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If you're not used to seeing the 'low on internal storage' notification, what is it that you're doing to keep your phone's internal memory from filling up so quickly?

The 'SD Card and Phone Storage' menu in the settings doesn't really tell me much other than how much is free. And, I don't really have that many applications installed. The top 5 storage hogging apps on my phone are Gmail (18.6 MB), Twitter (17.5 MB), Facebook (12.55 MB), Maps (9.63 MB), and Swype (6.06 MB).

So, are there apps out there (besides your normal file manager ones, like Astro) that will help monitor internal phone storage? Is there something I should be doing to keep my phone storage use to a minimum?

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FWIW, Twitter (which I don't use) and Seesmic (which I do use) combined are about 5.3MB, and my Gmail (set up for manual sync) is 2.29MB. This is Android 2.2 on a Nexus One. Somehow, you're losing close to 30MB just in those two areas alone (36.1MB versus 7.6MB). Also, if you are on 2.2, see which of your apps can be moved to the SD card, if you don't mind doing that. – CommonsWare Oct 10 '10 at 16:33
I'm on 2.2. I've moved all the apps that I can to the SD card. I'll have to try out Seesmic or Twidroyd. Haven't used either since Twitter released an official app. – kchau Oct 10 '10 at 17:19
See here how Android calculates your personal space limit: – OneWorld Jan 5 '12 at 12:49

13 Answers 13

up vote 90 down vote accepted

I'm using an app called DiskUsage which helps visualize what's using both my internal storage as well as the SD card.

screen shot from Google Play

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Most of the apps you have listed are big because they are storing data. The apps themselves are not that big. I would encourage people to check large apps (you can sort by size in the manage applications area of the settings). Chances are you can clear out the data and reduce the amount of size very easily. Most of the data for those apps especially is email and data that are old and don't really need to be on your phone.

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Going into "Manage Applications" and clearing an apps cache can be very helpful, although it should be managing those itself. – Al E. Oct 11 '10 at 12:13
Yes that would be the easiest way to check which apps are using most of the data if your phone has lesser apps. – Jasser Jul 6 '15 at 11:09

To better control your Gmail storage in Android you can adjust the number of days that are synced. The control is in a place many people don't think to look; it is in the "Labels" section. In there you can adjust syncing to a certain amount of days; I use 2 days. Depending on your daily volume you may need to go to 1 day or could go up to 10.

There is also granular control, you could keep your starred emails around for 4 days while everything else is at 2 days.

It is all about Gmail's label setup. It is better to think that you don't really have an inbox, you have emails that are labeled "inbox".

Hope this helps out! Once you make the change it will sync up and reduce your storage right away. I recommend turning off and on the phone after making the change (just like a computer, the Android phones like a reboot from time to time).

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Have you found any setting changes that actually need rebooting? If there is any in an email app, that is a serious bug; I'd at most stand restarting the program (and even this is an annoyance bug), not the whole phone, just to apply a setting in an email program. Ideally, there should be no reason to reboot a Linux except when reinstalling a new ROM; any other reasons is generally a bug. – Lie Ryan Dec 19 '10 at 17:37
Cool! i couldnt see this option...... – Jasser Jul 6 '15 at 11:11

A new app called Grid Size File Manager is out, and looks quite a bit like WinDirStat. It's $0.99 in the Market, but there is a demo version available.

screen shot of Grid Size File Manager

Grid Size file manager has all the functionality you expect from a file manager with a useful visual feature. The grid view graphically displays the contents of your storage drive proportional to the size of each folder and file. The grid view also supports image controls so that you can zoom and pan to view folders.

Standard list view is also available for the folder tree, useful for typical file manager functionality and for interacting with files and folders that are empty and thus not displayed in the grid view.

To begin, tap the "scan storage" button. After scan is complete, you are shown your folders via GridView. See below to access ListView. Tap on a colored box to open a folder, labeled via the lighter colored band at the top of each box. To open a file within a folder, simply tap that box and select "ok" when prompted to open that file.

You can zoom in at any time with a standard pinch zoom. You can also pan around by holding your finger down and dragging across the screen. Press and hold on a folder or file to interact with it. Available commands include: open, copy, cut, paste, rename, delete and new folder. Tap the back button on your phone to go back to the previous level of folders.

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I am great fan of APP2SD. It comes directly with an advice which apps can be moved to your SD and if the cache can be removed!

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This functionality is built into Gingerbread. – James McMahon Jul 20 '11 at 12:20

I'm using a combination of 2 apps, DiskUsage and Link2SD, and they've helped me keep storage use at bay both on Gingerbread and on ICS. The issues I had with the built-in storage management facility of Android were:

  1. It only shows the space used by the app installation (doesn't count "resource" downloads common in games)
  2. The size reported on the list of installed apps doesn't consider cache usage (so you have to guess and go looking in the details of suspected apps)

DiskUsage is excellent at locating "resources" that may be taking up lots of space, and may be even be left behind when the app that downloaded them is uninstalled.

