The more our phones and tablets are able to do the more we do with them, whether that's taking high-resolution photos and video, playing intensive games or just downloading apps for everything from Pokémon Go to BBC iPlayer. It's easy to run low on storage in Android, even with a phone that comes with 16- or 32GB as standard. Here are some tips for how to free up space on Android, plus some advice on ways you can get more storage in Android.
How to free up space on Android
• Back up photos and video to Google Photos, then delete them from your phone: Photos and video are one of the biggest space hogs on any Android phone, and more so as their integrated cameras come with increasingly high megapixel counts.
Download the free Google Photos app from Google Play, then in the Settings menu select to back up all photos and video over Wi-Fi. Once the media has transferred you can delete them from your phone (though be very careful to delete them from the Gallery app rather than Google Photos itself).
• Move other files to Google Drive: In a similar fashion to moving your photos and video to Google Photos, you can use Google Drive (another free app) or any other free cloud-storage app to store other files. Both steps are worth taking even if you aren't running low on storage, since they will mean you won't lose your media should you break or lose your device. The only down side is you'll need an active internet connection to view your files.
• Delete any old apps and games you don't use: Some apps and games consume a surprising amount of storage, and if you don't use them then they don't need to be gobbling up any space on your phone. If you later decide you need them then just download them again - any apps you've paid for at Google Play will be available to any Android device on which you're logged into your Google account.
It's easy to miss some when you're looking at shortcuts on the home screen or multiple slides in the app tray. Instead, open Google Play, tap the three lines at the top left to open the Settings menu, then choose My apps & games. The Installed tab will show you every app on your phone or tablet (except those installed outside Google Play). To remove any simply select the app and choose Uninstall.
• Clear out your cached files: Cached files are little bits of data stored by apps every time you use them. Over time you can collect an alarming amount of cached data, so if you're looking for a way to save some space, clearing out these old files is a good start. Open the Settings menu and select Storage, then scroll down to and tap on Cached data. Select OK to clear cached data for all apps.
• Delete old downloads: Every time you download a PDF or other document from the web it is stored in your Downloads folder, but the chances are you probably don't need it anymore. If you have a File Manager app use this to browse your Downloads folder and delete anything you don't need; alternatively, you may have a Downloads shortcut in your app tray.
• Move files to a microSD card: If your phone supports microSD, you can use this medium for storing photos, video and other files currently on your phone. Depending on your phone and its operating system you may not be able to save apps to the microSD card, though you may be able to format the card as internal- rather than portable storage.
If you've tried these tips and are still low on storage space, read on below for some ways you can add more storage to an Android device.
How to get more storage in Android
• Add a microSD card, even if your device doesn't support one: If your phone or tablet supports microSD then great, go ahead and buy one. Be sure to check how much capacity it can accept - you don't want to pay out for a 128GB card only to find it supports only 32GB. Read our round-up of the best microSD cards.
If your phone or tablet doesn't natively support microSD, it's easy to attach one to make use of on an ad-hoc basis using a microSD card reader, which connects to your phone's Micro-USB port, or a wireless version such as the Verbatim MediaShare Wireless Mini, which is available for £18.49 from Amazon UK. It looks like a USB flash drive - and, indeed, can be inserted into your PC's USB port where it will act as such, allowing you to drag and drop files on to it - but inside is a microSD card, which supports the transfer of files but also content streaming.
By downloading the Verbatim MediaShare Wireless Mini app (free from Google Play or the App Store), you can connect it to your Android phone or tablet over Wi-Fi to access the contents of the microSD card. The great thing about using the wireless connection on the Verbatim is that up to five people can share that connection, and you can password-protect access to the drive. An internal battery lasts for up to three hours and is recharged over the USB connection.
• Plug in a flash drive on OTG-enabled Android devices: You might not realise it, but the majority of Android phones and tablets support USB OTG (On The Go), which allows you to plug in peripherals such as storage drives, just as you would with a PC. Whether or not a device supports OTG won't always be listed in its spec. A quick and easy way to check whether your device supports OTG is to download to it the USB OTG Checker app, free from Google Play.
Once you've established that your device supports OTG you simply need an OTG adaptor, which cost very little over at Amazon. Note that you may need to power the drive from an external source while it is plugged into the phone. For more information see How to add microSD support to your Android phone or tablet.
• Get a wireless hard drive: One final option you have for getting access to more storage on your Android device is by using a wireless hard drive. A wireless hard drive is exactly the same as a normal portable hard drive, but you connect to it via Wi-Fi. Loads of options are available, and they're becoming more affordable, too.
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