Could you list all possible directories where Android apps may store data, providing description what kind of data are stored in each directory?
All apps (root or not) have a default data directory, which is
/data/data/<package_name>. By default, the apps databases, settings, and all other data go here. If an app expects huge amounts of data to be stored, or for other reasons wants to "be nice to internal storage", there's a corresponding directory on the SDCard (
Apart from that, all apps can store data anywhere on the SDCard, as there are no restrictions -- and many apps do so. They can use directory names freely (and they again do), which is what often makes it hard to decide what all that "junk" on the card is intended for, and what of it can be deleted.
Though, as Tom pointed out, root-apps could store their data almost everywhere on your device, they usually follow the same rules as other apps.
You can find a general explanation of the Android directory hierarchy in my answer here. For your specific question I might add some more details on the
/data/data/<package_name> (and corresponding SD-part):
databases/: here go the app's databases
lib/: libraries and helpers for the app
files/: other related files
shared_prefs/: preferences and settings
cache/: well, caches
There might be several more directories in this place, or fewer -- it all depends on the app. In its own "home directory" (and that's what it basically is, spoken Linux-wise) they can place files where they want. Usually, these files and directories are only accessible by the app itself (and root, of course) -- other than those stored on the SDCard, which are accessible by all apps.
The answer to your question you are asking is too big. I can, however, give you a basic answer which covers the basics.
There are two kinds of apps:
Root and non-root.
Root apps can basically store/modify files wherever they want.
Non-root apps can only store/modify files here:
/sdcard/ and every folder what comes after.
Mostly, the installed apps store themselves at
Some apps store their save games/configuration data files on
/sdcard/APPNAME/, or just on the
To be able to use root apps, you'll need to have rooted your Android device and have given permission from one of the superuser apps.
Some major changes occurred to storage in Android 4.4 (see Android's Storage Journey). So the following is generally true for Android 4.4+ and particularly 6+.
This is from my detailed answer to How disk space is used on Android device?. Apps files are saved (by system and app itself) to internal and external storage under different categories.
DIRECTORY DESCRIPTION / API ===================================================================================== APP CODE ======== /data/app/<pkg>* (user apps installation directory) /data/app/<pkg>*/base.apk (original `.apk` file) /data/app/<pkg>*/lib/<arch>/*.so (shared libraries) /data/app/<pkg>*/oat/<arch>/base.[art|odex|vdex] (compiled executable code) /data/dalvik-cache/<arch>/*.[art|dex|oat|vdex] (compiled executable code, only for system apps) /data/misc/profiles/cur/<user_id>/<pkg>/primary.prof (ART profile) /data/misc/profiles/ref/<pkg>/primary.prof (ART profile) INTERNAL STORAGE ================ /data/user[_de]/<user_id>/<pkg> getDataDir /data/user[_de]/<user_id>/<pkg>/files getFilesDir /data/user[_de]/<user_id>/<pkg>/[code_]cache getCacheDir or getCodeCacheDir /data/user[_de]/<user_id>/<pkg>/databases getDatabasePath /data/user[_de]/<user_id>/<pkg>/no_backup getNoBackupFilesDir /data/user[_de]/<user_id>/<pkg>/shared_prefs getSharedPreferences EXTERNAL STORAGE ================ /storage/emulated/obb/<pkg>/*.obb /storage/emulated/<user_id>/Android/obb/<pkg>/*.<pkg>.obb getObbDirs /storage/emulated/<user_id>/Android/media/<pkg> getExternalMediaDirs /storage/emulated/<user_id>/Android/data/<pkg>/ /storage/emulated/<user_id>/Android/data/<pkg>/files getExternalFilesDirs /storage/emulated/<user_id>/Android/data/<pkg>/[code_]cache getExternalCacheDirs
- All of the above paths on internal and external storage (primary and secondary) are app's private directories which are accessible to respective app without requesting any permission. Apps can also create other directories (not explicitly available through APIs) in their private storage. All of these directories belonging to an app are deleted when app is uninstalled.
- Additionally apps can put their data anywhere on primary external storage (including some standard directories and other apps' private directories) if
WRITE_EXTERNAL_STORAGEpermission is granted (
/storage/emulated/<user_id>). For secondary external storage and removable storage SAF is used. See details in How to move files to external SD card?.
/datapaths may get replaced with
/mnt/expand/[UUID]when using Adoptable Storage.
/storage/emulatedgets replaced with
/storage/[UUID]when using secondary external storage (like SD card).
- For multiple users/profiles
<user_id>is different, device owner is always
/data/user/0is a symlink to
/data/datafor historical reasons. Secondary external storage is only available to device owner.
/data/user_deis the Device Encrypted storage on FBE devices which lets certain apps run on boot without asking for user credentials.
/data/misc/profilesare used by ART for profile-guided compilation of app code.
- Description of each directory is somewhat evident from names, details can be seen in API documentation.
- Caches are cleared by OS when running low on storage, keeping apps exceding allotted quota on top.
- Apps' private
filesdirectories aren't automatically scanned by MediaScanner but
- Files in
no_backupdirectory are not backed up to cloud.