The whole ‘does an Android smartphone need expandable storage’ debate has been raging for many years and it has been a real roller-coaster of a ride. One year Samsung’s flagships have microSD card slots, the next year they don’t, then support is back again. Up and down, up and down. Google never seems to want to include microSD card support in its Nexus line, but the individual OEMs who manufacture the Nexus devices do include support on other handsets they make!

If you do have a smartphone that does include a microSD card then one of the first questions you are likely to ask is this: What is the highest capacity microSD card that I can use on my phone? And it is a good question, but the answer may not be as simple as you were hoping. To get to the bottom of this we are going to need to look at the different microSD standards, the different file systems supported by Android and by desktop OSes like Windows & OS X, plus we will need to take a peek into the murky world of patents.

microSD cards and the SD Association

Let’s start with the basics. The standards for SD cards and microSD cards is defined by the SD Association. It was set up in 2000 by Panasonic, SanDisk and Toshiba to develop and promote memory card storage standards. Basically the SD Association makes sure all SD related technology (readers, cards etc) are compatible. At present there are three standards when it comes to the capacity of SD and microSD cards:

Type of cardMax CapacityFile SystemBackwards Compatibility
SD2GBFAT32SD
SDHC32GBFAT32SD, SDHC
SDXC2TBexFATSD, SDHC, SDXC

So basically the original SD card standard supported cards up to 2GB. Then came SDHC which extended the capacity to 32GB and then more recently the SDXC standard was released to boost the capacity to 2TB. All the standards are backwards compatible, which means that a device with a SDXC support can use all three types of SD card, but a device with a SDHC support can only read SDHC and SD, but not SDXC.

When it comes to handsets you may have noticed that some OEMs will says something like this, “expandable storage via microSD card up to 32GB.” what that probably means is that device has a SDHC compatible card reader. Technically any Android device which supports SDXC could advertise “expandable storage via microSD card up to 2TB.” But because 2TB microSD cards don’t exist (yet), most OEMs will say something like “expandable storage via microSD card up to 128GB” where the “128GB” bit could be a different capacity depending on when the device was released and what is the highest current microSD capacity that is commercially available.

See also:

Now this is how you add a microSD card slot to a Nexus

January 28, 2016

FAT32, exFAT and Microsoft

As well as defining the physical characteristics of the memory cards, the SD Association also recommends how data is stored on the cards. If you imagine that the SD card is a block of storage space, any device that wants to read a file from that block needs to know where the file starts on the block and where it ends. It needs to be able to find that data from the file name (actually the full path name) and it also needs to know some information about the file’s permissions, etc. The way the files are organized on a storage device is controlled by the file system. There are lots of different file systems. On Windows you are probably using NTFS, on OS X it is HFS+ and on Linux most likely ext4.

Back in the late 1970s Microsoft produced its first version of a file system called FAT (File Allocation Table). It was originally developed for use on floppy disks, however over the years it has found its way onto hard disks, DVDs, USB flash drives and SD cards. It was the default file system for Windows until Windows XP. There have been several different variations of FAT (mainly based around the size of the table elements in the allocation table). These different variations are known by the number of bits that can be stored in each table location. The original FAT used 8 bit entries, and is today referred to as FAT8, then came FAT12, and with the inclusion of a hard disk in the IBM PC AT we got FAT16. For Windows 95 OSR2 Microsoft released FAT32.

The Extended File Allocation Table (exFAT) file system is another Microsoft design.

As you can see from the table above, FAT32 is the recommended file system for SD and SDHC cards. However FAT32 does have some limitations including a maximum file size of 4GB. While the idea of a 4GB file was probably unimaginable to people installing Windows 95 (from floppy or 650MB CDROM), today recording high quality video can easily create a 4GB file. To overcome these limitations a new filesystem was adopted, exFAT.

The Extended File Allocation Table (exFAT) file system is another Microsoft design, that was first introduced in 2006 as part of Windows CE 6.0. It allows for files that are larger that 4GB and it was adopted by the SD Card Association as the default file system for SDXC cards. For the testing section below I bought a 128GB microSD card from Kingston, and by default it was formatted using exFAT.

