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3 min read 96 comments

WTF is up with Google's war on SD cards?

I'm firing up for a rant, so strap yourselves in kids, it's Google-bashing time! This week the thing that's been bugging me revolves around the whole war on SD cards that Google is perpetrating in the latest versions of Android. I get why cost-cutting means the Nexus 5, Nexus 7 etc don't have a microSD card slot, but Google is now telling us that their microSD vendetta is because SD cards are insecure and corruptable. You know, the exact thing that companies are not.

Google logo target
I've got Google in my crosshairs for this week's rant. / © AndroidPIT

The pathetic excuses date back to some paper-thin ''explanations'' about just how complicated and confusing storage volumes are for us poor idiotic smartphone users. Like we're so damaged that we can't find something if there's two places it could possibly be. ''Those file managers are sooo intimidating,'' thought Google, ''our users have no chance of navigating such a complex setup as two storage locations.'' And so they decided, in their infinite wisdom, to protect us from the threat of brain explosions when we realize that our just-saved file is nowhere to be found on the internal SD card. Those excuses were for Nexus devices, but now the same logic is extending to Android in general.

google android old
Google seems to think we're too inept to figure out two storage locations. / © AndroidPIT/Google

The simple fact is that Android users are not idiots, and half the twelve-year olds out there right now that Google is trying to protect from themselves are the same upstarts that Mountain View will be throwing million-dollar contracts at in about 5 years. And users love SD cards: they are cheap, reliable, removable and infinitely better than relying solely on internal storage or the freaking cloud. Because we all know just how reliable and secure the cloud is right? Just do a quick Google search for ''NSA cloud'' and see how confident you feel.

microsd 128gb
Affordable, reliable, removable: why wouldn't consumers love microSD cards? / © SanDisk

Would it come as any surprise to you to know that Google has invested heavily in the cloud and has strategies underway to ''convince'' (read: force) manufacturers to step away from offering secondary storage options? Right at the same time that every manufacturer is now putting SD card expansion in their phones because that's exactly what users want! Insecure? Sure, I want it! Corruptible? I'll take my chances! Being forced by a company with a vested interest in pushing a new technology for their own benefit is not what I want from my mobile OS-maker of choice. See how I used that word ''choice,'' Google? That's right, we have a choice and we like to exercise it. You've been warned.

Voice your opinions in the comments below and share this article if you want to spread the word that users are not happy.

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  • Excellent blog post ! I loved the information - Does someone know if I might get access to a sample a form example to fill out ?


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  • Two years later, where do we stand?


  • Just like Anything in America: when a company gets big. ..it forms a black hole and you can't escape.
    Have you seen the south park episode of "Wall-Mart"? And that it was like a living thing controlling humans??
    Well Google has been a private NSA and who's to say that it isn't on a black funding from NSA itself!!

    Now the great imagination fucktards are telling you and me that we aren't allowed to create and move files in micro SD cards THAT WE BOUGHT WITH OUR OWN MONEY AND PAID TAXES ON TOP!
    Free will?? America is pushing communism from below. And it is happening in a way that most of us don't see, don't care to notice, or just plainly don't care.
    My money that I spent in our so called free economy on my 64gb SD card, just went to waste.
    What's next? Limit me on how far I can read in a book I bought and rightfully own?
    All of you spent your hard earned money out of free will to OWN what you exchanged that money for. Now we're being "rounded up" like cattle and herded towards googalism.
    A pseudo google/ communism on a massive scale.
    I miss the freedom of the dumb flip phones.
    But like kids, we were enticed to "take the candy" ,candy in form of electronic eye candy.
    The fact is: Google is a conglomerate and it does NOT CARE about you or your freedom.
    You THINK you own your phone, but your phone owns you.
    Vote with your dollars.


