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android storage spaceHere is a common problem: Running out of storage space on your Android device. If you like to play top-notch games from Gameloft, take lots of photos and videos, or even create periodic backups How To Complete A Full Backup Of Your Android Phone [1.6+] How To Complete A Full Backup Of Your Android Phone [1.6+] I've been using Titanium Backup ever since I got my first Android device. I love backup applications (for PC and otherwise), and Titanium is as good as it gets. In this short introduction I’d like... Read More of your device, things can get crowded very quickly.

Next thing you know, you can’t install that cool new game, or get weird errors because you don’t have enough space.

So, below I’d like to share four different ways to figure out where all that free space went to. All of them are free, and one of them is built right into Android.

Built-In: Storage Settings

android storage space

Depending on how tight your storage situation is, installing a third-party app to figure out where all the space went to might be counterproductive. I mean, you don’t have enough space as it is, so before we try to take up more space, let’s see what Android offers natively. Go to Settings > Storage, and you should see something like this:

free up storage space android

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This screen lets you browse through your internal storage, internal SD card (like the Galaxy S II has), and external SD card, and see what’s taking up space in each volume. This is your first line of defense: You will instantly be able to tell whether all the space is spent on apps (1.44GB above) or photos and videos (1.26GB above). If you tap one of the file categories, Android will try to open a file manager in that location so you can clear it out. Alternatively, if you find that the problem is with apps, just tap Apps:

free up storage space android

The Manage Apps screen will pop open, showing you which apps are taking up that precious space.

With this simple built-in tool you can probably free up enough space to resolve a temporary emergency. We can now safely assume you have space to install at least one app, and can look at some free third party solutions that are more powerful.


free up storage space android

DiskUsage visualizes your disk space using a treemap, the same interface used by the excellent WinDirStat Visualize your Hard Drive Usage with WinDirStat Visualize your Hard Drive Usage with WinDirStat Read More . One difference is that with WinDirStat, parent folders contain their subfolders, while in DiskUsage the folder structure moves from left to right: Above you can see /mnt/sdcard, the parent folder, and its subfolders (Titanium, Android, DCIM) on the right, each with its own subfolders to the right. Single-tapping a folder zooms into it smoothly, so you can quickly drill down:

free up phone storage android

Once you find a file you’d like to delete, tap Menu and select Delete. One big drawback DiskUsage has is that it won’t let you preview the files properly: For example, above you can see several video files that take up quite a bit of space on my device. I can easily delete them, but there is no way for me to preview them before doing so, to make sure I really don’t want them (or that I have them backed up to my computer). Other than this drawback, DiskUsage is simple and polished.

Storage Analyser

One level up in complexity comes Storage Analyser, which visualizes data using progress bars rather than a treemap:

free up phone storage android

Storage Analyser’s space includes some slick refinements, such as the nice popup for switching between storage media, that also shows storage stats at a glance:

free up phone storage android

Unlike DiskUsage, Storage Analyser let me preview a video by single-tapping it. If you long-press a file, you can select multiple files for batch operation:


The Filter feature lets you exclude selected files and folders from the report. This is useful if you have a ton of MP3s or photos that you really don’t want to delete, and you don’t want them skewing the reports.

SD Maid


Last but not least comes SD Maid, with nearly 4,000 Google Play reviews and a 4.4-star average. SD Maid is the only app in this roundup that asked for Root access when I launched it, but it offers rich functionality in return. The top part of the screen is taken up by a horizontally scrolling list of tabs – a UI mechanism I personally dislike, because it makes it difficult to discover the different parts of the app (some users may not even realize the need to scroll horizontally to reveal extra tabs). Here are some of the more interesting tabs:


The Corpse Finder tries to track down folders that uninstalled apps left behind. It’s a bit scary to use (what if it’s wrong?), but assuming you have a current backup, you should be able to fix any errors it makes.

There’s also a tab that lets you hunt the biggest files on your phone:


This is interesting mainly for hunting large videos, but again, be careful before you delete anything (deleting nandroid backups, the largest files shown above, is a bad idea). The Clean System tab can hunt for thumbnail cache files, log files, and other miscellanea that can be removed to quickly free up some space without messing anything up:

android storage space

Obviously, those gallery thumbnails would eventually be regenerated as you browse your gallery, but it can work as a temporary fix. SD Maid is a rich app, but these examples should give you an idea for what it can do.

How Do You Do It?

What’s your solution for freeing up space on your Android device? Are you careful not to install too many apps, or do you periodically sweep things clean? Let me know below!

  1. BinThar AnBac
    July 1, 2015 at 3:12 am

    My Samsung ACE GT-S5830 came with a pathetic 158 Mb and shortly after installing Stock Lite v8 Rom and trying (and uninstalling) tiny apps from Google Play Store my memory was down to ~20Mb. I noticed the Google Play Services app had become VERY fat (over 66Mb from 1.5Mb) so within Settings> Applications> Manage Applications> All , I found the Google Play Services app, selected, and uninstalled the updates. After applying same to Google Services Framework, over 80Mb of memory was clawed back!