Since FAT32 and exFAT belong to Microsoft here we actually find how Microsoft is managing to make billions of dollars from Android. If an OEM wants to use FAT32 or exFAT it needs to pay a license fee to Microsoft. I am not one for conspiracy theories, but it is “interesting” how the SD Association used exFAT for SDXC. FAT32 is possibly understandable, it was the dominant industry standard, but exFAT was not used by anyone other than Microsoft, then all of a sudden every smartphone OEM, digital camera maker, media player manufacturer might need to pay Microsoft a royalty to support SDXC and exFAT… hmmm…

format-128GB-USB-Windows

Interestingly Windows won’t format SD cards bigger than 32GB using FAT32. However it is possible using third party tools. If you try to format a 64GB (or larger) USB flash drive or SD card under Windows you will have to choose between NTFS and exFAT.

Adoptable storage

Since we are talking about microSD cards, it is worth mentioning adoptable storage. Once a microSD has been inserted into a smartphone, the question arises, how should Android use it? The simplest way is for the extra storage to be used for media like photos, music or videos, and treated in a similar way to a USB flash drive on Windows. The phone isn’t dependent on the card in anyway and can operate with or without the card. This allows the user the freedom of taking out the card and using it on a PC, and then popping it back into the phone when needed.

However it would also be nice to have the option to use the extra storage as if it was internal storage and install apps on to it, plus store app data on it. This has been possible in the past with the various “move to SD” mechanisms, however it has one major pitfall, security. If I move an app over to the SD card and start storing my personal private data on that card then I open myself up to data theft. If someone removes the SD card from your smartphone they only need to plug the card into a SD card reader on a PC or laptop to get access to your unencrypted data.

Android 6.0 Marshmallow introduced the idea of adopting external storage so that it acts like internal storage. When a microSD card is adopted, it is formatted and encrypted to only work with that device. Now you can safely store both apps and private data on the card. One interesting feature of adoptable storage is that it isn’t limited to 2TB like SDXC, but can actually use media up to 9 Zettabytes… Now, where did I put that 9 Zettabyte microSD card, I know it is here somewhere!!!

See also:

Get adoptable SD Card storage on the Samsung Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge, no root

March 11, 2016

Flash drives and USB OTG

Although we have been talking about SD cards, it is interesting to note that much of our discussion also applies to USB flash drives. Many Android devices can connect to USB flash drives via a microUSB to USB OTG adapter. Like SD cards, USB flash drives can be formatted as either (but not limited to) FAT32 or as exFAT. Also the restrictions about file size etc apply equally to FAT32 formatted USB flash drives.

lexar-128GB-USB-flash-drive-16x9

As I mentioned earlier, Windows won’t format large USB drives as FAT32, you need to pick exFAT, rather than NTFS, if you want to have any chance of the drive working with Android. Having said all that, my 128GB USB flash drive (from Lexar) came pre-formatted as FAT32, which means it wasn’t formatted using the built-in Windows format tool!

Testing some devices

To test the support for FAT32, exFAT, and SDXC I got hold of a 128GB microSD card and a 128GB USB flash drive. Then I tried to use them on a variety of different devices from the Raspberry Pi to a Sony TV along with lots of Android devices. This is what I found out:

USB flash drive formatted exFAT

For this test and the next one, I took my 128GB USB flash drive, copied some files onto it and connected it to a selection of devices, using a OTG adapter when necessary (i.e. for the Android phones).

Let’s start with what didn’t work. The Raspberry Pi running Linux won’t read exFAT files and neither does a laptop running Linux. This is due to the licensing issues around exFAT, it belongs to Microsoft and while there are some open source exFAT drivers they aren’t in the mainstream for legal reasons. However the exFAT formatted USB drive is recognized by Chrome OS running on my ARM based Samsung Chromebook. As you would expect Google and Microsoft have a wide ranging set of patent and cross licensing deals (which probably cover FAT32 and exFAT). They even recently agreed to stop complaining to the regulators about each other.