  • I like how they push cloud storage like Google play asif everyone has the data to stream movies and music all day. Local storage is for offline viewing. Go home Google your drunk 16 gb internal storage and the Os takes about half of that so let's see 2gig per 1 hour 1080p movie yea no ty. I'll stick with Samsung and there ugly physical button. Same reason I won't get iPhone or Amazon phone


    • My1 Oct 29, 2014 Link to comment

      honestly I like the physical home and the sensor buttons, but that's but my oppinion from having a tablet where those things alwys turn away if you are too fast, while the buttons from Samsung dont suddenly change their places...


    • I wouldn't trust a cloud unless: A I physically have the hard drive at home.
      Or B, drops of water falls out of it when its cold.


  • I was a bit miffed when they blocked App 2SD, but blocking all apps from writing to SD takes everything to a whole new level. Wtf Google?! I run a video production company. I store a ton of video & eat GBs for breakfast, lunch, & dinner! I have cloud storage as well but take road trips out of cell range & need access to MY S**T! It's mine & I have a right to it! I have a Galaxy because of the external storage & I planned to upgrade based on the best internal & extrenal storage options. Now Google is taking away my right to use S**T I specifically paid for! If they don't want to put SD slots in their devices, that's their right entirely. But don't make the SD card I pair for useless! I need my SD storage, so I guess it's time to root!


  • My1 Jul 9, 2014 Link to comment

    update, update, update, update, UPDATE!!!!!

    http://www.xda-developers.com/android/android-l-may-change-sd-card-access-rules/
    well this is nothing safe yet, but it certainly sounds intresting...


    • This is great news @Philipp, not that it means that Google will actually implement anything. Still, it shows that they are willing to at least look at the possibility, so it's a better outcome than we currently have.


  • Hi all, an interesting discussion is going on in Reddit about the crazy differences in SD card speeds as a reason for Google's dislike of them. While it may be true, the commentary is interesting (people don't care how slow read/write speeds are as long as they have extra storage available): http://redd.it/2a76qu


  • http://www.doubleencore.com/2014/03/android-external-storage/

    Read this, OP.... It explains everything. Enough with the 'War on SD' nonsense


    • I know the technical background. My point was that Google is selling a service and it makes sense to provide options that users want, not force a technical consideration on the entire industry. Something tells me Google is capable of fixing permissions management for SD cards if they felt like it. But they haven't invested in SD cards, so...


  • In my opinion Google is right. micro SD is not safe. Anyone can remove it from stolen phone and data is open for manipulation. Which is impossible on Android device with locked boot-loader(comes as a standard on any phone), no micro SD and with lock screen(anyone should have one). If you do not like that, you have so many devices with micro SD cards. Just do not buy nexus .To move files from micro SD 99% of people use USB to phone cable because most of the laptops and PC's/laptops do not support micro SD. so you need micro SD to SD adapter and most likely you have USB cable and not adapter next to you. So internal storage is just as much accessible as micro SD data. And if you complain about bad micro SD card support complain to your device manufacturer not to Google. Your device is based on AOSP and whoever manufactured your device must have messed up adjusting micro SD support and believe me it was not Google. Last thing regarding cloud storage you must understand that cloud is future and you should want be clean on cloud( that's from South Park ) :)


    • My1 Jul 3, 2014 Link to comment

      but some apps like navigation take up a lot of space and there is not problem with some maps or music or videos being unsafe.
      also it might be that the write on microSD problem is not only created but enforced by google, leaving the manufacturers no choice buut to implement it.
      and sometimes you dont have a computer nor a cable and want to DL a lot of data on my microSD which then wouldnt work if I would be on KK.
      and still how do you access the cloud when you have no reception or how do you watch videos with just 200MB of highspeed traffic? even with 1 or 2GB of highspeed traffic wouldnt be enough.
      since 5th June (essentially for a bout a month) I have had 28,87 GB of video downloads and 25,6GB of transfers in my network and 3,65 GB of youtube. and doing all that over streaming with the cloud, well no, I am using the (own) cloud a bit, but I cannot go around without grabbing a lot and stream everything with mobile internet.


