How To Make Android Faster: What Works, And What Doesn’t

android defrag pro icon   How To Make Android Faster: What Works, And What Doesnt

Everyone wants their devices to run faster and scammers prey on that. Recently, a scam app named Android Defrag Pro popped up on Google Play. Android doesn’t need defragmentation, but many users installed it anyway and left positive reviews. Android isn’t like Windows and doesn’t require as much maintenance — still, there are some things you can do to make your device perform faster.

You may have heard that “Android fragmentation” is a problem, but this refers to the number of devices and versions of Android in the wild – fragmentation on Android’s file system is not a problem.

What Works – The Basics

These easy-to-follow tips will work for everyone, no rooting your device required:

  • Optimize Your Home Screens: Loading up your home screens with widgets and live wallpapers will slow things down a bit, particularly if you have an older, slower device. Trim the number of widgets you use and you may see a performance increase – of course, widgets may not slow things down too much, especially if you have a newer device. While animated wallpapers provide eye candy, they may cause your home screens to lag — not to mention the battery life hit.

AndroidLiveWallpaper01   How To Make Android Faster: What Works, And What Doesnt

  • Kill & Uninstall Misbehaving Apps: Task killer apps are unnecessary — we’ll get to that later — because Android normally does a good job of managing processes for you. However, in some cases, an app may misbehave, taking up a lot of CPU time and slowing your system. You can identify these apps from the Task Manager by their high resource usage. You can also use an app like Watchdog Task Manager, which watches for misbehaving apps. After you spot a misbehaving app, kill it. If it continues misbehaving, you should uninstall it.
  • Install a Different Browser: If you’re one of the majority of Android users stuck on an older version of Android, like Gingerbread, you could see a performance increase from installing a new browser. Android’s built-in browser is only updated with the operating system, which means that Gingerbread’s browser hasn’t been updated in a long time. The new Firefox app for Android runs on Gingerbread and seems significantly faster than the built-in browser, in my experience. Users of Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich and above can also try Google Chrome for Android. Opera Mini is another good choice – Opera Mini renders pages on Opera’s servers before sending them to your device, saving your device’s processing power and reducing network usage. Opera Mini will help more with slower devices that take a while to load web pages.

firefoxandroid2   How To Make Android Faster: What Works, And What Doesnt

What Works – The Geekier Stuff

These tips will require rooting your device or installing a custom ROM – not necessarily for the average user! That said, rooting your Android phone or tablet may be easier than you’d think.

  • Overclock Your Device: Just like with a desktop or laptop computer, you can overclock your Android phone or tablet to speed things up. However, this will require root access. SetCPU is a popular choice for overclocking your device’s CPU. Bear in mind that overclocking can be dangerous – an overclocked phone will generate more heat, and this could result in hardware damage. Overclocking will also decrease your device’s battery life.
  • Install Custom ROMs to Get a Newer Version of Android: Newer versions of Android perform better than older ones. For example, Android 4.1 Jelly Bean is significantly more responsive than older versions thanks to Project Butter, which aimed to dramatically reduce lag. While your phone may not have an official update to a newer version of Android, you can often upgrade by installing a custom ROM. A custom ROM is a new build of the Android operating system, customized for your device and developed by the community. One popular custom ROM that supports a variety of devices is CyanogenMod.

muo hpt android boot   How To Make Android Faster: What Works, And What Doesnt

  • Manage Autostart Programs: If you’ve rooted your Android, you can also use an app like Autostarts to manage which apps have permission to automatically start with your device. This can speed up your boot process.

What Doesn’t Work

These things just don’t work, or may be counterproductive.

  • Defragment Your Android: For decades, Windows users have been told that defragmenting their hard drives will speed their computer up. With this in mind, it’s no surprise that scammers would create Android defragmenting apps. You don’t need to defragment Android for the same reason you don’t need to defragment a solid-state drive on a Windows computer. The SSD automatically manages where the data gets placed — defragmentation doesn’t speed anything up. In fact, defragmentation can actually harm things – SSDs have a limited amount of write cycles, so defragmentation can reduce the life of your Android’s storage.

android defrag pro   How To Make Android Faster: What Works, And What Doesnt

  • Run a Task Killer: Task killer apps end processes and remove them from memory – this sounds like it should speed things up. However, it may actually slow things down. Android will manage processes for you – processes running in the background don’t use up resources like they do on Windows. While your memory may be full of processes, that’s a good thing – unused memory does nothing, and the apps in memory will load more quickly when you go back to them. When a task killer kills a process, the app will take longer to load next time – it may also start back up immediately, slowing things down. Let Android manage processes for you. The one exception to this is misbehaving processes, which you should kill and uninstall – see the information about that in the basics section above.

If you’re an Android user, you should also check out our list of the 100 best Android apps.

How do you speed up your Android smartphone or tablet? Have you run into any other scams we haven’t mentioned here? Leave a comment and let us know!

The comments were closed because the article is more than 180 days old.

If you have any questions related to what's mentioned in the article or need help with any computer issue, ask it on MakeUseOf Answers—We and our community will be more than happy to help.