There were two other devices which I tried which didn’t work with exFAT. One was my Sony Bravia (non-Android) TV and the other was a Motorola Moto G (2015) running CM 12. All the other devices I tested work fine including the Samsung Galaxy S7, Kindle Fire, Samsung Galaxy Note Edge (AKA Note 4 Edge), Asus Zenfone 2,  OPPO F1 Plus, and Huawei Mate 8.

USB flash drive formatted FAT32

I reformatted the USB drive as FAT32 (using a third party tool, as Windows won’t do it) and tried it again on the devices that had problems with exFAT. The good news is that the Raspberry Pi and my laptop running Ubuntu were able to read the USB drive without any problem. Which is to be expected really. Also my Sony TV had no trouble with the FAT32 formatted USB drive. I did a quick couple of tests to make sure that some of the Android devices could still read the flash drive using an OTG cable, and they could. The only device that still didn’t want to read the drive was the Moto G running CM 12.

microSD card formatted exFAT

For the next two tests I used a 128GB SDXC microSD card. For the first test it was formatted as exFAT. I copied over some files and then tested the card in a range of different devices. Starting with what didn’t work, the SD card wasn’t recognized by the Xiaomi RedMi Note 2, the ZTE Star 2 nor the Elephone P6000. The latter two are running Android 4.4. KitKat.

128GB-microsd-card-16x9

However the card worked perfectly on a bunch of other Android devices including the Huawei P9, the Samsung Galaxy S7, the Huawei Mate 8, the Galaxy Note Edge, the Moto G (2015) running CM 12, the ASUS Zenfone 2, the OPPO F1 Plus, Samsung Galaxy S3 Neo, and my Samsung Chromebook.

microSD card formatted FAT32

I changed the format of the microSD to FAT32 and tried the devices that didn’t previously recognize the card and the good news is that they worked! The Xiaomi RedMi Note 2, ZTE Star 2, and the Elephone P6000 all mounted the card and where able to read the files on it. As a side test, I reformatted the card again as exFAT an put it back into the Xiaomi RedMi Note 2. As before the card wasn’t recognized, however there was a option to reformat it. When I did the RedMi Note 2 reformatted it as FAT32 and it worked!

redmi-note-2-with-128-microsd-16x9

I tried the FAT32 formatted card on a Raspberry Pi 3. The Pi was able to boot and install Raspbian (via NOOBS) from the card without any problems.

Wrap-up

So what does all this mean? Basically it seems that support for exFAT is the stumbling block for some devices. For a device to officially support large SDXC cards it must be capable of reading and writing to exFAT formatted media. During my tests I found several devices that don’t support exFAT and so don’t officially support SDXC cards over 32GB. However in every case where a device couldn’t access the 128GB card with exFAT, I was able to reformat the card as FAT32 and it worked, even in phones that were 2 years old and running Android 4.4 KitKat.

Bottom line, if you have a microSD card slot in your phone it will probably work with large (>32GB) SDXC cards and if it doesn’t then a quick reformat of the card to FAT32 will likely solve your problems. As for 2TB cards, when they do eventually come out, your phone should support those as well!

Gary Sims
Gary has been a tech writer for over a decade and specializes in open source systems. He has a Bachelor's degree in Business Information Systems. He has many years of experience in system design and development as well as system administration, system security and networking protocols. He also knows several programming languages, as he was previously a software engineer for 10 years.
  • nirav patel

    Using a 128Gb SDXC card in my coolpad note 3 formatted to Fat. It came with ExtFat but didn’t work. But unfortunately i cant store Hi res bluray movies over 4Gb. Any work around?

    • CrapAfee ™

      It needs to be exFAT. Anything else won’t work on Android and FAT32 stores only indivudla files of 4 GB and under.

    • BT7474

      I havn’t tested it yet, but you could use probably a USB OTG flash drive.

      When Amazon UK obtains the new generation SD V30 card instock, the SanDisk Extreme Plus 128GB MicroSDXC UHS-1, U3 and V30 then I shall be buying one.

      20015 I purchased the largest SanDisk USB 3.0 Ultra Dual 64GB USB OTG.

      I shall probably use the SanDisk Extreme Plus 128GB MicroSDXC V30 card to make the internal ROM larger( within my Moto G3rd Gen. 2015, Model No: XT1541,UK, with 1GB RAM and 8GB ROM, and use the 64GB USB OTG) and maybe a SanDisk 128GB USB 3.0 OTG for portable storage (shouldn’t have any limits for each file if I remember correctly).

