How to Recover Data from SD Card Formatted as Internal Storage

You will get everything about “format SD card as internal storage” and how to recover data from SD card formatted as internal storage in this article.


By Ivy / Updated on April 2, 2024

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In today's digital age, our phones play an essential role in our lives. With increasing storage demands, many Android users choose to format their SD cards as internal storage to expand the available space.

While this can be beneficial, it also comes with a potential risk of data loss. Accidental formatting or other issues can result in the loss of valuable data from SD cards. In this article, we will introduce you to the format SD card as internal storage meaning and guide you through the process of recovering data from SD card formatted as internal storage.

Is It Possible to Recover Data from SD Card Formatted as Internal Storage?

“I use my phone mostly to receive A LOT of work documents, photos, audio, etc via WhatsApp. So, I thought in get an SD card and format it as internal storage, since what I need is just a lot of storage to save as much data as possible, not gaming or anything of the sort.
The issue is, since it's formatted as internal storage, connecting the phone to PC via USB won't let me see the content and I have no way to transfer from PC to phone OR from phone to PC.
I want to know how to transfer WhatsApp photos/documents/audio/etc on a phone with an SD card formatted as internal storage to a PC, or if it's just not possible. Same if it's possible to send files from PC to phone.”

 Recover Data from SD Card Formatted as Internal Storage

The answer is YES and to understand it better, you need to learn more about “format SD card as internal storage”. I’ll explain the meaning, benefits, etc of it and how to recover data from SD card formatted as internal storage. Please keep reading below to get them right now!

What Is Format SD Card as Internal Storage?

The SD card itself is external storage, but Android devices offer users the “Use as internal storage” option to format SD as internal storage. The difference is that external storage can be used to store files and photos, but applications and system information can only be stored using internal storage.

Format as Internal

In order to integrate your SD card with the internal storage, the system will format SD card with a different file system (eg: EXT4 or F2F) and encrypts it. At the same time, it will and make this card inaccessible on other devices. This is why you cannot access your data on a Windows PC.

How to Recover Data from SD Card Formatted as Internal Storage

In order to recover data from SD card formatted as internal storage, you need to decrypt this formatted SD card first. Otherwise, your system cannot recognize it. Then you can employ professional data recovery software like MyRecover to scan and recover your files in simple steps.

Part 1: Decrypt SD Card Formatted as Internal Storage

Step 1. Open your Android phone. Go to Settings > Storage and select Storage Settings.

Step 2. Select Format as portable.

Format as Portable

Step 3. Last, select Format. It will make this card portable and allow you to unmount SD card from your phone.

Part 2: Recover SD Card Formatted as Internal Storage

MyRecover is one of the top reliable data recovery software, which can recover files from SD card formatted as internal storage in Windows 7, 8, 10, 11, etc, and Windows Server. Below are some key features of it:

  • Supports a wide range of file types, surpassing 200+ file formats. So you can use it to recover deleted X3F/HEIF/JPG images, X3D/MXF/MP4 videos, DOC/DOCX/TXT/XLS documents, and any common file types.
  • File filtering: Its Filter feature helps you to quickly narrow down to different file types, such as images, videos, documents, audios, mails, compressed files, etc. You can also set the date modified and size.
  • Complete recovery: With its two advanced scanning methods, you can find as many files as possible and recover files from SD card formatted as internal storage completely, regardless of your data loss scenarios.

In addition, the software does not require technical expertise and is friendly to novices. You can then download this reliable Windows data recovery software and start data recovery from SD card formatted as internal storage.

Download Software Windows 11/10/8/7/Server
Secure Download

IMPORTANT NOTE: Stop using the SD card immediately as soon as you realize any data loss. Otherwise, your data may be overwritten, making recovery impossible. Meanwhile, don’t add new data or format it again.

Step 1. Connect your decrypted SD card to a Windows PC via a card reader. Launch this reliable data recovery software - MyRecover, Hover the mouse over the drive saved deleted files before and click Scan.

External Hard Drive Start Scan

Step 2. It will run Quick Scan and Deep Scan automatically to search and display all the deleted or lost files there. To locate them quickly, use the Filter feature or go to the original location in the left panel.

