Microsoft has (inadvertently) killed the ability to move offline maps to storage cards

Back in 2013, Nokia released an app for their Lumia line of Windows Phones dubbed Lumia Storage Check Beta. This app was in addition to just Lumia Storage Check, which was the main build of the tool that integrated into Settings and was part of the original 1308 firmware release.

The main difference between the Beta app and main release was the inclusion of offline Map data control in the beta. This new function lets users move offline map data to their storage card at will. At least, it did.

Since then, Microsoft took the idea and built their system called Storage Sense into the OS directly for all phones running Windows Phone 8.1. Storage Sense is also now a part of Windows 10, even for desktops.

Storage Sense

Powerful, but missing something

Storage Sense is more powerful than Storage Check (Beta) in every way but one: offline map data control. Although Storage Sense lets you move apps to the storage card (and vice versa), it does not allow that function for offline map data.

This omission was not a problem for many as it was a relatively known secret that you could still download Lumia Storage Check (Beta), even in Windows Phone 8.1. Users could continue to move map data to the SD card (or have future downloads automatically put there).

However, within the last few days Lumia Storage Check (beta) has become unavailable to download. The app is still published to the Store, but there are restrictions on downloading to certain devices. Unfortunately, that restriction appears to be for all Lumias e.g. Lumia 520, Lumia 730, and Lumia 1520, which are some popular Lumias with external storage cards.

As detailed in our forums, if you had Storage Check (Beta) installed with maps set on the storage card, they continue to download there even if the app is removed. This ability is because there is a registry change made that enables this function.

In Storage Sense, there is a directory listing for Maps on the storage card, but there is no way to move offline map data to it. Even setting 'Store new downloads on my SD card' does not enable offline map data to be stored there, which is certainly confusing.

Manage maps

But How Come?

It is not clear why Microsoft never added the ability to move offline map data to external storage, or why users cannot force offline map downloads to their micro SD. The decision may have been made for performance concerns, or, perhaps it is an oversight. Likewise, we are not sure why the Lumia Storage Check (Beta) app is no longer available for download, but the non-beta version is still accessible. Once again, maybe it is a mistake.

Regardless, the inability to move offline map data is of concern for those with Lumia phones that have little amounts of internal storage. Hopefully, Microsoft rectifies this situation, either by re-opening the Storage Check (Beta) app or, even better, in the future enabling this in the OS directly.

Daniel Rubino

Daniel Rubino is the Editor-in-chief of Windows Central, head reviewer, podcast co-host, and analyst. He has been here covering Microsoft since 2007 when this site was called WMExperts (and later Windows Phone Central). His interests include Windows, Microsoft Surface, laptops, next-gen computing, and for some reason, watches. Before all this tech stuff, he worked on a Ph.D. in linguistics and ran the projectors at movie theaters, which has done absolutely nothing for his career.

