6 Ways to Free Up Your Android Phone Memory
There’s a whole slew of low end to mid range Android smartphones out there which don’t come with very generous amount of phone storage memory, causing their users to constantly run into the issue of running out of space when installing and using various Android apps. Since not everyone can afford to buy top end smartphone models, especially in the developing world, this should speak to a sizeable number of Android users.
In fact, I am one of them. Even when I had my HTC Desire, a top smartphone at the time, I had this issue. Then I broke it and kinda downgraded to a mere LG Optimus E400, which has about the same amount of phone storage for apps as the Desire, so the problem persisted.
There are a few simple ways to go about making the most out of this small chunk of phone memory though, so here’s what you can do.
1. Move all apps to internal memory card or SD card (if app supports it)
Since Android 2.2 or so it supports moving some apps from phone storage to an internal or external SD card, which typically has a far more generous amount of free space. Make sure all of the apps which can be moved are moved so they don’t waste precious phone space. This doesn’t actually reduce their phone space usage to zero, since apparently some part of the app is still stored on it, but it does significantly reduce their foot print in phone memory.
The way to do this is simple. Go to Settings > Applications > Manage Applications, and tap on the Downloaded tab. There you should see a list of apps you downloaded and installed, and can tap on each app to get to its info page where you can press the “Move to Internal Memory” or “Move to SD card” or something similar, to move the app there. Once it is moved the button will change to “Move to Phone”, in case you want to move it back for any reason.
2. Run a cleaner app to detect any residual files and cache to remove
An app such as Clean Master can scan your phone memory (as well as internal memory and SD card) for cache and residual files that you can then opt to remove in order to free some extra space. It also allows you to remove apps as well, though you can do that from within Android itself.
It’s worth giving this a try. It’s possible there are some lingering files and folders left behind apps that you’ve since removed and don’t need anymore. And you don’t necessarily need to have cache taking up space even when you don’t use an app. Cleaner apps like this can help you clean this stuff up.
3. Triage: Remove apps you don’t really need
This one can be a bit difficult, but it ultimately comes down to priorities. Take a good look at the apps you have installed and ask yourself if you really need each of them, and which do you need the most.
This is about figuring out what your bare essential uses of your smartphone are, those which you cannot compromise, and make sure that those always work well. And if you constantly keep running into low space issues chances are they wont perform so well. Case in point, when I get a low space warning hanging in my notifications area, my SMS app wont receive any messages or let me write any new ones, and you can hardly get any more “bare essential” on a phone than sms (sans phone calls).
So it’s better to remove a game you might not be playing all so often, for example, than to suffer performance issues with apps that you do rely on frequently for more important things. In other words, just triage, and get rid of what doesn’t really matter.
4. Install lighter apps with same functionality
What if all of the above still isn’t enough. I wouldn’t be surprised because in my case it actually wasn’t. This particular strategy in fact helped hugely. There are often apps that have the same or similar features, but differ significantly in their memory footprint. You could take a look at the apps you have and search for alternatives that take up less.
I can give you three excellent examples regarding what a lot of you probably heavily rely on: facebook, skype, and web browsing. These apps tend to lead the way in terms of their memory footprint, especially Facebook and Skype. Quite simply they are hogs, and that can be annoying. However, you don’t actually have to use the official apps to be able to use the same functionality.
If you want a top notch messaging experience, you can install Facebook Messenger. It is the official messaging app from Facebook with some great features. Facebook Messenger together with Facebook Lite still take up far less space than just the official Facebook app alone.
For Skype you can use such apps as Imo or IM+, which are instant messaging apps that support the Skype protocol. This means you can get rid of the heavy Skype app, yet still be able to have skype chats on your phone. Both of these apps take up far less space than the official Skype app. I found IM+ to be a bit better, but you’d need a Pro version which costs a $4.99.
For web browsing I really like Dolphin, and quite dislike some shortcomings in the stock browser, but Dolphin being fairly chunky there’s a slimmer alternative that still retains a lot of its niceness: Dolphin Browser Mini. In some ways you might even like it better than the main Dolphin app.
5. Don’t update non-removable apps you don’t use
Quite often there are certain apps that come with Android or your phone which you cannot remove (at least not without rooting), and every once in a while there are updates coming in for them. Those updates can actually make those apps larger in file size. If you don’t use them, don’t install those updates. If you’ve already installed such updates you can uninstall them from the same app page in Applications Manager where you move apps to internal memory or SD card (as shown under number one above; Settings > Applications > Application Manager and click on an app).
If your apps are auto updating you can turn this off via the Google Play app. Launch Google Play, open the bottom menu and go to Settings, then tap “Auto-update apps”, and make sure “Do not auto-update apps” is selected. It will still notify you when there are new updates so you can decide for yourself when and what do you want to update.
6. Make sure apps cache to SD card
Many apps cache the data they fetch online, and if they do this on phone memory they can contribute to the memory usage issue. Luckily most apps give you an option in the settings to select a location where you want to cache so you can make sure it’s on the SD card or otherwise not on phone memory. A lot of times caching to the SD card is actually the default option, but it doesn’t hurt to check whenever you install a new app.
The same applies to other things where an app generates or downloads new data. Always check the settings and make sure it doesn’t save this stuff in phone memory.