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What is the Difference Between External Storage and Internal Storage? :Cashify Explains

By Sidhant Gupta - 
Thu, 6 Feb'20
Difference Between External Storage and Internal Storage Cashify Explains

Image Source: androidpit

Desktops, laptops, smartphones, and smartwatches have one thing in common i.e. storage. These devices/gadgets possess a storage system to save system files, user files & documents, apps, and user data. In your Android smartphone, you must have seen the 2 types of storage options – internal and external storage. Now, there are many users who are confused within these two terms. Here, in this article, we will explain the difference between internal and external storage. And which one should you use.

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Difference Between Internal Storage And External Storage

There are many users who think that external storage means SD cards and external hard disks. However, it is totally their misconception. Let’s clear that misconception.

When you install an app on your device you will find that it has created a unique private folder. That private folder can be accessed by only that app. The space where these files are stored is called Internal Storage and files stored in this space cannot be accessed by the other apps and users. All the Android system files, OS and app files that users are not allowed to access are stored in the Internal Storage. In order to access these files, you need to download an app that gives you access to these internal files or root your Android device. 

On the other hand, all the media files or documents can also be stored on the external storage. The files stored in the external storage can be accessed by the user and other apps easily. For example – the app settings of the music player of your smartphone resides in internal storage, but MP3 files that you download using that app are stored in external storage. 

Internal Storage also provides an extra security layer because the files stored in the created directories are not accessible by other apps.

Different Types of External Storages

Basically, there are two types of external storage. One is the popular form of external memory that most smartphone users understand i.e. SD card, also known as memory cards that is the secondary external storage and the other one built-in external storage which is known as primary external storage. A Primary External Storage is one that is accessible by the user but still part of the built-in memory. All your media files, documents, and pictures are stored on this primary storage and this is when you don’t have a physical external storage device such as an SD Card.

different types of storage sd card secondary external storage

Image Source: digitaltrends

The other form of the external storage device is the Secondary External Storage, all the external memory storage devices such as an SD Card, external hard drives and even the cloud storage such as Google Cloud, Dropbox fall under the Secondary External Storage. 

The SD cards are inserted manually, can be removed, and carried on the other hand primary external storage is built-in. 

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Can We Access The Primary External Storage?

All other External Storage including the Primary External Storage is easily accessible by the user. Your data, such as photos, videos, documents, and other media files resides in the Primary External Storage. Users are able to store the data in Primary External Storage even without having an SD card installed. The SD card that you install is the removable external storage and it can be used in a number of other compatible devices.

how to access primary storage

Image Source: devexchanges

For storing sensitive files, information, app data, user settings, and other system files the Internal storage is used by Android OEM and app developers. The major reason for storing these files here is to protect the files and block any unwanted access.

Unlike in Internal Storage, any file stored on Primary External Storage can be accessed using the built-in file explorer app. Also, other apps can access this data after read/write permission is granted. 

However, sometimes, there have been cases where the app was found to be stealing the data without permission of the user. In such cases, the role of primary internal storage comes into play.

The built-in memory comes with varied configurations. These can start from 4GB and go all the way up to 512GB or even more than that. As a result of which it becomes even more necessary to divide the built-in memory into internal and external memory.

Read also: How To Use Dual WhatsApp On The Same Phone


We hope that you understood the difference between Internal Storage, Primary External Storage, and Secondary External Storage. In short, Internal Storage is for apps to save sensitive data to which other apps and users cannot access. However, Primary External Storage is part of built-in storage which can be accessed (for read-write) by the user and other apps but with permissions. On the other hand, Secondary External Storage is SD cards that are removable from the device and offer more flexibility.

Click here for the latest smartphone news and latest phone reviews. If you want the best price for your old smartphone, or want to repair your phone at home, make sure to hit up Cashify!

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