  • im pissed off too, good thing thc decided to give me an expansion slot in the m8 but seriously. Look at the technology we have today... and were playing with 32 and 16 GB storage phones. im not trying to make a plot or something but, as phone calls are filtered, someone wants to filter our files, and so force everybody to use cloud services. correct me if i missed something. great post by the way :)


  • I live in PANAMA, Central America and we never know when we are getting updates. this place is Awsome, I Love it here. but I know that it's a 3rd world country. it's still Cool.


  • I am buying a new Note 2 this wk and it says it updatable to Kitkat but I'm worried because I don't know if I want it. I had a lot of problems with the last update on my Galaxy S3. it took me about 6 months to fix all the crap.


    • My1 Jul 1, 2014 Link to comment

      I would also say, only 4.1.2, not further. Best is when you initialize the phone without sim and wifi, turn off update in settings and odin a 4.1.2 over. If you like root and such, I recommend simplistic framework. One of the best note 2 mods...


    • @Larry, I'm impressed with your loyalty! If you're worried about possible issues, just hold off on the update until you see reports saying it is stable and performing as expected (or wait for a stability patch if needed). The first week or so of any update produces tons of responses from those with problems. If the internet isn't on fire with angry people then it's probably safe to update the device. And you can always flash a custom ROM that will avoid those issues entirely.


  • I believe that they know that if they stop putting the slot for Micro sd that when they sell a phone they can do like iPhone, the more storage they can charge more money. they know thhat there are more ways of making more money.


    • True, it's insulting that we can pick up a 32 GB card for about $10 but that extra 32 GB if it's built-in storage could set us back $50-$100 more.


      • My1 Jul 2, 2014 Link to comment

        true story.
        you get 48 GB extra space and pay about 200 Dollar/Euro extra, no thanks, especially when in some cases you cannot even get a higher storage variant, like with the HTC one...
        or even worse sometmes that one isnt even made, like in case of Nexus, especially Nexus 4


  • What sucks is that Google could have easily went the route that Microsoft did with WP7 - allow the sdcard to become part of the actual storage volume. The drawback is that you take away the portability of the card. But wouldn't it be great to slap in a 64gb card to a 16gb phone and you end up with an 80gb phone?

    If sdcards are not part of Google's vision for Android, then Google and OEMs need to start making devices that begin with a minimum of 32gb storage. No sdcards should mean no more 8gb and 16gb devices - especially for tablets.


    • My1 Jul 1, 2014 Link to comment

      I must correct you. No expandable storage means AT LEAST 128gb, I usually rotate my videos through FTP over local network, but I have a note 3 and therefore 32 GB internal storage and I expanded it with a 64GB microSD, and I have space problems from time to time...


  • I refuse to store my data in a Cloud environment over which I have no control. My data stays with me! Google and all other cloud providers can shove their clouds where the sun don't shine!


  • paulc Jul 1, 2014 Link to comment

    I think there's more to it. Usually when we're given simplistic reasons (like users can't manage file storage on SD cards - as if they don't have to do more complex operations when at work!), then its actually something more complicated. Years back I read that Microsoft got a $5 royalty on every Android produced because of cross-licensing agreements, so I'm guessing it might be to do with licensing an SD interface, which, if they cut that cost out, keeps hardware prices down.
    They might also be trying to enforce an Apple-style closed system by stopping users swapping apps via SD cards but as Philipp says, there are plenty of other routes to obtaining apps and opening up security issues.
    Thing is, they really blew any such principle with Moto E, which now has a card slot. With only 4GB on board it had to!


    • My1 Jul 1, 2014 Link to comment

      well you can also take the Moto G LTE.


    • Yeah the licensing issue is something I brought up a while back. I think it is definitely a cost-cutting consideration when it comes to the Nexus range, but the only reason I can see for Google to ''enforce'' it on other OEMs is if they are simply investing in their own cloud investment. Limiting everyone's reliance on Microsoft and replacing it with Google-dependence is probably just a silver lining.


  • Do you still use a floppy disk? everybody blamed apple for taking it off, now nobody has them. Does Resistence to changes sounds familiar to you.


