I have a Moto e30 with Android 11. Around 5 months ago I inserted a 128GB micro SD card to add some extra storage, which I set in the options to be used as internal storage, not portable storage. I believe it has around 20GB of photos, as well as several apps stored on it. 2 days ago, the card registered as corrupted, and I could do nothing aside from log in and out, and open and close settings, so I took it out.

Since taking it out, I haven't been able to take photos, download files, or install any new apps, despite having only used 16 of the 32GB of storage in my phone. I have reset camera settings and cleared google play store cache, which changed nothing. Are there any ways to fix this so that my phone recognizes it still has storage.

I am aware of the option to forget the micro SD, but I would like to get an adapter and try and transfer the data on it to a computer first.

1 Answer 1



Read through this entire answer before you start doing any of it.

File systems

Managing the data you store in a phone requires that some of the data capacity be used for "housekeeping" data. The housekeeping data is things like the names of files, their size, where to find them and so on. This does not take up much space, but it's absolutely vital: without it, none of the data on the phone can be used, or even found.

When we talk about the combination of your data and the housekeeping data, we call that a "file system."

When you set up the card as "internal storage," you told the phone to use the card as an extension of the built-in storage of the phone, and to extend the file system of the built-in storage onto the card. There was just one file system for all your storage.

The problem with that is that you have two separate things that can go wrong: the built-in storage and the card. Because they share a file system, if either goes wrong, the whole file system gets corrupted. And that's what's happened to you.

Storage reliability

Storage cards are much more likely to fail than built-in storage. The main reason for this is that the cards are removable, and get handled by humans. That means that dirt and grease get on their contacts, which can spoil the communication between the card and the phone. The built-in storage has soldered contacts, made in clean conditions (Motorola is a pretty good manufacturer, and will have assembled the phone properly). The secondary reason is that cards are sold on price, which creates an incentive to make them cheaply and skimp on quality control.


Yes, get an adaptor and see if you can recover anything from the card using a computer. You may have to wait a day or two for the adapter: Boxing Day is not a good day for buying stuff in the English-speaking world.

It sounds as if your phone is still sane, but unwilling to alter the part of the file system that it still has access to. That's the right way for it to be behaving. It is sufficiently messed up that you should not be trying to take pictures, install apps or download files. What you should be trying to do right now is back up all the data the phone can still see onto your computer. You are at serious risk of losing all that data. If the data matters to you, getting it off the phone is the important thing.

Getting back to a working device

Your Motorola might have a manufacturer-specific way of resetting the built-in storage without wiping other things. If not, you're going to have to factory-reset the phone, which will wipe the built-in storage. Once you do that, you won't be able to recover any more data from the built-in storage. This is why you should put effort into backing up the data before you do the factory reset.

That should get it working again. Check that it does.

Next, make sure that you've got everything that you can off the card using the computer. Then put the card back in the phone and tell the phone to format it as portable storage. This will wipe the card, so you won't be able to recover any more data from it afterwards.


Now you have a working device and, hopefully, some of your data. You will almost certainly have lost a lot of it. Hopefully, you now understand that using a card as "internal storage" is a bad idea.

I'm surprised that modern Motorola phones offer the option; the last one I used, a Moto Z2 Force with Android 7, would not. My first question here was about that.

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