How to safely move your apps and files to a new microSD card on Android

Need to upgrade your microSD card but don’t want corrupted files? Do this.

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There are quite a few horror stories floating around about corrupted files after switching microSD cards, so I wrote this guide so others could avoid that problem. The phone used in this post in the Verizon Samsung Galaxy S5 (SM-G900V), and the PC OS is Windows 8.1. This method will transfer everything (data and apps) from the old card to the new one:

  1. Dismount the old SD card from your phone. (If that doesn’t work, turn the device off completely and remove the card).
  2. Mount the microSD card on your PC.* You’ll probably have to use a microSD adapter for this as most PCs lack native microSD support. DO NOT AT ANY TIME FORMAT ANY microSD CARD THAT YOU INTEND TO USE IN AN ANDROID DEVICE ON YOUR PC.
  3. In File Explorer, click the View tab.
  4. Check the Hidden Items box.
  5. Using File Explorer, copy the contents of the old SD card into a temporary folder on your PC.
  6. Eject the old SD card from your PC.
  7. Mount the new SD card on your Android device.
  8. Format the new SD card on your Android device.
  9. Dismount the new SD card from your Android device.
  10. Mount the new card on your PC as in Step 2.
  11. Copy the contents of the old SD card from the temporary folder in Step 5 to the new card. If you get file path length errors, ignore them for now.
  12. Eject the new SD card from your PC.
  13. Mount the new card on your Android device and ensure it’s working properly.**
  14. If you got file path length errors in Step 11, use BitTorrent Sync to sync the troublesome folders with the full file paths. You can also use FTP for that purpose.

(Optionally, but a good idea for data security) wipe the old SD card by formatting it in your Android device

  1. (Optionally, but a good idea for data security) wipe the old SD card by formatting it in your Android device. Dismount the new card from your Android device.
  2. Remove the new card from your Android device.
  3. Mount the old card on your Android device.
  4. Format the old card on your Android device.
  5. Dismount the old card from your Android device. Note that the card hasn’t been absolutely securely wiped, but this will prevent your files from accidentally showing up on someone else’s device if you give it to them.
  6. Mount the new card on your Android device.

* TouchWiz uses the exFAT file system for microSD cards. I assume this is the case for most Android ROMs as exFAT is the only advanced (read: FAT32+) file system with out of the box read/write support on all major OSes. ** Credit to DopeShow for this method.

Author: jdrch

ISTJ, Rice Owl, UF Gator, mechanical engineer. STEM, sports, music, movies, humor. Account mine only & unaffiliated.

20 thoughts on “How to safely move your apps and files to a new microSD card on Android”

  1. Worked just as you said..
    thank you
    *just when you insert the new sd into the pc after formatting there’ll be folders that fortionately i didn’t delete it , ijust copied and no same name message poped to me …surprise.

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  2. The PC is saying that it needs to format the SD card before it can be used. I am unsure of what to do given your instructions in step #2.

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  3. The PC is saying that it needs to format the SD card before it can be used. I am unsure of what to do given your instructions in step #2.

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  4. This worked for me, thanks. I swapped SDCards between two phones by backing up to Windows and writing out to my laptops SDCard slot in both cases. In my case, both cards were already from Android phones of similar version so no formatting was required. I clicked to expose hidden and system files in File Explorer and I Cut and Paste the entire SDCards to folders and Copied and Pasted them back. All content seems to be there, I just opened all the apps I have and checked my music/photos. No problems. So you know I swapped cards as the faster bigger card was on my backup phone and I wanted that card in my newer primary phone. Everything works as expected – Samsung S5 and Motorola Moto G 2nd Gen. Cheers.

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  5. I went thru all the steps above and when I began to copy from temp folder to newly formatted (on phone) sd card a message popped up asking if I wanted to play media on new device or not – I selected yes… then as it began analyzing to copy content, a copy item error box kept popping up saying… “Cannot copy item” – The device has either stopped responding or has been disconnected !! ??

    Also please note: I had to use as a portable device or could not copy to sd card thru USB without formatting on laptop.

    What do I do?

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    1. Restart the process from scratch (including formatting the destination card) and DO NOT click “Yes” on the play media dialog. Generally speaking if you don’t want something to happen, don’t click “Yes.”

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Thanks! This worked for everything I’ve tested so far except the music I’d downloaded to SD from Deezer’s streaming service. They must put some kind of DRM lock on their music files so they can’t be copied.

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      1. Samsung Galaxy S5 Active. 16GB Micro SD with pics, vids, and apps existing. Bought brand new 128GB Micro SD. Inserted into phone and formatted. Took old SD and put into PC. Copies all files (incl. hidden and system) to folder on PC, then copied to new SD using PC. Tried using windows file explorer and xcopy. Neither works! Tried all kinds of combinations too. Looks like it all goes onto card, I place card in phone and nothing. I put new card back into PC, and it shows it is empty!

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  7. Nope, this may well work on Android, but it won’t work on a Windows Phone. One needs to use special tools, and either directly clone one SD card to the other or copy the entire partition and then transfer it to the new card. In either case, if the imaging software is not smart enough to do that automatically, some extra steps should be taken to enlarge the newly created partition so there is no unallocated space on the brand new better and bigger SD card.

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  8. Can u help me out…..i want to change from a 4 gb to a 16 gb micro sd card….but i want to format my sd card as internal…then how do i transfer the data……

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    1. Remove the old card and transfer everything off it onto a PC as instructed above. Insert the new card and format it as internal. Transfer files to the new card over your network using SendAnywhere, Resilio Sync, etc.

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