  • Ugh.. Why Microsoft? May be they will include this feature in windows 10. Who knows. I hard reset my phone yesterday and the app in not available now. :(
  • Nope. I dont think so. Using win 10 tp and tried downloading the maps to sd card but still it shows 0 bytes in it.
  • Win 10 is not finished yet. Ask for it
  • You mean the next TP that will never come! Haha jk, but seriously MS show some love to my Lumia's, I just want to test it. (PS I know they don't owe me anything, I just want it that's all, I'm not demanding it, just asking for it.)
  • I'm guessing performance concerns, my L1520 has to scan and fix my SD card several times a month. I'd be pissed if my maps were on my SD card and it failed while I was using it, especially in the middle of bf Kentucky where there is no cell service.
  • Try formatting the memory card an use it to avoid scan &fix issue
  • I've never had the scan problem on a couple of 1520 devices - 830 series does out alot though! Weird.
  • Yes. I too had this problem on L730 after installing W10 Insider. I had formatted the memory card before upgrading the OS but still this problem is there. The map is already moved to memory card when it was running W8.1.
  • I really hope they do - I travel all over the world and here maps is the best thing ever! What is really odd is that it's storing maps on my sd card on my galaxy s5, on android. What gives? I certainly can't move maps over to sd on a w10tp test device. Really hope they address this as this is a nonsense. Poor show msft. Fix it please. And while you're at out how about openvpn support???
  • Everyone click on this link and vote to bring Lumia storage check beta app back on windows store
  • Sounds like an oversight to me. Hopefully it is.
  • Sounds like a joke to me. Hopefully it is.
  • Doesn't matter for me. NL920. No SD card :(
  • Doesn't matter for those without sd card.. But for those with sd cards :(
  • Yep. Felt bad for them.
  • I still use the original Storage Check app that debuted with Lumia Amber. Does a pretty good job at removing temp files. The only problem is the way Storage Check and Storage Sense classify 'other'.
  • I'd rather they deal with the "Other Storage" which takes up part of "System Storage" and that we can't shrink or delete. Knowing Windows it's probably a page file or swap file (or both), but multiple gigabytes that can't be cleaned is ridiculous.
  • Yes it's ridiculous. I own a Lumia 730 with 8 Gb internal memory, 7.2 usable in which system takes 4 Gb this is not ridiculous but this is insane.
  • I got this app called storage cleaner which actually cleans "other storage" It doesn't free up the entire space taken by that "other storage" but you get quite a good amount of MBs back (something like 200mb). The logic behind the app is pretty simple and impressive.
    P.S. don't go for the reviews which say that the app is fake.
  • HTC phones come with an HTC app like that called 'Make More Space'. It's Awesome.
  • GREAT article. Thank you.
  • Maybe there is an update coming for storage sense?
  • Confused. The artical title says the ability was inadvertantly removed but then Daniel goes on to say its not clear why it was removed. I think those are mutually exclusive. If you don't know why, how can you say it was inadvertant (accidental)?
  • Because I am not sure they know what they are doing. One group may have changed the Store's settings for the app/accessibility, without knowing that Storage Sense cannot move maps. None of this looks like a purposeful move. Also, inadvertently was in parentheses for a reason.
  • Yea Hoosier
  • Stupid, More stupid, Micfosoft stupid ! I just can't comprehend the thinking behind this. I know that some of the cheapest SD-cards may have been causing problems ie. with video recording, but not so with the maps. I would guess, that apps might be having the same kind of issues, but it is still possible to store them on a SD-card. MS  stupid strikes out again 8=(
  • Miss it realy much. :'(
    Please bring back to the Lumias.
  • Plzz release windows 10 for my 620 :'(
  • Coming In the next update
  • Me also waiting!
  • Yes! Informed Daniel about it.
    Its really frustrating for low memory devices.
  • Its dtill a tp..maybe the feature is not ready, so not included. We Should not come to any conclusions yet.
  • Well, we can reach the conclusion that as of today, you cannot move maps to your Storage card unless you had already installed this app in the past. As to the who what when where, that remains to be sorted.
  • 8GB of internal memory is not sufficient for all the apps and maps. I ask MS to seriously give us an option to move maps to SD card with windows 10
  • Thank you for making an article about this! I hope this makes Microsoft aware of the situation. I can't understand why they removed the app, it just doesn't make sense at all. I've never had issues with having the maps stores on my SD Card.
