How to Clear Cache Data on Your Android

Android running slow? Clearing the cache should speed things up

Man using android phone

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The cache on a smartphone refers to a collection of small files that are supposed to help (and usually do) speed up normal operations on the phone. Rather than the, say, the web browser having to download the logo of a site you frequent every single time you visit the site, the browser can grab the file from its cache. It works great. Until it doesn't.

Sometimes the files get corrupted and the data inside the file (or more than one file) is unreadable, but the program tries and tries and tries anyway. And it slows down the device. The files getting corrupted isn't your fault and it's nothing you did wrong.

Well, deleting those files and making the program request them again can, in fact, make your smartphone faster because it won't get stuck trying to read an unreadable file. Now, this isn't a guarantee that it will solve your problem, but it's easy and free to try, so it makes sense as the first thing to try.

The information and directions below should apply no matter who made your Android phone: Samsung, Google, Huawei, Xiaomi, etc.

Is It Safe to Clear the App Cache on Your Device?

 Absolutely. The cache contains temporary files that are used to speed up the app. Sometimes, these are files downloaded from the Internet and used frequently by the app. This can help the app load and operate a lot faster.

How Does Clearing the Cache Cure Problems With the Smartphone or Tablet?

Ideally, cache files help an app by giving it quick access to needed information. But this is duplicated information stored permanently elsewhere, and if the file isn't the most up-to-date, it could cause problems. Worse, if the file becomes corrupted, which means some of the information stored in it has become jumbled, it can cause the app to behave erratically or even crash. Clearing the cache can solve these problems, and it is often a good troubleshooting step to take before resetting the device, which is oftentimes the last step in troubleshooting an erratic device. These steps cover Android Lollipop (5.0) and newer.

How to Wipe All Cache Data on Your Android Device at Once

Storage on android settings page

Screenshot

The easiest way to deal with your device's cache is to simply delete it all at once. This saves you the trouble of hunting down the cache for the individual app and it can solve many problems with performance or erratic behavior on your Android device. It can result in a fair amount of storage space being recovered, but this tends to be a temporary effect. Apps will slowly build back their cache as they are used, so it should only be used as a short-term solution to any storage issues.

Unfortunately, Google did away with the ability to clear all cache at once in the "Oreo" (Android v8.x) update

  1. First, go into settings by launching your Android settings app.
  2. Next, scroll down and choose Storage. It is usually in the Device section of settings.
  3. When you tap Storage, Android will begin calculating where the storage for your device is being used (Apps, photos, etc.). Once the device is finished calculating, scroll down and locate Cached data. If you are clearing the cache because you need more storage, you will see how much you will get back listed here.
  4. Tap Cached data. You will be prompted to confirm your choice. Don't worry, clearing all of the cache data does not erase any personal information or any important data stored on the device.

What If You Don't Get the Option to Clear the Cached Data?

As mentioned, newer versions of Android no longer allow you to clear this data all at once. Certain manufacturer's may also limit this feature. If you do not have the option, you will only be allowed to clear the cache for apps individually.

How to Wipe the Cache Data of an Individual App on Your Android Device

android settings page

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If you are only having problems with one or two apps, clearing out the cache for these individual apps is a great alternative to deleting the entire cache. And if you do have a newer device that doesn't allow you to delete the entire cache all at once, this is an obvious choice.

  1. Open settings by tapping the Android settings app.
  2. Choose Apps from the Settings menu. This will list out all apps on the device in alphabetical order with the total storage used displayed under the app's name. 
  3. Tap the app whose cache you want cleared. This will bring up relevant information about the app.
  4. The first choice on the app's detail page is Storage. Tap this to bring up the option of clearing cache.
  5. There are two buttons on the storage screen: Clear Data and Clear Cache. The Clear Cache button is the one you want to tap. This should immediately clear the app's cache. The Clear Data option will delete any files you have saved within the app. If you accidentally tap this button, you will be prompted to confirm your choice. It is important not to delete this data, so if you get a prompt asking "Delete app data?" tap Cancel.

You May Want to Prioritize Clearing Cache From Individual Apps

  • If you are running into problems with a specific app, try clearing the cache and then open the app to see if they problems persist.
  •  If you are having problems in several apps or with the Android device as a whole, try clearing the cache from your most used apps to see if that helps.
  • If you're hoping to clear up some storage space, start with clearing the cache from the Chrome browser and any other web browser you use on the device. Next, clear the cache from any social media apps like Facebook or Twitter, or any app that relies heavily on the Internet. If you still need more space, go through the other apps starting with those that take up the most overall space.

Remember, clearing cache is only a temporary trick to get some much needed storage space, and as you use the app in question, it will begin building up a new cache of temporary files.