This story was originally published 2020/05/14
6:31pm PDTon May 14, 2020 and last updated 2020/07/11
9:30am PDTon Jul 11, 2020.
While the average amount of storage on high-end smartphones has grown over the years, so too has the amount of space Android, manufacturers, carriers, and just about everyone else who wants a piece of your gee-bees. A 64GB smartphone can feel downright cramped in 2020, and yet, many companies (like Google) continue to sell phones with this base level of storage. Simply installing all your favorite apps and getting set up can get you well over the halfway mark on such a phone, and as app cache, media, and photos and videos begin to build up, you can quickly find yourself running out of space. Fortunately, there are steps you can take — some more obvious than others.
In this guide, we’ll go over the best ways to get more storage on Android without resorting to the sketchy ‘Cleaner’ apps that dominate the Play Store.
Delete unused apps (duh)
This is probably very obvious to most of you, but the first step you should take is deleting any apps you previously downloaded that you don’t use. There might be a few (or a lot) of apps that came with your phone that can’t be deleted, but if you’ve had your phone for a while, there are probably a few apps and games you haven’t opened in weeks or months.
You can sort apps by size in your phone’s app list in settings on some phones, but sadly this isn’t a stock Android feature.
Delete backed-up photos
Google Photos is the tool built into Android for backing up your photos and videos to the cloud. If you don’t need quick access to the photos and videos you’ve recorded lately, Google Photos has a handy feature for deleting everything from your phone that has already been backed up.
Just open Google Photos, open the side menu (at the top-left) and select ‘Free up space.’ Super easy!
Clean up duplicate files, old downloads, and other unused apps
There are a million cleaner-style apps for Android, but the best one for cleaning leftover files from apps and games is probably Files by Google. It can detect duplicate files, highlight the apps that are taking up the most space, remove downloads in one tap, and even recommend apps to uninstall based on how long you haven’t used them. It’s honestly one of the best storage cleanup apps on the Play Store, and because it’s from Google, you know it’s trustworthy and won’t do anything weird to your phone.
There are certainly more powerful tools, like SD Maid, which is great for power users and people who want to get a more technical readout on just where their storage is being used. But Files by Google strikes a nice balance between utility and ease-of-use, and it’s unlikely to get rid of anything truly important on your phone. You can download Files by Google from the Play Store below.
Pop in an SD card (also duh)
Many Android phones (the main exception being Google’s Pixel line) have a microSD card slot, which can be used to store photos, videos, apps, and other data. If your phone is running a recent version of Android, you can use a feature called Adoptable Storage to turn the SD card into an extension of the phone’s internal storage, so you don’t have to manually move apps and data to the SD card (Android handles it for you). However, this feature is disabled on some devices — it wasn’t present on Samsung Galaxy phones until Android 9 Pie.
Regardless of what option you go with, you should buy a microSD card with the A2 rating, so you get the best possible performance (the ‘A’ stands for apps). We recommend SanDisk’s Extreme Pro cards. As we’ve covered in detail, even the fastest microSD cards are slower than the internal storage used by modern phones and tablets, so you should only do this if you really need lots of space.
Transfer media to the cloud or a computer
If you don’t like any of the above options, services like Dropbox or Google Drive can be a great way to maintain access to your files and data without having to delete them. You can keep them in the cloud to download or access when needed without using up storage on your phone directly.
Alternatively, if you don’t trust the cloud, you can back up your files directly to your computer. We’ve got a quick and easy guide to doing just that right here.