How to Free Up Storage on an Android

You download a new app you need to get around town, order food or just to play a great new game when suddenly your Android is out of storage space. If you've had your phone for a while, or if it's got less than 128GB of storage, this might be your reality. But don't worry, there are ways to free up storage on an Android.

Learn how to free up storage on Android phones and extend your phone's usefulness. If there comes a day when you simply need to upgrade, you can always buy a new-to-you smartphone here on Trademore.

Try Android's Free Up Space tool

Android phones have a built-in tool that can help you free up space.

  • Go to Settings > Storage
  • You'll spot some helpful stats about how much storage you have remaining, and what categories they fall under ("Music and audio," for example)
  • Tap the "Free up space" button
    • It might ask you to choose to use either the built-in "Remove items" feature or Google's Files app to do the same. Using the build-in feature will allow you to clean out pictures, videos and download files. It will also show you a list of apps you don't use very often so that you can choose which to remove from your phone.

If you click on the different categories in the Storage section you can also see which apps are using the most storage.

  • Tap on the app name and you'll be able to see how big the app itself is and how much storage it's using.
  • You will see different metrics for the app's Data storage and Cache storage.
  • You can tap "Clear storage" or "Clear cache"
    • Clearing the cache is pretty safe. It shouldn't affect the app or important info you've put into it.
    • Clearing storage can be slightly riskier. You should check what the user data includes for that app so that you don't accidently delete anything important.

In Storage you're also going to see a "Smart Storage" option. Turning this feature on will automatically remove backed up photos and videos after 30, 60, or 90 days, your choice. It will also automatically remove backed up photos and videos if your phone's storage is almost full. Smart Storage is a great, low-effort way to free up storage on your Android.

Backing Up Photos and Videos

Pictures and videos take up a lot of space on our devices. It's a good idea to back them up not just to free up space but to protect them in case your phone gets lost or stolen, or in case you accidentally delete any photos. On an Android phone it's easy to back your photos and videos up to Google Photos. When you go to your main Photos app you should see a "Backup complete" notice at the top, but if you don't here's how to activate it:

  • Open your Photos app, tap the hamburger menu (three lines near the top left)
  • Select "Settings"
  • Hit "Back up & sync"
  • Make sure that the "Back up & sync" toggle is turned on, then check which account is listed under "Backup Account," to make sure the one you want is selected.
  • You can also select whether you want photos to back up only on Wi-Fi or even on cell data
  • Now that you know they'll be backed up, you can return the Photo app's main Settings menu and select "Free up device storage" to remove photos and videos that have been backed up

Check Apps Individually

If you want to delete apps you aren't using much, you can check the PlayStore to see the last time you used each.

  • In the Play Store, hit the hamburger menu on the top left
  • Select "My Apps & Games" > "Installed"
  • The apps you've used most recently will be at the top of the list. Scroll down to see the ones you haven't used recently and decide if you want to remove them in order to free up storage on your Android.

You can also use a file manager app like Google Files to see what apps you haven't used much. It can also help you check file folders on your phone for space-hogs like junk files, duplicate files or just very large files. The file manager will ask you if you want to delete the items it has flagged and you can remove them to free up storage, or keep them if they're important to you.

Now that you've learned how to free up storage on Android phones if you're still running out of space it might simply be time to look into a new phone. Trade in your old Android and use the money towards a model with plenty of storage on board.

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