Making the SD card the default storage on your phone or PC expands the memory and frees the internal memory. If you only need to store files, not applications, in the SD card, you only need to choose your preferred save location while saving or downloading the file. 

The procedure for doing this is almost the same for all Android devices, with slight alterations in a few phone models. You may also use an SD card as the default storage on a Windows phone or computer, which calls for a different procedure. 

Throughout this guide, you will learn the benefits and drawbacks of making an SD card the default storage. The guide also illustrates the steps you need to take to make SD card the default storage in Android and Windows 10. 

In most Android Phones, you can set an SD card as the default storage from the settings app. Just navigate to Settings > Storage & USB, tap the options button, then select Storage settings > Format as Internal > Erase & Format. 

Benefits of  SD Card the Default Storage 

Setting an SD card to serve as the default storage location on your phone, tablet or computer has a number of benefits to offer, including: 

Expands the Storage Space 

You probably have numerous apps you need to install on your phone, in addition to hundreds of songs and video files. All these consume a considerable amount of the phone memory. With time, the internal memory may run out causing the phone performance to drop. 

Buying another phone with larger internal storage is an option, but is an expensive undertaking. With regards to laptops, those with a small SSD or eMMC tend to run out of memory rather fast. In either case, using an SD card as the default storage will expand the storage space on your device. 

Saves Money 

Buying an SD card with a large capacity is much cheaper than buying a higher capacity phone or hard drive. As such, it would cost less to expand the storage space using an SD card that it would to upgrade to a higher capacity hard drive or phone. 

Possible Drawbacks 

If you happen to remove the SD card with apps installed on it, some apps may disappear or stop functioning when you reinsert the SD card. Phones and computers take more time to read data stored on an SD card. This is particulate the case for low-quality SD cards. 

Using such a card as the default  storage location may affect the loading times, refresh rates, and sync speeds on your device. To minimize this effect, you should consider using a speedy SD card, preferably a Class 10 and UHS SD card. When selected as the default storage, the device adopts the SD card. 

When this happens, the device encrypts the SD card, rendering the card unusable on another device. It will be impossible to mount the SD card to another device after it has been adopted by one device. 

How to Make SD Card Default Storage Android

Most of the Android phone models available today allow the user to set an SD card as the default storage location. This essentially means that the SD card is adopted to serve as the preferred storage location for files as well as installation location for apps. 

The following steps will help you set an SD card as the default storage on your Android phone: 

Step 1: Insert the SD card into the SD card slot on the Android phone and allow it a few seconds to be detected by the phone. Once detected, you will get a notification that a new SD card has been detected

Step 2: When you get the notification, tap Set Up to begin the process. If you did not get the notification, open the Settings app on your phone and then navigate to the ‘Storage & USB’ option. If the card was detected, you should see its name displayed here. 

Step 3: Tap on the SD card name then tap the three-vertical dot menu button—towards the top-right corner of the screen. Next, tap the Storage Settings option from the context menu that comes up. 

Step 4: Now select the ‘Format as internal’ option and then proceed to tap the ERASE & FORMAT button. If there are still apps installed on the SD card, you will get a warning that the apps will be erased.

You can check which apps are still installed on the SD card by tapping ‘See Apps’. If you do not mind losing this data, tap the ‘Erase Anyway’ option to proceed. Allow the device some time to format and encrypt the SD card.

If you happen to get a notification that ‘your SD card is slow’, just tap OK to continue. 

Step 5: Once the process is completed, you will be printed on whether to transfer data from the phone internal memory to the SD card. To migrate data—including files, photos, and some apps—to the SD card, tap ‘Move Now’. This will set the SD card as the default storage location.

If you do or wish to migrate tis data now, tap ‘Move later’. In this case, the internal storage will remain to be the preferred storage location. If you chose ‘Move Later’, you can still migrate the data by navigating to Settings > Storage & USB. Now select the SD card and tap on the menu button then select the ‘Migrate data’ option. 

Step 6: If the process was successful, you will get a notification that your SD card is now working. When you do, tap ‘Done’ to finalize. 

Note: After the SD card has been formatted, both the internal memory and the adopted SD card will show up on the Device storage screen when you access Settings > Storage. Again, data on this SD card will be unreadable by any other devices as this card has been encrypted to its host device. 

How to Set SD Card as Default Storage in Samsung Tablet

While most Android phone manufacturers allow you to set an SD card as the default storage location, a few do not offer this feature. Samsung is one of the few brands that have disabled adoptable storage settings on its Android devices.

However, Samsung allows you to set all photos and videos to always save to SD card as opposed to the device internal memory. 

Follow the below steps to set your default storage setting for photos and videos taken with your camera.

PLEASE NOTE: these steps may differ slightly depending on your device. Follow the steps that closely matches your device.

1From the home screen, choose Apps or swipe up to access your apps

Tap Camera

Tap the Settings cog (on some devices you may need to tap the arrow at the top right of the screen first)

On some devices, you may need to tap More as per the below screen. If you do not see this screen, skip to step 5.

Tap Storage Location

Tap Memory Card or SD Card to save to the SD card, or Device to save to the device memory.

Make SD Card Default Storage on Windows 10

There are several steps to make SD card default storage on Windows 10. Scroll down to get the detailed tutorial.

Step 1: Connect your SD card to your computer via the SD card slot or an SD card reader.

Step 2: Format the SD card to NTFS  if it has been formatted to other files systems like FAT32 or exFAT, which are different from each other. 

You can check the file system of the SD card and format it to NTFS via Disk Management as follows

Right-click the Windows icon on the taskbar and then choose Disk Management.

Right-click the SD card on the Disk Management window and choose Format.

Choose NTFS and click OK.

Click OK again to confirm the operation.

Step 3: Change Windows default save location to SD card.

Windows 10 allows you to save files directly to SD cards.

Click the Windows icon on the taskbar and then click the Settings

Go to SystemàStorage.

Move your mouse on the right side and scroll down until you find the Change where new content is saved Click it.

Select the SD card to save documents, pictures, videos, or soothing else. Do not forget to click Apply to execute the change.

Final Verdict 

Always make sure, you don’t remove the adopted SD card without following the unmount procedure, otherwise, the storage media might get corrupted