What to do if the smartphone doesn’t recognize the memory card?

We are often asked what to do if the smartphone doesn’t recognize the memory card or the card doesn’t work properly. In a modern smartphone, a memory card is almost the only way to expand its memory. Many models are sold with only one option for the amount of internal memory and this can’t accommodate many photos or videos. An ideal solution in this situation is a memory card, but if it doesn’t work, it really becomes a problem. In this article, we consider the most common causes of a malfunctioning memory card and we will analyze ways to make it work correctly.

Many users underestimate the importance of a memory card in a smartphone
Many users underestimate the importance of a memory card in a smartphone.


How much memory card should I choose for a smartphone?

Very often, the smartphone’s memory is 32 GB or a maximum 64 GB. Given that a memory card of the same size can be bought inexpensively, users basically select just that amount. On internal memory, about 10 GB is occupied by the system and embedded applications, plus another 10 GB for third-party applications. As a result, there is very little space left on built-in memory and all content is stored on the memory card. When it suddenly stops working, you lose everything – music, movies, files, and more.

I was faced with faulty memory cards and I was losing important data. Therefore, I always recommend buying a smartphone with a large built-in memory. Yes they cost more, but even those who are willing to pay more simply neglect this and choose the option to expand memory, and not its large initial default storage.

This approach also has its advantages, since the memory card can be inserted into a computer, which is more convenient to transfer data than through a cable. You can also go on vacation and shoot anything you want and if the memory runs out, you can simply replace the memory cards. This is more convenient, but less reliable.


Why is the memory card not visible?

Let’s start in order. The first step is to check the memory card itself. Just remove it from the device and check if its contacts are dirty. It also may show signs of corrosion or damage. If the contacts are dirty, simply wipe them with alcohol or a soft cloth. This can solve some problems, but in the case of physical damage, it certainly won’t help. If the card has important data, you can just try inserting it into another smartphone or connecting it to a computer.

Many smartphones still support cards with memory no more than in these cards.
Many smartphones still support cards with memory no more than in these cards.

Sometimes the memory card doesn’t work because it’s not supported by certain devices. The vast majority of modern smartphones support memory cards up to 128 GB or even 256 GB. It’s unlikely someone will buy a larger card, but flagship models can cope with them.

However, you will still find smartphones that don’t use more than 64 GB or even 32 GB. With these smartphones, this restriction must be strictly observed. If the memory card is larger than the maximum supported, a message appears saying this, or simply nothing will happen and the smartphone won’t recognize the card. Carefully study the technical specifications of your smartphone before buying a drive.

Another common reason that the memory card is no longer visible to the smartphone is incorrect formatting. For example, it can be formatted in the NTFS file system and the smartphone might not have the ability to work with this.

The memory card can also be formatted not as a separate drive, but as an extension of the smartphone’s built-in memory. In this case, such a card will not work if you insert it in another device. Even if you reset the settings of your own smartphone and reinstall the operating system, the card won’t work. In this case, there is only one way to fix the problem – formatting.


How to format a memory card

If the memory card has important data (photos, documents, music, etc.), you should try to connect it to a computer through a card reader. After you copy your data to a computer or external drive, you will need to format it. This can be done both on a computer and a smartphone.

If you inserted a card into a smartphone and realized that it does not work, you can format it right there, “in place”.
If you inserted a card into a smartphone and realized that it does not work, you can format it right there, “in place”.

In the first case, you will need to select the ExFAT or FAT32 file system. Both of them will work correctly with a smartphone. In addition, you can format the memory card directly on the smartphone. In this case, you can choose the option to use it as a separate drive or as an extension of the built-in memory. In this case, it will be possible to install applications on the memory card and save some system data.

You can format the memory card directly in the smartphone by clicking on the notification when it says it doesn’t work. In this case, the smartphone itself will offer to format it. If this method seems too easy for you, you can do it manually. You need to go to the settings, find the item “Storage” and then select “Memory card.” The item names may change in different smartphones models, but it will essentially always be about the same. As a result, you only need to agree to formatting and the smartphone will do everything by itself.

Don’t forget that formatting will destroy ALL data recorded on the memory card.

It’s important to understand that when installing applications on a memory card they will work slower. This is because the memory card works slower than built-in memory. Therefore, I recommend using the built-in memory for applications and system files. It’s better to use a memory card to save photos, music, films, documents, where speed is not so critical.

At the same time, you still need to choose a good and fast memory card, unless you’re looking to save money. But buying a card from a renowned manufacturer will give you higher speed and greater stability and durability.


Which memory card to choose for the phone?

There are so many memory card manufacturers. Among the most famous are Transcend, SanDisk, Kingston, and Samsung. Most likely if you buying one of these memory cards you won’t encounter any problems. At least, I always used these brands. I have SanDisk memory cards in all devices and before that I chose Transcend. I have never had any particular complaints with either one.

My pretty old, but working memory cards.

My pretty old, but working memory cards.

A generic card from a souvenir shop failed, so I treat them with great caution. Be careful if you have a card like this and it works. I won’t argue it will work, but it will be less reliable.

As for the volume, everyone chooses the volume they need. If you take a lot of pictures, shoot videos, or like to watch movies on the go, then choose a 128 GB card. This is generally the optimal amount both in terms of money and performance. In older devices, large memory cards forced their media to slow down. Now, this is almost absent, but buying excess volume is also not worth it.

What is worth it is to buy a memory card with high read and write speeds. This can be found in the specifications of the card. The larger it is the better and there is no limit to perfection. Only with a fast card can you shoot video in maximum quality and recording won’t be compromised. In any case, the advantages of a fast card are not only that you will be able to upload everything faster, but also that the smartphone as a whole will work faster.

Share in the comments which memory cards you prefer to use.

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