Posted by: kurtsh | October 29, 2012

HOWTO: Extend internal Surface RT storage to the microSD card

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I’ve had this brought up by several people now (Brian, Dan) so I thought I’d write it up since many will likely find it useful.

SO YOU BOUGHT THE 32GB SURFACE
You booted it up and if you’re a tech you noticed that after all is said and done, the device has 20GB remaining on it after Office 2013 & all the other updatable apps are in storage & the system is updated.

What if you run out of storage?  Fortunately you have Skydrive but that doesn’t do you any good for installable apps or extending the VIDEO library, which lets face it, should point to the microSD flash card you installed.  (You DID buy a micro SD flash card, didn’t you?)

BRIDGING INTERNAL STORAGE & MICRO SD CARD WITH “SYMBOLIC LINKS”
It is possible to set up something called a ‘symbolic link’ between your internal Surface storage and the microSD card. 

This creates a directory that APPEARS to be on your internal storage but really routes to the microSD flash card allowing you to seamlessly use your microSD flash card as if it was an extension of your internal storage.

  1. Create a folder on your C drive – for example: “SD_CARD”
  2. Add that folder to your video library and set as the default save location
  3. Close out library management window
  4. Delete the folder (SD_CARD)
  5. Open command prompt w/admin rights
  6. Run the following command:

         mklink /D c:\SD_CARD d:\

    (Replace “SD_CARD” with the name of your directory and “d:\” with your card drive and folder)

  7. Download a movie/tv show and it will download and playback off your card!

[Thanks to my coworker Brian Larson for documenting the process of establishing a symbolic link on Windows RT]

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UPDATE 10/29/12 10:31PM:
DIRECTORY JUNCTIONS ARE PREFERRED
My friend Dan, one of the guys that had originally brought this to my attention, notified me that Directory Junctions appear to work better as some programs seem to prefer it.  This is particularly true for services that work in the background & write to the SD flash card while you’re doing other things, like movie downloads and such.  For an explanation of the differences between Symbolic Links & Directory Junctions read Mark Russinovich’s article on the topic here:
http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/magazine/2007.02.vistakernel.aspx

To use Directory Junctions, substitute the following command line below:

        mklink /J c:\SD_CARD d:\

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UPDATE 11/4/12 9:40AM: 
SPACE IS CALCULATED BASED ON INTERNAL STORAGE ONLY
It would appear that there is a flaw to this technique – not a huge one if you’re a 64GB Surface owner like myself but it’s worth noting. 

If you try to download a movie that is larger than the free space available on internal storage alone, the movie will fail to download because the free space estimate that is done is based on internal storage alone, and does not microSD card capacity.

Takeaway:  Make sure you have a large amount of free space in your internal storage to ensure you can write any size file/download you’d like to the microSD flash.


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