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I'm running very low on interal phone memory storage - I'm down to 5 MB of the 180 MB available. I understand that not all apps can be installed into SD card, and those will instead use up my internal storage. Luckily, those are rare.

However, I recently installed an app that is listed as being installed on the SD card, not internal storage. Even so, after installing it I'm now getting the "low on space" warning. The app takes up 16 MB, and I seem to remember I had a bit over 20 MB internal storage space before... So judging from the space, it looks like it's still taking up space on internal storage.

So my question: Should an app that's installed onto SD card take up any internal storage?

What could be causing this? Does the market store the installation files somewhere in internal cache or something as weird? Why on earth do I need to worry about apps consuming space, when I have gigabytes of free space for them on my SD card?

My device is GT-S5570 running 2.2.1.

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4 Answers

up vote 7 down vote accepted

An app consists of dex files, apk files, data files and libraries. When you install apps in SD card, not all of the parts of the apps are kept in SD card. Some of them remains in internal Storage.

However if you have a rooted phone, you can use program like link2sd to move all the pieces of app to SD card.

EDIT:

You can use program like app2sd to easily see what program can be moved to SD card. You can manually move shown apps or ignore some of them.

If you go to Settings -> Applications -> Manage Applications, the size shown there is the size its taking in the internal storage. This is just my guess based on the calculations performed by noting the free space on internal storage, moving some apps to SD card and subtracting only the reduced space of the apps.

I'm sorry I didn't mention you need second partition for link2sd to work. But if you had given hint in your question that you were willing to root, I'd have talked in more depth about it. Also your main question was whether apps moved to SD card should take internal storage or not. It wasn't about link2sd, the term just came while answering. Anyways, beside second partition you are recommended class 6 SD card. I've written a blog post about using link2sd here, you might find it useful.

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Is there an app to find out how much internal space apps on SD card actually use? –  Ilari Kajaste Oct 25 '11 at 7:32
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If you go to Settings -> Applications -> Manage Applications, the size mentioned per app in there is the size that it uses in internal memory. –  roxan Oct 25 '11 at 8:10
    
Really? It looks to me like it just shows the application's total size in that list... –  Ilari Kajaste Oct 25 '11 at 8:24
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Look at the size of an app before and after you move it to SD, the size reduced will be the size gained in internal storage. –  roxan Oct 25 '11 at 8:32
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Seems to me like DiskUsage does tell me beforehand exactly how much space I would gain by linking the entire app to SD with Link2SD. And I would assume "moving to SD" by conventional means would release (at least) the "apk" size that DiskUsage reports for the app. –  Ilari Kajaste Oct 26 '11 at 20:56
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A little lateral thinking works for me. I too have limited space on my phone, and certain apps I like to have access to but only use occasionally. I use the Androzip app to back-up those onto the sd card and then delete them off the main phone memory completely. I then quickly re-install the relevant apk file when I need to. Works well.

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There is no standard size on what gets left on internal memory and what goes to the SD card, however your problem might not be related to what you have downloaded, it might be due to your caches - most of which are on the internal memory.

Have you done anything to clear these out / limit them thereby freeing up space on your internal memory. If you have Astro or Android Assistant these have built in programmes to assist in this (free), or you could get a purpose built app to clear the caches. Alternatively from home page go into Menu - Settings - Applications - Manage Applications. Wait for them all to load. Go to the All tab and then press menu - Sort by Size. Go through them one by one checking cache size and clearing out where necessary - also useful for giving you an idea of whether there might be an app you really don't use and hence want to remove.

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You could use the DiskUsage app to see how much space the dalvik cache takes up. My understanding is the cache doesn't move when the app moves to SD. Combining that size with the data size should give a good idea as to how much will remain on the internal memory.

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DiskUsage does not require root. –  Al E. Oct 25 '11 at 17:59
    
Diskusage seems to show three types of stuff that apps store on internal storage - data, apk, dalvikCache. What are these? –  Ilari Kajaste Oct 25 '11 at 20:52
    
If I use a tool like link2sd to move all of the app's stuff to SD, is the app size that's displayed in DiskUsage exactly the amount of internal storage I will regain? –  Ilari Kajaste Oct 25 '11 at 20:58
    
Hmm, seems apk is only with apps that aren't on SD. So "move to sd" really means just "move apk to sd"? –  Ilari Kajaste Oct 25 '11 at 21:05
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