1. Are you ready for the Galaxy S20? Here is everything we know so far!

What files are saved to phone memory and memory card?

Discussion in 'Android Devices' started by spman, Oct 10, 2014.

  1. spman

    spman Android Enthusiast
    Thread Starter

    I am using S4, I assume there are only 2 places (correct me if I am wrong) to store data/files, phone internal memory and memory card

    1. What stuff are stored on phone memory and what stuff are stored on memory card?

    2. What stuff save location cannot be changed? (e.g. change from saving to phone memory to memory card, vice versa...)

    (when I say "stuff", I mean anything that android stores e.g. SMS, calling history, photos, videos, whatsapp history, contacts, apps...)

    1. Download the Forums for Android™ app!


  2. lotus49

    lotus49 Android Expert

    The way Android describes its file system is an absolute dog's breakfast and is thoroughly confusing.

    There is, as you rightly say, the phone's core storage area sometimes called "Phone Internal Storage". This is where the operating system and configuration files live. In normal usage, you won't directly have anything to do with this.

    Then there is what is sometimes referred to as the "SD Card". This is where it starts to get stupid. This isn't the removable SD card you may have in your phone (I have a 64GB one in mine). This is really just more internal storage built into the phone. This is called "SD Card" for historical reasons. This is the default storage location for almost everything apart from the OS. All your apps and their data, your music, your photos etc. will all be stored there by default.

    Finally, there is the "External SD Card". This is the removable one. What you store here is largely up to you. You have to change configuration settings in various apps to tell them to store data on the removable SD card but this is worth doing if you know how because it frees up a lot of space on the internal "SD Card" memory, which isn't very big on the S4.
    Adara and spman like this.
  3. lotus49

    lotus49 Android Expert

    PS Don't get me started on the actual file system path names (which you won't normally need to know) - these are even more of a bugger's muddle than the nomenclature I was talking about above.
  4. dynomot

    dynomot Android Expert

    lotus49, I think I have just read the most accurate, susinct and eloquent description of the dogs breakfast that is Android's file system.
  5. spman

    spman Android Enthusiast
    Thread Starter

    A. How can I view the folder to see all the data/files stored in the phone non removable "SD Card" (64GB)

    B. Everything that is stored in the phone non removable "SD Card" (64GB) can be moved/changed to save to External SD Card correct?

    C. Where are the sms history, calls received history stored?

    D. How to change configuration settings in various apps to tell them to store data on the removable SD card?

  6. dynomot

    dynomot Android Expert

    A) you can use the built in file manager. For hidden folders and files you'll need to be rooted and use a third party file manager (I recommend Root Explorer).

    B)Yes, they can be cut, moved, copied and pasted.

    C) Somewhere deep in a folder I would imagine. I don't actually know, but you would need a third party file manager to find them.

    D) You can't, that is down to the developer of the app in question to give you the option. Folders and files created by an app can be copied/pasted to anywhere, but the app that created them will not be able to see them or wrote to a new folder you create yourself if they are in a different location.
    spman likes this.
  7. spman

    spman Android Enthusiast
    Thread Starter

    Do you mean the file that is created by an app will always be stored to a location that cannot be changed (if the app author decides to store file created by the app to a location in the phone, it will always be that location) ?

    Downloaded app will always be stored in the phone memory?
  8. Hadron

    Hadron Smoke me a kipper...
    VIP Member

    Some apps allow you to specify where some of their data are stored, but otherwise you cannot change it.

    Call log, sms are stored in /data/data/com.android.providers.telephony/databases. You'll need root to see the contents of that folder, and they are stored in sql database files, and cannot be moved.

    Yes, downloaded apps are stored in internal memory. I believe Samsung added the ability to move apps to SD back to the S4 after being caught out by mainstream media misleading people about this, but don't have one to confirm. It only moves part of the app anyway.
    spman likes this.
  9. spman

    spman Android Enthusiast
    Thread Starter

    If I do not root, are there ways to see the contents of that folder?

    What do you mean by "It only moves part of the app anyway."?
  10. lotus49

    lotus49 Android Expert

    I'm not in a position to check this myself but if you have tried a file manager and it said permission denied to access that folder, I don't believe you can. However, there are apps that can access the data. One I have used is called SMS Backup & Restore (there's a similar one for call data by the same chap).

    When an app is moved to the SD card, the associated data usually doesn't move. Since the data is often large (e.g. games, satnav apps etc.) but the apps themselves aren't, being able to move the small bit isn't very useful.
    Hadron and spman like this.
  11. Hadron

    Hadron Smoke me a kipper...
    VIP Member

    It moves the apk file and and shared object library files, but not the dex files (dalvik cache) or other components of the installed app. So how much of the app it moves depends on the app - can be significant for some, for others only a small fraction.

    As lotus says, if a folder needs root permissions to read it that's it.
    spman likes this.

Samsung Galaxy S4 Forum

The Samsung Galaxy S4 release date was April 2013. Features and Specs include a 5.0" inch screen, 13MP camera, 2GB RAM, Exynos 5410 Octa processor, and 2600mAh battery.

April 2013
Release Date

Share This Page