Running out of space on your Android device? Do you always need to figure out if you have enough storage capacity left for the latest music album or app you want to install? These helpful tips and tools will help you clear up some more storage space on your Android tablet or smartphone!
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So your Android device is telling you that you're running dangerously low on storage space? The first thing you'll probably want to do is figure out what's causing your bloat in the first place. Going to Settings -> Storage should provide you with a handy bar graph visualization of your device's data storage, categorized by type, which allows you to quickly figure out whether you've got too many large apps, music albums, or video files loaded. Tapping on some categories allows you to select and deletefiles and folders or uninstall apps. Figuring out these problem areas is the first step to solving them.
While the storage settings page already allows you to do some basic housekeeping, you'll probably need a dedicated file manager and explorer app for more complex operations. There are a whole host out there, each with their own specializations and features. One of our favorites is ES File Explorer, linked above, which provides you with loads of file management operations, an integrated gallery system, a task and file manager, and more.
Regardless of the file manager you end up using, it should allow you to quickly and efficiently select, delete, and move folders or files in order to free up some space.
The Settings->Storage tool provides you with a basic breakdown of what is using your storage space, but for a visualization that's much easier to grasp, try out the free Disk Usage application. Much like the excellent WinDirStat, Disk Usage reads your device storage, and then displays a categorized visualization of your files and directories, with a tree structure that can be zoomed in or kept zoomed out for a broader overview. The program includes a search function, as well as integration with a few popular file managers (including Astro File Manager and OI File Manager).
Verdict: A great, free, detailed visualization tool for someone that wants more than what Android's Storage tool provides.
Another good tool is Storage Analyser, which is exactly what it advertises, reading your storage and displaying information as to what files and folders are using up how much percentage of your free space.
Verdict: Still not quite as intuitive in use as DiskUsage, and a bit more finicky around system partitions, Storage Analyser is still a decent tool for figuring out storage use, and we hope the developer keeps at this promising tool.
Search Duplicate File Free allows you to track down duplicate files within your device storage and filters allow for common file types such as images, music, and video. The settings menu allows you to filter the file types you wish to search for, as well as maximum and minimum file sizes to search for. You can also further customize the folders that you wish to search. After searching, you can then view lists of duplicates in order to either to exclude them from the list, or delete them from the device. Of course, a little caution here, as you should only delete something that you know is an actual duplicate and not a system file or similar.
Verdict: A free and easy to use duplicate file finder that is great for users with scatterbrained organization.
Another simple and useful tip to clear up your device is to move bulky data (such as music, videos, and documents) to external storage if your smartphone or tablet supports it. Doing this allows you to keep valuable on-board device storage for things like app and system data, while bulkier media can be stored externally and just plugged in on demand. It's a bit of an extra hassle, but it will allow you to free up hundreds of megs, or even gigabytes, of space.
All isn't lost even if your device doesn't support external storage through USB or SD card. Android features some USB OTG (On The Go) support for some devices, allowing you to plug in USB devices through the miniUSB port. Even if mounting USB drives isn't natively supported, some apps like Nexus Media Importer allow you to import and stream media through a USB OTG cable, allowing you to bypass some of your hardware limitations. Do check the store page for compatibility.
Verdict: A paid app that serves as a workaround for the lack of external storage on some devices.