How to Survive Using an Old Android Phone with No Internal Memory

Ben Stegner 31-01-2017

If you have a phone with a tiny amount of internal storage Live Photos & 4K: Why You Shouldn’t Buy a 16GB iPhone 6s If you want to take advantage of the new iPhone 6s camera, you'll probably want to avoid picking the 16GB storage option. Read More , you’re probably used to seeing “low storage space” errors. You probably can’t install any new apps, which is really frustrating.


What do you do when your free space is measured in megabytes? Besides wishing for an excuse to get a new phone, there are a few tricks you can use.

The Problem is a Severe Lack of Internal Storage

Depending on how old your phone is, you might have more or less of an emergency in the storage department. Most phones from the last few years probably have 16GB or just 8GB of internal space to work with.

If you’re on an ancient phone, though, that number might be closer to just one or two gigabytes. The operating system itself takes up some space, and there’s always manufacturer bloatware How to Remove Bloatware on Android Without Rooting Did your phone come with a bunch of crappy apps pre-installed? Let us show you how to get rid of them the easy way. Read More hogging up your precious storage.

How to Survive Using an Old Android Phone with No Internal Memory Android Storage Usage

Multiple factors contribute to this problem. Even phones that have slots for a microSD card Your Next Phone Needs a MicroSD Card Slot -- Here's Why Some popular phones don't have microSD card slots -- but a lot still do, and you need one! Read More can’t fully utilize it for apps, since many apps only move a small portion of their install size to the card.


Additionally, app install sizes are always getting larger, meaning that the 8GB that was spacious in 2013 is next to nothing now. Because you also need some free space for your phone to run efficiently, you run a never-ending cycle of storage space management.

Rooting Could Be an Option

Android allows you more control over pre-installed apps than it once did. Many apps are installed on the system partition, meaning that you can’t just uninstall them like apps you’ve downloaded. Instead, Android lets you disable them, but this only prevents them from running. Disabled apps still take up space.

You could always install an app that lets you see what’s taking up the most space (such as DiskUsage), but if you don’t have enough space, then you can’t even install those apps. Plus, they’ll probably just tell you what you already know.

Rooting your phone gives you access to powerful apps that you can’t install otherwise, which can give you access to apps that let you uninstall system apps How To Freeze Or Uninstall Apps That Came With Your Phone [Android] One of the biggest problems Android has is that vendors are obsessed with the concept of somehow “adding value” to their devices. Instead of just shipping Android as it was meant to be used, Samsung,... Read More . If you’re okay with rooting, installing a custom ROM How to Install a Custom ROM on Your Android Device Ready to revitalize your Android phone or tablet? Installing a custom ROM is the best way to do that -- powering it up with even better performance and features. Read More is one of the best ways to make better use of your available space. There are several tiny ROMs available meant to run on older devices, such as SlimRoms.


There are plenty of reasons to root 9 Amazing Android Customizations Worth Rooting For Haven't rooted your device yet? Once you get a look at all this awesome root-only customizations, you might change your mind. Read More , but it might prove too difficult for the average user — so read on for some more non-root options.

Do Not Use the Facebook App

We’ve discussed at length how awful the Facebook app for Android is How Facebook Is Ruining Your Android (and What You Can Do) If you care about battery life, performance, or privacy, you're going to want to uninstall the official Facebook app and use one of these alternatives. Read More . It bogs down your device, requires a ton of permissions How Bad Are Those Facebook Messenger Permissions Anyway? You've probably been hearing a lot about Facebook's Messenger app. Let's quell the rumors and find out if the permissions are as bad as they claim. Read More , and wastes battery. Chances are if you’re struggling with storage space, you can’t even download it, but in case you’re low on space and still using it, get rid of Facebook and Messenger now.

Take Advantage of Google Photos

Photos take up a lot of space, depending on how powerful your device’s camera is. Don’t let your pictures waste internal storage — check out Google Photos, which will automatically sync your pictures to the cloud Get Free Unlimited Photo Storage & More with Google Photos If you aren't using these hidden Google Photos features, you're really missing out. (Hint: There's free and unlimited photo storage!) Read More . It even includes a feature that lets you instantly remove photos that are already backed up on Photos. If Photos won’t install for you, try an alternative auto-uploading app 4 Ways to Sync and Upload Photos to Cloud Storage on Android Here are the best apps to automatically upload Android photos to the cloud so you never lose precious memories. Read More .

