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Troubleshooting SD card trouble

Discussion in 'Android Devices' started by OsakaWebbie, Aug 13, 2017.

  1. OsakaWebbie

    OsakaWebbie Newbie
    Thread Starter

    I had a 32GB SD card in my Moto G for months, but suddenly now the phone can't read it - it thinks I have removed it and is asking me to reinsert it, but I have tried several times to make sure it's in the slot correctly but to no avail.

    I can't remember if I set it up as "internal" or "portable" - I remember reading about the difference and making a decision, but I'm not sure what that decision was. There seems to be evidence for both:
    • Although I had moved some apps to it, others (most) would not permit me to move them - that would seem like I had it as portable.
    • On the other hand, Settings -> Storage & USB mentions the card ("Samsung SD card"), tries to read it and eventually gives up and says "not inserted", and if I then touch that spot, a "Forget" screen comes up that warns me that if I forget the device, I will lose all data on it - that sounds more like it was set up as internal.
    I first want to figure out whether the failure is the card or the slot/interface, but I don't know how I can do that. My Windows PC can't read it, but that would be true if the card is broken or if it's working fine but formatted as internal. According to other forum threads I've read, if it's formatted as internal I'm pretty much out of luck getting any files off it, because the phone is not rooted and the rumor is that it has to be rooted to be able to get to the encryption key. Is there some other way that I can troubleshoot this to determine which has failed?

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  2. Dannydet

    Dannydet Extreme Android User

    SD insight, from the play store.
    Check it and post your results
  3. OsakaWebbie

    OsakaWebbie Newbie
    Thread Starter

    I can't save screenshots of SD Insight (because all attempts to save any images result in errors due to my original problem), but here is the main information:
    • Device:
      • Bus Location: mmc0:0001
    • Card Information (CID):
      • Manufacturer ID: Samsung
      • Product Name: QN1SMB
      • Product Serial #: (you probably don't need that)
      • Product Revision: 0.1
      • Manufacture Date: Jan 2016
      • DeviceDetails Type: BGA
      • CRC7: N/A
    • Card Status (CSD):
      • Card size: 78718182656 bytes
    • Block Devices:
      • /dev/block/mmcblk0 ... : 7.8 GB
    When I touch the block info line, it gives more details - I won't type everything, but I noticed that Removable=false. I'm guessing that means I did configure it as internal/adopted. There are 42 partitions - they vary in size seemingly at random, from 1.0kB to 4.9GB (the last partition is the big one).

    Is all this information cached in the OS from when the card was accessible, or did SD Insight succeed in reading the card even though the OS can't?

    Anyway, the interesting point is that the card is supposed to be 32GB, not 8 (I'm attaching photos of the front and back). I don't remember if I verified the storage space when I bought it, but Samsung is not a fly-by-night company, so I'm pretty sure they didn't intentionally rip me off. So either it was broken when I got it in March and I never noticed, or 3/4 of it died yesterday, or "3/4" of the SD slot circuitry in the phone died. Can anyone tell which? And is there any hope of getting photos and screenshots I've saved? (There are not a ton of them and they aren't super valuable like this guy I feel very sorry for, but it would be nice to have them.)

    Attached Files:

  4. OsakaWebbie

    OsakaWebbie Newbie
    Thread Starter

    I ordered a new SD (since it seems that there is something wrong with this one, although still unclear whether it's a new problem or not), but before I tell the phone to stop looking for the old one, I want to know whether there is any hope of getting the encryption key and recovering some data. My most-used apps cannot function while the phone is in this state - at least the camera and the Kindle app (even after uninstalling and re-installing) keep trying to save their data to the non-existent SD, and there seems to be no way to tell them not to.
  5. OsakaWebbie

    OsakaWebbie Newbie
    Thread Starter

    Well, I gave up. I told the phone to "forget" the SD. Just for curiosity, I put it in my PC to see how big it would say it is. The PC recognized two partitions but said I needed to format them to use them - no surprise there. But when I tried to format, it claimed the card was write-protected - that was weird.

