« First Flash-Free Diablo Update Released | Main | Celebrate Ramadan With Customizations from Nokia »

August 13, 2008

Device Or Memory Card, That Is The Question.

by Matthew

Prompted with every application installation, do you install to device or removable memory? As a rule I recommend installing to the memory card for all but a few applications. This recommendation began with the Nokia 3650, when device memory was at a premium and was a great effect upon device performance.

So when do you install to device memory? There are a few factors you might want to consider when deciding. If you have ever connected your device to a PC and been greeted with message stating the memory card isn't available, you've encountered an application installed on the memory card that maybe shouldn't be. Hopefully I can help you decide where to install those applications and save you a little aggravation.


How Often will you use the application? If you plan to use the application constantly, you may find it performs better installed on device memory. Another factor to consider is battery life, using the memory card uses a little more power than device memory. How much more power depends on how often the device is reading and writing to the memory. I tried to find some specific details on how much power flash memory cards use but came up empty handed. The memory in the device always has power applied to it when in use, the memory card on the other hand only has power when needed. A semi-relevant example test of a Solid State Drive (SSD), a flash based hard drive, used more power than a traditional laptop hard drive. Obviously mobile devices don't have hard drives but I think the comparison and test between the two proves my point. Flash memory is improving, evident in the ever expanding capacities and speeds available making the difference between on-board and removable flash memory will soon become invisible.


Most applications don't load behind the scenes or whenever the device is started however, there are many such applications that function in this way. Jaiku, Shozu, Nokia Chat, Gizmo, Skype, Handy Taskman, Boingo, Google Search, Truphone, Online Sharing are a few applications that either always start on boot or have the option to load on boot. Some of these don't prompt where they will be installed for this same reason. Those applications that load on start-up should be installed in device memory.


Those that like to carry a lot of data, such as audio or video files on multiple memory cards will probably want to install their core applications on device memory. In this kind of scenario the applications could be installed on each memory card, which could become a hassle. S60v3 applications can sometimes load from a memory card without ever installing them to the device however, not many applications are written to support this functionality or support it correctly.


TrackBack URL for this entry:

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Device Or Memory Card, That Is The Question.:



In today's age of superphones and high data throughput, this issue is important to discuss. I think many new users' complaints come from maladies affected by the decision to install to an unrecommended location. There is a specific rule all should follow for optimum performance, stability, and efficiency. Unless specified by the developer, always install to the phone memory, your device's application vault.

Most of Nokia's high end smartphones have copious amounts of internal storage memory, such as the N95-2. This isn't by accident! This internal storage is actually made of a higher quality chip. This chip supports faster read/write speeds to facilitate stability during extremely heavy multitasking.

Many users are surprised by this revelation, but if you stop to think, why else is the phone memory present? Especially on devices equipped with SDHC slots and internal multigigabyte NAND storage, there is hardly any need for a high speed storage vault. The logical conclusion is to store something relatively small in size, but very dynamic, which perfectly describes applications.

Also, common sense tells us installing to removable storage is not such a good idea for most instances. Take, for instance, Lonely Cat Games Jukebox, a popular third party media player application. If you have various cards with different music playlists on each, would you also install the app to each card? Absolutely not! Its far more efficient to install it to the phone memory. This way the application remains on the phone no matter which memory card is or isn't inserted. The same would hold true for browsers, office document creation tools, and nearly every other app.

Plus, doesn't it bother you to insert a card and have to wait while the device attempts to install some apps from the card? Its an unnecessary annoyance. It can easily be avoided by using the device as it was designed.

There are some apps, like accelerometer and Python based apps, which will not even work properly unless installed on the phone memory. In contrast, some apps only work on the mass storage solution, like many navigation applications. This is why I instruct my Symbian Freaks to only install to the phone memory unless specified by the developer's specific instructions.

This will certainly limit certain older S60 models' application capacity. That is why users will mostly enjoy newer devices with much larger phone memory.

Hopefully, Nokia will start emphasizing this in their manuals. I've use this practice since the N80, and believe the N95 8gb is the most stable, fastest, best smartphone available largely because of its massive phone memory, which I call its application vault.

Jonathan Greene

I always install on the device. I've had way too many issues with cards moving around and apps not found or able to be launched on start-up.

Device, Device, Device!


@christexaport @Jonathan I guess I've been more fortunate than others but after reading your comments I should have added if installing to removable memory and things start behaving oddly to reinstall to the device. Thanks for your comments.


Lol I think I may in fact start following Jonathan's method.

Cheung Yuen Wong

Indeed you will get the best performance installing an application on the device memory, but taken the fact that some applications can generate a lot of stored data the latter will be the one weighted.

As an example I can mention ProfiMail which I use daily connecting to my university's webmail.
With quite a lot of attachments on some of the mails the device memory would have been filled up in no time.

What I rather would Nokia to increase is the size of RAM as I have experienced problems both with the N95 and the N82 complaining about "memory full" in essential applications such as the help and the app. manager when I try to press "options".

(By the way why haven't my posts been published on your blog? I've tried to post several posts but as a daily reader I find it quite frustrating that my comments won't show up. Hope you can do something about this as I find it quite disappointing to let get my comments shown. Thanks in advance)


@Cheung Yuen Wong Yes it would be nice if we didn't have to deal with deciding where to install, just did so. Alas we must decide and device and memory cards don't work for every app.
Sorry I don't see any other comments by that name, pending or caught by the spam filter. Did you post under a different name, handle, email address? Let me know and I'll look through the past comments.


One thing to consider is that when doing firmware upgrade, all applications that are installed to device, are lost. At least this is what i experienced with N95.
But if installed to memory card, applications are found automatically and are ready to use after firmware upgrade.
Same thing is with applications configuration settings. When installed app to device, upgraded firmware and installed application again, the configuration settings of app are still lost. This means starting all over again with entering license information, usernames and passwords, server urls at some cases etc. I do not know if this means also the loss of all data that i have entered to applications like ActiveNotes, Papyrus etc.

So i currently install every application to memory card. This means my phone bootup time is horrible as it seeks the applications from memory card upon every boot. Also the phone seems to be slower and slower over time. So i think i need to find a way to transport applications from memory card to device somehow. Especially frequently used apps and apps that are always running.

At least my settings and data have all preserved through every firmware upgrade for N95.

Cheung Yuen Wong

Thanks for letting me comment on this site.

I did indeed try to post but that was for several months ago. As I did not get my posts up I simply quit posting comments. (Still reads the blog of course).

Luis Gomez

I do install all the apps on my memory card. So far I haven't seen any problem. Currently I own an E71, but I had used mostly Mobil Windows with external memory and so I've done the installation on the memory cards without any hitch. And like one of the commentator said in this post, which I agree and that is when you upgrade firmware, you can rest in peace with the downloads apps that are not touch at all by the firmaware upgrades.


Since I own E71, I install all the apps on the phone memory and completely agree with christexaport and Jonathan. I hated to wait for an app to load on e61i, but I had no choice since e61i had limited space and memory. With better RAM devices and higher internal capacity like e71, you better install the app on the device memory. All my apps load with a snap of my finger!


Can someone explain how to move an application installed on the Micro-SD card to the phone's memory?
Also, there seems to be no end of files on my 2Gb card - apps, system files etc.. if (when!) I upgrade to a larger card what do I need to do?
Many thanks!

The comments to this entry are closed.


Editors Corner


Media Partners



Copyright © 2004-2021 Darla Mack "Darla Mack", "Mobile Diva" ™ Darlene McNeill
Design by Paul Mather @ mmcforums.net | Powered by Typepad