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How to free up storage space on Android - 10 different methods

Hitting your storage cap is a gut-wrenching feeling, so we're here to help with some tips to free up space on Android!
By
June 17, 2022
MicroSD card slot stock photo 1
Edgar Cervantes / Android Authority

Have you hit your phone’s storage cap? We’ve felt that frustration and share your pain. Now it’s time to make some changes, and we are here to help you free up space on Android. There are many ways to clear up the clutter in your handset, but we will focus on the most helpful, easier, and more convenient tips and tricks to free up storage space on Android.

Also read: Common Android problems and how to fix them

How to free up storage space on Android:

Editor’s note: Instructions were put together using a Google Pixel 4a with 5G running Android 12. Steps may differ depending on your hardware and software.


Use the Files Clean feature

Android stock photo
Edgar Cervantes / Android Authority

Android has its own section for helping you keep your storage free of unnecessary files. The feature is in the Files app, and it’s effortless to access. To check this out, open the Files app and tap on the Clean option. The app will suggest things you can delete to free up storage space on Android.

How to use the Files Clean feature:

  1. Open the Files app.
  2. Tap on the Clean feature.
  3. The app will suggest what you can delete to clean up space. Follow instructions.

Empty the Trash

Did you know your Android phone doesn’t delete files right away? They stick around for 30 days in the Trash. You can clear the Trash bin if you’re rushing to get rid of unwanted data, though. Go to Settings > Storage > Trash. Select All items and tap on Delete.

How to empty the Android trash folder:

  1. Open the Settings app.
  2. Select Storage.
  3. Go into Trash.
  4. Select All items.
  5. Tap on Delete.
  6. Confirm by hitting Delete again.

Uninstall apps you don’t need

Uninstall app on Android stock image
Edgar Cervantes / Android Authority

This is the first thing you should look at when looking to free up storage space on Android. Apps can take up a considerable portion of your storage space. Do you really need that 2 GB game you haven’t played in months? Get rid of everything you don’t use!

Learn more: How to delete apps from your Android device

How to uninstall Android apps:

  1. Open the Settings app.
  2. Go into Apps.
  3. Select See all apps.
  4. Find the app you want to uninstall. Tap on it.
  5. Select Uninstall.
  6. Confirm by selecting OK.

Delete photos and videos

Google Photos logo on smartphone next to imaging accessories stock photo 1
Edgar Cervantes / Android Authority

Photos and videos are likely the next big storage hog. Free up space on Android and get rid of some. Are all those images and clips memories worth keeping down the line? Many probably aren’t. Some of you may be a little too shutter happy and have a bunch of repeated images, too. Go through your gallery and see what is actually worth keeping around. You may already have many of these backed up to the cloud, anyways. Why keep them on your device?

Read more: How to backup photos and videos


Use a microSD card

MicroSD card slot stock photo 4 - How to free up storage space on Android
Edgar Cervantes / Android Authority

Your phone may or may not have a microSD card slot. If you are blessed with one, you can use a microSD card to transfer all large files to it.

Some phones support adoptable storage, but they are becoming rare. If you’re blessed with this feature, you can use the microSD card as internal storage. It becomes part of the phone’s space instead of an external addition where you can throw files.

There are some downsides to keep in mind with this process. For starters, the microSD card will only work with that specific phone. You also shouldn’t remove the card once it has been set as adoptable storage. Doing so will trigger a factory data reset. Furthermore, many microSD cards are slow. Get a fast one that can keep up with your device.

Read more: Here are the best microSD cards


Take advantage of the cloud to free up space on Android

Google Drive logo on smartphone stock photo 3 - How to free up storage space on Android
Edgar Cervantes / Android Authority

Cloud services have a lot to offer, especially for those limited in the storage department. Many of these services are free or cost very little money. For example, you can use Google Photos to upload all your images in high quality for free. Just keep in mind unlimited high-quality storage ended in June 2021. In addition, services like Google Drive and Dropbox make it super simple to back up all your content. See which option convinces you and take advantage of it.

Those struggling to keep space free on their devices might also have a fantastic music collection in there. If you have gigs over gigs of songs, we would advise you to migrate to an online service like YouTube Music or Spotify.

More: The 10 best cloud storage apps


Delete your downloads

If you are like me, your downloads folder is full of stuff you don’t need. Here, we often find a bunch of files you might have needed months ago for a minute or two, but are no longer relevant. Go ahead and use a file manager to delete old files. Most phones now come with one. If yours doesn’t, go ahead and get one through the link below.

Here: The best file managers for Android


Clear the cache to free up space on Android

Facebook app cache in Settings 1 - How to free up storage space on Android

Clearing the cache is not always a good idea to free up space on Android. This is data your phone often needs to operate faster and more efficiently. It can definitely build up, though, and if you want to clear some space quickly, cleaning the cache is one quick solution.

Clearing the cache is not always a good idea.Edgar Cervantes

Simply go to Settings >Apps. Go into See all apps and go into each app you want to delete the cache for. Hit the Storage & cache section. There will be an option in there to Clear cache and Clear storage.

How to clear cache in Android:

  1. Open the Settings app.
  2. Select Apps.
  3. Tap on See all apps.
  4. Go into the app you want to clear the cache for.
  5. Tap on Storage & cache.
  6. Hit Clear cache.
  7. You can also select Clear storage if you want to clean all app data.

Delete offline areas in Google Maps

Google Maps - How to free up storage space on Android
Edgar Cervantes / Android Authority

Google Maps makes it easy to navigate through your area without using data. Maps can be downloaded for offline use, but this comes at a hefty cost. Offline maps can take a massive blow to your storage space. I have well over a GB of offline map data.

Go to Google Maps, tap on your profile picture, and access the Offline Maps option. You’ll see a list of the areas you’ve downloaded. Hit the three-dot menu button to the right to see a series of choices. Hit Delete to get rid of it. This will definitely free up space on Android.

How to delete offline maps in Google Maps:

  1. Open Google Maps.
  2. Tap on your profile picture.
  3. Select Offline Maps.
  4. Hit the three-dot menu next to your downloaded areas.
  5. Tap on Delete.
  6. Confirm by selecting Yes.

Perform a factory data reset

How to free up storage space on Android

Your best bet might be to start new and perform a factory data reset if all else fails. This will erase everything in your phone and bring it back to the state it was the first time you turned the device on (at least software-wise). Your apps, photos, videos, files, and other content will be gone, so make sure to back up whatever you deem necessary.

The good news is all unnecessary files will also be gone, giving you a chance to start fresh and better manage your storage space. This is especially helpful if you’ve exhausted all other options and simply don’t know where all your storage space is going.

Here: How to factory reset your Android device, and a few things you should do first

How to factory data reset an Android phone:

  1. Go into the Settings app.
  2. Tap on System.
  3. Hit Reset options.
  4. Select Erase all data (factory reset).
  5. Tap on Erase all data.
  6. Verify your identity.
  7. Confirm by hitting Erase all data.

FAQs

No. This is why we didn’t recommend this option. Disabling an app only turns it off. All app data will stay on the phone.

Yes. Android uses your storage to store cache and other temporal data. If your storage is almost full, it will have no space to write temporary data. Additionally, storage units start getting slower with enough writing and reading.

There is no definitive answer for this, but we recommend cleaning up your Android storage about once a month. Depending on your usage, you might need to do it more often.

Experts claim Android starts showing issues once there is less than 200MB of free storage, but that is pushing it a bit too close. We say you should leave at least 3-4GB free. This should ensure there is space for temporary files, as well as any updates.