Use the Smallest Version of All Apps

Just because you have a limited amount of space doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice on great apps. We’ve covered awesome apps under 10 MB Low on Storage? Save Space on Android With Great Apps Under 10 Megabytes Running low on storage space on your phone or tablet? These tiny apps should be able to remedy that! Read More that still pack plenty of features. You’ll find an alternative to Facebook, as well as powerful SMS, calendar, and weather apps.


Also, using an app like Files To SD Card will let you know quickly if an app you’ve installed can move to the SD card.

Revert Back to Original Releases of Stock Apps

In the app menu, Android allows you to revert pre-installed apps back to their original form. For apps like Chrome that have become huge over the years, this could mean 100 MBor more in difference. To revert an app, go to Settings > Apps and choose the app in question. On its info page, tap the three-dot menu in the upper-right, and choose Uninstall Updates. This will remove all updates and send the app back to its stock state, hopefully downsizing it in the process.

How to Survive Using an Old Android Phone with No Internal Memory Android Uninstall Updates

If you really want to go far, you can try ditching Google on your Android How to Use Android Without Google: Everything You Need to Know Want to use Android without Google? No Google, no problem. Here's a guide to going Google-free on your Android device to regain privacy. Read More . This involves some work to remove Google Play Services, and we wouldn’t recommend it for everyone because Play Services keeps your phone updated even if it’s not seeing full system updates. However, it is a useful way of getting rid of unwanted apps How to Uninstall Unwanted Apps on Android Want to remove Android apps that won't uninstall normally? Here are the options to uninstall apps for rooted and non-rooted devices. Read More .


Keep Uninstalled Apps on Your SD Card

It’s one thing to install your apps on the SD card, but since they often leave a footprint on the internal storage, it isn’t always possible to leave them installed. If you rooted your phone and use an app like Titanium Backup, you can backup the apps you install to SD, delete them when you need space, and re-install them when you need to use them.

What follows is a merry-go-round of installing apps, using them for a while, then deleting them so that you can use other ones. But just knowing they are on the SD card, ready and waiting, means that you can install them without needing internet access.

Get Advanced With Link2SD

If you’ve rooted your phone The Complete Guide to Rooting Your Android Phone or Tablet So, you want to root your Android device? Here's everything you need to know. Read More and understand what you’re doing, you could try using Link2SD to create symbolic links to your SD card. Essentially, you’re tricking your phone into thinking apps are still installed internally when they’re actually on the SD card. This means you can even get widgets to work on apps that are installed on your SD card. We recommend this only for advanced users.

You Should Save for a New Phone

Despite all this, these are only temporary fixes to a major problem. Apps keep getting bigger, and eventually your phone won’t be able to keep up at all. If you’re suffering from a lack of internal storage, you won’t ever see modern versions of Android 7 Reasons You'll Want to Upgrade to Android Nougat If you're thinking about making the jump to Android 7.0 Nougat, maybe these features could convince you. Read More on your phone. We recommend saving your money How To Start Saving Money And Stop Spending With 4 Easy Habits One of the top new year resolutions on many people's lists is to spend less and save more. It's easier said than done, but you can still rely on several apps and tools to help... Read More for a new phone as soon as you can, because using your current one will just make you miserable.

You don’t have to purchase a fancy flagship 5 Ways Cheap Android Smartphones Beat the Flagships Who says you need the latest and greatest (and most expensive) smartphone out there? The cheaper alternatives are actually really good. Let us show you. Read More phone, either — plenty of amazing phones are available The Best Smartphones for Students in 2016 Before heading back to school this season, consider getting a new smartphone. Think a daily driver! But what are the best smartphones around? Read More for just a few hundred dollars.

If you need more help surviving on your internal memory, check out the guide to freeing up space on your Android How to Free Storage Space on Your Android Device If you've run out of storage space on your Android phone or tablet, we can help you free it up. Read More .

We’d love to hear your internal storage woes down in the comments. How much storage are you trying to survive on?

Image Credit: Kidsada Manchinda via

Originally written by Angela Randall on August 28th, 2013.

Related topics: Android Rooting, Storage.

