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How to reduce RAM usage in Android, and why you probably shouldn't
Those trying to reduce RAM usage in Android probably have difficulty figuring out how to do it. There’s no real tutorial on doing this, and there are reasons for that. The truth is Google doesn’t want you clearing out RAM all the time.
Most of you probably shouldn't even bother with RAM to begin with.Edgar Cervantes
In this post, we aim to show you the best ways to keep the clutter out, as well as inform you on why most of you probably shouldn’t even bother with this, to begin with. Let’s get started.
Also read: Understanding RAM and how it works
Reduce RAM usage on Android by closing apps using the Overview page. To do this, drag your finger app from the bottom of the screen and hold for a second or two. The Overview page will show up. Find the apps you want to close and swipe them away.
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Editor’s note: We used a Pixel 7 Pro running Android 13 to develop the steps on this post. Remember, menus and settings may differ depending on your hardware and software.
Should you reduce RAM usage in Android?
The long-argued debate continues to be one of the most important topics in the Android community. This is because we are used to the PC mentality, in which having fewer apps running in the background will usually mean improved performance and better-utilized resources. To understand how Android works, you need to step back and see the mobile operating system from a different perspective.
What is RAM?
Otherwise known as Random Access Memory, RAM is where files go to be temporarily stored for immediate use. Operating systems will access it to easily and quickly reach temporary files from apps that are currently being used, whether you are using them directly or they are running in the background.
More: Virtual memory explained
Why it may hurt to reduce RAM usage
The benefit of RAM is that it allows the interface to operate more efficiently. Say you open the Facebook app. It will take a while to start up the first time it is launched, as it has to load all the content to show you. You can then leave the app and return to it. Launching will take much less time the second time you access it, as it will grab all the files from the RAM and utilize what is still relevant.
Now, imagine what happens if you get rid of all data stored in the RAM. As expected, opening any application again will make the experience slower than it would if all that information was readily available to the operating system.
Why it may not even make a difference
To most of us, RAM operates in mysterious ways. We can’t break it down to you in a single post, but we can tell you that trying to control RAM may sometimes result in wasted time. Android will ultimately do whatever the heck it wants.
Android will ultimately do whatever the heck it wants to do. Edgar Cervantes
Android is pretty clever. It knows which data it needs, when it needs it, and for how long it needs it. If an app is idle too long, the operating system will know to clear its data. Similarly, Android will clear out older files in the RAM when new ones need the space.
Furthermore, clearing out the RAM may become an endless war between you and the operating system. If Android keeps pulling data into the RAM, it is because it likely needs it for some reason or another. Kill it, and the operating system will be left wondering: “Hey, where did that file go? Let’s put it back in there.” You will then kill the task again, and the dance will go on endlessly. You’ll also waste a lot of battery power in the process.
How to reduce RAM usage in Android
Do you still want to clear that RAM space? There are some reasons to do so, though they apply to very few cases and individuals. Apps can go rogue, or the system may be acting abnormally, which would cause lag, errors, and other failures. This is why clearing out the RAM may be good now and then.
Then you have those apps that are simply worthless, otherwise known as bloatware. Carrier and manufacturer pre-installed apps are usually unnecessary. Sadly, you often can’t uninstall them because Google puts them in the system. These include silly games, sports apps, navigators, and other “tools.”
If you still want to clear out that RAM or squash some bugs, here are the best ways to reduce RAM usage in Android.
Use the application manager
There’s an Application Manager on all Android devices (also known as “Apps”). You can find it by going to Settings > Apps > See all apps. Find the app you want to deal with and tap on it. You can Uninstall the app from this menu. If it’s impossible to uninstall it, you can probably Disable it. Additionally, you can Force stop the app.
Close an app using the app manager on Android:
- Open the Settings app.
- Go into Apps.
- Select See all apps.
- Tap on the app you want to deal with.
- Hit Force stop.
- Confirm by selecting OK.
Reduce RAM usage using the Overview menu
For a less technical and more accessible solution, use the Overview page (also known as the App Switcher). You can access it by dragging your finger from the bottom of the screen and holding for a second or two. Newer devices have a dedicated button for it, but most handsets have migrated to gesture navigation actions by now.
Go in there and swipe unwanted apps away to close them. Some Android manufacturer skins add the ability to close all apps with a single button.
Close apps using the Overview menu:
- On the Home Screen, slide your finger from the bottom of the screen up, and hold.
- The Overview page will show up, showing all the recently used apps.
- Slide apps up to close them.
Try to avoid task killers
We would advise that you avoid task killers, as they mostly do more harm than good for the reasons mentioned above. If an app is bugging you and you need to use one, we have a post of our favorite options. Hit the link below to see your options.
Everyone uses phones differently, so there is no set number of RAM everyone should have. That said, we believe 8GB is a good starting point for most users. Learn more about this in our post regarding how much RAM Android phones actually need.
Android is a very smart operating system with a focus on multitasking. The mobile OS is made to handle a bevy of applications simultaneously, as well as in the background. As such, the software knows when to keep data in the RAM. This means that Android will handle memory on its own most times, and you need to do nothing. It would be best if you only closed out apps when your phone misbehaves, and you feel like giving it a little help.
Again, this depends on how you use your smartphone. We have found that 4GB of RAM can be too little, even for casual users. It might be time to upgrade if you have anything under 6GB.
We’ve compared how both Android and iOS handle RAM and have found fascinating results. It seems Apple devices are better at managing RAM, given that it’s compared to a device with the same amount of RAM. Look at our Android vs. iOS RAM management comparison for more details.