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Even with a capacious 16GB SD card, I sometimes find myself running out of space on my Android phone. That usually happens due to my penchant for backing up – I have lots of Titanium Backup archives taking up space on my device, not to mention two or three ROM images (also known as “nandroid backups”) at any given time. Throw in the occasional 1080p video taken with the device, and things can get awfully crowded in a hurry.
I’ve previously shown you how to free up space on your Android device using several methods. If none of these appealed to you, you may want to stick around and see if Clean Master does the trick. We’ve previously featured it in MakeUseOf Directory, but with over 94,000 Google Play reviews ranking it at a 4.7-star average, I felt it merits a thorough look.
Clean Master looks, for lack of a better word, clean:
The interface is nice and roomy, with a large storage overview on top, and just four massive buttons at the bottom. Note the lack of any advertising. Disappointingly, tapping the circles does nothing – I expected a drill-down showing what’s taking up space (like what you get with the excellent DiskUsage featured in my other space-clearing post).
Analyzing Cache and Files
To get the action going, you need to tap the History button. This is a bit of a perplexing label given what it actually does. It takes you to a breakdown of your cache and files.
Let’s start with the cache first:
You get a listing of all of your apps that have files stored in cache, and can see how much cache each app takes. Tapping the Clean button naturally flushes out the cache, but this isn’t all that useful. Those apps are just going to fill your SD card once again. Instead, I would treat this screen as a handy overview, to suss out the cache-hungry apps on my phone. Turns out Gmail loves the cache.
Tapping the Clean button does not mindlessly delete everything:
You get a clear warning, and even then, Clean Master takes care to preserve some cached files you may likely want:
I did not manually exclude Google Maps and WhatsApp. Clean Master did this on its own, which is brilliant. Google Maps supports manual caching (you can download maps for offline use), so its cache is likely something you actually wanted. I’m not sure why WhatsApp gets to keep its cache, but it’s not huge so it doesn’t pose much of an issue.
Cleaning Out Large Files
In the next tab over, you’ll find the reason most people install Clean Master. Its built-in file scanner that hunts for files that are taking lots of space, yet can safely be removed. It starts off with a healthy warning:
As you can probably see by now, these warnings are a recurring theme for Clean Master. It feels as though its developers really didn’t want you accidentally removing important files in your zeal to clear out space.
It does get borderline annoying when Clean Master insists on asking you about each and every file you opt to remove:
What makes this even more annoying is that Clean Master doesn’t offer a way to open the file. Do you remember what’s in 20130311_124235.mp4? No? Well, you’ll just have to switch over to a file manager and play the file from there, if you want to make sure what’s in it before removing it.
Moving on to another primary function, far less useful than space cleaning – the Privacy button. I was expecting a listing of app permissions, and was half-right. I got a list of apps, but without permissions.
Tap an app, and you’ll be transported to Android’s built-in App Info screen for that app, with a misplaced tooltip overlaid on the screen:
I’m not sure how clearing data helps protect my privacy; I would expect a powerful way to control an app’s permissions. In short, this part of Clean Master isn’t very impressive, and I suspect most people don’t use it all that often.
Killing Tasks To Boost Performance
If your phone could do with a bit of extra oomph when trying to run a demanding game, the Tasks feature could come in handy:
This is a list of everything running in the background. By default, all entries are checked, and when you tap Clean, they all get terminated. This isn’t always ideal, so you should probably go through these one by one and choose the ones you actually want to terminate. This is something you may want to do on a regular basis (before playing a game, say), so Clean Master lets you create a shortcut for the feature on your homescreen:
It’s actually a widget: It looks like a simple icon, but when you tap it, it “inflates,” showing a progress spinner and finally reporting on how many tasks it killed. Nice, fast, and useful (if you take care to terminate only what you really don’t need).
The final Clean Master feature is an App Manager, mainly used for uninstalling apps:
Don’t let the Backup tab mislead you: It’s just a listing of APKs you have saved on your device.
Settings & Preferences
There are none:
That’s actually a plus. I like how Clean Master keeps everything tidy and simple.
Clean Master is a mixed bag, with two useful features (History and Tasks), and two that are less so (Privacy and App Manager). The thing I like most about it is how responsible it is about deleting your data. The developers seem to understand that deleting an important file by accident is an incredibly frustrating experience, especially when it’s an irreplaceable family video (like the ones that may be taking up space on your device).
To me, its ratings show that Android users value simplicity and looks above everything else, which is understandable.
Will you be trying it out yourself? Are you already using it? I’d be particularly curious to hear if you’re using the Privacy and App Manager features on a regular basis.