience.
    A pretty high chance of catastrophic data loss keeps me from trying to use the 256 GB and 512 GB SD card capacities on my devices, as I recently had a 256 GB card completely crash with only 29 GB on it.

    I have the best luck with 32 GB cards, and all cards that are larger are just 32 GB card wafers stacked on top of each other.
    Unfortunately, this increases the chances of failure, by multiple times.
    Dannydet likes this.
  3. Trom

    Trom Android Enthusiast
    Thread Starter

    When I put the card in, I had formatted it on my desktop first. After inserting it, I created three directories on the card, Documents, Music, and Photos. I moved a few items to those directories, and everything seemed cool, I snapped a couple of photos and they went to where I had told open camera to save them on the SD card. These photos showed up in simple gallery and in simple file manager. About an hour later, I took a photo, which returned the error "file not saved". Upon opening the gallery app, it was now empty. Opened up simple file manager, the directories I'd created were now gone, all that was there was /Android and /LOST. DIR. At some point, android had erased the drive.
  4. puppykickr

    puppykickr Android Expert

    Yeah, your device will most likely do what it will with it.

    Best to just let it be that way and then add your own folders.

    I was confused at first when you said that you had created directories, then figured that you must have done that on a computer.

    To be honest, if your stuff on the card is gone,I would just reformat it in the device that it is to be used with.

    Then add your own folders to put files into.
    Dannydet likes this.
  5. The_Chief

    The_Chief Accept no imitations!
    VIP Member

    Android OS is a system of file structure and folders: and it wants its folders where it wants it. Just let it do its thing.

    I advise against formatting any flash memory like SD cards or jump drives, and here's why...

    All flash memory (anything using chips for storage) has a lifespan measured in read/write cycles. Modern flash memory chips, made by reputable manufacturers, have lifespans that should last years and years. Of course, the more data is written to them and modified, the faster those read/write cycles get used. Formatting such a chip is a monumental expense of read/write cycles: especially a full format, where every bit is rewritten and zeroed out.

    Delete data, sure: but I recommend a format only if all other means of correcting a memory module corruption have failed.
    Dannydet likes this.
  6. Hadron

    Hadron Smoke me a kipper...
    VIP Member

    TBH I've never encountered the OS removing folders from a card myself, though none of my recent devices have had microSD slots so I can't attest to current Android behaviour in this respect. You'd think that if this was widespread there would be a lot more complaints though.

    And my longest lived (> 10 years) and shortest lived (~4 months) cards were both 32GB ones, for that that's worth (the survivor is a Sandisk, the failure was a Samsung, but the statistics here are far too small to draw any meaningful conclusions).
    I can't help wonder whether it's a coincidence that it crashed at that point when the real (binary units) storage capacity of a "32GB" card is ~29.7 GB? You are absolutely certain it was what it said it was?
    puppykickr likes this.
  7. Trom

    Trom Android Enthusiast
    Thread Starter

    This is ridiculous, when did Android decide to become an Apple clone? I can put an SD card in my phone, but then have no control over the file structure, and android decides to delete my directories and files and write its own file structure. It has its own internal storage. There's literally no point in adding the SD card if I have no control over what gets written to it? Must be the brainchild of some idiot kid at Google protecting me from myself, if I were that stupid I'd go buy an iphone.
  8. The_Chief

    The_Chief Accept no imitations!
    VIP Member

    Of course you have control over what gets written to it! You can put YOUR stuff in any folder you want... or just plunk it all in the root directory. But Android has to know where it's putting ITS stuff: and if you want to use the Android operating system, there has to be a compromise in letting Android do its thing so it runs better for YOU.

    kate and puppykickr like this.
  9. Hadron

    Hadron Smoke me a kipper...
    VIP Member

    But @Trom's problem is that he did put his stuff where he wanted, and it disappeared after a little while. The appearance of the android folder may or may not be related to this event ("may" would be a best case, if it meant that it would only happen once), but the real question is why did the user directories disappear?

    Was there anything in the LOST directory? That's a place for stuff that got corrupted by e.g. a system crash. I don't know what's happened here, whether it's a card fault or a phone bug, but I'm sure that user directories disappearing is not the expected behaviour. I'd be tempted to test by creating say a Music directory, copying some stuff in, then leaving it a few days & a couple of reboots and see whether anything happens. Photos is the riskier one since you have a chance of losing data you don't have anywhere else (unless you have an automated cloud backup), but since that was the one that involved writing to the card I'd also think that if there was anything in your card usage triggered this that would be the most likely. But as I say, I'm sure this isn't intended behaviour.
    kate and puppykickr like this.
  10. puppykickr

    puppykickr Android Expert

    The reason for the similarity of size in my failed card and a fake is that I was going to back up multiple 32 GB cards onto the one large one.

    It failed a few days after I had backed up one full SD card.
  11. kate

    kate Dreaming of Bugdroid.


    I don't know how Troms folders were deleted, but I've used many SD cards and USB drives with Android phones that had folders created on a computer and created in Android, and never has anything been automatically deleted.
  12. puppykickr

    puppykickr Android Expert

    From what I have read about SD cards, as far as professional photographers and the like, modern day cards have a balancing system built in that evens out the wear over the entire card, ie.you won't be writing over the same location repeatedly.

