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Converting an SD Card to Permanent Storage in Windows Devices

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So as you know I was all excited to buy the very first Microsoft Surface Pro.  I bought the 128 GB model because I knew that despite the fact that I have all sorts of external hard drives I was even likely to ax out 128 GB pretty quick.  Fortunately between Cloud-based storage (SkyDrive for my personal stuff, SkyDrive Pro for my business files) and the ability to add a micro-SD card I would be fine.

I arrived at my hotel in Redmond and the package from my Amazon.com seller was there; I excitedly ripped it open and inserted the 64 GB card into the Surface Pro, reformatted it with NTFS, and installed the SkyDrive Desktop Client on Windows 8 (which allows me to synchronize my SkyDrive files onto my device’s hard drive or, in this case, its SD card.

imageWow… ‘Your SkyDrive folder cannot be created in the location you selected.’ This was really disappointing, because that was exactly what I wanted to use my SD Card for… along with my Document, Picture, and Music Libraries.  I will be honest, it never occurred to me that I could not map these to external drives, although it does make sense.  However I was planning on making this SD Card a permanent drive in my Surface Pro, so I needed to find a way to do it.

\I did a little research and discovered that indeed there was a way… or rather a workaround that would work perfectly.  Here’s what I did:

1) I created a directory on my C Drive called c:\SD Card.

2) I opened Disk Manager in Windows – you can either do that by right-clicking on the bottom-left corner of your screen and selecting Disk Management. If you are on a tablet and have no mouse, you could alternately pull up that menu by clicking Winkey-X.

3) Right-click on your SD Card and click Change Drive Letter and Paths…

4) Click Add…

5) In the Add a new drive letter or path for X: (Where X is the drive letter represented by your SD Card) select the radio Mount in the following empty NTFS folder:

6) Click Browse…and navigate to the directory that you created.  Click OK.

You should now be ready to proceed.  To be sure, right-click on your SD card again and click Change Drive Letter and Paths… Your window should look like this:

image

The SD Card has both a drive letter and the mount point on the C drive.  If this is what you see then you are ready to proceed.  Cancel out of this window and close the Disk Management console.

I started the SkyDrive desktop app again and instead of mapping my SkyDrive folder to D: I mapped it to C:\SD Card\.

image

That looked a lot better.  I was able to proceed and my SkyDrive files are now synchronizing properly.

imageNow that my SkyDrive was done I decided to go the next step and map some of my Libraries to the SD Card as well.  This was easy at this point… I simply opened the File Explorer and created a new directory on the SD Card called d:\Pictures. I then right-clicked on the Pictures library that I wanted to redirect (in the Navigation Pane) and clicked Properties.  I clicked Add… and in the Browse window I selected the new directory (c:\SD Card) and clicked Include.  Back in the Properties box I clicked Set save location.  I also dragged it to the top of the list.  So now my Properties window looks like this:

Notice that the Pictures (C:\SD Card) is at the top of the list, and has a check mark next to it.  That means that when I start saving pictures (or decide to import them from another profile) they will go onto the SD card and not onto the internal drive.

All of these steps will work for tablets but also for hybrids, laptops, and even desktops.  It is a simple mechanism to convert external storage to internal storage.  The mount point on the C drive is used as a hard link to the SD card, and nothing stored in that directory is actually on the C drive… it just looks that way to ‘fool’ Windows into doing what you want to do.

Good luck!


88 Comments

  1. James says:

    Awesome, thanks!

  2. Alon says:

    Hi,
    Question – how can I apply it after already have the SkyDrive in place? I couldnt find any relevant setting in the settings option of desktop SkyDrive.

    Comment – I’m using that way of mounting for Libraries for a while now and I find it much slower to open than accessing the SD card directly. Any idea why or how to improve?

  3. Patrick says:

    thanks, this is what I needed!:-)

  4. henry says:

    perfect

  5. Cardin Lee says:

    This is awesome! But what will happen if you remove the sd card?

    • Mitch Garvis says:

      Hi Cardin. I have removed the SD card a few times… obviously those files and folders are not available, but when you put it back in everything goes back to normal. Thanks for reading! -MDG

      • Realitista says:

        I tried this and put in another SD card. Once I went back to the original one it was no longer mapped. Also the new one didn’t show up in the mapped folder on C:.