  • Hans Pedersen

    For those devices that doesn’t come with exFAT support there is a workaround if you root the device and install the Paragon exFAT app. It’s not free though. You basically have to pay for the license that the manufacturer was too cheap to pay for, through the app.
    (Edit: I noticed Google has (unsurprisingly?) neutered the support for added file system formats in Android 6, so it won’t work on newer devices)

    • Anon

      alternatively, if you root your device you could compile the exfat-nofuse driver as a module and load that at boot

  • Milanta Molakovic

    Hi AA,

    How about trying to format the USB & SD-card as ext4 and try it again. I want to know. Thanks.

  • Badelhas

    I’m feeling fat

    • Ashish Kumar

      I was fat before. I’m Ex-Fat now

  • onstrike112

    Yet the Samsung, Motorola, LG, and HTC devices can only accept 200 gbs of sd card for some reason, when my BlackBerry Priv can handle 2 tbs. The big names need to get their acts together. It’s no wonder why I scoffed at the so-called “flagship” devices this and last time around from the big four.

    • Anon

      the article explained that
      the largest micro SD card that is widely available is 200GB

      • onstrike112

        Until the end of the year. Will your phone be replaced by then?

        • Anon

          what does that have to do with anything?
          as it supports SDXC then it supports up to 2TB even if the specs only say 200GB

          • onstrike112

            Or so you hope.

        • Heiro78

          Like the article states, if a phone says it can support a microSD card larger than 32 GB then it is using the SDXC standard which means it can use a microSD that could have up to 2TB of storage. Now the reason some manufacturers say their phone supports 200GB may be because they’ve tested and verified that specific size.

    • Milanta Molakovic

      WOW…
      Another BB salesman, try to fool average joe into buying BB JUNK.

      • onstrike112

        BlackBerry makes better hardware and software than Samsung, HTC, LG, and Motorola……. I mean Lenovo. Sounds like a bunch of Chinese and Korean crap to me.

        • nullified

          yes and BB is the market leader in innovation, performance and durability right?

          • onstrike112

            Given that BlackBerry has done a better Android than all of the aforementioned OEMs, yes, they are.

          • nullified

            if it’s doing that good, it should be able to replace major brands but it can’t and will not, its just not that great

            end of discussion of a sub par brand here

          • onstrike112

            That’s because of your and other idiot’s blind allegiance to Samsung, HTC, LG and Sony.

          • nullified

            right right, and your blind allegiance to BB

          • onstrike112

            Blind alliance? My phone has a physical keyboard. Yours is a boring slab. Yawn.

          • nullified

            and yet latest market analysis, BB.. erm.. 0.2% market share dropped from erm.. 0.4% last year?

          • onstrike112

            My BlackBerry Priv runs Android, you ignorant fool.

    • BT7474

      If Blackberry doesn’t have USB OTG then Android phones memory capacity will peobably be; 2TB + whatever the largest size the USB OTG storage the phone can cope with.

      • onstrike112

        The BlackBerry Priv does have otg. In addition to a memory slot rated at 2tbs.

        • Cedric Kok Kee Wong

          The normal BB OS10 already support OTG long time ago… not to mention that BB PRIV is a fully functional flagship Android device… and it does supports OTG , as well as memory card up to 2TB…

        • mike g

          You gotta be trolling, I’ve not seen so much stupid in one place in a while.

          The fact that your BB has a physical keyboard means nothing…..except that it’s using an antiquated mobile keyboard. Also the reviews show the BB Priv was all but trash, I’m frying eggs on the back of one right now.

          • onstrike112

            I’m using a BlackBerry Priv to type this, and it’s a great device. Too bad you’re too mentally retarded to figure out that a hardware keyboard is hundreds times better than any software keyboard.

            Frying eggs on one? Gimme a break. Every phone on the market gets warm, and it’s nothing worse than this phone, you iSheep/Samdumb retard.

  • William Tavares

    Whoa, amazing!

