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Almost every Android "cleaning" app (such as SD Maid) includes the ability to delete all empty folders.

In operating systems such as Windows, this is generally not a good idea. Windows applications sometimes expect certain folders to be present; although they should handle a deleted folder gracefully, sometimes a deleted empty folder will result in a crash.

Given the number of Android cleaning apps that delete all empty folders, is the story different on Android? Is it safe for the user to delete all empty folders in Android?

Update:

  • By "all empty folders", I refer to all empty folders inside /storage/emulated/0. Note that this does include /storage/emulated/0/Android/data/*.
  • The folder /storage/emulated/0, and its subfolders, can be located on the internal memory of an Android device or on an external memory Card.
  • If you can also provide an answer for all folders beginning at the root, that would be very useful, but is not required.

(Please, do not diverge answers into a "why would someone want to do that" discussion.)

  • I wonder would there be any sure-shot answer for this question. Anyhow, I'd rather prefer to experiment than to seek answer: 1) Take backup always, 2) Rename the folders (not all) to either .folders or something else to see whether stability is maintained. Then delete when you're certain. It's time-consuming but stability is at least assured. – Firelord May 26 '15 at 21:21
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    @Firelord I think that's a good way to test it, but as you mention, very time-consuming (especially for hundreds of empty folders). I'm hoping that this site provides a way to ask a question and for people to reply with answers derived from their experiences, knowledge, research, or experimentation. No sense in reinventing the wheel! :-) – RockPaperLizard May 26 '15 at 22:24
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    Question might also be: where are those empty folders? If on the SD card, it's pretty safe I'd say (apps should simply re-create them if needed; after all, cards are "removable"). On internal storage I'd rather not give a "general advice". – Izzy May 26 '15 at 22:30
  • @Izzy Great question Izzy. I'll update the original question to include those details. – RockPaperLizard May 26 '15 at 22:34
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    And I'm looking forward to answers including internal storage. Am pretty sure @Firelord is correct: if they are really empty, it should be safe. But I wouldn't wonder if some of them simply re-appear ;) – Izzy May 26 '15 at 22:38
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From what I read here: http://androidforums.com/threads/can-empty-subdirectories-subfolders-be-deleted.324275/

You can delete empty folders if they are really empty. Sometimes Android creates folder with invisible files. The way to check if the folder is really empty is using explorer apps like Cabinet or Explorer.

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sometimes empty folders are used as asset staging while an app is running, as well as what's been mentioned. another way to check for hidden files is to get a terminal app, navigate to the directory in question and run the following:

ls -a

any hidden objects will have a "." prefix. make sure you know that these are not needed by an app, etc. before deleting.

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    That would be helpful, but how do I know that an app isn't using those .prefix files? Please add this vital info as well. IDK whether Android has support for inotify or not? – Firelord May 27 '15 at 0:37
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    if the folder name is related to any currently installed app, the folder and its contents are in use. sometimes they are named after the developer, too. – particlewave delta May 27 '15 at 0:49
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    also, developer.android says that android does have {inotify}. – particlewave delta May 27 '15 at 0:52
  • do not delete the Android folder or its subfolders. this seems to be a staging area in userspace. the ../0 directory is the internal sdcard. any folders contained in there are created by apps you've installed or previously installed. – particlewave delta May 27 '15 at 1:06
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    the DCIM folder is camera storage. media handles ringtones and notifs installed by apps like facebook or hangouts. Downloads keeps anything downloaded from your browser. if you have a bluetooth folder, that contains any files transferred to you via bluetooth. Pictures stores screenshots. Notifications holds system notif sounds, usually calendar. Movies is where movie data is stored while streaming from Play Movies. the others that are created by the OS are for the user to organize their Pictures, Ringtones, etc. – particlewave delta May 27 '15 at 1:16
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I used a Galaxy Note 4 SM-910C from Androids 4.4.4 to 6.0.1. I actively use Andro Shredder to shred folders and files like DCIM, LazyList, Pictures and some folders with .file or .nomedia, but they keep reappearing and I experience no repercussions.
Thank you.

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You can delete any empty folder in android.

If rooted it gives exclusive permission to file system some times it may misbehave if some folder not found.

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I have rooted android 5.1 smartphone I deleted all folders in the location u specified except these folders Android Whatsapp DCIM MOVIES BLIETOOTH DOWNLOAD And its still working fine after 2 months

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