  • Unacceptable to me. Luckily I could return my Lumia 730, which I did today. No Windows phone for be anymore. How can I take Microsoft serious when they allow me to install maps of 3+ GB in size on a device that only has approximately 4GB free internal storage left, and not on external storage. I probably need to switch to iPhone?
  • Yeah switch to iphone and let us know how you get on with installing maps on the sd card....oh wait! Posted via the Windows Central App for Android
  • Get a 128 gigabyte iPhone or note 4 with a 128 gigabyte micro SD. Life truly is better outside of Windows Phone, unfortunately. Posted via the Windows Central App for Android
  • "128 gigabyte iPhone"
    That thing is like $1k off-contract, lol
  • Of course expensive flagships will always be better than low priced mid/low range phones
  • Im not sure why you blame them when you knew 4GB of free space wasn't enough...
  • So you're going to get an iPhone 4s? cause for the price of the Lumia 730 you're not getting much. If you plan to spend more money then you should've gone for a better Lumia since the beginning. It's like when people say Mac is better cause they compare they 3 year old $400 netbook vs a $1000 new Mac.
  • Guess a typo the 930 has no exrenal storage.  
  • External storage card for Lumia 930? You should fix that.
  • Interesting article. So far I havnt had anyone chew my arse for faulty grammar or mechanics. However punching holes in other peoples logic seems to be a favorite passtime around here. Im considering grinding out a few rough drafts before posting in future.
  • Noticed that on Monday with my 830. Wonder what happened
  • Well they need to fix it. 16 gigs is not enough for multiple state or country maps. Feel free to add HD voices to the Windows Phone app as well. It's nice that Android and iOS has it but come on man this app originated on Windows Phone (post Symbian of course ). Posted via the Windows Central App for Android
  • Copy your MapData folder to your computer and after hard reset put the folder in your sd card and open storage check select sad card and check for updates. That's it.
  • I mean, have you tried this or are you talking out your tookus? Because my phone does not have access to 'MapData folder' in Explorer in Windows when plugged in.
  • When already downloaded to SD card, there will be a maps folder, copy that to your PC, and you can have maps anytime later on your SD card by copying them straight back to it. I did it once. But if you download them to your phone, then there is no way,, I'm afraid.
  • All maps in your hand
  • So I assume the registry will change back, and you'll lose the ability, after a on-device wipe?
  • yup
  • They're possibly planning to allow some non-vital system apps, like Maps, to be moved to an SD card.
    Or you could simply install HERE Maps on the SD card so that any downloaded map would be stored on there too.
  • that doesn't work. I have all HERE apps on SD card, maps are still being downloaded to phone. And (as for now) you cannot move Map app to SD card
  • Yes! kkim0615
  • Great article and nicely spotted.
  • I have a 635. Here app and maps were on SD card and it was crashing a lot. I moved Here app and maps to the main storage, no more crashing...With only 8g of main storage on a Lumia 635 this solution is not cool.  My 635 often detect issue with SD card, so it's not reliable.    
  • Can't WP apps save things to the SD cards? 'cause Nokia HERE on Android allows you to choose to where you want to save your maps and voice files. So it would be a question of allowing the app to save there if that's possible.   (This is a genuine question. All my WP devices were flagships and you know how WP flagships are allergic to microSD cards)
  • As of WP8.1, apps can save to SD card, yes, but regardless Here maps were an OS level feature, and this didn't change in WP8.1. The apps don't know or care where the maps are stored, that's managed by the OS.  
  • "It is not clear why Microsoft never added the ability to move offline map data to external storage, or why users cannot force offline map downloads to their micro SD." It's the same reason why more phones are coming out without microSD slot: force more people to use cloud storage.  And Satya is a huge fan of the cloud.  Maps takes up a very large chunk of space, and on my phone it is about 4Gb.
  • Are you suggesting Microsoft are stupid enough to believe that we will store *offline* maps on OneDrive? o_O
  • Or apps on OneDrive?... Then stream my apps to my phone?.. Haha Like really? Bit of a stretch bro.
  • That isn't what I am saying.  What I am saying is that you save maps to your phone, taking up space, hense forcing you to save other media on the Cloud.
  • not true, it WAS possible to move offline maps to SD card, but there isn't anymore. And that's a bit strange...
