My SD Card Won't Read on My Droid

by Dan Stone
Many Android devices can expand storage capacity with microSD cards.

Many Android devices can expand storage capacity with microSD cards.

When a Motorola Droid device can't read a microSD card, it means that the SD card may be incorrectly configured, the SD card may not be compatible with the phone or the hardware is damaged. The Droid will read any SD card that's set up properly and uses a supported standard; some of the newer cards will not work with older phones. There are no brand or model compatibility issues.

Formatting

Droid phones need the SD card formatted in FAT32 or exFAT.

MicroSD Cards need to be properly formatted to work correctly with Android devices. As of 2013, there are three SD card standards that support different maximum capacities, each using a different recommended file system. The file system arranges the data on the card so that a reader device can understand it. The original SD standard supports the FAT16 file system with capacities up to 2GB, the SDHC standard supports the FAT32 file system with capacities up to 32GB and the SDXC standard supports the exFAT file system with capacities up to 2TB. SD cards use the FAT file system family because it is widely supported by many different devices including computers, smartphones, game consoles and smart TVs. File system support varies by Droid phone, but if the card is using a non-supported standard, the phone will be unable to read it. Additionally, the card may not show up if the file partition has a formatting error, which can be resolved by reformatting the card.

Too Big

Phones may not support standards after SDHC, which was introduced in 2008.

Droid devices will have problems reading cards that have a higher capacity than the device supports. For example, a Droid device that supports SDHC microSD cards with up to 32GB of storage can't read any SDXC microSD cards. Additionally, some manufacturers make SDHC cards that support up to 64GB of storage outside of the standard specifications; although they may work with a specific Droid device, the lack of support means you'll be using them at your own risk.

Incorrect Install

Droids securely hold installed SD cards.

The Droid device may not be registering the microSD card because it is incorrectly installed. Different Droid models have different microSD card installation locations -- some models put the card under the battery, while others put it through a side panel. A correctly installed microSD card will lock into place when completely inserted. The card also must be connected in the correct orientation; if it's upside down, it won't work. You can try removing and reconnecting the microSD card to troubleshoot this problem.

Bad Card or Bad Reader

SD cards can't be read when components fail.

There's always a chance that the microSD card -- or the phone -- has a hardware problem. The microSD card may have a bad connection or damaged memory storage. The Droid device could have a broken card reader or a software issue. You can try using a different microSD card that works on another Android device to test if the Droid's reader is bad. Additionally, you can try updating the Droid's software or doing a factory reset, which will erase all content on the phone, to try to resolve the issue. Broken card readers can be professionally replaced.

About the Author

Dan Stone started writing professionally in 2006, specializing in education, technology and music. He is a web developer for a communications company and previously worked in television. Stone received a Bachelor of Arts in journalism and a Master of Arts in communication studies from Northern Illinois University.

Photo Credits

  • photo_camera David Paul Morris/Getty Images News/Getty Images