App caches can eat up space on your Android device, but are easy to clear

Screenshot_2013-07-05-15-56-17A lot of lower end devices, and even some higher end devices, fall short of many people’s expectations when it comes to internal storage. A common solution is to delete some apps, but it’s also important to be aware that app caches can also take up a lot of memory.

A lot of apps, especially ones that rely on the internet for content, cache that content locally. Some apps end up caching quite a lot of data over time, and the less internal storage your device has, the bigger the impact will be. I can’t even count how many times people have asked me about why they can’t install apps on their devices (apparently the notifications telling them the storage is low isn’t a good enough clue…), only to find that it’s a lower end Android phone where something like the contact photo cache of a social app has used up what little memory there is.

Luckily, clearing app caches is easy. Go to system settings, the applications list, and into the app you want to either check the cache size of or clean the cache of. There’s a button for clearing the cache, not to be confused with the “Clear data” button.

Once you’ve done that, you should check if the app has any cache settings you can tweak. If not, install whatever you need to install before using the app again, if the cache of a single app is otherwise preventing you from doing so (which is more common than you’d think).

Android 4.2 users also have an option to clear all cached data. There are also cache cleaner apps on Google Play that might be useful, though I haven’t tried any of them.

As a final tip, it might be beneficial to actually allow apps to cache more data than they do by default. The screenshot on the right shows a YouTube player I use where you can actually set the cache capacity, and hence make the app more capable of storing content locally and lowering the frequency at which it has to re-fetch the same content. Just make sure you don’t accidentally tell an app to eat up your entire internal memory in the process!

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Andreas Ødegård

Andreas Ødegård is more interested in aftermarket (and user created) software and hardware than chasing the latest gadgets. His day job as a teacher keeps him interested in education tech and takes up most of his time.

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