Much like reaching the age of 30 and wondering how that happened, it’s easy to take what seems like a relatively new device and fill it up with apps, files, folders, cache, photos, videos, widgets, temporary files, and more. Usually the problem sneaks up on you and presents itself at the most inconvenient times, like when you are trying to snap a picture while on vacation. You might think you’ve captured the perfect scene that can’t be replicated only to find an error message: Insufficient Storage Available. While this message is annoying, it should spur you to ask, “Do I really need to store all of these photos on my phone if they are backed up to the cloud?”
And if your pictures aren’t currently backed up automatically, why not? This is your chance to weed out redundant apps, and improve the overall efficiency of your device. Just as your house needs the occasional spring cleaning, so does your phone. But where to begin? Let me show you!
Determine What’s Using Storage
Your Android will tell you exactly what’s taking up the most space. Go to Settings and select Storage to view your memory limit, how much memory remains, and the amount of storage space being used for things like cached data.
Clear the Cache/Data
While you’re there, you might as well erase your temporary cache. While these files can serve a purpose in speeding up your experience on websites and apps you use regularly, you can live without them. If you want to be more selective you can go into individual apps to clear the cache and data by going to Settings > Apps > Tap the app of your choice > Storage. Downloadable apps such as App Cache Cleaner can also help you be more choosy when clearing the cache and temporary data.
Some of our tips listed below will also help you clear this data on a more individual or itemized basis. This step is listed first because it’s easy, especially if you are somewhat carefree about what you want to get rid of. Clearing the cache should be considered a temporary fix, however, because your phone will begin storing it again as soon as you resume using it. For automated cache cleaning, install this free app.
Download: App Cache Cleaner
Unload Unnecessary Apps
If you are simply out of storage space, uninstalling older apps you don’t use very often could very well be your best bet. Having difficulty making the distinction between apps to keep versus apps you rarely use? The Google Play app allows you to sort apps by size and last usage. To uninstall, you can click and drag apps to the Uninstall section that appears on your homescreen, or you can go to Settings > Application Manager > All to select the Uninstall button for each app.
Remove Photos and Videos from Device
You may have photos that are very near and dear to your heart, and hard to part with. But if you have pictures that aren’t very good, why not get rid of them? Videos take up even more space, and are yours all high-quality? Finally, why not dump any pictures or videos that are already backed up?
Clear Downloads Folder
The Downloads folder is often accessible right from your homescreen, and when you click on the horizontal lines in the upper-right corner, you can sort your downloads by size. Long-press each file for the trash can to appear. Multiple selections are possible by simply tapping additional files after you’ve long-press the first one. This method can also be accomplished with the help of a file manager.
Move Apps to SD Card
If your Android permits (and if it doesn’t, keep reading for other adaptable storage options), add a micro-SD card and move your media across. Once your SD card is in place, you should be able to go to Settings > Apps > App Info and tap the Move or Move to SD Card button. Some developers do not give you this option. Apps probably take up the most space, but transferring any other data you can to the SD card will help you free up space on your Android as well.
Manage Music Downloads
Ever stream Google Play Music or similar services? It’s probably leaving behind more residual data than what you might realize. Downloading entire albums will cost you much more space, though, and how many songs do you actually like? Clean up your playlists, engage in more streaming, and tidy any cache or data that the streaming services leave behind.
Delete Offline Content
When you don’t have unlimited data, it can be beneficial to download directions and/or maps ahead of time while connected to Wi-Fi. The only downside is that these maps can accumulate over time, and consume your space. It’s the same dilemma with apps/services that allow you to save music or read articles or notes later, such as with Spotify Premium or OneNote. If these files are no longer needed, delete them by clearing the cache within these individual apps.
Consider Alternative Adaptable Storage
Did you know that you can use a micro-SD card even if your device doesn’t offer support for one? As long as you have a micro-USB port, you can connect a micro-SD card reader to your Android. For devices that are OTG-enabled (On-The-Go), you can plug in a USB flash drive via an OTG adaptor. Verbatim MediaShare is a wireless option that resembles a flash drive, but contains a micro-SD inside.
