5 Ways to Gain Space on Your Android Device

Clear the clutter for OS updates, new apps, and more

Mobile phone and cloud storage
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When I first tried to update my old Samsung Galaxy S4 to Android 5.0 Lollipop o, I ran into an issue: I didn't have enough space available on my smartphone. I really wanted to update my OS, though, so something had to give. Helpfully, I could see how much storage space the update required and just how much space was left on my phone. To do this, go into settings and select storage. Here you can see the total storage on your device and the available space, as well as which types of data are using the most space: applications, pictures and videos, audio, cached data, and miscellaneous files.

Here are five ways to clean up your Android smartphone or tablet:

1. Delete Unused Apps

First, I took an inventory of my app drawer, flipping through screen after screen after screen. Like a physical drawer, it was filled to the brim with stuff: some useful; most forgotten and gathering digital dust. Sure, there were several apps that I used every day, but there were also surprising number of apps I hadn't touched in weeks or months, whether it was an abandoned game, an app I had reviewed and never used again, or something I had downloaded and promptly forgotten. Purging those apps one by one was tedious, and took some time, but gained me back a lot of space.

2. Move Photos and Videos

Next, since I hadn't cleared out quite enough room, I moved most of my photos and videos to my computer. I had already backed them up to the cloud, but I like to have backup for my backup. Additionally, the S4 has a card slot, so I emptied out the card as well.

Alternatively, you can simply swap out a full card with an empty one, but be sure to keep the unused memory card in a safe place. My smartphone had many old photos (I'd had the phone for a few years) as well as a ton of screenshots from past app reviews.

3. Clear the Cache

When I checked my storage settings, I found that some space was eaten up by cached data.

You can delete this with one click if you have a new Android smartphone; doing so will remove data such as app preferences or old searches, but you won't lose important data such as game progress. Think of it like clearing the cache on your web browser. Depending on how long it's been since you cleared your device's cache, this could release a lot of space. (Right now, my less-than-a-year-old Samsung Galaxy S6 has only 866 MB of cached data, but that will only increase with time.)

4. Banish Bloatware

Bloatware has to one of the most frustrating aspects of owning an Android device that's not a Nexus device. These pesky pre-installed apps can't be removed unless your device is rooted. What you can do is roll back the app to its original version, stripping away any updates you've downloaded. This will save a small amount of storage. Make sure to disable automatic app updates as well.

5. Root Your Phone

Finally, I considered rooting my smartphone. In this case, rooting comes with two immediate benefits: killing bloatware AND getting immediate access to Android OS updates. Rooting is no small task though, and comes with its own pros and cons. In this case, I decided against rooting, since I knew I was going to upgrade to the S6 relatively soon.

How to Avoid the Storage Space Issues in the Future

When I was researching new Android smartphones, I decided to stick with the Galaxy series, but I opted for the 64 GB version of the S6 since it doesn't have a memory card slot. I recommend buying a smartphone or tablet with at least 32 GB of storage. Alternatively, you can get a device that does have a card slot such as the Moto X Pure Edition, which takes cards up to 128 GB or the Droid Turbo 2, which takes cards up to 1 TB.

Got questions? Ask away on Facebook and Twitter. I'd love to hear from you.

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