But if you have lots of small to medium sized apps installed, or if you're using many apps that stay online, Link2SD allows you to quickly locate any misbehaving one. It shows you a list of all installed apps, and allows you to sort them by name, install date, install size ("apk+dex+lib" option), data size, cache size, or total (install+data+cache) size.

Link2SD apps list

If you have many apps showing a lot of cache usage, Link2SD can also clear all of them at once with the "Clear all app caches" option.

Also, if you're using Gingerbread, be aware that apps moved to SD card keep a part of themselves, called "dex", on internal memory, and the size of this "dex" varies from one app to another. With Link2SD you can sort by "dex" size, and quickly find any apps that may be too big to keep installed on certain phones, even if they allow moving to SD (I'm looking at you, Google+ client). Or the other way around, you can sort by "apk" or "lib", and move to SD all apps that show near the top (and allow being moved).

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Yes link2sd increases free space inside phone memory but requires rooted phone – Jasser Jul 6 '15 at 11:12

You can also choose to replace the default GMail app with the K9 mail client - the main plus point being it can handle other POP3/IMAP4 accounts as well as keep the storage for your email accounts on the SD card - this option does make it a little slow for first access, but if space in your internal memory is at a premium, then this might save space.

You can also try other smaller Twitter clients like Tweetdeck or Touiteur or even a web based mobile site like OR

That would obviate the need for a client app.

WRT Swype, if you prefer other ordinary keyboards, there are a plethora of them available in the market like Better Keyboard / Smart Keyboard etc. which are far smaller in size, but certainly don't have Swype's functionality.

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Gmail is devil, it has many non-standard features I can't live without that IMAP4 clients cannot always handle cleanly (e.g. Archives, Labels, Important messages, etc). – Lie Ryan Dec 19 '10 at 17:30
Well, there are workarounds - moving a message into a label folder will in fact, assign a label to that message. Also, if you "flag" a message in an IMAP client, that amounts to starring the message in Gmail (of course, if you have extended star icons enabled in the labs, that won't help you assign the other icons) – Sparx Dec 20 '10 at 13:28

Re: Twitter app. Unless something has changed in it (it's a couple of versions since I used it), it stores all its cache in "data", which you can clear out by going to "manage applications" in settings. If you do clear out all the data, you'll need to open the app and log back in again. Other apps, eg TweetDeck, have this stuff more easy to clear out in a "cache" section, but Twitter doesn't do it properly.

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Either clear your dalvik-cache, install a custom rom (like cyanogen) or force apps to your SD card with an app called 'LinkApp2SD' (I had to reformat my tab because of this one, but it should work if you're rooted and have a G-certified phone). Also, if you don't want to root your phone, you can try cleaning your app data and cache, or even uninstalling apps you don't use anymore. See my website's blog to find cool apps and games that can be moved.

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I have used the previously mentioned Disk2Usage to take a look at what's eating up my data.

What you can do depends on what your device is.

If you have an external SD card in addition to your phone's internal storage, you can periodically move data over. For example, my camera takes pictures and stores them in the internal storage. Since my phone (an Epic 4G Touch) has an 8 megapixel camera, those pictures can get pretty big, so I'll occasionally move all of my pictures to the SD card when space runs low.

I've also noticed that a lot of programs cache data in the internal memory. I've seen photo apps that cache thumbnails, and even Amazon's App Store caches the entire app APK for any apps you download from that store. This can take up a lot of space, and is generally safe to remove, since, if the app needs it, it can re-download it. I use the above Disk2Usage app to find the large cache directories, then use a file manager app (like Solid Explorer) to delete those cached files.

Hope that helps.

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I've used the terminal emulator to look at my folders (could not find any app that can look into the internal storage partitions - /data etc'

Note that you need superuser permissions for that (I'm rooted so I just enterd su)

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In the manage applications area of the settings, select apps that you dont use. Uninstall these apps if possible, if not the following method will greatly reduce their size. Force close, clear cache, clear app data, Uninstall updates, disable. This also prevents them from growing again. Also in android 4.x, the function of apps that write to sd are broken, only android itself eg. through the file manager has that permission. Additionally while many of the apps above look great, they will take some space. I'm posting on a Galaxy s5, but many older devices don't have 16gb of storage space to play with. I would however recommend a good cleaning app that detects app leftovers and removes them as well, and of course if you decide to stop using such an app you can Uninstall it, it has already served it's purpose. Also ALWAYS move songs, ring tones, pics, etc. to the sd card.

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I just received the dreaded out of space notification and used Memory Map, which was very helpful in finding what the issue was.

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