50 Comments -

0 votes

Larry Johnson

Yes I quit the task killer since it didn’t appear to help.

0 votes

Flavius Graur

No task killers, no live wallpapers, decent clock settings (as battery is concerned), also I try to keep the apps to a minimum. I usually take off apps I don’t use regularly – less events the system has to keep track of.

Also facebook. That app wakes the phone like Donkey from Shrek – every 5 minutes. Also, when managing my autostart list, disabling apps, I also disable all widgets (the Widget Updating event). The only widget I use is the analog clock.

I also check for wakelocks regularly and fine tune when necessarily.
That’s my recipe for a fast android device.

0 votes

Chris Hoffman

That’s a good point. If apps are running in the background, removing them will help (although this may help more for battery life than performance).

I’ve definitely heard bad things about Facebook for Android.

Watching for wakelocks is getting geekier again, but it will help you squeeze more battery life out of your device.

0 votes

Flavius Graur

Less background processing time = more battery time = better performance when needed.

0 votes

tarzan2001

I’ve read that Task Killers actually do help if you’re using a VERY old device or one of the low-end devices that you get on the cheap. I’ve personally tried some different task killers on a Kyocera Zio from Cricket Wireless and they actually make a difference, albeit a small one. By the way, don’t hate me for messing around with a crappy Cricket phone–my brother-in-law bought it, not me! I still use my trusty (but ancient) Nokia 6630! ;)

0 votes

Chris Hoffman

That’s a good point. I’ve heard ancient Android OSes didn’t do as good a job, so task killers were once helpful. Assuming you’re using a reasonably modern Android (even Gingerbread), task killers won’t help.

0 votes

tarzan2001

The Zio is running Android 2.2.1 Froyo. I’ve ready many comments by people saying that it’s simply better and faster to just restart the phone and start “fresh.” While that may be true for newer and more powerful phones, this Zio is soooo slow that it’s actually faster to just use the Task Killer to free up the memory and restart the services than to actually wait 3-5 minutes before the phone becomes usable after a restart. I swear, it’s just like using my old Pentium III Gateway pc and waiting 5 minutes for Windows to load back in the day, except now the computer is in the palm of my hand! :P

0 votes

Chris Hoffman

Wow, that is extremely slow. My condolences!

0 votes

Achraf Almouloudi

I believe apps running in the background consume more power as it takes electricity to store on RAM cells and they periodically use CPU on 5 to 10 % which further consume power, am I wrong ?

0 votes

Chris Hoffman

If they’re using CPU, this will definitely use battery power. However, they’re not supposed to use CPU (unless they’re downloading stuff or performing other actions). If they’re randomly using CPU in the background, they’re misbehaving.

I don’t believe it takes more electricity to store stuff in RAM. In other words, if you have 2GB of RAM, it takes the same amount of electricity to store data in it than it does to store nothing — for example, all 0’s.

What will take electricity is writing data to the RAM — if an app is killed and then opened later, it will take electricity to place it in RAM. If it was left in RAM, that electricity wouldn’t be used.

1 votes

nick

but, if it is a 0, that means there is no electricity running through the transistor. so it would make sense that ram not being actively used and refreshed would use less power

0 votes

Chris Hoffman

This is getting really low-level for me, but I’ve never seen any indication that empty RAM uses less power. If it does use more power, it must be minuscule.

0 votes

Glenn Bond

Flashed a Viewsonic G -Tablet several times as updates were available. Now running Honeycomb and it works well. It actually increased the speed of the unit. Just follow directions on the flashing and all will go well.

0 votes

Chris Hoffman

Definitely, upgrading the OS will help a lot — Android 4.1 on my Nexus 7 is pretty amazing.

0 votes

Mike Green

The best thing I have found is using custom ROMS such as cyanogenmod

0 votes

Chris Hoffman

Especially if you’re using an older device that never got updates or one that’s packed with bloatware, sure!

0 votes

Trevor Lenten

Just installed FF. Thanks for the tip.

0 votes

Chris Hoffman

The old Firefox was pretty bad, but the new one is quite good!

0 votes

Chefpatel

What about Dolphin Browser? Any take on it?

0 votes

Chris Hoffman

Haven’t used it much myself but I’ve heard great things. I’d give it a thumbs up, based on what I’ve heard.

0 votes

Steve Taylor

Comprehensive review. Good ideas.

0 votes

Christopher Mortenson

Good article, nothing to toss out here other than what may be slightly off topic.

Learning what/how to use the keys, buttons, combo keys and hotkeys/shortcuts would contribute to overall efficiency and possibly stress reducer.

0 votes

deddy

how can I identify “missbehaving apps? I mean, except the high resource usage.

0 votes

Chris Hoffman

Well, if you open the task manager and see apps using lots of CPU in the background, that’s a problem. If they’re using small amounts of CPU while downloading data, that’s to be expected.

In other words, if you’re using an app and then leave it, it shouldn’t be grinding away in the background. It should go to 0 CPU, assuming it’s not downloading anything or performing other actions.

