Got the KitKat SD card blues? Solve the problem with SDFix (root required)

by: Bogdan PetrovanMarch 18, 2014


Android 4.4 KitKat limits the access of apps to the microSD card, by only allowing them to write files to their own folders, a problem that causes issues for all kinds of apps, from file explorers, to music apps, and more.

There’s an entire debate to be had about the purpose of this restriction. Some say it’s a thinly veiled move by Google to push users towards cloud services in general, and Drive in particular. Others rightfully highlight the security benefits brought by the measure, and argue that microSD cards are on their way out anyway.

But with memory makers releasing 128GB microSD cards and fast, unlimited connections still relatively rare, it’s clear that microSD cards are not going away soon. It’s probably why only five percent of readers answering our poll said they rely exclusively on the cloud, as opposed to 60 percent for microSD, and 35 percent for a combination of the two.

Google won’t “fix” this issue, and Samsung and other top phone makers are following its lead starting with KitKat. So, what can you do if you want to enjoy KitKat and free access to your SD card?

One workaround is to root your device and run a simple app by Tod Liebeck, the developer of popular File Explorer, one of the apps that are crippled by the newly enforced SD restriction. Available in the Play Store for free, SDFix Beta simply changes a configuration file on the phone, in order to restore the functionality that existed before KitKat.

Liebeck notes that the specific change was used by OEMs as a workaround for the issue on Jelly Bean, and that several other solutions floating around XDA use it as well. SDFix simply makes the solution available as an easy to use app.

As always when operating changes to the file system, caution is advised. SDFix Beta was supposedly tested on multiple devices and should be okay to use, but for your safety, you can use a copy of the original file to restore the original state.

For more details head over to this thread on XDA-Developers or check out the SDFix app in the Play Store.



  • MasterMuffin

    This is one of the good sides of Android. Something is broken? There’s already a guy working on a fix or has already made it :)

    Inbefore a wild troll appears saying “lololol well iOs/WP/whatever is never broken, Android so buggy and needs fixing all the time rofl lmao yolo hugulu gugulu”

    • WestIndiesKING

      Its not broken, its by the design but i agree gives you the freedom to do what you want with your device.

      • MasterMuffin

        Broken in a way, breaks functionality of many apps :)

      • Cole Raney

        It may be by design, but it is still broken. It is just broken by design.

    • Droideka

      Dear Google:

      Please fix the mSD card access.

      I still use mSD cards and I’m not interested in cloud yet.

      Fix Kitkat please or I might get an iPad next Xmas.

      Yours Truly.-Android user.

      • WestFiasco

        So, the only feature about android you like is MIcroSD support.

        • West

          frankly the only thing good about android is the bluetooth file sharing and microSD support. “openness” in other words. if rooting is the only way i can get both to work satisfactorily, why bother with a bothersome OS?

          lack of both will mean people will look for alternates. and there’s no shortage of that out there.

  • shar

    I don’t own an android (got one for a friend), but having folders (docs, pics, music,video, etc) that can be managed by multiple apps was one of the reasons I am moving to android. I understand the security concern and I agree with it, but it takes a lot from the experience and it could be said that it has broken a lot of things you could have done with androids.
    now if there was a way to enable the access for specific apps (eg fav music player, fav sync app, etc).
    I hope someone can come up with something like that instead of just opening up the whole system to all apps.

  • Andrew White

    Who really wants or needs ‘cloud services’? Mundane number/data access maybe, but sensitive commercial or personal info… way.
    I can see some benefit if you work for a large transnational corporation and you need access when travelling.
    And it might also, at least for some businesses, be cheaper to subscribe to storing info in a cloud, as opposed to doing this in-house.
    Personally I’ll stay with Jelly Bean untill something I trust comes along.
    Sailfish is lookin pretty good right now, but I also want to give it time to mature a little.
    The average Joe like myself however, doesn’t need server storage access, up or down, when you can do it on at home on the cheap and keep it private, if of course you have the right safeguards in place.
    Long may the SD card exist!

  • Folkdisco

    Surely the correct option is to allow unlimited access by all (or some) apps to specific folders. So you can set up a music folder, a video folder, and a documents folder, etc, and still be able to move YOUR data around using YOUR file manager, as YOU see fit. My current operation is to save podcasts/pictures using Dolphin/Opera mobile/Opera mini. Then use these files in QuickPic/music folder player/Jota, Etc. Works like I use a PC. My files, I do what I want with them. Basically, Kitkat is android, but without any user file operations? My Huawei has just died, I was just about to buy a Moto, and it’s basically unusable without root? That sucks.
    The sad thing is folder permissions could easily have been fixed, without breaking the whole caboodle.

  • what about the real security of pulling your sd card out of your device and having your data REALLY secure? stick it in your mouth and bite it in half if you need to instantly FORMAT your data!! oh sorry mr. nazi, just let me go through these menus and delete the files I don’t want you to see…. it’ll only be 10 minutes trying to figure out which folder they are hiding in!! No, real security is being able to instantly destroy something physical. just force sd cards to not use the FAT file system and make me install an app on my computer to read my secure SD card… that’s a much more user friendly approach. the cloud is great if you live your whole life in some 4G mecca…. what is that 0.1% of the guilded population?