How To Free Up Space On An Android Phone Or Tablet

How To Free Up Space On an Android Phone or Tablet

It doesn't take long for a new Android phone or tablet to get cluttered up with rolls of pictures, redundant apps, unused widgets, cached files and the troublingly vague miscellaneous data that seems to take up more and more internal storage with each passing week. Take a few minutes to blow the cobwebs out of your device's cupboards and get your streamlined, lean gadget back.

Erase Temporary Data

Your phone or tablet hangs on to all kinds of cached data for easy access. Some of it's very useful, some of it less so. Employ the services of a smart housekeeping tool such as CCleaner (free) or AVG Cleaner (free) to work out which of these digital boxes of bytes you can safely toss out into the garbage. We've picked those two apps because of their established reputations as desktop utilities, but there are plenty of alternatives around.

How To Free Up Space On an Android Phone or Tablet

Both programs will run a thorough scan of your device's file system, searching for data that's trying hard to look busy but which actually serves no real purpose. There's the option to delete browser history files and the contents of the clipboard, for example, as well as data inadvertently left behind by sudden crashes and unexpected reboots. The AVG tool lets you run regular scans if you want to have potential problems cleared up automatically.

Delete Older Files

Do you really need every image you've ever taken on your mobile? Are they all backed up to Google+ or Dropbox? Or both? Some time spent sifting through the gallery app on your device can clear up a significant amount of storage space, particularly when high-definition video clips are taken into consideration. You don't have to obliterate all of your most precious memories, but you might want to consider moving them somewhere else.

How To Free Up Space On an Android Phone or Tablet

SMS text messages, call logs and downloaded files can all be targeted too. The amount of space you save as a result may not be huge, but the associated apps will run that little bit more briskly if they have less data to chew through each time they boot up. It's also worth having a run through apps such as Dropbox and Google Drive to see which files you've cached for offline use — if you've watched your brother's latest skiing clip, maybe it's time to unsync it. The apps we've previously mentioned can help out in some of these areas if you don't want to sort through everything manually.

Uninstall Apps

Apps that you no longer use can take up large chunks of the storage on your phone or tablet, particularly the more advanced tools and more complex games. Press and hold on any app icon and drag it to the App info slot to see how much room it's taking up. If you don't like what you see then you can drag it to the Uninstall slot instead to kick it off your device. You can be pretty ruthless here, as reinstalling apps only takes a few seconds if you realise you've made a mistake.

How To Free Up Space On an Android Phone or Tablet

There are lots of possibilities here (uninstalling Facebook and using the mobile site instead, perhaps), and look inside individual apps too: you could merge some of your Google contacts, delete some saved offline maps, and reduce the number of emails synced by the Gmail app. Again, the smart cleaning apps we've already referred to can do the job for you if you want — they can work out which apps take up the most room, which apps you use the least, how much data they use, and more. If your phone manufacturer pre-installed a few apps that you are never going to get around to using, now is a good opportunity to get rid of them.

Consolidate Home Screens

Flicking through four or five home screens might give you something to do while you wait on the subway platform, but take a moment to weigh up whether you actually need all of those apps and widgets to be so accessible. After all, it's only one tap from the home screen to get into the drawer where all of your apps reside, so it's probably easier to get to them there than from the fifth home screen to the right.

How To Free Up Space On an Android Phone or Tablet

You can approach widgets in the same way. Focus on the ones that you actually use rather than the ones that look the prettiest. The benefits here are the speed with which you can get to the stuff that you really need rather than any significant increases in performance or storage space. Try spending a week without Instagram and Twitter on your home screen and see how much time you save by not scrolling idly through your social media feeds every time you unlocked your mobile. For a truly minimal approach, you could consider installing an alternative launcher.

Go Nuclear

If you want to take a truly drastic approach to the problem, how about a factory reset? Wave goodbye to all that digital detritus, all those unused apps and all those unnecessary screenshots, and start again with a fresh clean slate. With your Google account holding most of your data in the cloud — contacts, emails, purchased apps, calendars, even Wi-Fi passwords — a factory reset is not quite as problematic as you might think.

How To Free Up Space On an Android Phone or Tablet

Be under no illusions, though: a factory reset will wipe everything on your phone or tablet and bump you back to the initial setup process. Are your photos and videos safely backed up somewhere else? Do you have time to log in to all of your apps and services again? Can your favourite games retrieve your saved games from the cloud? If the answers are all "yes" or "who cares?", the factory reset option is under Backup & reset in Settings.

Any other space-saving tips we missed that have worked for you? Share them below!



    Xperia T2 Ultra. I have WD MyCloud NAS on my home network. Now my phone claims to have a cache of 1.98Tb!

    Backing up and erasing SMS and MMS messages is a big one often overlooked.

      Yep, I've had mates completely "clear" their phone, only to accidentally restore all of their SMS's, etc. and been dobbed in as a thief by the person they sell the phone to. I'm hearin' ya!

    Unfortunately I have an Xperia Tab and Sony's build doesn't let you move anything (other than photos, music etc) to the SD Card. So it's always on the brink. These techniques only go so far. Right now I'm eyeballing rooting it just to remove the Sony bloatware and allow me to do what I want with it.

      It's not Sony issue, it's kit kat, try file commander to move stuff to sd card

    Memory Management for Android - Manually move apps to SD card, rage when some apps wont move. Have stupid apps that don't let you change save location so they won't save data to SD even if app is on SD. Clear app caches perioidically as you run out of system space. Have system refuse to install apps because you are low on memory but with an empty SD card. Delete apps and have them leave megabytes of junk behind you have to find and delete manually. Rage more when that 32GB still doesn't help you with some stupid message from some stupid part of the system about being low on space. Rage at wasted hours and stuff that just doesn't work.

    Memory Management for iPhone - turn it on and forget about it.

      Memory management for Android - When you run out of memory, chuck in a microSD.

      Memory management for iPhone - When you run out, waste several hours looking through files which you think you don't need anymore and deleting them.

        Chuck in larger microSD that the system simply doesn't use for all the reasons I mentioned above. Yeah, that'll fix it. Android memory 'management' is total crap. Got 32GB cards with 30GB free on some of my devices and they still refuse to install apps because I'm "low on space", Garbage.

    Not even a factory reset will get rid of all the preinstalled junk apps! Root access is a must if you want to keep your droid lean, mean and clean.

    Typing *#9900# and running "Delete dumpstate/logcat" is a good way to release some system memory on your phone.

      If in fact this did anything at all on my 4 Android devices (Samsung, ZTE, Huawei and generic chinese tablet), I guess it may have been useful, But it's not. Maybe it works on some Android in another dimension? No wonder they're consigned to the desk drawer now and I use my iPhone for everything.

      except this only works on samsungs - and not all of them. But working in a phone shop - this trick has been awesome.

    How do you free up space? Get rid of things that take up space... Thanks.

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