Affiliate Disclosure: By buying the products we recommend, you help keep the site alive. Read more.

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  1. TheQuickFox
    April 14, 2016 at 2:13 pm

    Still struggling withy my Sony Ericsson Xperia Ray, (512MB RAM, 512 MB Flash, 64 GB SD)

    But my biggest issue is not the internal flash, but the RAM which is getting full. I'm still running many older apk's for this reason. Especially Firefox 30+ wants to use loads of RAM. When I open a larger website, it first kicks out all other apps and then eventually crashes.

    Internal flash memory is a serious issue as well, but by rooting my phone and removing many stock apk's I manage to survive.

    Too bad that even Google Play Services wants to take between 40 and 75 MB nowadays. It simply does not fit.

  2. Brendon Green
    February 1, 2016 at 7:17 am

    My LG Optimus One (P500) was a great phone when I bought it in 2010, and still holds its own now. It may have just 512MB memory and 450MB total storage (64MB cache, 190MB system, 199MB data) but; thanks to an active developer community, it can run Froyo 2.2, Kitkat 4.4.4, and everything in between. Installing a decent-speced SD card (it supports up to 32GB Class 10) and Link2SD makes all the storage issues disappear.

  3. Anonymous
    November 1, 2015 at 3:40 pm

    Nice information! First time seen worth information on net regarding mobile internal memory problem.

  4. Anonymous
    September 30, 2015 at 10:48 am

    Well the q mobile have given me the just 100mb I don't know for purpose they have given this such a low space,god I want to rid of this cell phone

  5. Anonymous
    July 1, 2015 at 3:24 am

    My Samsung ACE GT-S5830 came with a pathetic 158 Mb and shortly after a fresh install of Stock Lite v8 Rom (GingerBread stripped down) 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!

  6. vanessa
    April 25, 2015 at 1:11 pm

    This shit don't work ????????????

  7. Azhar
    March 8, 2015 at 2:44 pm

    A local manufacturer, QMobile's Noir A110.It has 169 Mb of local storage.Great huh!

  8. Anonymous
    December 21, 2014 at 11:28 am

    Very useful to learn you can roll back to smaller factory versions of pre installed apps to save memory. Useful if you just need a phone which syncs with email and basic browsing.

  9. Josh Roberts
    December 20, 2014 at 4:33 am

    get a Motorola Moto G 1st or 2nd gen. They have 8 or 16gb which shoulld be more than enough. I had an LG Optimus L3 ii, which i rooted and ended up bricking! Then i got a Skinny ZTE v795 which has no developer support whatsoever and only 512mb internal memory! (then again it was only $30) but there are a few programs to root it so i have been juggling system apps between internal storage and sdcard!

  10. Marco
    January 22, 2014 at 11:08 am

    I am using a Samsung Galaxy GTS-5670 with huge 178mb of internal memory. I am using CM7 on it because the stock-rom annoyed me anyways. I moved EVERYTHING to sd-card that doesn't need to start at boot. And just 7mb of space left. I think the only solution is to code your own android distribution with a better memory management...

  11. Terry
    January 4, 2014 at 7:01 pm

    Alcatel one touch t'pop 150mb ¬.¬ i def need a new phone but cant afford one at the moment

  12. Souvick Chatterjee
    January 2, 2014 at 8:32 pm

    "Just Get A New Phone" is the best part...ha ha ...thnxx a lottt..and your advises are smart... i will definitely try.:)

  13. hudson
    December 12, 2013 at 7:30 am

    huawei acsend y100

    176mb hope link2SD works cause i rooted it witch did improve but i got a 8gb sd card going to waste

  14. PerpetualJordan
    October 15, 2013 at 1:16 pm

    My LG Optimus E400 is a awful phone. It only has very little space and when there is no space, the processor is super sluggish. Even without the processor, it is sluggish

    • Angela A
      October 26, 2013 at 2:32 pm

      Oh, that's unfortunate. Sorry to hear it!

  15. Konstantinos
    September 26, 2013 at 3:55 pm

    I can't install good games that I bought on the humble bundle on my sony XPERIA PLAY....

    Just by the name of this phone this is criminal! Will android fix that internal memory thing? I don't see why I can't use my 16 gb SD.