Copy Files to PC
You probably already have apps on your phone that can easily transfer your data to your desktop computer. Google Drive contains Google Photos, which when synced with your Android, will allow you to download every photo you wish to transfer onto your desktop. You can also manually transfer files using the assistance of a USB cable, or seek help from any number of third-party apps. If you decide to use the USB cable, check your PC’s settings to ensure that it’s set to automatically detect new hardware.
Backup Media Files with Dropbox
Dropbox also has an option to upload pictures and videos from your Android to your PC (from the cloud) automatically. You can also manually accomplish this by opening the Dropbox app, opening the folder where you wish to store your media, clicking the plus sign at the bottom of your screen, then choosing Upload photos or videos. Or you can choose to just store them safely within Dropbox. Either way, you’ll want to move those pictures off of your Android, because they can take up a lot of space.
Your Android’s specs may have been advertised as 32GB of storage, and while that’s technically true, it’s highly likely that you don’t get to use all of it because before you ever laid hands on your phone the manufacturer and carrier had already installed some apps you didn’t get to choose. What’s worse, when you try to uninstall many of these apps, you find that you can’t. But actually, you still can if you are willing to root your device. If you are able and willing to root, try an app like NoBloat Free.
Otherwise, you can disable and hide these apps to make things tidy. But that won’t actually free up any space.
Download: NoBloat Free
Delete Data from Browser
Even though there are plenty of other possibilities, the browser we’ll use as an example is Google Chrome, since it’s on Android phones by default. Also remember that if you sync according to type of data, and delete it from this Android, it will be deleted across all synced devices. Nonetheless, to delete your browsing data, go to Settings via More (three vertical dots) > Advanced > Privacy > Clear browsing data and choose a time range. Additionally, you will be asked to choose the types of data you want to delete, and then to confirm by tapping Clear data.
Enlist the Help of your Carrier’s Cloud
Although the Cloud may sound mysterious, it’s really just someone else’s computer where you can offload your stuff. And Lord knows you pay plenty to your carrier (they will usually charge you more for anything other than storing contacts, but you can get a free 30-day trial if you are with Verizon) so why not take advantage of their cloud?
I use Verizon, for example, simply because the company is my current carrier. Since they already put the app on my phone, all I have to do is open it, select my storage amount, click Get it now, specify which line I need it for, and confirm the purchase. Once you’ve also done so, you can choose the files you wish to upload.
Download: Verizon Cloud
Downsize Your Pictures & Videos
Alright, so you need pictures on your phone to show off to all your coworkers. But do they really need to be in full resolution? Download an app like Photo & Picture Resizer to reduce your pictures to a more manageable smaller size on your phone, while saving the bigger full-resolution image on your PC or in the cloud, where it can be viewed/edited in all of its glory. Reducing camera resolution also decreases the size of your image files.
For videos, both resolution and frame rate are factors. Visit your camera’s settings to explore these options, and to see if it’s a sacrifice worth making.
Download: Photo & Picture Resizer
Use Android Oreo’s Free Up Space Button
Android 8.0 takes a different approach in how it lists items within the Storage menu. Instead of grouping apps together, and files separately, Oreo displays both apps and files together by category. Despite the more granular organization, Oreo’s solution for making room is quite simple. All you have to do is tap the large button at the top titled Free Up Space.
If you are hoarding homescreens, stop. You can only have so many before it becomes no more efficient than looking through your app drawer for your less frequently-used apps. Luckily, Android is flexible in allowing you to choose the number of homescreens you want as well as the arrangement of apps within. You have to choose what’s right for you; maybe you need all messaging apps on one home screen, and your favorite contacts on another.
You should be able to free up some space by using these methods. If you have tried everything, the last step is to resort to a factory reset. Be careful though, because this will cause you to lose all of your data and settings, so it’s truly a last resort.
Do you have other tips you would like to share? Let us know what worked or didn’t work for you in the comments.