Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Smartphone
May 24, 2012 5:00 AM PT
If your device is having difficulty completing tasks like file downloading, it's a dead giveaway that it needs some maintenance.
We're used to the idea of spending a bit of time running hard disk defragmentation, spyware scans and other tools on our PCs, but we may not be so au fait with what's needed on the limited-memory phones and PC-substituting tablets we're using daily.
Clean Out Downloaded Files
Every time you click on a Web browser download link and view a PDF or other downloadable file -- like a podcast, email attachment image, or offline map -- on your device, that content is being stored and is using up the limited space available.
Non-volatile flash computer memory used in devices is more expensive than the hard drive type of memory used in PCs. There are also weight, power and space constraints in mobile devices that we don't see in a PC. Consequently, memory capacity is limited in a smartphone or tablet.
Find Your Downloads
Open the Apps drawer area of your device and look for a provided file manager. This will be labeled "Files" or "File Manager" or similar.
Open the app, and browse for folders called "Downloads" in "Internal Phone Storage" and "SD Card." Delete files you find there that you don't want.
Look for a file folder called "DCIM" which holds camera images. Delete the ones you don't want. Upload to your PC or to the cloud.
Folders called "Podcasts" and "Movies" may hold large, redundant media files that you can get rid of if you want.
If you're rooted, you hold privileges that allow you to get down into the guts of the file structure.
Download the paid Root Explorer (Speed Software) from Google Play that allows you to access the whole of the file structure, including a folder called "mnt."
Browse to "mnt" on rooted devices and look for a second SD Card. Bizarrely, some manufacturers refer to some internal memory allocation as "SD Card," so you can often see "SD Card" and "SD Card 2" or "SDcard-ext" within "mnt."
Perform the same redundancy deletions on both of the cards.
Configure Web browsers to use one of the SD cards rather than internal memory as a stage for downloading. It's likely there is more available space on the SD cards than on internal memory.
Dolphin browsers can be set to download to the SD card from the "More" and then "Settings" option within the browser. Wherever possible use the SD card option for caching or data storage -- and buy a more capacious card if necessary.
Clear Your Cache
Clear out any app caches. Caches work like the Web browser cache that you may be familiar with on a PC.
Systematically open all of the apps that are native to the device and all of the apps you have downloaded, and look for cache settings within "Settings" or "Options."
Clear any caches. Dolphin's cache is cleared by pressing "Clear Data" and then choosing the "Clear Cache" option.
Bear in mind that cache stores repeatedly accessed online information, so expect a little slowness in some apps the first time you use them after a cache clearout.
Downloaded Applications Tab
Open "Settings" within the app drawer and choose "Applications." Then choose the "Downloaded" tab. Systematically open each app that you use regularly and choose "Clear Cache" if the button is available.
Then open each app that you never use and choose "Clear Cache" followed by "Clear Data" and then "Uninstall." This will remove the apps and associated data.
All Applications Tab
Choose the "All" tab and follow the previous cache-clearing step only. Don't uninstall anything or clear any data within this tab unless you've researched further.
There are apps in the "All" tab that are used by the device overall. "Android Keyboard" is an example. You will have freed up enough space just performing maintenance in the "Downloaded" tab.
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