The difference between Froyo A2SD, A2SD and A2SD+

One of the glories of using Android is having an SD card for storage rather than having internal-only memory. Thanks to Android’s Linux blood, you can even harness the power of the SD card beyond its usual file storage capabilities. On Android, your internal memory is precious and you do not want to install games and applications – especially those which are up to 50MB in sizes – on your internal memory just to make your phone run slower. Instead, you can install the applications on SD card and let your phone take care of the system apps instead, saving more internal memory and speeding up your phone.

The Partitions

Android natively supports fat32 partition. However, thanks to the Android community, support for swap and ext partitions can be enabled too. Depending on the ROM, some can support up to ext4, while others support up to ext3. The explanation about the differences between these partitions is indeed very lengthy and not part of our chapter today. What is important to know, is that Android has support for fat32, swap, ext2, ext3, and ext4 partition support.

Your SD card is by default formatted to fat32. In order to use swap and ext partitions, you need to repartition your SD card. There are several ways to do this, but the most common way is by using a custom recovery installed on your phone (ClockworkMod or AmonRA recovery). Swap is virtual memory which uses extra space on your SD card for virtual memory. However, since Android already has DalvikVM, swap is not really needed. I myself don’t use swap space on my SD partitions. Ext partition is extended partition which was the first ever type of partition created specifically for Linux. It is based of the standard UNIX file system and was designed to overcome the limitations of Minix file systems. Ext 2 is second extended partition, ext3 is third extended partition and ext4 is the fourth extended partition respectively.

Dalvik Virtual Machine

If you haven’t already read my article on Dalvik Cache, I suggest you to read that here before coming back to this page. (opens in a new window)

Froyo A2SD (F-A2SD)

When Froyo was released to Android community, one of its new features was the A2SD implementation. F-A2SD uses fat32 partition natively for application storage. This means, all you have to do is just slot in your SD card and its all ready to go. There is no need to partition the SD card whatsoever. This was a great effort from Google to include A2SD to the Android OS as it gives you an option to choose which applications you want to move to SD card, and which you want to leave on internal memory – BUT – with a condition! If the application developer decides to protect his application and not include A2SD support, you would not be able to move it to SD card. One major problem that F-A2SD has is that it only uses fat32 partition. This way, when the SD card is mounted to the computer, the applications become inaccessible. Not only that, if the applications have widget support, the widgets are removed too when the SD card is mounted. This can become rather a hassle especially if you have to mount your computer several times in a day.

A2SD

The A2SD method is much more interesting. It harnesses the glory of ext partitions. This way, the applications (protected or non-protected), will all be installed on the SD card ext partition. The good thing about ext partition is that when you mount your SD card, the ext partition is NOT mounted together. This said, when your SD card is mounted, the applications will still be accessible and separated from the files and folders on your fat32 partition. On A2SD, the dalvik cache resides on the phone memory.

A2SD+

A2SD+ takes the A2SD one step further. Its pretty useless to have a 512MB A2SD capacity if your dalvik cache is still on phone memory and you have lots of applications installed. This is because the dalvik cache can become pretty huge and just by using HALF of your A2SD’s ext partition, your internal memory can become FULL because of dalvik. Therefore, in A2SD+, the dalvik cache is also moved to SD card. This way, your internal memory is free as a highway. However, remember that Dalvik cache is accessed very frequently. If you have a slow SD card, the overall performance might be affected. I recommend using a class 6 or class 10 SD card for the purpose.

So make your pick guys. In Android’s world, you always have choices. Depending on your needs, use the partition that satisfies you. Hope this article clears any misunderstanding that anyone might be having. Cheers~

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  1. Philip
    #1 written by Philip  (8 years ago)

    Thanks, finally a small guide that made me understand! :)

  2. o
    #2 written by o  (7 years ago)

    It would be good if you also did an article on the difference between data2sd and data2sd++

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