0 votes

Alexandra

Mobile apps are hot today. But hiring a programmer is too expensive. I used snappii.com to make apps. It’s really easy, the web service allows to make mobile apps in minutes, and without programming skills at all. If you are short of time, they can make an app for you very quickly.

0 votes

Juan Paulo Ducut

task killers is a big nono. just look at your apps, look at the settings, and if there is an option that keeps it on running while on standby, disable it. else, dont use that app it it wasnt needed. you can also kill apps on application section of the settings app, then on running services, choose an app, kill it(with fire)

0 votes

Chris Hoffman

Thanks, good tips — that’s exactly how to do it. I should’ve gone into identifying and killing misbehaving apps (with fire) a bit more.

0 votes

Melvin Capco

clap! clap! that’s what i’ve done to my phone and it works. To add also disabled apps notification that you think you don’t need to be notified :D

0 votes

Igor Rizvi?

My brother is running this androind,gonna send this him to read,great stuff

0 votes

John Loot

Definitely try these one’s out…

0 votes

Liam Ellery

Getting rid of task killer now, i didnt think it was doing anything, this just concludes it

0 votes

Eduardo Carrillo

no more task killer

0 votes

Paulette

I just received an android notebook. Glad I read this before applying anything more to what is already installed. Thanks

0 votes

Liz Ganser

I think my battery is. drained by the operating system.. I followed your advice and deleted the task killer app and downloaded the watchdog, but don’t have any misbehaving apps. I use to have juice defender but deleted it because it said my device was not rooted and would have to perform a dangerous install fingers crossed. I read your article 100 android apps and was surprised that JD was there. I reloaded it but got the same message. I have a screen shot if you are interested – – just don’t know how to attach it here.
Please reply my phone doesn’t last 8 hours I may have to reload the task killer.

0 votes

Chris Hoffman

I haven’t tried JuiceDefender myself. You might try asking on MakeUseOf Answers, where you’ll get a lot more responses: http://www.makeuseof.com/answers/

0 votes

Alex Livingstone

LOL defragging an android is so unnecessary.

0 votes

Chris Hoffman

It is a pretty hilarious image.

0 votes

lanie a.aldeguer

it is nice and had a clear screen…

0 votes

Totoy Badiola

Thanks for the heads up on task killers. I am using ICS.

0 votes

Curtis C.

Task killers sometimes cause than help…

0 votes

A From

Android file system fragmentation seems very real to me, having ~70 apps (including the ones I can’t get rid of).

I cannot update many of my apps, due to out of memory though having free space both in RAM and on the SD card.

Phone updated to ICS recently, so I hoped that something might have been solved in the update, but I have basically the same problem.

Sometimes, for certain apps be it small or large (not predictable), if the app is moved to the SD card, I might get the update to work if I move the app into phone memory. I might sometimes succeed in updating apps where update is 5MB, whereas small apps of 200kB do not work…

But this “backup way” of moving the app into phone doing the update and back again to SD card does not always work.

Currently available space for me is 2.17 GB (8 GB card) on the SD card, and 39 MB (of 380 MB)

0 votes

Chris Hoffman

This seems more like a low-memory issues than a file system fragmentation issue. You can try reverting your phone to its hardware default state and reinstalling all your apps, which would definitely fix file system fragmentation (works on Windows, too), but I don’t think that’s the issue.

0 votes

Kukuh Frehadtomo

wow, that is very help me to make my phone more faster

0 votes

Matt D

Great article! My Droid 3 is dreadfully slow so I think it is time to Flash a Custom ROM upon it. How about deleting cache and wiping data from apps? Will this speed things up or will it just give you more space? And how about cleaning the Dalvik Cache, will this do anything for you?

0 votes

Chris Hoffman

You an always use the built-in recovery option to set your phone to a default state and see if that helps.

Clearing app caches will give you more space, but I don’t think it will speed anything up.

I don’t think clearing the Dalvik Cache will help, either. Android will just recreate it — the data in the cache helps apps work faster.

0 votes

Eric Thieszen

I have been considering the Cyanogen mods for my Droid and S3

0 votes

sachin goral

Had been using task killer since I got my phone. Thanks for the tips.

0 votes

Ray

Hi, I recently (foolishly) downloaded the app android defrag from CNet before I read some of these forums and got educated. Sometime afterwards, I lost my phone number – my phone was simply no longer registered with my provider. I contacted them – apparently they received a message from my phone asking to transfer the number to another SIM, which they apparently did. I now have my number back, minus my credit – fortunately it is prepay, so they only got the balance of that. I don’t like to think what may have happened if the phone was on a plan. And I don’t know what other data they may have mined from my phone, either!

I am now checking my computer and phone for malware etc., but I am fairly certain that the android defrag app was responsible – I did nothing else that could have triggered something like that.

Evereyone should be aware of the possibility that this app is an active malware.

0 votes

Ronamae Calingasan

I think task killers are made to prolong battery life though it makes the phone lag. But I already deleted my Advance Task Killer and installed the Watchdog. Gonna watch out for the difference. :) Thanks a bunch here from the Philippines :D

0 votes

Sudeep Kumar G

Very useful tips of course ! Thank you.