  • Kunal Narang

    Gary is my Android Guru! Now he’s also my tech guru!

  • Gabriel Fritz

    Why is there no popular open source file system that anybody can use?

    • dubs

      ext4. google is your friend.

  • it was the dominant industry standard, but exFAT was not used by anyone other than Microsoft

    This statement is both self-contradictory and ridiculous. In 2006 when it was introduced, PCs were the dominant devices and Windows the dominant OS, which means everybody used exFAT. It was the logical choice for the SD Association instead of spending money and resources developing an incompatible spec from scratch.

    You forgot to mention that formatting SD cards in PCs can render them unreadable on mobile devices unless you format them using the SD Association’s official formatting utility for Windows and OS X. It’s not a common problem, but most read errors on SD cards shared between PCs and mobile devices are due to this.

    • Warcat59

      Is the formatting utility included with Windows, or can it be downloaded somewhere? I’m asking because I am considering getting an LG Stylo 2, and it uses exFAT formatting.

      • Google “official SD Card Formatter” & choose the sdcard(dot)org result

    • gregge

      Creating incompatible specs from scratch is Apple’s thing. The prime examples being the HFS and HFS Extended formats and the Apple Double file system.

      Apple also worked hard for years to ensure their computers would be very difficult to network with any non-Apple systems. They did have the AppleShare IP client for Windows 3.1, then before the release of Windows 95 announced an ASIP client for Windows 95 – then promptly ceased work on it, never even released a beta. From then until OS X opened the door to porting open source SMB, you had to rely on expensive 3rd party solutions like Thursby DAVE to network Macintosh with non-Mac and PowerPrint for Networks to share printers between Mac and non-Mac.

      Apple Double split every file into physically separate Data and Resource forks. Only a Macintosh, or specially setup non-Mac server systems could handle that. Microsoft had Services For Macintosh available for server versions of Windows. SFM was going to be included in Windows XP for interoperability with Macintosh but Microsoft decided not to include it at the ‘last minute’. There are references to it in XP’s Help files.

      Apple Double made using a Mac on the internet and web a bit of a pain. Even if the server you connected to was a Macintosh or otherwise able to handle Macintosh files, there might be a computer or gateway in between that was not. If the server was a Mac running ASIP and you had the ASIP client installed on your Mac, then you stood a pretty good chance of getting an unarchived file to download OK.

      So most people by default archived everything in Stuffit archives, because they could survive losing their Resource forks containing only an icon, type and creator codes, or encoded files in MacBinary .BIN or BinHEX .HQX text.

      MacBinary used the full 8-bit ASCII character set. BinHEX only used the ASCII characters with a least significant bit value of zero. Thus a BinHEX encoded file would be larger than a MacBinary encoded one.

      The reason for the two methods was through the 90’s there were still some old 7-bit gateways online, leftover from the time when the Internet’s traffic was mostly English text. Since ASCII was an American invention, the guys who created it made sure the top bit of the bytes for all the letters, symbols, and numbers used for English were zero. Thus storage capacity and bandwidth could be reduced by 1/8th simply by not transmitting the always zero top bits.

      If a MacBinary file transited a 7-bit gateway it would come through with every 8th bit set to zero. Most websites hosting Macintosh software had a couple of small test files to download, one in MacBinary and one in BinHEX, with instructions to download the BIN file first and attempt to decode it. Internet Explorer and Netscape Navigator could be setup with Stuffit Expander to automatically decide and un-Stuff downloads. If the BIN worked you could download the full files and save on your data and time charges. If not, you’d have to use up more of your allotment downloading the larger HQX version.

      Thankfully this hasn’t been a problem for around 20 years or more, though some 7 bit encoding schemes are still used, all the bits of every byte get passed through as-is.

  • Dr. M

    Not mentioned in this article is whether, when say an exFat 64GB SDXC card is reformatted to FAT32, you are then restricted to 32GB on the re-formatted card?
    I would like to see someone run h2testw on a reformatted card to see what size the reformatted card was.

