This updated post (first published four years ago) is not about retirement or Asia. However, a mobile or cell phone, smartphone, tablet, notebook, netbook, computer, digital camera, pda or mp3 player are used daily by people of all ages, in all walks of life, all over the world. These mostly portable devices have extra storage or ‘flash’ memory – a fingertip size card (micro SD) located in a receptacle inside the device, often accessible through an external slot or small flap on the casing.
There are quite a few types on the market from manufacturers such as Kingston and SanDisk, and they come in different capacities; several gigabytes are common on today’s new phones and tablets. For many, this extra memory functions as part of the system, without needing setting; they may not even be aware of the card or its features. But problems can arise when the card is nearly full and files need deleting, transferring to other storage, or replacing the current SD card with a higher capacity one. And sometimes they just quit or lock for no apparent reason.
Having had issues myself, I created a Micro SD page on the R-A website several years ago. Since then it has been consistently one of the most popular, receiving hundreds of hits every day – over 210,000 by the end of 2012. There’s no doubt that many have problems and card failures; there are numerous forums where people post, including phone and card manufacturer support sites.
Common issues: file access from phones with locked or encrypted SD cards, files lost
1. If a microSD cannot be recognised by a computer (read, write, format etc), it may not be the card itself but a microSD to SD adapter typically needed for it to fit in a standard size card reader slot. The adapter usually comes with it. This is the first thing to check for a fault. Try using a different adapter (Kingston seem to have faulty ones); if you don’t have one, borrow one or get a USB card reader with Micro SD slot for about $4 or less than UK £1.
2. Nokia phones with locked microSD cards that need a password for access (happens suddenly without user intervention). Retrieving or removing the password depends upon the model. Some Nokias have an “MMC store” folder; copy this to a computer and open with Notepad to find the password. Reformatting the card (losing all content) allows a new password e.g. 1234 to be set if needed.
3. BlackBerry card encryption (.rem) problems were originally addressed in February 2013. A summary of comments and replies was posted on May 13. See all comments below.
4. Android phones and tablets card data loss/files unable to be read. New 2013 software for data recovery from Android devices including messages, contacts, photos and videos. Download Android Data Recovery (free trial – Windows).
5. Android 4 ICS (Ice Cream Sandwich) phone and tablet SD cards are managed differently from previous versions, creating file transfer problems. See August comments below.
How to copy/move files between SD cards or transfer to and from a computer
There are different options for working with files. One is with the USB cable supplied with the phone and used in conjunction with a software program also supplied by the manufacturer. e.g. Nokia Data Suite. Another is Bluetooth – a wireless link between the two, as also is WiFi. If you have a built in or USB card reader, removing the microSD card from the phone and connecting it directly to a computer is easiest, but it doesn’t always work.
Some card readers now accept a micro SD card directly (see above); previously it needed a micro to standard size SD adapter often but not always supplied with a micro SD purchased separately and often the cause of problems, one of which is the write protect switch on the adapter – the micro SD itself does NOT have a switch.
Whichever way you connect the card to a computer, a file manager such as Windows Explorer should see an extra external hard drive . The drive letter (G in the image) depends on how many drives are already in the computer, including the CD or DVD drive.
The card’s folders and files (not always all of them) will be visible too and can be copied or moved by dragging and dropping them to a folder on another hard drive or perhaps burning a CD for archiving purposes.
Sometimes they are hidden or copyright-protected by the manufacturer and other means are needed to move or copy them. See our main MicroSD page for how to copy all SD card content to another location.
Due to the sheer scope of this topic, and the different problems that users experience, the web page is long and rambling – even more so than this post – especially for someone looking for a ‘quick fix’. When I find the time, I will sort the information into categories and incorporate a summary on this blog, where issues will be easier to identify. Readers can also comment below and see answers which hopefully help others with similar problems.
NOTE: Before posting a problem with your SD card, PLEASE visit the MicroSD page at Retire-Asia.com. There are a lot of things you can try and tools you can download and use; many are free or have trial versions.
If you cannot find a solution there, (or you have found one and want to help others) you are welcome to post a comment. BUT you should provide the make and model of the phone, camera or other device, the card type (SD microSD, SDHC, SDXC etc), brand name and capacity (Gb) of the card. Describe the nature of the failure and the procedures you have already tried to fix it with the tools offered here or elsewhere.
Please don’t comment “My card doesn’t work, I’ve tried everything; what can I do?” and expect an answer. If you don’t see your problem listed here, look below in comments from others. Otherwise I will probably suggest you replace the card under warranty if possible, go to a phone service centre or just ‘byte the bullet’ and buy a new SD card! They are not expensive now in most places.