    • Angela A
      October 2, 2013 at 1:34 pm

      It's a nightmare, isn't it? One day, maybe the Android OS will let you do that. But it will probably be some huge version of the OS that you can't install anyway. *sigh*

  16. Dave
    September 23, 2013 at 7:42 pm

    I am using a Kyocera Milano on the Kroger iwireless pre-paid plan. I have all of the frustrations listed above, and must go through the cleansing and un-loading process nearly every day to keed 15 Mb available to synch. I have moved everything I can to the SD card, I especially hate the hard-wired bloatware from Google (books, Yout Tube) that send me stuff daily. I do not accept any offered updates, but still can barely keep this thing running. What I can't figure out is how to buy a new phone that doe3sn't repeat the problem. Most of the phones I see come with the same 256Mb of core memory. It seems more dependent on the amount of hard-wired bloatware that comes with a phone. Anywhere I can see some meaningful specs on a new phone to prevent this from happening again?

    • Angela A
      October 2, 2013 at 1:59 pm

      Oh, I found most new phones have more like 16-32G of internal memory. Seriously, most phones on the market don't have these problems anymore. :)

  17. Anonymous
    September 22, 2013 at 2:32 am

    LG Optimus V. It's so horrible. I'll delete everything I possibly can and still get messages saying that a text message was rejected due to lack of memory. One thing that helped a lot was doing what the author did and reverting to older versions of apps on the phone but a huge help was not using the included browser and instead using Opera Mini. Major change in the behavior of my phone. I'm looking forward to getting a phone with more internal memory someday but for now, I'm grandfathered in at $25 at Virgin Mobile so I will probably wait for my phone to accidentally fall in a toilet or get run over by a car. ;)

    • Angela A
      October 2, 2013 at 2:00 pm

      Agreed - Opera Mini is awesome. Although, I couldn't get rid of the original browser unless I got a new ROM.

  18. Enox
    September 12, 2013 at 3:17 pm

    I have a Huawei 8652 with Consumer Cellular as carrier. It comes pre-loaded with tons of bloatware none of which can be removed or relocated in SD card. I'm down to 17 MB and cannot upgrade Swype or load any new apps that cannot be stored on SD card. My phone is getting slower and slower. I understand that internal memory degrades over time. There is a limit on how many times it can be written over. It would be nice if it were possible to surgically implant a few GBs of memory. I can see how the phone industry markets phones. If you opt for a cheaper phone one is stuck with a lack of internal memory. You have to spend another few hundred dollars to get enough memory. Yet memory is rather cheap!

    • Angela A
      October 2, 2013 at 2:01 pm

      I know. All they had to do was add enough in the first place and all would be good. *sigh*

  19. Yosua Wisnu
    September 4, 2013 at 4:00 pm

    I have Peter Parker's Sony Ericsson X10 Mini Pro, which have 256 MB but only 212 MB can be used internal memory, and run exceptionally good on custom rom ArcMini.
    you can install APP2SD or LINK2SD and move other third party apps to your SD card, the access speed will heavily depends on your SD card class.
    So if you feel the stock rom is heavy and laggy, visit to, find the right custom rom for your phone, and learn how to root and flash.

    • Angela A
      October 2, 2013 at 2:02 pm

      Yeah, rooting and getting a new ROM. That solves some of the problem. :)

  20. Ryashini K
    August 29, 2013 at 7:08 pm

    This. I had this problem with my Galaxy Ace and I did root it and delete the unwanted apps from it.Of course, I knew what I was doing and this isn't recommended for those who have no idea. I also set up Link2SD to move apps I did want to keep.

  21. Ben
    August 29, 2013 at 6:43 am

    yes my HTC desire sucks. no facebook, no map, and so on.....Use only twitter just to get the news. but then i have to clear the cache everyday, and also from internet. The only thing that keeps me hanging is my crack Sygic map on it - but that too sometimes lag. Waiting for note 3 - thats my answer.

  22. Raja G
    August 29, 2013 at 3:34 am

    Ok but installing Custom ROM can take off from Gaurentee that will offer by Designer . So Its not a better Idea for going to custom ROM.

