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Say you move a bunch of apps to the SD card. Then you do something big, like factory reset your phone or install a new ROM. What happens to the apps that have been moved to the SD card? Are they still there taking up space but no longer accessible? Does this mean that apps moved to the SD card should be uninstalled before rewriting the system?

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Yes. You need to uninstall or move the app to internal storage

When an app is moved to SD ( in versions before Marshmallow or portable storage of Marshmallow ) it does not move the complete app to SD card. A portion of the app remains on internal storage - that's why when you upgrade to a later version of app it again reverts to internal storage and you need to move it to external SD

When you install a new ROM or only that portion of what is on your internal storage is being overwritten. The portion of app on external SD occupies space, though it cannot be used. So to reclaim that space you would need to uninstall the app first or move the app completely to internal storage

If you are using the feature, then you are treating the external SD as internal storage anyway, so you needn't bother doing this

See Appendix 2 and 3 of this reddit for additional reading

  • Is there a way to fix this if you forgot to delete apps from SD card in the past before resetting the phone, without formatting the whole SD card? – Celeritas Sep 23 '16 at 5:57
  • What do you mean by fix ? That app data is orphaned. If you want to regain space on SD, simply delete . If you want to use that data, you can restore that app info if you did a backup. – beeshyams Sep 23 '16 at 6:54
  • How do you know what to look for to delete on SD card? Is there a particular folder moved apps go to? – Celeritas Sep 23 '16 at 6:56
  • Should be here /sdcard/Android/data/ – beeshyams Sep 23 '16 at 7:55

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