    I also received the new SD I ordered. I looked at the new one with SD Insight. It says 31GB, and there are only two partitions listed (17MB and 31GB), not the 42 partitions listed for the old one. So it appears that indeed it was the card that died, not the phone hardware.

    I wrestled with whether to risk the same ordeal again by adopting the new one as internal. But the Moto G3's regular storage is only 8GB, and even though only a few apps can be moved to an adopted SD, it's better than none, so I'll take my chances.
  6. lunatic59

    lunatic59 Moderati ergo sum

    I'll give you my $.02, even though you've pretty much figured it out.

    I would say that, either because of an internal circuitry problem or a bad write to card's master block (whatever they call that in SD land ;)) the card was corrupted and that's why you were seeing the jumbled partitions. Now, while Samsung is certainly a reputable company, it's entirely possible that you got a counterfeit card. Since you replaced it, you can play with this using disk utilities and see if you can wipe all the existing partitions and rebuilt it into one to see what the actual storage space is (if you're so inclined.)

    As for using SD cards as adoptable storage ... I get it. People want that, and to sell phones manufacturers will include it as an option, but *cringe* I would never rely on it for any critical data. SD cards are simply too fragile and not designed to handle the continuous read/writes of a modern OS. Putting that much stress on them makes them prone to failure.

    Using SD cards can certainly extend the useful life of an older or under spec'ed phone, but if you go that route, please make sure you have a complete and regular backup plan. You'll eventually need it and it will be at the most inconvenient time. (Murphy's third law of technology. :D)
    Dannydet and Jfalls63 like this.
  7. OsakaWebbie

    OsakaWebbie Newbie
    Thread Starter

    "...jumbled partitions..." Yeah, I didn't actually realize that there shouldn't have been 42 partitions until I saw only 2 on the new card. The guy who asked for the output of SD Insight never wrote back, so I didn't know what he was expecting the results to look like. I don't think I'll bother playing with disk utilities - I'm a little curious but not that curious. (I would have to do some serious study even to figure out what disk utilities would be useful.) I pondered trying to find the warranty on the SD (it's less than five months old) for exactly 7.4 seconds before just throwing it away - a 32GB card (the largest this phone can use) is only about $12.

    If the phone had more storage I would definitely not adopt the SD. Not only is it risky, but I also don't like the sluggishness. But I only have about eight or so apps that didn't come with the phone, and I uninstalled a number of the ones that did come with it but I knew I would never use. (A surprising number of apps cannot be uninstalled.) Even then, sometimes it can't update apps due to lack of maneuvering room, forcing me to go hunt for some cache or something to delete so that it can finish. I could store photos on the SD configured as external, but Kindle books don't have that option without adopting, and there isn't much other data I store on it. Yes, it's a cheap phone, but I mostly use it for reading Kindle books and two Bible apps, a personal hotspot for my PC when I'm out and about, and occasional use of the browser to look something up quickly. (I don't even normally use it as a phone - I have a flip phone that is still serving me well, so this one only does phone when I'm traveling and swap out the SIM.) So I'll just make sure that when I do take photos (infrequently) I copy the keepers to Dropbox as soon as possible, and the rest is replaceable.
    danacochran54 and lunatic59 like this.
  8. acejavelin

    acejavelin Android Expert

    Moto's don't seem to play nice with adopted storage... I have heard more horror stories than success stories, adopted storage tends to destroy SD cards in pretty short order. Buy a new card, set it up as portable storage, throw the old one away, and sleep better forgetting about it.
  9. OsakaWebbie

    OsakaWebbie Newbie
    Thread Starter

    A I said in my last post, I already threw away the old card, and I would love to use the new one as only portable storage if I had enough space for even a small number of apps. Part of the problem is that I never solved this mystery: https://androidforums.com/threads/where-is-over-1gb-hiding.1133625/ It seems that there is over 1GB of internal storage that is unaccounted for, which would be extremely helpful if I could get access to it.

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