1

Apps on an Android device can be broken up into three categories:

  1. Apps frequently used, often scores of times per day
  2. Apps used 3-6 times per week
  3. Apps infrequently used

For apps in Categories 2 and 3, it is usually a good practice to move them to an external microSD card when possible (if they don't have widgets you want to use). This will free up limited memory on the actual Android device.

But what about apps in Category 1? Apps in that category are read dozens, if not hundreds, or even thousands of times per day. Is it a good practice to move them to a external microSD card (if they don't have widgets you want to use)?

Here are some points to consider:

  1. Despite what specs claim, which actually allows faster access: the device's internal storage, or a modern microSD card (Class 10, UHS 1)?
  2. Will copying Category 1 apps to a microSD card cause it to wear faster, thus resulting in a shorter life-span?
  3. These days, it seems likely that a user may want their microSD card to survive many generations of Android devices. In other words, although many people replace Android devices every 3 - 24 months, most people don't replace microSD cards with such frequency.
  4. Due to their capacity, microSD cards often hold tens of thousands of important photographs and videos. Yes, backing up is essential, but sometimes microSD cards can fail between backup cycles. IF moving Category 1 apps to the device's microSD card might have a noticeable impact on the card's life span, it is possible that it may not be a good idea.

So what's the truth? Is it a good practice to move Category 1 apps to an external microSD card (assuming no widgets), or is it best to leave them directly on the Android device?

2

It depends on how you use your phone, but under normal circumstances (no task killer apps, small to medium sized memory consumer, etc.) category 1 apps are typically held in RAM. So I guess reading from SD card you will only notice when the app is started for the first time. But beware, that SD cards can outperform internal memory performance: General difference in read/write speeds for internal memory vs SD card

Best advise I can give: just try and use what is best for you. If you experience performance drawbacks, just put the app back to internal storage, if not, than you can leave it on SD card.

Regarding the life time of SD cards, I guess, unless they do not perform to much IO to the card but operate on network and RAM it does not matter. Personally I just put every app I can to SD card, to have more internal memory for apps I cannot move to SD.

  • Thank you for you answer. The part that is the most useful to me is that SD cards can outperform internal memory performance. The part about Category 1 apps typically being in RAM is probably true if the device has abundant RAM and most apps used require little RAM. My experience is that even Category 1 apps are frequently swapped out of RAM. The piece missing from the answer is whether or not the SD card will wear faster. Regardless, thank you! – RockPaperLizard Feb 12 '16 at 8:44
  • Lol. You were editing as I was commenting. :-) You added info regarding SD card wear and tear. I wonder if reading several apps from the card dozens of times per day will affect wear at all. I'll have to take a look at some specs, but IIRC, it's not sufficient to make a large difference. Some numbers to justify the recommendation would be useful in the answer. – RockPaperLizard Feb 12 '16 at 8:47
  • BTW: it seems that you really care about your data on the SD card. So a working backup for your data is indispensable! – math Feb 12 '16 at 8:52
  • Definitely! There's also a possibility that a card could wind up in a camera at some point, and we all know (or can imagine) how painful it is to lose thousands of photographs. – RockPaperLizard Feb 12 '16 at 8:57

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.