Making the Most of That SD Card Slot

by Dan Forster - , Last Updated on January 4, 2016, How To Guides

If you’re an Android user, then chances are that your phone has an SD card slot. However, this is a feature that a lot of people ignore, simply because they don’t think about the benefits of using it! We’re taking a look at all you need to know about SD cards, and how to make the most of them, making your life easier (and your phone faster!).

What is an SD Card?

An SD card is a small, plastic card that looks a lot like a SIM card, but is used for storage. They come in different sizes, ranging from just 4 GB up to 128 GB, and you can store pretty much anything on them. One of the big benefits of an SD card is that it’s relatively cheap. You can pick up a decent 32 GB SD card from Amazon for around £10, which is fairly affordable for most people.

Will your phone accept an SD card? If you’ve got an iPhone, then no it won’t. If you’ve got an Android then probably yes, though you’ll need to check your phone manual or specs online to make sure. You’ll also need to check the maximise storage size of SD card that your phone will take. Pretty much any SD card capable phone will take a 32 GB card, but higher end phones will often take a 64 GB or even 128 GB card (though if you want to spend less you can still insert a 32 GB card).

How Do I Use It?

Using the card itself is easy, you just pop it into the slot and you’re ready to go. Moving data on to it is only a little more complicated. You can set up certain things to automatically be sent to your SD card, rather than being stored on your phone. You might want to go into the settings menu in your camera app and choose the SD card option so that your pics go straight to your card, for example, as well as any music download apps you use (such as Google Play Music).

But what about stuff that’s already on your phone? If you want to move apps over (and not all apps can be moved) then go into apps under your settings menu, go to the downloaded tab and click on the app you want to move. If you can move that app an option will appear to “move to SD card.” Be aware that if an app is on your SD card it will not start automatically when you turn your phone on, you’ll need to open the app manually on your phone.

For other stuff, like music, pictures, and videos, then go into settings and storage and see if there’s an option to “transfer data to SD card.” If there is, hit it and you’re good to go. If there’s not (and not all phones have this option) then the easiest thing to do is just to plug your phone into your computer and cut and paste what you want moved. Simple.

But WHY Do I Need an SD Card?

You don’t NEED an SD card, but for a lot of people having one just makes life easier, for a variety of reasons. There are three main grounds for making this small investment. The first of these is quite simply that you’ll have an easily available back up of everything important on your phone. No need to worry about backing up to your computer or the cloud, everything’s right there.

Secondly, an SD card does make it easy to transfer files from mobile to computer. You might need an SD card reader for your computer (these are very cheap, and some computers are already capable of reading SD cards), but then you just take the card out of your phone and stick it in your computer and you can get the pictures or other data that you need.

Finally, an SD card stops your mobile getting clogged up with data. This is especially important if you have a phone with a small internal memory. With an 8 GB or even 16 GB phone it’s pretty easy to fill all that memory space up with apps, pictures and other data. And once your internal storage space is filled up you’ll find that your phone starts running slowly. Even worse, your phone might stop doing things like updating your email inbox, since it has no space to store new emails. This problem is easily avoided by moving data to an SD card, so you won’t have to delete things you might want to keep. Bottom line? Your phone’s performance will be faster and smoother.

But Can’t I Just Use the Cloud?

One of the arguments against getting an SD card is that a lot of people like using cloud storage these days. And it’s true that storing data online is convenient and has many of the same advantages as using an SD card. You’ll have access to your data wherever you are, whether that’s on your computer or on your phone. You’ll have a back up of your phone, and won’t need to clog up memory space on your mobile. All these are true.

But an SD card does have two advantages that cloud storage doesn’t have. One of these is that there’s no password to remember. Forget the password to your cloud storage and you’re going to be running in circles to get your account unlocked, not a problem with an SD card. But the major advantage is that you don’t need internet access to use an SD card. Imagine that you’re on holiday in Thailand, for example, and need to get great pictures off your mobile and onto your laptop. An SD card will do this easily, whilst with cloud storage you’ll need to pay expensive mobile roaming data bills for an internet connection, or find a WiFi hotspot.

Why Not?

But the real question here is why not? You can use both cloud storage and an SD card if you wish, and have the best of both worlds. And if your phone already has an SD card slot, and you can pick up a card for a tenner or less, then why not make that small investment? You don’t have a lot to lose, but there’s a fair amount to be gained…