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You'll have to forgive me as I'm not as familiar with the internal workings of Android/Linux as I am with Windows.

I'm curious about performance degrading on an Android device in the absence of, for lack of a better term, maintenance. When I try out a bunch of apps and then uninstall them, do I need to run any sort of cleanup? I know Android doesn't have a registry like Windows but does it have some part of the operating system that gets cluttered up and needs to be tended to/purged over time?

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Usually not: as you already said, there's no "registry" or the like. Only when you experience problems, there might be some cleanup needed. You might want to check My device is getting slow, apps start misbehaving/crashing. What can I do? for related information. –  Izzy Mar 16 '13 at 18:28
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As for uninstalling apps, I don't think so. Standard apps (ones that don't use root access) have at most three parts:

A single executable file

  • A .apk archive containing the entire app -- similar to Windows apps that are entirely contained in a .exe file (like most installers: It not only carries all the code it needs but also all pictures, config files it needs, etc.)

  • It is stored in /data/app usually

A single folder containing all userdata

  • This is for things like settings storage, or caches

  • Although this is comparable to yoir appdata folder it doesn't get cluttered because apps are only allowed a single folder here that is managed completely by the system and is easily deleted when uninstalled

  • Stored in /data/data

Possibly another folder in /sdcard/Android/data

  • Basically the same as the /data/data folder but if the app needs a lot of space for extra files it puts them here

When an app is uninstalled, all these parts are destroyed by the system, so I can't think of anything that would get cluttered but the fragmentation of the sdcard. DO NOT download any defrag apps (I haven't found a single one that wasn't some sort of scam). Instead, get a card reader and defrag it on your PC if need be.

Edit: As suggested by Izzy below, SD Maid is a nice manager/cleaner

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Hoho... A non-scam app would be SD Maid. But you are right: In general, things work like you described. "Left-overs" are rather exceptions. But still, they sometimes happen... –  Izzy Mar 16 '13 at 18:31
    
There's no point defragging an SD card - you'll just shorten its life. Android isn't Windows - don't treat it as such. –  Poldie Mar 17 '13 at 22:15
    
@PoldieMar defragmentation doesn't slow anything down? –  KevinOrr Mar 23 '13 at 2:53
    
@Poldie Also, isn't defragging strictly an NTFS thing? Or does it also apply to FAT32? –  jadkik94 Mar 28 '13 at 18:28
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Files can get fragmented on any file system which allows large files to be spread across several physical locations on the disk. The point is, this can slow down hard drives because the heads have to physically move to each location to read the data, whereas solid state storage can just access any area of memory with next to no latency. –  Poldie May 11 '13 at 22:02
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