External Hard Drive Scanning

Step 3. Then, select your desired files and click Recover x files to retrieve data from decrypted SD card. You will then be asked to select a location. Please select a new location instead of the original location to prevent potential data overwriting.

External Hard Drive Recover Files


  • The restore button will display the number of selected files and their full size. You can use it to determine the integrity of the recovered files.
  • You can get data back SD card for free, up to 500MB. To recover all files, please upgrade to the advanced editions.
  • In addition, you still can use this software to recover CFast card, xD-Picture card, SDXC card, SDHC card, microSD or mini SD, xD card, CF card, MMC card, etc.

Benefits and Drawbacks of Using SD Card  as Internal Storage

You probably want to format SD card as internal storage to expand space, but there are still drawbacks. So before doing so, it’s advisable to learn about it in detail. Here's a quick look at the chart.


  • Gain more space for your apps, photos, videos, and other data.
  • Faster app loading, especially on devices with limited internal storage.
  • No need to transfer data manually between internal storage and SD card.
  • Prevent accidental deletion on other devices.
  • Less power consumption compared to internal storage.
  • ...


  • Slow read and write speed.
  • Restrict to transfer data from or to different devices, such as from PC to phone or vice versa.
  • Performance degrades over time, limited lifespan of SD cards.
  • Some apps will not working properly.
  • File browsing even file manager will stop working.
  • ...

If your storage space is really tight, you can choose to format SD as internal storage. In fact, when you insert a new SD card into your phone, the system will ask you to set up your SD card and walk you through all the steps. Or format SD card in the storage settings.

Step 1. Open your Android phone. Go to Settings > Storage and select Storage Settings of your SD card.

Storage Settings

Step 2. Select Format as internal > Erase & Format and click OK to confirm you want to format SD card as internal storage.

Erase Format

Step 3. The system will ask you to move data to this new SD card. You can choose to move now or later. The transfer time depends on your data volume. Finally, click Done to finish this process.

Move Now or Later

How to Prevent SD Card Data Loss Effectively

To avoid such data loss incidents in the future, consider the following precautions:

  • Don’t format your SD card as internal storage if there are any important data. Please move it to other storage devices first. Meanwhile, be cautious before making any significant changes to your SD card.
  • Avoid using the device with the SD card inserted when the battery is low.
  • Always remove your SD card physically with the safe eject option. Abrupt removal may result in data loss or corruption.
  • Invest in a high-quality SD card with a larger storage capacity and robust data retention features.
  • Regularly back up your important data to different storage devices, such as external hard drives, cloud drives, network drives, NAS, etc. You will then always have a copy of your files and are able to recover files from backup timely. Consider using Windows backup software like AOMEI Backupper Standard.

File Backup


Formatting SD card as internal storage but realizing there is important data in it, you may be frustrated. But this doesn't mean you will lose your valuable data permanently. With the help of professional data recovery software like MyRecover, you can recover data from SD card formatted as internal storage successfully.

However, prevention is always better than cure. Take the necessary precautions to safeguard your data from such incidents in the future, and you'll have peace of mind knowing that your data is secure. Even if you format SD card as internal storage again, you can get your data back quickly.


1. What happens when an SD card is formatted as internal storage?

When you format an SD card as internal storage, your Android phone will erase all data on the SD card, format it to ext4 or f2fs file system, encrypt and make it inaccessible to other devices.

2. Will data recovery software work on all types of SD cards?

Most data recovery software is designed to work with various SD cards, including microSD, SDHC, and SDXC cards. Usually, it also applies to memory card data recovery.

3. How much time does the data recovery process usually take?

The recovery time depends on the size of the SD card and the number of files being scanned. It can range from a few minutes to several hours.

4. Is there any risk of further data loss during the recovery process?

In fact, there is a minimal risk of further data loss during the recovery process unless you install data recovery software on the device requiring data recovery. If you still worry about it, try to backup your files in advance.

5. Can I use my SD card after data recovery?

Yes, you can continue using your SD card after data recovery. However, it is advisable to format the card correctly before using it again to avoid potential issues.

Ivy · Editor
Ivy is an editor of AOMEI Technology, she covers backup & restore,hard disk & partitions management and cloud files transfer and so on for AOMEI. She is an outgoing girl and enjoys helping people find solutions to their problems. She loves traveling, eating, reading and so on. She usually hangs out with friends at her leisure time.