How to Free Up Storage Space on Your Android Phone or Tablet

What to do when you get the annoying "insufficient storage available" warning

person with smartphone at night

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It's all too easy to run out of space on your Android phone or tablet, even when you think you've started out with a lot of free space. Apps, photos, videos, and mysterious "Misc" data can hog up all the storage on your device, preventing you from installing more apps or taking more pictures.

What's Taking up All Your Space?

If you've woken up one day to find your phone complaining you're running out of space and have no idea why, you're not alone. (If it makes you feel any better, it happens to iPhone users too.) Over time, hard drive space slowly but surely gets eaten up not just by the apps you install (and have perhaps forgotten about), but by the cached data those apps store on your phone. To see how your storage is being used up, go to Settings then Storage on your device. From there, you'll be able to see how much available space is left on your internal, built-in storage.

Clear App Cache Data

The quickest and easiest way to clean up some space is to clear all of your apps' cached data. Before Android 4.2, you had to go through each app individually to clear cached data, but now you can clear cached data for all apps simply by going to Settings, tapping Cached data, and tapping OK. This will erase saved preferences and history like places you've recently searched for in the Google Maps app, but it can not only free up space, it can also boost your apps' performance.

Delete Photos and Videos

Photos and videos tend to take up the majority of total space on our phones and tablets, due to these media's large file sizes. (On my phone, pictures and videos take up about 45% of the total storage space.) Because of this, it makes sense to tackle these big files as well. If you're automatically backing up your photos on your phone to Dropbox, Google+, or other cloud services, you can delete them off of your device.

Move Apps to Your SD Card

Many, but not all, Android devices also have removable micro SD cards to expand your Android phone or tablet's internal storage space. Some apps can be moved to or installed on your SD card instead of on your internal storage. Go to Settings > Apps and select an app to move to the SD card. Look for the Move to SD card button. If you don't see it, your device or that app might not support this option at all. ITworld has some advanced methods for moving apps to the SD card, which may or may not work for you and are a bit more technical so proceed at your own risk.

Delete Some Apps

Chances are you've installed apps you no longer use. These are just taking up space unnecessarily, so go to Settings > Apps and go through your list to see which you can uninstall (you can sort the list by size from the top menu).

Utilities like Clean Master can also help you quickly clean up the junk on your phone or tablet, but because they run in the background, your phone can also take a performance hit.

It doesn't take much to clean up your phone or tablet, though, and make room for more important stuff you need to store there.