      • Mitch Garvis says:

        The new SD card wouldn’t be mapped, no… I don’t know why you had to remap – I literally use mine as permanent storage so I’ve never found that out. Thanks for pointing it out! -MDG

  6. jlomac says:

    Just when I thought of switching back to my Android Tablet from Surface Pro. Thanks for the amazing tip and eliminating my annoyance for my Surface…

  7. […] Protection (or adjust the max usage). You can also delete existing restore points from there. – Converting an SD Card to Permanent Storage in Windows Devices – How to Change the Location of Windows 8 Apps to install on SD […]

  8. […] followed the instructions here (Things to do when you get your Tablet) which point to this website: Converting an SD Card to Permanent Storage in Windows Devices | The World According to Mitch, I wonder why this would cause this and if there's some way around it? I really need to use my SD […]

  9. Wolfpup01 says:

    Something got messed up and now it cant format my card even, I need help!!

  10. […] downloads, desktop) to redirect automatically onto that chip, which I left inserted permanently (See article).  While I never came close to my 128GB storage limit on the device, this strategy made […]

  11. roc2 says:

    should the sd be empty if u do this? mine keeps telling it was being use…i have just few files there

  12. ilikeike95 says:

    I’m confused, the properties window I have is completely different from the one in the picture. Any idea what could be happening?

  13. ilikeike95 says:

    I’m confused, the properties window I have is completely different from the one in the picture. Any idea what could be happening?

  14. Anonymous says:

    hi and thanks for the info! Can you also write about a safe way to undo the procedure? thank you in advance!

  15. Alex says:

    Mitch, I have one question….. On step 1 I have to create a directory on C: with which name “SDcard” or “C:\SDcard” ?

  16. Phil says:

    I tried this on Windows 8 as this is what i used to do with win7, but even with the card in NTFs and with it mapped to the folder, it still tells me to use a different location.

  17. george says:

    How to undo all of this? and make everything back to normal?

  18. Sean says:

    when i’m trying to do step one, c:\SDCard it says I can’t use the (:) what do I do?

  19. cherdsak says:

    what’s happen when i delete file on sdcard?
    1. permanent remove or 2. it’s move to recycle bin?

    thanks you

  20. mafen says:

    Why it says the location cannot be indexed and thus I cannot move the folder there?

  21. Joe says:

    clever use of the system possibilities, elkegant, helpful… kudos!

  22. Kristi says:

    I bought a little HP Pavilion X2 for travel, and maxed out its 64GB very quickly! I was looking for a way to move my Box Sync contents over to a card, and this seems to have worked. Thanks!

  23. stuffit says:

    Briliant, Mitch! Worked perfect using Win 7 Pro.

  24. GollyRojer says:

    Thanks for posting this. Everything worked just as described, until…

    I have a Dell XPS 18 running Windows 8.1. I don’t care about hooking OneDrive up to my SD card, but I want deleted files to go to the Recycle Bin. After I went through these steps I made sure I was accessing the card through (OS) C:\SDXC, created a dummy text file, and hit delete. I got the messagebox asking if I’m sure I want to permanently delete it.

    Thoughts, suggestions?

  25. Scott says:

    I have an HP Stream 11 running 8.1. I followed everything to the letter but cannot map OneDrive for Business to the SD Card. I was really hoping this would work. Unfortunately I’m going to have to return it for a PC with a larger drive and much heavier and uglier footprint.

  26. Scott says:

    Mitch. I already did all that and I get the following: “Sorry, we can’t save your documents to the chosen location. Please try picking a different place on your computer.” I don’t think this workaround works with OneDrive for Business. Only OneDrive personal.

    • Mitch Garvis says:

      Scott I don’t know what to tell you. I know for a fact that I have done it with OneDrive for Business, but it’s been a while. I have a new 128GB Micro SD Card waiting for me to pick up from my PO Box in the USA, and I will try it when i get it ok?

  27. Alvin says:

    Thanks for sharing! And I only have one question, what’s the different if use mklink to create a symbolic folder? Thank you.

  28. come2s says:

    Hi Mitch, thanks for the sharing! I have one question, what the different if use “mklink” to create symbolic link? Thank you!