    Also, formatting the card, although using up a write cycle, is how the balancing system locates and then eliminates bad sectors from being used again.

    This is why professionals that rely on these things format the cards regularly.

    Also, by the same folks, if a card is to fail it will be early on or after quite a while.

    Early on means within the first 3 weeks or so.
    My 256 GB card failed within this early timeframe.

    So the professionals will use a card multiple times and reformat it multiple times as well before they try to use it for anything that really matters.

    To be honest, I have always tried to baby my cards, and it has not paid off for me that well.
    Perhaps I should donate another $50 or so to the experiment (the price of another 256 GB card) and treat a card 'like crap' to see what happens.

    Seriously, it may well be worth the cash just to learn.

    I will say, however, that I have noticed an improvement in my devices (two tested) when there is no or an empty SD card in them.

    This means that a card does slow a device down to a certain degree, and as the card fills up this slowness increases.
    (My 7.1.1 can attest to this.)

    When the 256GB card crashed, the device basically locked up except for the launcher, where just before that it was working just fine.
    I was not doing anything with the card at the time, but when it went, the device was non-functional (no apps would launch) until the card was ejected from it.
    I restarted the phone, and then came the 'SD card corrupted' notification.

    This means that when a card is in the device, the system is always doing something with it.

    I think that is exactly what happened to @Trom 's card, and the rest of the above is my reasoning that it should be formatted by the device that is destined to use it.
    The device saw directories that it did not make, and proceeded to 'fix' that.

    Reformatting in the device that will use it will definitely solve that issue.

    Just as when someone deletes all the folders that an Android automatically puts onto a card, they will reappear soon after- and not always immediately.

    If it is a new card, then one more write cycle should be as nothing to it, as the card makers advertise that hundreds of thousands of write cycles are quite possible.
    #12 puppykickr, Aug 24, 2021
    Last edited: Aug 24, 2021
    Madd61 likes this.
  13. The_Chief

    The_Chief Accept no imitations!
    VIP Member

    Thank you for your opinion. It's great that we can agree to disagree but still be friendly about it.

    I'm of a different opinion, of course - and that's perfectly fine. We each go with what works for us. I only use authentic cards from reputable manufacturers and sellers, verifying their legitimacy before I save anything to them. And then I go BIG: I got the 200 GB; then the 256; then the 400; then the 512; and now sport a 1 terabyte microSD card as a demonstration of incredible miniaturization. Plus it stores a lot!

    puppykickr likes this.
  14. Trom

    Trom Android Enthusiast
    Thread Starter

    So in a little more detail, here's what happened:

    1) Pull out a new 256g card and put it in the phone, turn on the phone. (the phone is a galaxy 9+ that AT&T sent me because they won't allow my old phone anymore, so it's a clean, refurbed phone)

    2) Right after boot, I load up Simple File Manager and navigate to the SD card, and there is nothing on it, it's blank.

    3) I made three directories, /Documents, /Music, and /Photos. I can see these three directories, and they're the only ones showing.

    4) I copy several external files to /Documents, and snap a couple of test photos with Open Camera, after I've configure it to save the photos to [SD card]/Photos, and the pics go where they're supposed to go, using Simple Gallery, I can see the photos.

    5) I dink around with the phone for a few minutes, and then take another pic, this is when I get an error message that says it can't save the file. Using Simple File manager, I navigate to the SD card, and none of the three directories that I created appear, but now there are two directories, named /Android and /LOST.DIR. There is nothing in LOST.DIR. Under /Android, there are two subs,./Data and ./Media. Media is empty, but Data has a bunch of those com.this,and.that files pertaining to installed apps.

    6) Took the SD card out and did it again, repeat same problem.

    7) Brought the card to work with me today, and at lunch plugged it in, where it advertised its capacity at 268 gigs, which is effed up, especially since it's a normal samsung card. I then tested it using F3 in a Debian VM to find that it is in fact a good 256g card.

    So I re-partitioned and re-formatted the card, it now correctly advertises the capacity, put it in the phone, and Android immediately mirrors its filesystem to the card; I can now make my custom directories on the card. The card was probably corrupt when I took it out of the plastic, and Android just said oh hell no.

    Anyway, sorry to waste your time, problem now solved, but you can imagine that I was kinda pissed.
    kate and Hadron like this.
  15. Hadron

    Hadron Smoke me a kipper...
    VIP Member

    Glad it's working now, but that was an odd (and, by the sound of it, frustrating) one,.
  16. puppykickr

    puppykickr Android Expert

    Next time, just format in the intended device, and only make folders with that device.

    And to be honest, with the capacity descrepency, I would not trust that card.
    Only put things on it that you already have copies of.

    As for making the SD card your default storage, that puts additional wear on the card, as inevitably you will take pictures that you do not want to keep- and then delete them.

    Make the internal memory your default, and then when you are sure that you want the picture, then save it to the card.
  17. puppykickr

    puppykickr Android Expert

    Yeah, but I also only deal with brick and mortar stores selling top name brand SD cards.

    I have only had failure from SansDisk and Lexar, and PNY just plain don't work at all- at least in the one device that I tried them, and once was enough.

    And the fact remains that the larger the card the more chance of failure.

    This is an indisputable fact that the manufacturers admit to.
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