Going to 32GB with your Android widget

So, if you’re like me, you may be wanting to replace all of your music players with that smart phone you’ve been sport’n around. The problem is you’ve got more music than can be handled by that 2GB or 8GB microSD card inside.

Now, it’s the middle of February, 2011 and when I Googled around, I see a problem with 32GB cards going back to early 2010. And I really don’t see a fix.

For the record, I’ve got an HTC Evo 4G phone. It came with an 8GB card, which worked pretty darn well. But I wanted more. I hate iPods with a passion. The music quality is horrible. I’ve also got a Cowon iAudio X5, which is pretty fantastic. I love the way the music sounds, especially since I replaced the factory firmware with RockBox. The only gotcha with this arrangement is that I’m also a big fan of Slacker Radio and I love to cache my stations for listening when I’m in a place where I don’t get good reception.

All of this screams for consolidation. And what better platform to consolidate on than my Evo? If only I had more storage space.

Well, I managed to scour the Internet for ultra-cheap 32GB microSD cards and found some for as low as $34. But imagine my surprise when I could get my music on them, but couldn’t really play anything back. The issue was file corruption. It was the thing I really dreaded. Did I get scammed on my card?

When you search the various forums, you’ll see people advise to take the card and reformat it using a card reader and your Windows PC. The premise is that the cards are formatted with FAT16 file system and they need to be formatted with FAT32. Hmm… sounds good. But what if your card’s doing the same thing after you’ve already formatted it with FAT32?

So here’s what I personally noticed. My phone was able to format the card with any issues. I was able to use Rythmbox to download all of my music just fine, except that it was slower than snot. Things finished and I was eager to play my music. But I couldn’t play anything with my preferred player, MixZing. I kept getting metadata errors in the display. So I checked the various forums and didn’t find any hints.

Out of desperation, I uninstalled MixZing and went to download and reinstall. Oddly enough, the free version of the app seemed to recognize my music and could even play it. So, I went ahead and upgraded it back to the preferred version and started to get music again. But then I began to see the metadata errors again. I then switched over to the default music player that came with my Evo and it could play my music but had no album artwork.

The real kicker came when I tried to cache my Slacker stations. If I cached them without my music collection on my phone, things worked fine. Once I filled my card up with music, the Slacker cache couldn’t be read any further.

These were all tell tale signs of file system corruption to me. But I didn’t think it was due to bad media. Instead, I saw something that concerned me.

FAT32 has a limitation of 32GB. Now, my microSD card was showing between 33 and 34GB of available disk space available. That was too much formatted capacity, which got me wondering if the card was simply manufactured slightly too big. So, I did an old disk drive trick and I destroked it a little (created a smaller 30GB partition). Now the formatted capacity is truly showing up as 30GB, under the FAT32 limit, which is fine. And the best part is, I can put all of my music on it and listen to it using whatever media player I choose.

So, if you’ve gone down the 32GB path and are horribly frustrated to get it to work with your smart phone or tablet PC, try destroking your card just a little. Then give it a try.

Good luck!

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