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If you have never run out of storage space, are you still a smartphone user these days? There’s probably nothing more frustrating than trying to take another photo of your pet when the dreaded “Insufficient Disk Space” window pops up and ruins your shot. At this point, you’re probably wondering if it’s worth it to go for a more expensive configuration with more storage, or if you could consider paying to buy more cloud storage. And while both are solid options, you should probably try freeing up your phone’s storage first before making any impulse purchases.
Deleting just a few photos and videos from your gallery may seem like a quick fix, but it won’t help you in the long run. That’s why we’ve put together five tips on how to free up your phone’s storage space, which will not only make the process easier and faster, but also help you understand how to prevent it from filling up in the first place. Oh, and it doesn’t matter if you’re an iOS or Android user, the steps below will work on any operating system.
How to free memory on Android/iPhone
Back up your phone to the cloud
If you don’t have the time or patience to go through old photos and videos, or if you want to keep all your media files, back them up to a cloud storage service and delete the unwanted ones locally on your phone. With cloud storage services like Dropbox, you can choose to automatically back up your photos whenever you have access to WiFi, so you can have a full resolution copy.
- If you’re using an iPhone, the process is automatic if you’ve enabled iCloud’s automatic backup service (go to Settings > Apple ID > iCloud > Photos and turn on iCloud Photos. Then select Optimize iPhone Storage. This keeps a version resolution of your photos on your phone and full resolution in iCloud, then go to Settings > Photos > Cellular Data and turn off Cellular Data and Unlimited Updates to make sure you don’t go over your data plan).
- For Android and iPhone users, consider Google Photos (for iOS and Android), which can be set to automatically back up photos and videos over WiFi. To keep your photos at full resolution, be sure to select Original as the image quality. Go to Settings > Backup & sync > Upload size > and select Original. Google Photos also has a Clean Up Space feature that deletes photos you already have backed up in the cloud.
Backup your phone locally
To avoid the cost and limitations of cloud storage, back up your files to your computer. Of course, the downside is that you can only do this when you have access to your computer through a wired or wireless connection.
- If you have an iPhone and a Mac, you can use iTunes, iPhoto, the Photos app, or the Image Capture app to save copies of your media files to your Mac. See Apple’s step-by-step instructions on how to do this. You can also use AirDrop to transfer files without having to connect your phone to your computer using a USB cable. Apple has an instruction page on how to accomplish this.
If you’re using a Windows PC, you can also use iTunes; the steps vary depending on your version of Windows.
- If you’re using an Android device, connect your phone to your computer via a USB cable. Your Windows computer should detect your phone as a mass storage or media storage device, and you’ll be able to drag and drop your photos and videos from your phone to a folder on your PC. If you have a Mac, install the free Android File Transfer app on your Mac and then you can drag and drop files to your Mac.
Delete old email attachments and downloaded files
While it’s great to be able to read documents attached to your email and view photos in your messaging app, you often don’t need to keep them long-term. It’s easy to find and remove these old files.
- For iPhone, go to Settings > General > iPhone Storage. There you’ll see options to turn on automatic deletion of old conversations and review large videos and email attachments. If you don’t see these options, select “Show All” next to Recommendations.
- For Android, open the app tray and select the Downloads app. To delete a file, touch and hold the file, and then select Delete.
Uninstall apps you don’t use
- While photos and videos are the usual storage hogs, apps (particularly games) can also eat up storage space. It’s better to delete the apps you don’t use often.
- On iPhone, go to Settings > General > iPhone Storage. You will see a list of apps sorted by the amount of storage space used. When you select an app, you will have the option to remove it. Or, you can long-tap the app icon and tap the X overlay to delete the app and all its data. You can also choose to automatically download any apps you haven’t used in a long time. Go to Settings > iTunes & App Stores and turn on Download Unused Apps. This will delete the app but leave the data behind, in case you want to reload the app at a future date.
- On Android, go to Settings > Storage > Free up space. To remove an app, tap the empty box on the right to select and then tap Release.
Add storage to your phone
If you own an Android phone with a memory card expansion slot, invest in a microSD card and move some of the files from your phone’s built-in storage. We like the SanDisk Extreme Pro microSDXC, which comes in 64, 128, 256, and 400GB (starting at $25, check Amazon for pricing). To move files, you can use a file manager app. Most phones come with their own file managers. If yours doesn’t, or if you want a more flexible app, install ES File Manager (free on Google Play).
- You can also buy an external drive like the SanDisk Dual Drive M3.0 (16GB – 128GB starting at under $10, check price on Amazon), which you can plug directly into your phone’s microSD and your computer’s USB or to a SanDisk Ultra Dual USB Type-C Drive (16GB – 256GB from under $15, check price on Amazon) that plugs into your phone’s USB-C and your computer’s USB.
- You can’t add a memory card to an iPhone, but you can buy a flash drive to plug into your iPhone or iPad to download photos and plug it into your computer. We like the SanDisk iXpand Mini Flash Drive for your iPhone (32GB – 256GB from under $25, check price on Amazon) that installs into your iPhone or iPad.
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