How to . . . increase storage on your Android phone

If your mobile isn’t able to store all your photos, video and music you can remedy that

 Android smartphone: adding a memory card and storing in the cloud are just some ways to increase capacity. Photograph: Geert Vanden Wijngaert/AP Photo

Android smartphone: adding a memory card and storing in the cloud are just some ways to increase capacity. Photograph: Geert Vanden Wijngaert/AP Photo


It’s a common complaint: nice phone, shame about the storage. Particularly at the budget end of the Android market, you may find that your phone storage just isn’t up to scratch when it comes to coping with the photos, video and music you are trying to store on it.

But there are way to improve your lot: here are a few tips :

Add a bit

Okay, so it’s not quite making the most of what you’ve got, but it’s the easiest way to sort your storage problem. If your phone accepts external storage, buy a micro SD memory card for it. That will give you an instant boost, and it’s a relatively cheap method of expanding your phone’s capacity.

Before you invest in a massive memory card though check your phone’s information for the highest capacity memory card it will accept. Some older phones will only support cards up 32GB.

There are other options – using external devices or wireless drives – but part of the problem with relying on a memory card is that not all apps can be transferred to it. Some phones running Android 6.0 take the memory card and make it part of the system’s overall storage. It’s known as adoptable storage, and it means you can’t remove the card and use it in another device without formatting it, but it will be a cheap way to expand storage. You’ll need a card with a decent read/write speed too.

Delete unwanted apps

Those apps that you downloaded because they seemed interesting, but you rarely – if ever – use? Get rid. They may not be huge, but the cumulative effect can put a dent in your device storage. If you change your mind, you can always re-download them from the Google Play store, free of charge.

Clear app caches

Over time, your lean apps can collect data and swell to gargantuan proportions. There are two ways to clear app caches in Android. You can do it individually for each app, although how you do it will depend on the version of Android your phone is running.

Generally, if you go to Settings>Apps, you’ll find a list of your installed apps. Choose the app, and you’ll be brought to a screen where you can force the app to stop, uninstall it, and see exactly how much space it is taking up on your phone. Under Storage, there’s usually an option to delete data and delete the cache.

You’ll have to do this individually, unless you don’t mind losing information from all your apps. In that case, you can put your phone into recovery mode and clear the app information that way. It differs from phone model to model, but a quick Google search will usually turn up the instructions.

Delete your downloads

The same goes for downloads. Every time you download a file to your device, it takes up space. Go to your App screen, select Downloads and you will see a list of what is lurking.You can delete them individually from there, saving the files you need.

Use the cloud

It’s nice to have your photos at your fingertips, but do you really need to store all of them on the phone? If you use Google Photos to automatically back up your images, you’ll have a slightly lower resolution, but still usable, version on your Google account. That means you don’t have to store everything on the phone.

Set Google Photos to automatically backup your images by going to the Photos app – you can download it from the Play store if it is not available on your handset – and accepting the prompt to backup and sync that will appear when you first open the app. If you rejected that option initially, you can always turn it on by opening the app, choosing Settings, and checking the Back up and Sync option.

If you don’t want to use the free storage option from Google, you can always try Dropbox. You get 2GB free of charge, and you can set your images to automatically upload to your account directly from your phone.

Media files

It’s not just photos and videos that are space hogs. Music can also eat into your phone storage, and not just the files you transfer yourself. If you have streaming services such as Spotify or Deezer, and you opt to make your music available offline, the app will download and store the data it needs to give you access to tracks without an internet connection. That can add up. Clearing the app’s data though will mean you lose access to your offline tracks, so you need to balance convenience with your desire for more storage. Stick to tunes you can’t live without, and stream the rest.

As for your own tracks that you’ve bought or ripped from your CD collection, Google Play offers an online locker where you can store music, keeping it from cluttering up your phone storage.

Obviously, any cloud solution means you will need an internet connection, though, so think carefully about what you are removing from your phone.