  • This is a bit confusing to me since you can indeed store offline maps on the SD card in 8.1, I currently have 2 maps stored and they take up 630MB on the SD card, this according to storage sense and also manual check with file manager. I really don't understand the issue here. Perhaps this only occurs if you have indeed been using the Lumia storage check beforehand?
    I should perhaps add that I am using storage sense and another thing is that have the app itself stored on the SD card
  • Daniel is saying if you reset your device today, there is no way to recreate your situation of your maps on your SD card
  • Backward, so tired of backward tech movement. Lost so much hardware tech moving from the Nokia N8 and 808.
  • Thanks for this article. Hopefully somebody at Microsoft will read it.   With all the 8GB Windows Phones out there (and even some 4GB!), the ability to put maps on SD card is critical.  
  • April fool
  • I just downloaded another map to doublecheck and it did indeed end up on the SD card automatically, both storage sense and third party file manager now shows 3 maps as there should be on the SD card and none on internal memory. I think you might want to redo some research on this article. Below you will find a screenshot of my storage sense of the SD card, this is in swedish since i did not have the energy to redo my language settings over and over, i hope its ok anyway, "kartor" is maps btw, you can check if you want... Also worth noting is that I have not used the lumia storage check at any point, only storage sense and the built in map handler under settings. Here is a screenshot of the maps installed, Denmark, Norway and Sweden.
  • My research is thorough on this and you can see in our forums others having the same issue. As to your unique situation, I do not have an explanation. All I can tell you is that we have tried this on numerous phones and multiple users have commented to us that they cannot move their maps to their storage card. You can even see the comments here that are in agreement. My Lumia 1520 also never had Lumia Storage Check installed. When I download maps, they go to internal memory with no way to move them over, as I even tried before writing this article. Regardless, Lumia Storage Check Beta let you move the maps to the SD card, not just save to it. That is still missing, even from your situation as you would have to delete and re-download to get the same effect. Meanwhile, you can move apps back and forth from SD to internal anytime you want.
  • I just tried moving maps around from SD to internal and vice versa and it works fine, I have no idea why but it does, I do not have to re-download anything. I am using a Lumia 830 with non DP 8.1 and updated denim FW. Edit; I should add that when moving the maps I moved "Here Maps" in storage sense app section, this seems to change the location of the actual map files as well, you do need to set map storage in the new location aswell. Doing this along with a third part file manager and moving the folders seem to do the trick. But for simply installing to SD there is no issue at all.
  • It is true! on Lumia 640 LTE - with Denim it is not possible even if the app Here and Here Drive is installed on SD card, the maps I download goes to internal phone memory and can not be moved. All other files though can be set to direct download to SD, but not maps. And i really need whole of Europe, offline when driving to france and over to Austria Hungaryd Slovakia Bosnia Serbia and then Home over Czeck Republic, and also for trip to Norway and Finland. Hard to have the Android Pad on the Motorcycle, cause on Android it is of course no problems to decide where download material goes regadless if it is maps or not. So @Tellus82 another tip from the dark woods in Småland where I am, is, if you do a hard reset on your device, then it might not work anymore.       
  • People like to move app to sd card. It I'd a problem while e having only 8gb internal memory.I really hate this move......
  • If storage sense is set to store apps and downloads on the SD card when you install MAPS app, your maps will end up on the SD card. You can't move them but you can control where they are by your storage sense settings. If they are already in the wrong place uninstall the app. Change settings, reinstall, and redownload maps. Btw I have a 1520 and still have Lumia Storage Check and it works great too.
  • Another brillant idea from MS
  • The maps are an OS level resource, not just save data for the HERE Maps and HERE Drive+ apps. I have a new Lumia 735 and it was stuck saving maps to internal storage despite me moving the apps to SD and setting everything to SD. Fortunately I had another Lumia before this so I knew about the Storage Check Beta trick and used it before it was removed from the Store. It does seem crazy that Storage Sense is missing this option in Windows Phone 8.1.
