On a HTC Sensation running ICS 4.0.3, something caused my contacts database to rapidly grow.

The DB is now 580 megabytes and growing (sometimes over a megabyte per hour) despite the fact that I:

  1. disabled all syncs (I found out that the Google Contacts sync had been not working for the last couple of months)
  2. uninstalled all 3rd party sync apps (LinkedIn, FaceBook)
  3. removed all all accounts but my Google accounts from "Accounts & Sync"
  4. disabled all network access (no WiFi, no Data)

None of the above steps made the problem go away.
Looking with Contacts Remover, some contacts have about 300 LinkedIn contact links and photos.

My goal is to save as much information as possible, sync that to my Google account, then ditch the Contacts database and reload from Google.

The constant memory pressure makes it hard to run applications (I need to move apps to SD to get some storage memory, then run something, and hope that while running the storage memory doesn't run out).

Basically my phone is now useless.

My idea to try solving the problem is this:

  1. export the Contacts to VCF on the SD card (success)
  2. copy the VCF to a machine that can run the Android AVD (success)
  3. install an AVD that allows to add a Google account for sync (success)
  4. copy the VCF to the AVD SD card using DDS in Eclipse (success)
  5. import the VCF into the People app of the AVD (success)
  6. sync the AVD to Google (fail)

The last step fails, but doesn't generate any error.
The AVD is using these settings to be as close as possible to my physical device:

  • Target=Google APIs (Google Inc.)
  • Platform=4.0
  • API Level=14
  • CPU/ABI=ARM (armeabi-v7a)

Two questions (given that I want to sync back the contacts to my Google account):

  • How can I make the last step work?
  • What alternatives can I use if I cannot get the last step to work?

The VCF files total to about 3 megabyte (with about 3000 contacts that is about a kilobyte per contact, not close to 200 kilobyte as in the DB)

  • 2
    Don't fall for the XY-Probem and ask for the last emulator step. You already have a working VCF, just import it using GMails web interface. If this VCF is still bad, you can apply simple text processing (regex search & replace) to it before importing it to google.
    – ce4
    Commented Jul 26, 2012 at 11:06
  • Thanks! I wasn't aware that gmail could import VCF (hence my second question: alternatives). Please post the VCF import into Google Contacts as an answer and I will accept+upvote. These are the steps to import VCF into Google Contacts: ehow.com/how_8404844_import-vcf-gmail.html Commented Jul 26, 2012 at 11:43

2 Answers 2


You already have a working vCard file (.vcf), just import it using GMail's web interface. If this VCF is still bad, you can apply simple text processing (regex search & replace) to it before importing it to Google.

Here are the steps to import a vCard file into GMail using the web interface.

Here's an excerpt from Google's help:

  1. Click Gmail at the top-left corner of your Gmail page, then choose Contacts.
  2. Click the More actions dropdown menu and select Import....
  3. Click the Choose File button and locate the vCard file you'd like to upload.
  4. Select the file and click the Import button.
  • Consider moving the steps required to your answer, preventing users from following the link to actually see the solution for the import procedure.
    – Zuul
    Commented Jul 26, 2012 at 12:04
  • 1
    Hmm, not quite sure. It's Google's official help which might improve/change with time. Also: I did explicitly not link to the aforementioned ehow.com link (fear of link-rot!) because I consider Google's help links to be really permanent (also across languages!)
    – ce4
    Commented Jul 26, 2012 at 12:06
  • When reading your answer, I had to follow the link to see if it was providing a proper solution. If I was a user searching for this solution, I would have to click the link to see if I had already tried it. ;) Now that I don't have to click, here's my +1
    – Zuul
    Commented Jul 26, 2012 at 12:16
  • Many thanks. Accepted and +1, especially because you took the effort of linking to the official Google documentation and including the steps in the answer. Commented Jul 26, 2012 at 13:09

You could also take a look at the Contact Cleaner app for an initial cleanup. Not sure how much help that will be in your case (with the LinkedIn stuff it doesn't care about).

Another thing to consider: temporarily remove the LinkedIn "provider" from your configuration->accounts (if it is still left there after you uninstalled the connected app) may get rid you of all the LinkedIn-connections (at least it works this way with some Xing stuff; not sure about LinkedIn as I do not use it) -- and probably restore them without duplication when you re-add it (make a backup before trying this).

I am aware this doesn't completely answer your question, but it may solve a big deal of your problem concerning the size of your contact database, giving you at least a "partly relieve" and more time to consider a final approach.

  • I forgot to mention that I already removed those providers (sorry for that, the edit corrects this). Backups fail too (probably because the low memory). I tried contact cleaner to clean parts, but it is such a tedious process (300 fotos and 300 links takes very long), and might not solve the underlying issue. Will try that if all else fails. Thanks for thinking in the same line I did. +1 for that. Commented Jul 26, 2012 at 10:51
  • Ah, OK -- was just a thought. Glad to know I caught your idea. As memory seems to limit your possibilities in this track, your best approach will probably be to import your VCF to a PC client (or via the WebIF into a separate address book on your Google account, as ce4 suggested above). That web client also offers you some tools for cleanup (e.g. merging entries).
    – Izzy
    Commented Jul 26, 2012 at 11:56

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