  2. aj
    May 18, 2015 at 9:25 am


    Hi I have a same problem runnngout storage space what can I do to fix. My phone is huawei G6. Please help me

  3. Harry
    May 3, 2015 at 9:28 pm

    SdMaid saved me the trouble of undergoing another factory reset and loss of data, Phone is really free now???????? Thanks a lot

  4. fred12
    May 2, 2015 at 6:34 pm

    I have a oppo Android phone and it's been given me storage problems so I went to the Android store near me and the guys told me that every Android phone has a back up storage?? I was like what but it's very big !! AWESOME! :-D

  5. nana
    April 7, 2015 at 11:48 am

    I use AppMgrIII, open the most annoying app, then Clear Data.

  6. Louise
    January 14, 2015 at 12:08 pm

    I have an xperia which is telling me I have 140mb but when I tried downloading an app at 46.52mb it told me there was an error due to "insufficient storage on device" I'm beyond frustration... Can't you please help this woman before her sanity leaves the building

  7. Penny
    December 31, 2014 at 2:01 am

    Tried downloading the sd maid app... however, it tells me that there's not enough room!!! So catch 22, how can I free up space? I've moved what I can ie. music, pictures, etc to the sd card, but apps taking up majority of the room. & I'm sure there's stuff taking up room which can be cleaned up which I can't see.... how to do this without an app??

  8. Anonymous
    November 4, 2012 at 1:11 am

    Try not to add to many apps. Get rid of unused ones too. When i get a little more familiar with it I will try other things!

  9. andrew
    September 20, 2012 at 11:35 am

    great stuf.. managed to get all my storage back without having to formal my s2. i was down to 2gb and deleted every thing i could find. Sd maid showed me that my rom backup were taking 5 gb. and old 'corpses' of games another 3 gb. so now i got 9 out of 12 gb. my internal memory was ok. thanks a lot dude

    • Erez Zukerman
      September 20, 2012 at 12:09 pm

      Woot! Happy to hear it helped! :)

    • Sam
      November 14, 2012 at 12:37 pm

      this happened with me too..
      2-3 gb in rom backups and old game data.. glad i found this article

      (wish my GNex was 32gb+)

  10. Totoy Badiola
    September 10, 2012 at 9:42 pm

    How does one move files from internal sd to external sd? I use ICS on Samsung Galaxy Tab 2

    • Erez Zukerman
      September 10, 2012 at 11:42 pm

      I suggest using a file manager like Total Commander for Android, or Root Explorer.

  11. Athos
    July 25, 2012 at 2:00 am

    Thanks, i'll check diskusage.

  12. Spencer Vincent
    July 16, 2012 at 1:30 pm

    HTC Wildfire S is a great phone but the memory problem is ridiculous! No Way Out

  13. Scott
    July 15, 2012 at 5:25 pm

    Erez, what version of Android are you using? On mine (LG Optimus with Virgin Mobile) when I tap on "Settings" I do not see the same "Storage" option you displayed. Mine says "SD Card and Phone Storage", then when I choose that I am only shown how much storage each area is using. Tapping on them does not show the more detailed breakdown in your screenshot or open a file manager. I truly wish my Android had a built in way of showing exactly what is using up all my space... I am always getting "low memory" settings. Right now it says my available internal space is just 38mb. Anyhow, you should probably update your article to clarify which version of Android has the built in Storage setting and file manager you write about since apparently not all have it.

    • Erez Zukerman
      July 15, 2012 at 5:45 pm

      Hi Scott,

      I use Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich). If you do not have this option in your ROM, it is probably because your carrier disabled it for some reason.

      Android fragmentation is a huge issue, and this is an implicit disclaimer in all Android posts: Not all phones will have the same options, ever. Sad, but true.

      • alson
        January 3, 2013 at 7:30 am

        the thing is my storage shows 7 gb available on the sd card and when i open application in setings it just shows that 5.5 gb used and thats the limit it gives..whats happening to the rest of the 2 gb thats still free

  14. Bumferry
    July 13, 2012 at 9:29 am

    I use app2SD which allows me utilise the little amount of storage available on my xperia arc S. easy to see what uses the most memory and the cache as well as moving apps from internal storage to the SD card where optional.
    It also lets you know what aspects of the app (widgets and the like) might not work if they are moved.
    it takes up very little space and has allowed me to utilise a lot of space on my phone and speed it up no end in the process.
    For a free app, its been a life saver.

  15. Mac
    July 13, 2012 at 3:14 am

    I'm using Link2SD with a partitioned SD card. Simple and very effective!

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