How To Fix Installation Errors For Updates On Your Phone [Android]

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android installation errorAndroid lovers know how it goes. The phone works beautifully until one day it just….doesn’t. Errors pop up and you’re left scouring Internet forums trying to find a fix that will work for you. Today we’ve done that for you and pulled together a list of all the reliable fixes you can try.

You’re probably reading this because you’ve seen a niggling error message popping up when you’ve tried to install application updates, saying “Installation Error: Couldn’t install on USB Storage or SD Card” or possibly “Error -18 Unknown”. This error is apparently caused when you’ve started installing an application and then lost Internet access in the meantime. One temporary little file got left on your SD card in the process and never got deleted. Thankfully, it’s pretty easy to fix.

Please note, you may get a similar message if your SD card is full, so check that this isn’t your problem before you continue reading.

android installation error

The Non-Technical Temporary Fix

If you don’t have any tech skills (or don’t have any time spare) this is a hack that will suffice for a while. All you do is move that application back to the phone before you try to update. Once it’s updated you can move it back to the SD card and use it as per usual.

The Rooted Phone Fix

This method will only work if you have a rooted phone. Using a file manager application like Astro or Root Explorer, navigate to either /sdcard/.android_secure or /mnt/secure/asec/ and delete the file called smdl2tmp1.asec from the folder. This will be invisible on non-rooted phones.

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android app install error

The Windows Fix

Set your phone to mount as a USB Disc Drive when connected to a PC. Alternatively, unmount your SD card from your phone and put the card into an SD card reader connected to your computer.

android app install error

Ensure that your file manager is set to view hidden files. On a Windows machine you should be able to press CTRL-H. Then navigate to your SD card and delete the file called smdl2tmp1.asec from either the /sdcard/.android_secure or /mnt/secure/asec/ folder.

The Mac Finder Fix

The steps for the Mac Finder fix are the same as for the Windows fix, however viewing hidden files is a little different.

To view hidden files, Mac users will need to use Terminal (found in Applications > Utilities) to run a quick command.

From anywhere in your file system, type this to view hidden files:

defaults write com.apple.Finder AppleShowAllFiles YES

Then you’ll need to restart finder. Press CMD-OPTION-ESC to bring up the “Force Quit Applications” dialogue, highlight Finder and click on Restart.

android installation error

To revert this and hide hidden files again, use this command in Terminal and restart Finder again:

defaults write com.apple.Finder AppleShowAllFiles NO

The Unix / Mac Terminal Fix

The steps for the Unix command line (also Mac Terminal) fix are essentially the same as for the Windows fix, but you’ll either need to know the name of your SD card or be able to navigate your way to the file by following your nose in order to work out what the SD card is called.

If you haven’t changed it, your SD card is probably called “No Name“, but you might like to check a GUI file manager to check what it is called.

Given the two possible locations of the file, you should be able to get rid of it by using one of these commands:

 rm /Volumes/NO\ NAME/.android_secure/smdl2tmp1.asec
 rm /Volumes/NO\ NAME/mnt/secure/asec/smdl2tmp1.asec

Obviously, if your SD card is not called “No Name” you’ll need to replace that part of the command, ensuring the backslashes go before spaces.

More Android Reading

Here’s some more great posts you might like:

Have you fixed any similar errors on your Android? What did you do?

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Comments (11)
  • Chris

    You rock, Ange! Thanks for posting this, that error was starting to drive me crazy!

    • Angela Alcorn

      Thanks. It’s such a little thing, yet SO annoying. :D

  • Miguel

    help! i managed to find the smdl2temp1.asec file, by putting the sd card on a computer, but there’s no option to delete it. That way i cant delete the file, and it remains on my sd card. Any help?

    • Angela Alcorn

      Maybe you need to edit the permissions for the file. If it’s read-only you can’t delete the file until it’s been made read-write.

  • vikki

    can not find .android_secure folder after plugging like USB phone or unmounting SD card. Still keep getting error 18

    • Angela Alcorn

      The .android_secure folder is one of two likely places for the smdl2tmp1.asec file to reside. The other is the /mnt/secure/asec/

      If it’s not there is might be that your phone puts the file somewhere else. Just make sure hidden files are viewable (CTRL-H in Windows) and search for the smdl2tmp1.asec file.

      Good luck!

  • alvin yu

    thank you so much, this is very useful! God speed to y’all.. :)

  • Anonymous

    Any chance you can do a story on how to “re-flash” a phone that is bricked?  I can get my Android phone to the “Download” Screen (Yellow Triangle), but I cannot get the phone to flash to stock.

    • Angela Alcorn

      I’ve never bricked my phone *touch wood* so I’m not sure where you’d go from here. I’ll suggest it to the others, but in the meantime maybe you could ask in our Answers section. There’s lots of helpful types there who might have an answer for you.

    • Anonymous

      No worries, I did some digging in XDA and I found a simple program to re-flash my phone.

    • Angela Alcorn

      Good to hear!

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For more details, please read our disclosure.
Affiliate Disclamer

This review may contain affiliate links, which pays us a small compensation if you do decide to make a purchase based on our recommendation. Our judgement is in no way biased, and our recommendations are always based on the merits of the items.

For more details, please read our disclosure.