  29. David says:

    Quick question, how do I create the C: drive directory? I want to do this on my Dell Venue pro 8

  30. Angélito says:

    great relief with internal hard disk limitation.tnx

  31. Barry says:

    Thanks – used the same process to mount a 4Tb USB drive.

  32. Don Hittle says:

    Used the same trick for my Dropbox folder! Only warning is here it might delete your files if the folder is not accessible when Dropbox is open. (I know, that’s a serious failure on their part.) BTW, I was able to move my OneDrive storage by just moving the location of the subfolders to my SD card (on a Lenovo Yoga Tablet).

  33. pk says:

    can this be done on laptops with widows 8.1

  34. Alex says:

    WOW! This worked perfectly for DROPBOX on a external drive! =)

  35. Thanks. This was very helpfull

  36. Don Hittle says:

    Update: I upgraded to Windows 10, and there seem to be some changes to OneDrive that make this procedure either different or impossible for OneDrive. Before the update, you could change the location of the libraries or folders and didn’t have to go through this procedure for OneDrive. Now i can’t see how it can be done. I have switched to Google Drive, especially since the “placeholder” feature (you can see what files you have, even if they are not downloaded to the particular machine you are using) is now gone with OneDrive!

  37. jasonhc73 says:

    If Windows is giving you hassles formatting and partitioning your SD card just use MiniTool Partition Wizard. I have a tiny little Dell Mini 9, and windows 10 just got shoe horned into it. With just 14gb available on it’s tiny little 64gb ssd (Slow Solid Drive), I simply had to use the SD drive for storage. I even think the Cat 10 sd card is faster than the SSD. Anyways, this process works like a champ. I’m using a Sony Cat 10 sd card, and OneDrive didn’t even blink when I told it to use C:\sdcard.

  38. jasonhc73 says:

    I just put Win 10 on my Dell Mini 9, and not having any issues at all. I have Onedrive going to C:\SDCard and it didn’t even blink at it.

    WIN+X
    Disk Management
    Format SD Card NTFS
    Change Drive Letter and Paths
    Add

    Can’t get any simpler than that.

    If you are having any troubles formatting the SD drive us MiniTool Partition Wizard. It is much simpler interface and just barges through all the Windows nonsense and does it.

  39. I followed the steps on Windows 10 and everything works just fine
    The problem is every now and then the SD Cards suddenly unmounts, and even reinserting it doesn’t fix it. I have to reboot to get it working again, any advice?

  40. Valdir Fonseca says:

    Mitch, I bought a win8.1 hybrid device with only 16GB internal memory. My memory is almost full and know I want to do the win10 upgrade. When I tried to do it, win update gives an error message saying that its not possible to do it, cause low internal memory. I have a 64 GB microSD card for personal files.

    My question is, can I do the procedure above to up my internal memmory so I may be able to do the win10 update?

    Thanks for the help!

  41. Barbara Hopkins says:

    Worked like a charm to sync files to dropbox. You are terrific! Thank you so much!

  42. Rachel DelBalxo says:

    Hey I used this process and it seems to be working but my question is this, will this prevent the C drive from going into the red and having low memory, or will the computer still think I’m spring all this stuff in C drive and fill up the memory that’s actually going into the SD card? Because so far the added Gbs seem to showing as in C drive. What will happen once I go over the computers capacity? Will it just keep telling me my memory is full?

    • Mitch Garvis says:

      Rachel it should not store anything on your hard drive. If it is filling up your C drive you may have missed a step.

      • Rachel says:

        Hmm I’m pretty sure i followed each step exactly, and I downloaded Vudu-to-go on the newly created and mounted C:/SDCard which worked fine. But when I open vudu-to-go and try to download a movie for watching offline, it is my C Drive that shows more of it’s memory being taken up by that movie, not the SD Card’s memory. Does that mean it hasn’t been done right? I’m running windows 10 on an HP Pro Tab with a 64 gig SD card

      • Mitch Garvis says:

        Firstly that is a great computer… I love mine! Secondly I don’t know how Vudo works – it might save to a different location from the default. That could be the issue.

