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Marshmallow - SD card - Tips and Tricks

Marshmallow - SD card - Tips and Tricks


Marshmallow: what is changing

Android 6.0 brings new and exciting features to your device.

Android 6.0 introduces Adoptable Storage. Adoptable Storage enables a user to set up his SD card as internal storage, and store applications, their data, and media on an adopted SD card.

With Android 6.0, we are also deprecating the existing ‘Apps 2 SD’ Motorola feature which enabled the user to move applications to a SD card in favor of the richer experience natively provided by Android.

Let’s get to the details

When you insert a SD card for the first time on a Marshmallow device, you can choose to either use the card as Portable Storage or Internal Storage.

Portable Card Internal Storage
Select this mode if you frequently swap your SD card between devices, use your SD card for media storage only. Select this mode if you want to completely extend your device storage with the card, and need the card to store large applications, games, and their data.
You have a Class 2, 4, or 6 card. You have a high-speed card (UHS-1)
If you frequently swap cards, use SD card to transfer content between devices and do not download many large app, we recommend configuring your card as “portable”. If you want to store large games on the card, if your device storage is always filling up, and you plan to always keep this card in the device, we recommend keeping your card as internal.

Only pictures and media can be stored on the card.

Downloaded applications, their data, is always internal. they can not be moved to the card.

The card is readable by other devices. (another phone, Mac, PC, digital camera)

Content on the card is not encrypted by default.

Selecting Portable Storage will not require an immediate  re-formatting of the card.

The SD card can become your device primary storage

Downloaded applications, their data and media can be moved to the card

** This is dependent on application developer as they must allow for this feature with their application.

The card is not readable by other devices. (another phone, Mac, PC, digital camera)

The card is always encrypted, and can not be decrypted on any other device.

The card will be formatted when Portable storage is selected.


Performance warning

We recommend use of a  high speed card , such as a UHS-1 type.   Class 4 and Class 2 micro SD cards are not recommended for adopted internal storage usage. The performance of these cards is typically 10x slower than internal storage performance.

High speed card are identified by these logos:

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If your card it too slow, your device will warn your during the adoption process. If you encounter this dialog, we advise to upgrade your card to a UHS-1 card first.

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Using your card as ‘Portable Storage’

  • Insert the SD card on your device
  • Android will notify you a new SD Card has been detected, you can setup the card as portable or internal storage

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  • If you decide to defer this decision, the card will be used as portable storage by default. you can change this selection through Settings > Storage at a later stage

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Using your card as ‘Portable Storage’

  • Media, pictures, movies already on the card will be visible in the device photo gallery and media apps. New content side loaded to the card will also be available and viewable in media apps on the device
  • Through the Motorola camera application settings, you can select the default storage for pictures and movies captured through the Motorola camera app. Third party camera might not offer this option.
  • Some third party applications will enable you to store their content on the ‘portable’ SD card, as in lollipop; but only if the application developer chose to do so (Google Play Music)
  • If you select a card as portable storage, you will NOT be able to move applications to the card, nor will play store automatically install applications to this card

    IMPORTANT FOR USERS UPGRADING FROM LOLLIPOP : if you received Android 6.0 as part of an OTA upgrade, any application which you had previously moved to (or installed on) the SD card with the legacy Motorola “Move apps to SD card” feature will still run from the card; but you will not be able to move new applications to that card. You will need to format your card as internal storage before being able to move new applications to the card.

Using your card as ‘Internal Storage’

  • Insert the card in the device
  • You should see a “Set Up SD card” Notification
  • Tap on ‘setup SD card’ in the insertion notification (or go to settings->storage->select card-> menu->format as internal)
  • Select the ‘internal storage’ option, after have carefully read the warning
  • If you currently have applications installed on the card, your device will ask you to move these applications back to internal storage before formatting your card
  • Your card will be formatted and encrypted, and usable as device storage


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  • Once the card has been formatted, you will be asked whether you want to migrate data currently on your device to the card. This step will move all media, pictures, and documents to the SD card.
  • By selecting where to migrate content, you also select the preferred storage location for all applications, databases and data.
    • If you decide to move that data to the card, the SD card will also become the preferred storage location for all applications content,  data and database and media.
    • If you decide to skip this step, your device internal storage will remain the preferred storage for all content.
  • Once a card has been formatted as internal storage,  both your device internal storage and the card will show up as “device storage” under storage settings, and you will be able to  move applications which were in internal storage to the card. Moving applications to the card can be done from application settings (settings->apps->select application->change storage location)
  • Once a card has been formatted as internal storage, Play Store will install applications on either storage volume automatically, based on a set of rules provided by the application developer (you will be able to move applications from one volume to another). If the application developer has not provided the correct set of rules for automatic installation to the SD card, each time applications update, you will need to move them back to the SD card.

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  • Applications will always store their content in the preferred storage location by default. You will not need to indicate in each application setting where to store content; for example:
    If you have adopted your SD card as ‘internal’, the Motorola camera app will always store your content to the preferred storage location, there is no app specific setting
  • Storage settings will enable you to check storage usage on both Device storage volumes. Adopted SD cards will show up under “Device Storage”

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General Information

My device shipped on Lollipop, and I used Motorola’s Apps2SD feature to move some applications to  my SD card (on Lollipop), can I still use these applications after the Android 6.0 Marshmallow upgrade ?

Yes, applications which were moved to your SD card will still be available after the upgrade; BUT you will NOT be able to move other applications TO the SD card without ‘adopting’ it, as described above. You will still be able to move applications which are on the SD card TO internal storage after the upgrade without adopting the card.


I want to use the new adoptable storage feature but I have applications on my SD card, how do I avoid losing these applications ?

Adopting your SD card will reformat it and encrypt it. Before adopting your card, we recommend moving all applications on your SD card back to internal storage; THEN adopting a card.


After I adopt an SD card as internal storage, can I use this card in another device or my laptop ?

No. You should keep the card in your device. Another device (laptop, camera) will not be able to view the content on the card.

If you remove an adopted card from a device, the system will request the card be reinserted; you will lose access to apps and data on the card until it is safely re-inserted.

Are there any performance concerns ?

While formatting a card for internal storage use, Android will perform a set of speed test and warn you if it determines your card does not meet the minimal performance requirements.

What about my data ?

The lifetime of a micro SD can vary depending on its manufacturer and class. We see a large variety of cards, each with different properties. If you decide to use your card for internal storage, it will typically have lower life span expectations than embedded device storage. We recommend you make sure important content and apps are backed up to the cloud.

Android 6.0 now auto-backups up application content and their data to Google Drive. SO, please make sure all your content is backed up to the cloud.

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