    • Rick
      August 29, 2013 at 12:42 pm

      If it's an old phone that is already out of warranty, that is no longer a concern. Might as well use it to give rooting a try if you've always been curious - especially if you have a second phone. Of course, I realize that many people don't have a second phone. I was always too hesitant to try it when the LG Optimus V was my only phone. Funny thing is, if I had gone ahead and rooted it, I would have been very tempted to NOT spend the money on a new phone. It made it that much better, after some additional work of course.

  23. Bam
    August 29, 2013 at 2:17 am

    The wife and I are still using HTC Desires. Mine is running a custom ROM and has been repartitioned with a 300MB data partition. With apps2sd it leaves me about 60MB free and is workable.

    The wifes is still running the HTC ROM, and even with apps2sd its forever running out of space and not receiving emails etc.

    I've since used Titanium Backup's "app data to sd" to move the data for the 2 biggest space hogs on the phone, Facebook and Dolphin Browser, and its now sitting at around 55MB free which does the job..

    • Angela A
      October 2, 2013 at 2:03 pm

      Yeah, you might want to convince your wife to get a new ROM. She'll be much happier for it. :)

  24. Matt
    August 28, 2013 at 7:53 pm

    My girlfriend's ChaCha is the worst it seems, recently she's had less than 1MB free! It's gotten to the point where she wants me to root it for her and flash Int2Ext...

    • Angela A
      October 2, 2013 at 2:03 pm

      Yikes. That's pretty awful.

  25. Indronil
    August 28, 2013 at 7:42 pm

    The real problem with china phones and those that are hard to root

  26. J. Simon van der Walt
    August 28, 2013 at 7:02 pm

    Gotta say, this was my exact experience with my HTC Desire! Really glad that the contract I had has finally expired, now got a nice s/h Samsung Google Nexus, can install stuff all day long…

    • Angela A
      October 2, 2013 at 2:05 pm

      Yup, The HTC Desire was a great little phone in theory. All except for that complete lack of space issue.

  27. Susan
    August 28, 2013 at 6:50 pm

    LG Optimus Chat -- I have to work hard to keep 19MB free. I think the phone has a total of about 150. Everything that can be moved to the SD card has been moved. It's a real dance, just as you described.

    That's an interesting idea about the dog. Hmmm.

    • Angela A
      October 2, 2013 at 2:05 pm

      Starting to feel sorry for the dogs... :)

  28. sandeep
    August 28, 2013 at 6:46 pm

    Mine is HTC Explorer. internal memory is just 150 MB. once you update your apps properly, you are out of memory. I was fed up because I couldnt even install games. I always thought there are no ROMs for HTC explorer in XDA developers.. But I found out that it is named HTC PICO...
    Now I have rooted it carefully and use CUSTOM ROMS and LINK2SD app to create more space :)
    I play Dead Trigger on it :P..

    • Angela A
      October 2, 2013 at 2:06 pm

      Awesome. Nice to hear a happy ending. :)

  29. Vs V
    August 28, 2013 at 6:34 pm

    Samsung Galaxy Y
    190 MB

    • Angela A
      October 2, 2013 at 2:12 pm

      Oooh, that's small. Ow!

  30. Claudine
    August 28, 2013 at 5:53 pm

    It's funny... I changed my HTC Desire for that same reason. I'm glad I made the change too! Too bad the HTD Desire doesn't have enough internal memory, it was a cute phone.

  31. Rick
    August 28, 2013 at 5:35 pm

    My old Optimus V has a whopping 179 MB of user available internal storage space. Space was always an issue, and continues to be to a lesser degree. Currently, 28 1/2 MB are free. As soon as I got a new phone with more space, I rooted this one, flashed a custom ROM with Gingerbread instead of Froyo, deleted bloatware and tweaked some other things. It actually made it pretty awesome and I still use it every day as an "entertainment" device for streaming music all day without draining the battery on my main phone, as well as for reading ebooks for extended periods of time, as a webcam, and for watching occasional youtube videos so that I don't have to unpair my bluetooth earbuds to use my main phone. Other uses pop up on occasion too, and even though the new phone is much nicer, I still like this one (my first Droid) a lot.

    • Rick
      August 28, 2013 at 5:57 pm

      Google maps is another culprit. I would always clear cache and data after using it. I also regularly clear cache, history, and html5 data from the Dolphin Mini browser.

    • Angela A
      October 2, 2013 at 2:07 pm

      They make really good remote controls for XBMC. :)