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I am using a non-rooted LG V20, Android Oreo I believe.

I am having a problem in which the phone randomly loads different "sets" of pictures - sometimes current photos disappear and older pictures reappear, etc. It's almost as if there are 2 root drives/internal storage that the phone randomly load.

If you see the attached screenshot below, there are 2 pictures folders of the same name under root/sdcard (Pictures and PICTURES -- I don't understand how there can be 2 folders with the same name so this is already strange).

IMG:

When I open either of these folders, it leads to the exact same folder (see the screenshots below). Note the folder names are both "pictures" technically. I think this may somehow be related to the problem.

IMG: IMG:

Some days when I boot, it will just load an "older" pictures folder w/ different picture count - pictures that I've stored in the past. When that happens, my current/recent pictures will all disappear and the older set is the only thing visible.

For example: right now it shows 14 files in Instagram, 3 files in Kakaotalk, 0 files in others as you can see in the screenshot.

When my older set loads, it will a whole different set of pictures, with no pictures overlapping from the above. (see below)

IMG:

I can't seem to find the trigger that reliably reproduces loading of either set - although, once I remember the phone was suddenly not reading any pictures from the instagram's gallery function so I manually ran the media scanner, when the phone loaded the older set instead.

Anyone have any ideas?

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I don't understand how there can be 2 folders with the same name

Android is based on Linux and Linux is a case sensitive OS (in fact the filesystem it uses) unlike Windows. So Pictures and PICTURES are different directories and they can coexist without any problem.

Some directories are created by Android itself on (first) boot and any app with permission android.permission.WRITE_EXTERNAL_STORAGE can create a folder in internal SD card.

When I open either of these folders, it leads to the exact same folder

One can be a symbolic link or bind mount to other. See here for details. However I can't be sure unless I investigate that particular case myself.

it will just load an "older" pictures folder w/ different picture count

Why their contents keep on changing, you have pointed out the root cause yourself:

so I manually ran the media scanner...

It seems to be a problem related to Media Storage database. Some file explorers and gallery apps depend on a files database (MediaStore) built by Media Storage app (/data/data/com.android.providers.media/databases/external.db) as the process android.process.media is invoked by some app. If this database isn't updated as the files change, file explorer will show outdated / incomplete contents. In order to force its updation, delete this file and run some media scanner app from Play Store (restarting phone may not update whole database though MediaScannerReceiver broadcast receiver is launched on boot). Non-root users can delete this file by clearing data of Media Storage app. But be cautious. It'll also clear internal.db which will make ringtones etc. unavailable.

Please note that the internal SD card we see is emulated from /data/media/ using sdcardfs (or FUSE in older versions of Android). Actual contents of internal memory can be seen directly from /data/media/ (root required).

  • +1 for a detailed answer – beeshyams Nov 14 '18 at 9:29
  • awesome, thanks for the detailed information - really helped me to understand some of the concepts. I'll try that and see what happens! – droidgar Nov 14 '18 at 13:09
  • I tried clearing data of the media storage app and running media scanner again. This brought back the old set but still with the new set gone. I think the problem may be that there's an app installed on my phone which is affecting the hiding and switching of the old set (or some sort of conflict). It'd be helpful to find which app is creating the shortcut folder to the original folder, but I don't know how. I think I may have to just factory reset at one point. Thanks for the help! – droidgar Nov 14 '18 at 13:23
  • I can further help you but troubleshooting/debugging without root seems quite impossible. A starting point would be to execute "mount" command or "cat /proc/mounts". – Irfan Latif Nov 14 '18 at 14:07

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