  43. Tony Vovers says:

    Mitch – you have written some great instructions here but my hair is falling out trying to get W10 to comply. I have laptop with 32Gb SSD and I have installed a 64Gb SD card formatted as NTFS. I got everything working great exactly as you show, all my mappings went to the SD directly or through the C:\SD mapping as Windows would allow.
    THEN I plugged in my backup USB drive and BAM the SD card drive gets bumped from D: up to F: and the USB takes over the D: name. SO… I went to disk management and assigned drive V: to the SD. It all worked fine until I plugged in the backup drive and BAM my SD card gets reassigned from V: to F: again … so my problem is to have a way that the SD card can be locked to a permanent drive letter. Any tips???

    • Tony Vovers says:

      I tried one further step – removing the drive letter in disk management and ONLY assigning the C:\SD NTFS mapping. The SD card disappeared from the list of drives and could be accessed through the link. BUT – when I plug in the backup drive on USB BAM… the SD card gets remapped to F: the link I created is deleted and C:\SD link is broken. It seems it is very tough to get the SD uniquely assigned in this computer. (Dell Inspiron 14 3451 model)

  44. Agnes says:

    After moving to Windows 10, I am desperate because I cant have Onedrive synced with my external SDCard.
    So I tried this. It semt to work (I mounted SD card to c:\SDCard and then linked Onedrive to C:\SDCard\Onedrive).
    Un fortunately, after that I get blocked when I try to sync fiolders that make up to above 30Gb, because my C Drive has only 30Gb left Although the SDCard has more, the process sems to take into accoun,t only what is available on C.
    Any idea?

  45. BB says:

    Great soluton. Works fine also with Dropbox. Thanks.

  46. K says:

    I mapped my SD card to my hard drive last year to load Dropbox onto my SD card, because I don’t have enough space on my hard drive. I since have had to restore my netbook to it’s original state and reload all programs. My dropbox folders are still located on my SD card, but I am having trouble relinking to Dropbox. When I install Dropbox, I can’t choose the SD card. I tried re-mapping the SD card, but don’t seem to be doing it correctly. Dropbox still reads it as a removable disk. Any ideas?
    –K

  47. Mike Karypidis says:

    i used similar procedure of yours as i have faced the same exactly problems with my yoga2 lenovo and my Dropbox Pro account….
    HOWEVER THE WIN8 GIVE A WRONG MESSAGE OF LOW SPACE. THEY CALCULATE THE IMAGE VHD FILE AS PRESENT INTHE C: DRIVE. Is there anyway i can work around this

    Here is the procedure i have followed:
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    I’ve managed to solve my own problem, but it is not exactly the simplest solution. In a nutshell, instead of storing files on the SD card, which of course Windows sees as a removable drive, it is possible to instead fill the entirety of the SD card with a virtual hard drive, which can then be mounted in Windows, and is treated as an actual hard drive.

    Here’s what I did on Windows 8.1:

    Optional: clear out the contents of your SD card. This is not absolutely necessary, but the amount of free space on the SD card will become the amount of space on your new disk.

    Open Disk Management (from my Start menu search, it shows up as “Create and format hard disk partitions”).

    Optional: ensure that your SD card is formatted to NTFS. As the card will be a permanent fixture and cross-platform compatibility doesn’t matter, might as well go with a more modern file system. Furthermore, this wlll enable the next optional step directly below.

    Optional (only possible if you chose to format the SD card to NTFS): select the partition on your SD card, and choose “Change Drive Letter and Paths”. Remove the drive letter and add a new mount point to an empty NTFS folder. You can stick this somewhere onto your main drive, I chose “C:\Media Container”. This way, the SD card won’t show up anymore as a separate drive anymore, but can still be accessed by the system for the virtual drive.

    Under the Action menu at the top, select “Create VHD”. Browse to your SD card location (“C:\Media Container” if you changed its mount point to what I suggested above). Create a VHD here… I called mine “Media Store”. I also changed the virtual hard disk format to VHDX for its resilience to power failure events, though I have no actual insight into this beyond what Windows described it as. I stayed with the recommended dynamic expanding disk type, with the thought that this could be useful if I get a bigger SD card in the future.