    • That's because the floppy disk was replaced with a better form of removable/portable storage. There will always be a desire for removable/portable storage. If SD Cards were being phased out to make room for a better form of removale storage that would be different.


    • does What a Wanker sound familiar. you may love big brother google, but some of us don't like the idea of strangers selling our private data...
      nob.


  •   7
    Deactivated Account Jun 30, 2014 Link to comment

    I wholeheartedly agree with the article. Google is becoming very evil. Let's hope the device manufacturers keep adding micro sd card slots and that the hacking community will keep correcting Google's acts of vandalism towards our freedom of choice.


  • Aha!So this is why you told us to check back on Sunday!
    Nice one,Kris;Nice one.I can't remember the last time I enjoyed an article so much!
    And yes,I do use storage services in case my SD card gets corrupted or lost(happened once),to back up photos and sometimes some important files.But you can't expect me to solely rely on that,do you?


    • Thought you'd appreciate it ;)

      I think the more options (and less forced ones) we have as consumers the better.


      • My1 Jul 1, 2014 Link to comment

        even cloud seruces can get problems, like Megaupload in the past or through a natural desaster...


      • Exactly, no system is perfect, so it's better to do regular backups, use microSD and cloud and floppy disks and stone tablets and handwritten notes and stuff it all under your mattress for good measure!


      • My1 Jul 1, 2014 Link to comment

        well, not floppy disks, with 1,44MB at its best and rw speed from before the book brinting technology...
        I dont have enough time to sit back and meet 'n greet each single bit flowing into the floppy...


  • To me, all this is a moot point. I won't get rid of SD cards in any scenario. Even if all the Earth is enveloped with the fastest wifi signal and you can access your cloud storage anywhere and very fast. That's just one problem solved. What about security? What about privacy? What about a simple failprofing? Never will online storage be more safe or accessible than something already at my hands. Not that I don't use cloud. It's great for file sharing, collaboration and stuff, of course, but it simply can't be my primary or even backup data storage. It's a huge NOPE! I expect google, if decides to push this further, to get kicked in the teeth, or we'll just show that we are no better than average iphone user.


    • My1 Jun 30, 2014 Link to comment

      No one says you must use Google's cloud, owncloud4ever


      • Sure. My rant is on cloud in general.


      • My1 Jun 30, 2014 Link to comment

        Truly, I don't really like owncloud either but when or if home AND mobile Internet reach sufficient speeds (including upload) I had a much lesser problem with the removal of the microSD, as I have an owncloud running on my home pc...


    • unfortunately most people don't care about privacy. look at all the iSheeple - millions of normal looking people obsessed with having an i-gadget that monitors every move & sound they make, selling private data to marketers/nsa/whoever has money, and the morons even do free promoting of the chains, whilst fighting the freedom-fighters.
      google/microsoft will be apple soon.


  • My1 Jun 30, 2014 Link to comment

    as soon as google can bring carriers to put out unlimited data plans without slowdown, with LTE MAYBE I can use the cloud, but as things are with 200 MB over UMTS and then 64kBit/s definitely wont motivate for either the cloud nor Kitkat.


  • Simple answer Google sells clouds not sdcards! A the possibility that they get a cut on data plan overages from the carriers - ye olde double wammy!


    • The one shining light in all this is that Samsung seem fully committed to SD cards. They are so influential that if anyone can resist Googles' pressure for the cloud it's going to be Sammy. But then Google can hold the Play Store and Gapps hostage. I'm interested to see how this all plays out in the end. If users are as committed to SD cards as it seems, and Google strong-arms manufacturers to ditch SD in favor of the cloud, and no one buys those devices without SD card, then...


  • It's all about $ , and control, the very same thing that apple's accused of. As anyone with a brain can see, your info is by far, more susceptible to be breached online, only a idiot, living under a rock, for the last 2 years, would disagree. When you put your info in the cloud, there's no off switch. Also could you imagine, having a computer, that your only choice, when you installed software, was to put it on the internal drive? People have to realize that google's main business is online storage, ads. They will manipulate android, as they see fit, to increase those choices. Google's getting more like apple everyday, maybe I'll try windows 8.1, can't be any worse. Also, regardless what cloud storage you got, there will be times, when you can't connect to the"net", it's not everywhere.