  • John Ross

    I’ve no idea why this “argument” is a thing. Why would you want a device to NOT have the ability to expand and remove the storage? What possible reason is there to not have something so useful? There is zero reason not to have one, I’ve yet to of been told a genuine logical reason to not include them. I mean, heck why don’t we remove headphone jacks because not everyone uses them? Same kind of illogical-ness. File system differences or not, there is no reason to forcefully “ban” microSD cards. It’s just dumb.

    • Dr. M

      Because removable SD cards are a source of malware infection, and users tend share such infected files
      spreading the infection. Then they complain that their failing devices are defective. It is similar to the admonition not to download apps from unauthorized sources. Also note that Apple does not support removable media at all.

      • John Ross

        Lololol. Are you joking? Malware? Show me some actual malware in device being spread by microSD cards. I’ve never actually even seen malware in Android. What does Apple have to do with this? Yes they do not have microSD card slots because they know they can rip off their ignorant customers.

        This has to be the dumbest anti microSD argument thing I’ve ever read.

        Again, another useless response. There is zero reasons to not have a microSD card slot. By that logic, we better get rid of flash drives, get rid of CDs, we better get rid of the internet too because you could spread malware through any of those things magically. Give me a break people. Get real

        • Karthik

          I thoroughly agree with your point. Why these dumb people still don’t realize this puzzles me

          • John Ross

            Good to see another person with a brain on their shoulders haha. Seriously, the only people who don’t want MicroSD cards are carriers, because they don’t want you to stop streaming their crappy Quality Music Services, they want you paying for data, and they don’t want you to own anything. That’s really been the biggest trend of 2010 and up, they don’t want you to own things, they just want you to continually pay for them over and over. Well forget that, that’s so stupid. There’s no point to streaming music, because that’s probably the worst quality you can get. And why wouldn’t you want to own a physical copy of it? It’s all just brainwashing

          • Warcat59

            You definitely hit the nail on the head. Look at Microsoft Office. You can buy it, but it can only be used on one computer, and it cost around $400. However, if you “lease” it from Microsoft, it cost about $100 a year, and you can use it on up to five devices. All these companies frown on ownership because they want to keep us as cash cows. It was so much better when you could actually buy software on physical media, but then of course the software companies started with the “pirating” propaganda and included codes with the software you had to enter to get it to work. Then, of course, the next step with the Internet was to “activate” the software. This is what gave software companies total, draconian control over their products. Alpha Five probably has the most ridiculous subscription fees out there, like $1,200 to $1,500 a year. They used to make a pretty good database management program, but now they’ve been blinded by dollar signs.

    • metronomic1

      Security

    • Size. And, as a side note, about 6 months after your comment, what did apple do on the iphone 7?

      Edit: I just turned down a free upgrade to a galaxy s6 because my s5 can take the 128gb card I carry around. I also have a massive extended battery and a bulky case. Size isn’t a concern for me, but it is for some.

  • Tommaso

    Hi gary,
    I’ve been using my tablet with android M and i choose the adoptable storage way for my micro sd.
    I recently had to factory reset the tablet and now I can’t use the micro sd anymore. My tablet or my computer won’t read it and they are both unable to restore it, or erase it, anyhow.
    I’m not looking to save my files but my card it self! My mac says it’s a read only card but i can’t change that anyway.
    Do you, or anybody who’s reading, have any idea on how to fix this?
    I’ve Googled everything!!!
    PS: my english sucks, sorry!

  • Kyem Ghosh

    Moto G 4plus, Asus zenfone 2 laser say that they support 128GB of expandable memory, will they support exFat?? I called on the customer care, and they provided me with different answers. Confused!! :( need suggestions

  • Kyem Ghosh

    does moto g4 plus support exFAT formatted SDXC???

    • Abby1706

      Yes. I am using a 64gb exFAT card at present. But there’s a stupid problem with the phone. If you connect exFAT memory card via OTG or a exFAT otg pendrive, you can’t copy files from your internal storage or memory card to the OTG card reader or OTG pendrive. Such a stupid problem.

    • Abby1706

      Yes. I am using 64gb SDXC with exFAT. But this phone has a weird problem when transferring files via OTG. Doesn’t allow you to copy files into otg pen drive or card reader if it has exFAT partion. Also shows a perfectly fine storage with NTFS partion as corrupt.

