Memory full? How to find what is eating your phone’s storage and clean it

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One of the most annoying errors you can run across on an Android phone is the “Storage space running low” one. That often occurs on low-end devices with limited storage, but can also happen on high-end devices with no microSD slot. So what do you do when apps and ROMs keep getting bigger and memory doesn’t seem to follow suit as quickly as needed? Here is an easy to follow tutorial.

What is taking all your phone’s storage?

Your Android phone or tablet have a built-in storage checking and cleaning tool. Under Settings > Storage, you will find the details of how your memory usage is currently divided:
  • Total space: the free space you get on your device. It’s usually the advertized storage (8GB, 16GB, 32GB, etc…) minus the space taken by your software or ROM.
  • Available: how much free space you have now.
  • Apps: the space taken by your installed apps, their cache, and their data files.
  • Pictures, Videos: how much storage your current camera-produced photos and videos are taking. Keep in mind that if you have image files stored outside of the Camera or DCIM folders on your card, they won’t show here.
  • Audio: the storage dedicated to the Music, Podcasts, and Ringtones folders in your memory. As was the case with photos, any audio files stored outside of these folders won’t show up in this category.
  • Downloads: strictly limited to that Downloads folder on your phone.
  • Cached Data: the data saved by apps and the browser. It is just there to be quickly retrieved when needed, instead of the app having to go download it again. So if, for example, you visit the same website, the browser would have the banner and logo photos cached so it doesn’t have to download it every time you visit the same website.
  • Misc.: the rest of your storage, including all folders and their content. This also encompasses all the media files that weren’t counted under “Pictures, Videos” or “Audio.”
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How to clear up some of your device’s memory

Whenever my phone’s memory starts getting filled, I proceed to clean up some free space in this order:
  • Click on “Cached data” and clear it all. These are the files that build up with time and aren’t at all necessary to keep.
  • Make sure I have no unneeded files in “Downloads.”
  • Select “Apps” and look for the apps that are taking the most space. I will then find those that I no longer need or use but that I forgot to uninstall, and do it. I’ll also look for the apps that have the biggest sizes and try to see if I can “Clear [their] Data” to get more free space.
  • And lastly, I will dig into my media files and miscellaneous folders for things I can delete.
If you don’t want to get your hands dirty with this process, you can always use third-party apps like The Cleaner or CCleaner to help you speed up the cleaning without you taking the risk of deleting important files.
[Top image credit: tttuning on XDA forums]

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