  • I used to troubleshoot hand held devices and on a daily basis I was getting calls about people losing photos and other data on cloud based platforms. Whether its user error or otherwise I cannot tell you how many time the SD card has bailed out end users. This is a feature I will always look for when purchasing a new device.


    • When MegaUpload was seized by the FBI (or whoever it was) didn't they just shut everything down and everyone who had anything hosted on the site - legal or not - lost it all? Why we're suppsoed to think that the same thing couldn't happen in future I don't know.


  • MarcVI Jun 29, 2014 Link to comment

    I wonder what court would confirm that a manufacturer has the right of removing functionality from an existing customer's appliance without warning. Even under pressure from the Googles of this world.
    I could indeed as well have bought an iphone if I wanted the manufacturer to decide what I can do with my phone.
    Still wonder how the world would react if they suddenly decided to restrict download speeds to 1 mbs... for the so called sake of security.


  • Yeah I'm currently using a G Flex and it's my 2nd use of a phone without external SD support. The first was my Nexus 5. It really is a huge pain, I mean come on we learned to use external SD support when phones had less then 1gb of storage back in the day. It's nothing new and nothing a quick google search can't fix to the average consumer. It's all about those services and eating peoples money up...


  • I don't know if you guys seen it or not the new Android One phones by Google for developing country will have both SD card and FM Radio.
    And the update will be roll out by Google itself, so I don't see any war against SD card for now


  • My rant too. If I'd wanted a company to protect me from myself I'd buy an iPhone.


  • If cloud base storage is really better, so LET USERS CHOOSE.


  • How Google can say that it's too complex and unreliable when every major manufacturer right now has major devices available (Sony Xperia series, HTC One M8, Galaxy series, Moto G LTE, LG G3) that all manage to do it just fine is laughable. Plus, we are all happy to take our chances with microSD in digital cameras etc so why not our smartphones?


    • I would take "risk" putting my data in SD card than putting it on cloud. Google don't think that you will throw anything at people as a "feature" and they would accept it. I will prefer making another choice. Yes "choice". Your 50GB (or any other) free storage scheme also won't make me jump to cloud storage.


    • Google is in too dominant a position and severely lacks leadership (Remember the fiasco with European developers not being paid a year or so ago? There was no one at google to contact, and apparently no one in management positions even reads the news about google).

      And then the engineers are cluelessly living in a bubble of ubiquitous computing and ever-present networks with unlimited data plans. Google has already set its (mis)management structure to that of the lumbering giants it had displaced; it is just a metter of time before they come crashing down.

      And I say this as someone who loves google. They *gave* us the VP9 / webM video codec freeing us from the MPAA's stranglehold. And Maps and Google Earth just drove me wild when it was first released, but now Maps won't read the custom maps we made, and google earth won't read the kmz files that Google MyTracks exports, and Google Photos won't stop scouring my phone to upload photos even when I turn photo sync off in the app, and device -- Settings -- Accounts -- Google won't let me turn off the hidden photo sync from there unless I do it multiple times.

      The company is severely mismanaged. They are just gliding on their dominant market poition. Having micro-SD and the ability to sideload apps is about the only reason to stay with them. They are doing their best to drive me away, though.

      (By the way, I began composing this reply and it disappeared when I switched to another tab (Firefox on AMD64 ubuntu 14.04). I don't know if it was my browser or your server that "disappeared" the comment somehow. I had to refresh the page twice before the "reply" button wasn't grayed out still...)

      PS About the micro-SD, I carry music and play from my phone. I neither have unlimited bandwidth nor am I always in areas with a decent cell connection. I need local storage so much that I would change to another platform just for that reason alone if I had to. If a phone had 128GB or onboard storage, then I could do without, I guess . . . But the cloud just won't work anytime soon, and I say this from the well-connected suburbs of Yokohama, Japan and a 7GB monthly plan.


