What does “Apply Update from SD Card” Mean? How you Fix It

By John Adebimitan

Upgrading your smartphone to the latest software version can set it free of bugs, improve performance, fix security issues, improve battery life and fix other problems.

However, many people prefer keeping their older firmware or software versions because of the large data download needed. But applying updates from an SD card can make it all so seamless. But first, what does “Apply Update from SD Card” mean?

What Is “Apply Update from SD Card”?

Applying updates from your SD card is simply using an SD card with the software to launch a newer edition of the Android operating system on your smartphone.

When you apply update from SD card, you’re doing the following:

  • Sideloading the Android firmware from your SD card to your smartphone.
  • Erasing data or making a factory reset of your smartphone (so, I advise backing up your smartphone before going ahead)
  • You’re also clearing your phone cache, which involves deleting temporary data from your smartphone.

Can you install Android OS from SD card?

Yes, an Android OS can be installed from the SD card. And this is not limited to an SD card alone; it can also be installed from a USB. Upgrading the Android operating system using an SD card is one technique used to flash and revive a mobile device.

Why should you update your Android phone from an SD card

You may get improved battery health

First, it helps extend your smartphone’s battery health, giving you longer battery life. However, if there’s a bug in the newer update, you may experience poorer battery health. For example, there have been reports of a significant drop in battery life after upgrading to Android 12 from 11. But this is a general Android OS issue and not an Apply Update from SD Card generated problem.

Older bugs are fixed

Bugs are just one thing most Android phones can’t escape, even in newer updates. But updating your phone’s OS can help resolve current issues suspected with the current software. For example, Android 11 had Bluetooth and WiFi connectivity problems, battery draining and performance issues, and a lot more. However, don’t expect Android 12 to be perfect either. Google wants you to queue up for Android 13 and then the next…

You can also flash your Android with it

Remember I mentioned that installing updates from SD cards also resets the phone to factory mode. So it’s also a way to flash your Android.

  1. After the OS is in the SD card, Enter System Recovery Android, then click on: “flash zip from sd card
  2. All zip files on your SD card will be listed. Then look for the update.zip file. Finally, find the data stored in your SD card and click on it to confirm.
  3. Select the ROM you need to be flashed and click on your “Home” button.
  4. As it progresses, do not press anything, or else the process will cancel
  5. When you see the “Install from SD card is complete” appear on your screen, the flashing process is done.
  6. After everything is done, I’d advise you to reset your phone. Enter the Wipe option in your Recovery Menu.
  7. After choosing Wipe, the following interface should come up.
What does "Apply Update from SD Card" Mean? How you Fix It
  • Click on the 5th option below. Then, a window will pop up to give you advice. Next, start wiping by pressing your Home button.
  • Lastly, select the first recovery menu option, Reboot System Now. Your Android smartphone will reboot, and the flashing is done.

How To Install Android OS On My SD Card

  1. Turn ON your computer, download the PhoenixCard program and unzip it. This program gives you the ability to run Android software from the Micro SD card, create boot images or write to connected drives.
  2. Now you need to download the .RPM, .IMG or .ISO file (depending on your version of Android) from this link to your computer. You can choose the most recent version.
  3. Then you need to connect the Micro SD memory to your computer using a card reader. Once you do, a new disk will appear in Windows (This Computer), or it will autostart as if you plugged in a USB drive.
  4. Now you need to find the file called PhoenixCard.exe that you downloaded earlier and double click on it to make it work.
  5. You will need to find and mark windows with the letter that the drive is assigned to SD memory.
  6. Click on the button of the image you downloaded earlier and go to the .RPM, .IMG or .ISO file you downloaded and select it while it is active in write mode.
  7. Once done, an auto-booting Micro SD will be created, which you will need to “save“.
  8. You can eject the Micro SD from your computer when you are done.

How Do I Update My Android Software From SD Card Using the Recovery Mode

  1. First, backup the phone (optional but highly recommended) on the SD card. To do this, go to your phone’s “backup” application. Start the backup by pressing “new backup“. Then tick all the items you want to backup: contacts, media, system data, apps, and app data.
  2. Launch the backup with the Save button and wait for the end of the backup. This process can sometimes take 1 hour, depending on the amount of app data to be backed up.
  3. Turn OFF your smartphone.
  4. Press and hold your power button with the volume down till it enters the recovery mode.
  5. Navigate using the volume up and down buttons and select the “Apply Update from SD card” option.  
  6. Push down the power button to move into the update interface
  7. Getting to the update interface, find the update.zip file
  8. Select the file (update.zip) by pushing down the volume button, after which you press the power button
  9. The update should start running soon.
  10. When the update process is completed, push down the power button once again.

How do I update my Android firmware?

Updating your Android firmware to ensure you meet up with the most recent version available can be done in two ways:

OTA (over the air)

The OTA is a software upgrade that gets downloaded to the device automatically. A notification is sent to the device indicating that an update is now available. Press the notification to get on with it


This is usually done by frequently checking your device for updates.

  1. You can also update the firmware manually by installing it on your SD card.
  2. Then put the SD memory in the Android phone you want to update and start the phone.
  3. Move the data into the Home Directory of the SD card.
  4. Now, go to Phone Setting >> System >> System Update >> Local Update or Update via SD card
What does "Apply Update from SD Card" Mean? How you Fix It
What does "Apply Update from SD Card" Mean? How you Fix It
What does "Apply Update from SD Card" Mean? How you Fix It
  • Then select the firmware file you installed previously, and the update should start.

How To Apply Update From SD Card On Samsung

  1. Copy and paste the update.zip to the home directory of the SD card
  2. Restart the recovery mode, moving to the option “apply update” from the external storage.
  3. Press the power button to choose the recovery mode
  4. Choose the document named update.zip
  5. It would start updating itself. Allow the whole process to complete.

Apply The Update From SD Card Not Working? How To Fix

Restart Your Mobile Phone

Restarting your smartphone is one method that can help fix the issue if the SD card is not detected. First, remove the SD card and return it gently to the position.

Restart the smartphone, and confirm if the SD card is now being detected.

Charge your phone

If your phone battery is low and it isn’t being charged during the update process, then the system will not allow you to proceed until the battery is charged up to 60%. You can break your phone if the battery goes OFF during a software update.

Repair the SD card

If your phone isn’t detecting it after reinserting the SD card, then you may try repairing it on your PC.

  1. Put the SD card in a card reader and insert it into your computer. If it’s not coming up on your PC, use another card reader. If the problem persists, the SD card is bad. So get another SD card, install new software, and update your phone OS via the SD card as explained.
  2. If your computer detects the SD card, recover data from the SD card using a program such as the EaseUS free data recovery program.
  3. Then format the SD card to FAT32.
  4. Update your computer’s SD Card driver and run a CHKDSK command to fix the SD Card not getting detected error.
  5. Next, show the hidden files on the SD card, then clear the virus.
  6. Remove the SD card from the computer and the card reader, reinsert it into your phone and retry the software update.
  7. If the problem persists, get another SD card and reinstall the software as advised in Step 1.

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