  • Thank god... I still got it on my phn.. And I've saved all my maps to SD card.. :D
  • Unfortunately it doesn't seem to be a mistake. Look at this official information from MS support pages: "Note: You can’t save maps to the memory card with the exception of the Lumia 530 where an SD card is required before you can choose a map to download. The type of the memory card may affect how long it takes to move large files to the card​". ​
  • The decision have been made for performance concerns... this is the reason!
  • No. Accessing map data doesn't require a blazing fast SD card. It literally pulls bytes at a time. This is not the reason. Posted via the Windows Central App for Android
  • Numpties.
  • When the app was beta and was being developed by Nokia, they explained that all features except this one had been moved into Storage Sense. If I recall correctly, at the time they explained that the "store maps on SD card" feature didn't work reliably on all devices.
  • @Author: what about asking MSFT for a official statement?
  • Not acceptable at all... They are ripping all the features away that attracted me to the platform, one by one... Offline maps on mid to low end phones like my old 521 and current 1320 was a huge selling point for me, as I often travel, and don't like the idea of lugging a $500+ USD phone around that could break or get lost/stolen... There isn't enough space on this 1320 for all USA maps plus anything else... This along with the hubs and rooms being depreciated and the regression of the banking app ecosystem is shaking my confidence in the platform... And things like making the camera shutter button optional :/ I am going to wait for Windows 10, but if some of these key issues are not addressed, I'm going to have to abandon the platform... And I really don't want to have to switch again (BlackBerry to Android to Android 4 to Windows Phone...)
  • How to clear other in storage
  • So when it comes again in store any one reply tell
  • If this is not april fools its a really bad move. Got my whole family set-up with offline maps on SD card. Im about to jump to windows phone as well but this doesnt help at all, im not even sure the Lumia 640 or XL will hold the maps I want. :(
  • The maps on SD card were very slow on my 620. Before I went on a roadtrip last summer where I used 620 as the only navigation (and it served flawlessly) I moved all the big apps to SD and all the maps to internal storage. This helped maps tremendously (better stability and were quicker) and slowed app loading time but that wasn't much concern while on the road.
  • WOW! There goes that idea of using my 520 as a standalone GPS
  • The Download and install manually link still works for the BETA App
  • This must be rectified
  • I've tried downloading & installing manually the beta app : it doesn't work.   I've tried all tricks aforementioned, like uninstall/reinstall HERE suite on the SD card and then redownload maps. It doesn't work.   So please vote for the uservoice I've just opened:
  • Had a Lumia 830 with "Lumia Storage Check beta". That meant I could do as I "always" done, save the maps to my SD card. (As I did on my Nokia 6220 classic, Nokia N8, Nokia 808 Pureview). Actually this feature made me buy my 830 in November 2014 plus that there had been no updates for my "Here" maps on my 808 for over a year (or even longer). My Lumia got stolen so I bought a new Lumia 830 2 weeks ago. About the same time my "Here" maps got updated on my 808. Tried for several hours to install maps on my new SD card . . . Googled and found out that Lumia Storage Check beta no longer is avaiable. Now I'm sending the 830 back to MS! Android "Here" I Come ! ! ! (my wife can download "Here" offline maps to the SD card in her Sony Xperia Z1)
  • Yesterday I was obliged to Hard Reset my Nokia Lumia 620 in order to repair multiple Microsoft WP OS bugs and defects mostly introduced with the so called 'upgrade' to 8.1.1. Now I also find the Lumia Storage Check beta app used to move map data to SD Storage has inexplicably been removed and is no longer available to download/sideload! Here+ suite of apps was a major reason why I purchased a WP phone but if I can no longer store the huge map data files on SD then the phone is now pretty useless as the very limited phone storage is mostly taken up with imovable apps, system files and of course 'other'. No maps then no WP phone. Well done Microsoft for removing just about the only good feature on this lame phone OS.
  • Very frustrating.
  • Can anybody comment on this? I found this on a Dutch forum and it could be an explanation why Microsoft is not reacting or changing the feature to store maps on SD card with "storage control" Nokia HERE is no longer standard in Windows Phone 10. The new Bing Maps also have the ability to store maps offline and also has voice navigation, This is the default maps app for all Windows 10 devices, including the telephone.