  • spill trip

    my note 4 n910c with strontium 64gb sd card suddenly unrecognized and not mounted after several gb has been used including camera files. after i read this article, i formatted my sd card to fat32. re transfer my camera files from backup in pc to sd card folder DCIM>CAMERA. my problem is…….i can see the picture in FILE MANAGER but my GALLERY not showing any single one (picture i copied earlier to sd card). and my question is…….the picture file (.jpg) i taken before were save in exFAT format of sdcard. and transfer to FAT32 format of sdcard after that..IT CANT BE READ??? :(

  • Angel G.

    so does a 200gb micro sd card actually exist or not? cause a was looking for one on amazon and i actually found it but i dont know if it’s real or not.

  • Shreyas ShivDikar

    i bought an HTC 10 and i don’t want the 4GB fat 32 Restriction so does it support EXFAT or will it format the card to FAT32 coz if it does it would be pretty useless to me & than i wish all mid & flagship devices do support EXFAT so that HD Movies with file size more than 4GB can be transferred for viewing !! anyway i’m asking about HTC 10 and planning to get an Samsung Pro+ 32 GB SDHC UHS Class 3 card it comes with fat32 as default and if i can make it exfat that would be great or else i will have to go with SAMSUNG PRO Plus 64 GB MicroSDXC which is by default EXFAT and any way both have gr8 read and write speeds just i don’t want that 4GB restrictions!!!

  • Roger Daltery

    Gary,

    I am not a programmer, but am far from being tech-naive. In facy, I would say I’m pretty much up to the speed that any non-geek could be. I wanted to let you know how much I appreciated this video. A couple of hours searching for some answers landed me here. I’m sad I did not know of you guys before because your style and level of explanation is absolutely superior to anything I have encountered in 20 years of being online. Thanks! I’m currently mid binge on some of your videos. :-)

  • edfardos

    Great article! I’d like to see the same tests with an open-standard filesystem like ext4. I use a Linux eco-system, including my TV, roku, PC, and yes, even android runs Linux, so ext4 filesystem support is baked in, with no royalty/proprietary nonsense. Plus ext4 is technically better in virtually every way.

  • gregge

    FAT12 only supports volumes up to 32 megabytes. Once hard drives got beyond 32 megabytes they had to be partitioned. One primary partition up to 32 megabytes and one extended partition, also up to 32 megabytes, with (IIRC) up to three logical partitions.

    When Microsft introduced FAT16 to handle those monstrous over 64 megabyte hard drives, FAT12 was relegated to only being used on floppy disks. Then Windows 2000 and Windows Millennium were released. If you format *any* media that’s exactly 32 megabytes or smaller, you get FAT12. Without a 3rd party utility you cannot make those versions of Windows format media <= 32 meg in anything other than FAT12. At the time, there were no 3rd party utilities that would forcibly format those small cards to FAT16.

    Hook the card up to Windows 98SE or older and format it, you'd get FAT16. The older Windows versions could read and write the FAT12 formatted non-floppy media, but were programmed to format FAT12 only to floppy disks.

    Why this was a problem was due to many of the early digital cameras and music players not having built in card formatting capability – or if they did, they could only handle a raw/unformatted card or one already formatted FAT16. They weren't programmed to use or overwrite FAT12 because FAT12 *was only used on floppy disks*. One device this was a problem for was the JaMP3 MP3 player. It used MMC media up to 32 meg, with FAT16, and had no built in formatting capability. I also had a digital camera that could reformat its cards, but only if they were already FAT16. Blank cards and FAT12, no way.

    I've never been able to get any answer or reason as to why Microsoft decided to re-apply FAT12 to all forms of 32 meg and smaller storage media.

  • Psst

    The quirk about the Kingston flash not being read by some devices until reformatted in one may have to do with a hidden partition found on some Kingston SDXC cards. Some format utilities remove all partitions, most just work within the visible one. When I have access to a Windows machine I will usually drop to the DOS prompt, fdisk the device and format from there as it allows FAT32 on partitions larger than 32 GB.

  • Vojtěch Král

    exFAT works on Linux just fine, including Raspberry Pi, you just need to install appropriate driver.