  • Vinoth Jun 29, 2014 Link to comment

    It's must for smartphones in now a days.It helps me lot in different scenario. It's a tactics of manufacturer to push buy a more internal storage phones and also non-removable battery, when phone freeze in some times it helps to reboot when battery removed. These two things must consider by the manufacturer to improve their market share


  • Yes, the cloud idea should be stopped already. Google is already a threat to its users, offering too many services and tracking users across them. Google wants to be the Internet and that must be stopped.


  • Yes.. I am just a bit miffed, I have recently updated my S3 to Cyanogenmod 11...a great ROM btw, BUT my daily music player N7 has stopped reading from SD card.. It will play Amazon downloads, but not files uploaded from CD, and as I have a 32 gb card. Anyone got any ideas..??


    • You can use sd card read write fix for kitkat. There is one app in playstore too for it. I think it is SD fix or something like that. It may help you.


      • I have installed the kitkat sd app but I don't dare apply it when I read about the "risk "with it. Can someone tell me which risks are mean here?


      • Which app did you download? I'd recommend NextApp's ''SDFix: KitKat Writable MicroSD'', which doesn't mention any risks. Be sure you have root and know what you're doing first though!


      • It's the Kitkat External SD Patch by GeekSoft I have which warn about risks


      • My1 Jun 30, 2014 Link to comment

        well there ARE risks with rooting and everything even a "normal" app can crash a device without problems...


      • But is sd fix by next app safer than Kitkat external sd patch by GeekSoft? Do they the same work? ..I have rooted s4 9505


      • Yeah, as @Philipp noted, all root processes and apps have inherent risks so it's important for developers to make them known, but that doesn't mean they're fraught with danger. Of course, I don't want to vouch for any app or process I haven't used but if you're at all concerned I would advise not going ahead. The question is simply are you willing to take some risks to solve your problem?


      • Ok do you mean that risk means to brick the device at worst hard brick it? But for the pro is even hard bricked not the END of the device, right?


      • My1 Jun 30, 2014 Link to comment

        well the worst that can happen is a softbrick, but a reflash through the recovery in case it's a custom rom or through the usual flashing tools (Odin or Kies in case of Samsung) in case it's stock should repair everything, no guarantees though.


      • Yes, as @Philipp also mentioned, it's all minor risks, in the same way that crossing the street is inherently risky. We just don't want to say ''do it'' if then something happens and you're mad at us for telling you to do so! We've both accepted the risks of this type of thing and are ok with them, but we're always cautious about encouraging other people to do the same!


      • My1 Jun 30, 2014 Link to comment

        no I didnt even get to accept this risk since I simply stayed on 4.3 TROLOLOL


      • So then the 2.8GB system backup I have saved I have to put it on the computer and flash it back to the phone via odin or kies? have I understand you right?


      • My1 Jun 30, 2014 Link to comment

        which format has this backup and how did you create it, also which device do you use with which rom (in case it's custom)?


      • Via the app TWRP! But I don't remember exactly how. ..
        But the custom recovery is CWM 6.0....
        And rooted with the Chainfire -methods via odin?I think so.....galaxy s4 I9505


      • My1 Jun 30, 2014 Link to comment

        Ok when you have cwm as custom recovery there's nothing to worry.
        Since I don't know about your twrp app, simply create a fresh backup directly in cwm.
        For creating the Backup, simply go to backup and restore and either backup or backup to internal/external (they chnage the default quite often) storage depending whether you want the backup locally or on microSD. Then you do the mod and if it fails, use restore with or without the internal/external storage (same as you used in backup) and wait until finished and reboot.


      • Thanks for the tips. .ok I have tried to modify but it seems that I already have write access because "No action required"...


      • My1 Jul 1, 2014 Link to comment

        well if you have a custom ROM like Cyanogenmod or alike then it is already fixed...


      • I have had accidently cm for 3 month ago but in the panic I have uninstalled it because I was not ready for a radical change
        It was an unknown terrain for me