Smartphones are capable of performing so many tasks, there’s almost no digital activity for which they can’t be used. Problem is, they’re still handheld devices with limited space, and too much media - especially big files like music and video - will quickly prompt the dreaded alert: storage space is running low.
It’s a first world problem, to be sure, but no less irritating when you’re in the middle of filming an important event and you have to scramble to free up space. Thankfully, there are some shortcuts to freeing up space in a bind. Let’s take a look at the steps you can take to keep your mobile device running smoothly:
Identify the Worst Offenders
The first order of business is to find out which apps and data are hogging the memory. On iPhones, go to Settings > General > Usage > Manage Storage; on Android, tap Settings and then Storage - the Apps entry will give you a breakdown of every app.
Now there are decisions to be made. Is there anything you don’t use at all? Are there apps you could easily download again in future that you don’t need to run right now? Deleting a couple of games and bulky apps will usually solve most space issues - and even trashing some of the data contained within an app frees up a surprising amount of memory, as we’ll see…
Apps hoard a lot more data than many people think. Cached Spotify playlists; stored episodes on iPlayer; cookies in Chrome; offline webpages stored in history; maps in navigation apps… the list goes on. Cherrypicking the least useful elements from all of these will clear up a lot of space.
For Android devices, try going to Apps in Settings and selecting entries to clear caches and temporary data. The Privacy section (both iOS and Android) lets you erase temporary files. Don’t forget the ready availability of third-party apps designed to help you clear space. Android is particularly well-served in this regard, with apps like Clean Master and The Cleaner offering good results, both in terms of clearing junk data and improving security.
For some reason, backing up mobile data using external hard drives is not as popular as it should be. Sure, most people will do this with their laptops and desktops, but smartphones - which have drastically less memory - tend to be isolated. It needn’t be this way.
Take a few minutes once a month to dump photos, music and video from your mobile device onto a hard drive or in the cloud. There’s no shortage of options to achieve this end, on both iOS and Android devices. In-built apps like iCloud and Google Photos work well, as does Dropbox, but whatever method you plump for, it makes sense to back everything up twice (once in the cloud, once on a hard drive).
The Nuclear Option
Still not happy with how your phone is running? If all else fails, and you’ve backed up every file you want to keep, you can always opt for a factory reset, which will make your device run like new.