    Right click on the new disk (on the left, now on its partition), and choose initialize. I went with a GPT partition table, as it is a newer design and presumably better, though I have no other insight on this. After it is initialized, right click on the new unallocated partition, and choose “New Simple Volume”. Follow the wizard, allocating all space to the new partition, assigning it the drive letter you would like your new hard drive to use (probably D:), and formatting it to NTFS. If all went well, you should now see your new hard drive available in Windows Explorer.

    Now, the trick to bring it all together is to set up Windows so that the drive is mounted when the computer boots, as it’s no fun having to go into Disk Management each time your computer starts to mount the drive. To do this, you’ll need to create a script for mounting it, and then using Task Scheduler to execute the script on boot. I found a really good guide here, which I’ll summarize below.

    First create a text file wherever you like, named whatever you want – this will become your script. I named mine “Mount Script.txt” and placed it in “C:\Media Container” with my virtual hard drive file. Open it up, and paste in the below, with the path and drive letter edited to match your info:

    select vdisk file=”C:\Media Container\Media Store.vhdx”
    attach vdisk
    assign letter=D
    Open Task Scheduler under Computer Management, which comes up in my Start Menu as “Schedule tasks”. On the right pane, select “Create Task”.

    The key points are:

    On the General tab, enter a name of some sort for your task, I called mine “Mount SD card”. Under “When running the task, use the following user account”, change it to SYSTEM by typing it in the object name box. Also, it may be important to set “Configure for” to your operating system, I’m not really sure and a quick search online didn’t really explain what this setting does.
    On the Triggers tab, click New, and set “Begin the task” to “At startup”.
    On the Actions tab, click New, and set “Program/script” to “diskpart” (without the quotations). Under “Add arguments” paste in the following with the path set to your script’s path: /s “C:\Media Container\Mount Script.txt”.
    On the Conditions tab, clear the checkbox for “Start the task only if your computer is on AC power”.
    You can also go through the options and see if there’s anything else you’d like to set, but those should be the essentials.

    And that’s it! Next time your restart, you should see your storage space on your SD card being mounted as a hard drive.
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

  48. benedict Andrade says:

    thank you , its help a lot.i very frustated about this. we have same reason and GB that we insert in our pc

  49. Mike Z says:

    I followed all the step and mounted an external hard drive instead of an SD card. That all worked fine. However, when I try to move my dropbox folder (about 100 gig) to that externally mounted drive, it tells me there isn’t enough space even though there is 2 TB. So it look like it is looking at the C: drive as the destination and not the mounted drive. Any suggestions?

    Thanks!

  50. Thanks Mitch. Works fine for me, but I still have a copy of all the original files in the C\SD Card directory. Is it possible to delete these, without losing the ones on the SD Card?

  51. Michael says:

    GENIUS!! Best solution I found! Thanks a lot!! Saved my life! I was almost throwing my Windows tablet through the dawn window!

  52. Syrus says:

    Silly question, but with windows doing TRIM / optimalisation weekly won’tthis mess with your card?

  53. Sebastian says:

    I’ve been using this trick for years on many portable computers (Panasonic Toughnote). After a downgrade procedure from windows 10 to 7 the link between the folder and the sd card breaks and Dropbox no longer finds the folder where all files are stored yet the sd the card is still mounted. Any ideas? Thanks is advance

  54. Peter Killen says:

    I have a LINX Tablet with 32GB Internal Hard Drive (C) running Windows 10. Also I have inserted a 64GB SD Memory Card (Drive D). I was advised Win 10 had an upgrade but when I tried to upgrade was given message “Insufficient Disc Space available; 16GB required”. All that is on the C Drive is Windows 10 & Program Files leaving 8.9GB space. All my Documents are on the SD Card leaving approx 40GB space. Can I move everything off the C Drive onto the D Drive to enable the upgrade to be downloaded without causing any issues to the Tablet operation?

    • tonyvov says:

      I believe if you put a large USB thumb drive in the machine it will allow to upgrade moving temporary files to the USB during install. Sorry if is about a year ago I did it, and I forget the exact steps.
      Also look for previous systems files hidden in Windows.old folder using the disk cleanup tools. If you Google upgrade W10 on 32 GB you will find several examples of guides. I used same process with Dell 32gb tablet and 64gb SD.

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