  • One of the main reason I switched to Microsoft was due to the excellent management and availability of the SD card. Especially ability of moving almost all applications to the SD card. It behaves almost like a computer. You can by a phone and upgrade your storage on a fly. Now this stab in the back. Really Microsft, are you happy with your market share in the phone market. You have to use every opportunity and advantage you have to gain that market share. Here are the main reason people more to Windows phone 1. SD card almost like an internal storage. Like in the good old windows wiht a second hard disk drive. 2. Replasable battery. It takes 10s to replace the battery, and a reboot. 3. Excellent hardware for a budjet price. You take the first two and you will have to stay on that budjet price for a looong time.
  • hello Daniel, first of all congrats for your article, it is really well written and it gives a clear picture of the background on the matter. I would like to know if there is any update on the possibility of saving maps in the SD card. Do you know if Windows 10 solves the problem? Please let me know if you get any news. Thanks A
  • Hello, I am not sure if this is really great news. Maybe I don't want Windows 10, maybe Windows 10 needs more memory/cpu etc. (I think it would be the first time in history that a new OS needs less of it). But now it is clear why no one of Microsoft or Here tries to solve our "sd-card-problem" - They just stopped working on WP8.1 and want that we buy a new phone. I have a lumia 730 from spring 2015 (main reason for buying: Here Drive Offline Nav)  and just a few weeks after buying it got useless - I feel deceived. In the last few months I have spent hours and hours for communication with Microsoft/Here (lots of chat and email).Now I want to let you know how "helpful" Microsoft/Here Customer Support is (in a very compressed/summarised sequence): 1. I am from Austria, so I did more then one chat with the german customer support from Microsoft. Result: Absolute useless/senseless answers! 2. Chat with the customer support in the USA. Result: Just the same! 3. Some time later I started a new attempt with the german support and after a long chat (again with very useless answers) I got an unbelievable answer: The "support people" cannot ask questions or report problems to the right people/developer/departments etc. It is not possible/allowed for them to do this. And it's the same in other languages/countries. 4. I wrote a detailed description of the problem and sent it to the official complaint department in the USA (the one and only helpful hint of the german support guy) and also to "Here" (now it's about 3 months ago). Result: Still no answer from Here and a frustrating communication with Microsoft: The very senseless answer from Microsoft (Mobile Device Support, summarised): "big countries/areas need large storage, small countries/areas need small storage. Buy a memory card!" LOL ;) 5. I sent the whole complaint again and criticized that they were obviously unable or unwilling to read it - otherwise they wouldn't have sent such a useless answer. And I also asked why no one from Microsoft or Here can give a clear statement about the whole "maps-offline-sd-card-problem" (reasons? when can we expect a solution?).
    I got the following answer: "We understand your frustration regarding this matter. In response to this, please be informed that starting from the 26th Oct 2014 the support for the HERE Drive owned location apps is handled directly by the HERE team. The HERE team will support the Windows and other platform based apps (e.g. HERE Drive, HERE Maps, HERE Transit, HERE City Lens and the corresponding branded apps)." So Microsoft says it is a fault by Here. By the way: Here belonged to Nokia which was bought by Microsoft. In different newspapers I read that most of the Nokia people got fired, so I say it is a problem caused by Microsoft. 6. A few days ago I found one statement from Here at their homepage. Two people criticized the problem we are talking about. Answer: " HERE is an integral part of the Windows Phone operating system. This means that offline maps aren't just used by our apps, but system-wide. Apps like Instagram, Foursquare, Facebook, Uber etc. all use our offline maps on Windows Phone. This is a clear benefit for you all, BUT IT ALSO MEANS THAT SD CARD SUPPORT FOR MAPS HAS TO COME FROM THE OPERATING SYSTEM ITSELF." Summary: I think we cannot expect a solution from these people/company. Don't give them a feedback or participate in a survey - it is an absolute waste of your time. All these feedback and survey things are just a fake - they don't really care about their customers. MICROSOFT AND HERE JUST SAY: "WHAT DO YOU WANT - WE GOT YOUR MONEY - **** OFF".
  • Windows 10 insider preview 10586.36 MS Maps app is on phone, Here+ apps is on card and offline maps is also on card. All works fine.