Apps, photos, and operating systems are always getting bigger and bigger.If you're using an older Android device -- or even an entry-level model of a newer device -- you'll quickly find yourself reaching your storage limit.
There's nothing worse than pulling out your phone to snap a once-in-a-lifetime photo, only to see the dreaded "storage full" message.So, how do you free up Android storage space?Read on for a list of tips and ideas below.
1. Identify apps that are hogging storage space
Of the apps currently installed on your phone, how many do you use regularly?
Of course, we all need an email client, some social media apps, a news app, and maybe a game or two.But do you really need that random weather widget you downloaded, or that app that distorts your face to make you look like your dog?Maybe not.
Recent Android versions make it easy to see which apps are the worst offenders.Go into Settings, search for "Storage," and tap "Apps" in the "Storage" menu.Wait for the list to appear, then click the three-dot icon in the upper right corner, and select Sort by Size if it is not already selected.
Once you know what's taking up the most space, uninstall anything you don't need by going into Settings, searching for "Apps," and tapping View All X Apps in the Apps menu.
2. Delete offline content
Many apps let you save content on your device so you can access it when you're offline.
For example, Spotify lets you save music directly on your phone.Some RSS readers let you save articles to read later, as do bookmarking services like Pocket.Podcast apps can save audio files for offline playback, and the Chrome browser can even save web pages for offline access.
Saving content for offline use is great if you have the space.If you don't, you'll quickly start wondering where all your free space is going.
A few careful steps can resolve this issue.Instead of downloading dozens of albums, try making a playlist on Spotify with just enough songs for you to listen to at the gym or on your commute.Only open the notebooks you use most often in OneNote, and avoid downloading any huge files from cloud storage services.
To clear offline content you've saved on your device, you have two options.You can clear app caches one by one by going to Settings > Apps > View All X Apps > [App Name] > Storage & Cache > Clear Cache.
Alternatively, you can tap Clear Storage to clear even more space, but it will reset the app to its original state, as if it were freshly installed.For some apps, like Google Chrome, you'll get to manage space instead of clearing storage.If you click on it, it will give you a bunch of options, of which clearing unimportant data is the safest.
3. Move photos to the cloud
Google Photos automatically backs up all your photos to the cloud.As long as you're happy with the slightly lower resolution in its storage saver mode, they won't count against your Google Drive storage limit.
When looking at photos on your device with Google Photos, it's easy to overlook the fact that they aren't saved locally.They can still be accessed and viewed through the Photos app as long as you have an internet connection.
The app will even remind you when it can help you save some space, and an on-screen notification will let you know you're approaching your storage limit.
If you think you're close to capacity, you can ask the app to check on your behalf.Navigate to Google Photos > Menu (your profile picture is in the top right corner) > Free Up Space.The app will scan your phone, let you know how many photos have been backed up, and suggest which ones you can safely delete.
4. Transfer content to SD card
Sadly, fewer and fewer devices come with SD card slots these days.They're especially rare on high-end phones.
There's a very good reason why modern phones lack support for SD cards: cheap SD cards won't perform as well as more expensive ones because they have slower read and write times.But many users won't realize there's something wrong with their SD card -- they'll just think the phone is sluggish.That's bad publicity for manufacturers; they'd rather you buy a more expensive model with more storage.
If you have a mid-range or budget device, it's more likely to have a slot for an SD card.This is fortunate, as these devices typically offer less built-in storage than more expensive devices.
Android has the ability to format SD cards so that they appear as internal storage on your device.Go to Settings > Storage > [SD card name], then tap the three-dot icon in the upper right corner and select Storage Settings.Select "Format as Internal" to start the process.
5. Utilizing Google Apps Files
Android Storage ManagerFiles by GooglePreinstalled on most stock Android devices.It's among some of the best Android file explorer apps, and does a great job of letting you organize your downloads, shared files, and other files on your phone.
However, one of the app's most overlooked features is its "Cleaning" tab, which you can navigate to from the bottom bar.It's also integrated directly into the Android Settings app in a space-saving form.Either way, you can go to the "Cleaning" tab for even more options.
Google's Files app analyzes your storage space and identifies things like junk files, large files, duplicate files, and anything else it thinks you can safely delete.You will ultimately decide whether to complete the deletion.
You can also turn on its smart storage feature by tapping the hamburger menu (three horizontal lines) in the upper left corner, then tapping Settings > Smart Storage.This will automatically delete backed up media files from your device after 60 days due to the integration with Google Photos.
6. Storage Manager Tool for Android
If you don't trust yourself to keep up with these storage maintenance tasks, you can let Android do some of the work for you.Not all phones have this feature, as Google's Smart Storage Files does a similar job, but if it does, it could be useful.Search for "storage management" in the settings menu to check its availability.
If you have this feature, slide the toggle next to Storage Manager to the on position.If you tap Storage Manager, you can customize the feature, including how long to keep backed up photos and videos before automatically deleting the local copy.This customization makes it more useful than the smart storage feature in Google Files.
Storage maintenance also improves performance
We've already discussed that you need storage to hold data like photos and videos.This is obvious.But did you know that if your Android phone runs out of storage space, it might start hanging, slowing down and, in some cases, heating up?That's why it's something you shouldn't ignore.
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