Resolve Phone Storage Space is Getting Low on Android Phones

One of the biggest challenges in an Android phone is dealing with phone storage and memory issues. Unlike say the iPhone, if you have a 32GB iPhone, you can use the entire space for downloading and using applications. However, with the Android model, you get more flexibility in that you can upgrade to a bigger SD card but you are still limited by the number of apps that you can download and run.

Does your phone memory go low when you try to install a new application? Do you get the error message “Phone Storage Space is getting low”? There are some techniques out on the Internet especially those involving moving apps from memory to the SD Card of your phone. But all these solutions require you to root aka jailbreak your phone using something like App2SD application. In this article, we tell you how you can resolve the memory issue on your phone without any of these complicated solutions or jailbreaking your Android Phone.

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This is how you resolve the Phone Storage Space is getting low issue on Android Phones

Method A: Clear cache and history in your apps

  • Go to Settings -> Applications -> Manage Applications to view your apps
  • Press the menu button and sort by size
  • Go to the apps and clear cache (from the browser app’s settings), mail and other apps
  • Also goes without saying, but if you have any apps you do not use or just hogging size, you may want to uninstall them to free up some space
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Clear cache and data in Android phone

Method B: Perform a soft reset of your Android Phone

A soft reset basically resets the memory structure of your Android handheld. This recovers the device from memory conflicts, corrupted system service chains, memory leaks, and system lockups due to the “Fatal Exception” program errors. This method was officially suggested by the HTC support for resolving the phone storage space issue and low memory warnings. To perform a soft reset:

  • Power the device off
  • Remove the battery for 10 seconds
  • Re-insert the battery and power the device on
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HTC Customer support answer for low memory issue

Method C: Move apps to the SD card instead of memory without rooting your phone

Until now the only way to reduce memory space issues and low storage space issues on Android phones was to move the apps from using the memory to the SD card which has a much bigger storage space. Also, the only way to do this was to use the app called App2SD which required rooting or jailbreaking the phone. Not good because it may void your warranty etc. However, Google listened and with Froyo or Android 2.2 release, they included the App2SD functionality. Many developers however did not choose to use this option. The technique outlined here enables you to movie your apps to the SD card even if the app does not allow it.

Step 1: You need to download the Android SDK to your computer

  • Download the Android SDK and run the installer file (recommended option) for Windows. Download the zip file for Mac OS X and Linux
  • Run the installer file. You may be asked to download the Java SE Dev Kit (JDK) if you don’t have one
  • Finish the installation wizard. By default, the SDK files are installed into a directory named android-sdk-<machine-platform>
  • Once done, it will launch the Android SDK and AVD Manager with a recommended set of platforms and components. Simply select Install

 

 

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Download Android SDK Packages

 

 

Step 2: Now connect your phone to your PC and enable debug mode for your Android phone

USB debugging is intended for development purposes only. It can be used to copy data between your computer and your device, install applications on your device without modification, and read log data.

  • Go to Settings -> Applications -> Development and check USB debugging
  • You will get a popup to “Allow USB debugging?” – Hit OK
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Enable USB debugging mode in Android phone

Step 3: Download the USB drivers for your Android phone

  • If you have a Nexus One, Nexus S, T-Mobile G1, T-Mobile myTouch, Verizon Droid or one of the Android Developer Phones, you need the Google USB Driver
  • For all other Android phones, you need the OEM driver. Find and Install your OEM USB drivers here
  • Launch the SDK and AVD Manager by double-clicking SDK Manager.exe, at the root of your SDK directory
  • Expand the Third party Add-ons and Google Inc. add-ons
  • Check Google Usb Driver package and click Install selected.Proceed to install the package
  • When done, the driver files are downloaded into the <sdk>\google-usb_driver\ directory
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Download USB Drivers for Android phone

Step 4: Windows now needs to install USB drivers for your Android phone

The installation fails and you have to install the drivers manually.

  • Right click on My Computer. Select Properties and go to Device Manager
  • You will see the missing driver with the exclamation mark on it
  • Either double click on right click on it. Select Update Driver Software
  • Browse for the USB drivers folder in the Android SDK folder you downloaded and updated in Step 3 earlier. It will be in <sdk>\google-usb_driver\
  • Click Next to install the driver. You might get a message asking if you want to install the device software and if you trust the driver publisher. Hit Install.
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Device Manager showing missing USB drivers for Nexus One

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Location for USB drivers for Android phone

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Device Manager showing successful installation of USB Drivers

Step 5: Configure Android phone to install apps on SD Card

  • Open the Windows command prompt. You can do this by pressing <Windows key> + R. At the Run prompt, type in cmd
  • You need to change your path to the platform-tools folder in the Android SDK you downloaded and installed. Check pictures below for help
  • Go to android-sdk folder and then go to platform-tools
  • Type adb shell and a $ prompt will appear
  • At the $ prompt, type pm setInstallLocation 2 and hit enter. You will get a message of pm setInstallLocation 2 at the $ sign again.
  • Close the command prompt by hitting x button
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ADB shell commands

Step 6: Cleanup and reboot the Android Phone

  • Uncheck the USB debugging option by going to Settings -> Applications -> Development and un-check USB debugging
  • Disconnect the phone and reboot it. That’s it !!

Step 7: Move Android applications to SD Card from your phone

  • Go to Settings -> Applications -> Manage Applications
  • You can start to move applications to SD Card including those you could not move before and start clearing out disk space and low memory
  • Make sure you don’t move apps that require a background service running all the time. This includes your task manager apps and a few other apps
  • This option also becomes the default. All the apps you install now by default will be installed to the SD Card
  • No more Phone Storage Space is getting Low issues for your Android phone
  • In the picture below, I moved the AK Notepad app to the SD card and saved some storage space
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Move the App AK Notepad from Phone to SD Card

If you liked this article, click here to buy me a beer!

  • postwick

    Wow this is a really old article, but for anyone who might come here and try the above Method C steps and find nothing changed with your memory, it’s because SetInstallLocation changes the location that Android WILL install apps, it has nothing to do with ALREADY installed apps. (although it appears some apps will still install to the phone’s internal memory, possibly because the app is specifically configured to override the InstallLocation)

  • mwake

    wow this worked! not just saying that, I noticed that some apps could now be moved, but system apps still couldnt be moved but it was still enough thanks!

    • askstudent

      Glad it worked out for you. Thanks for the comment and letting us know!

  • Al Ankers

    I agree with Brian. I appreciate your blog. It was very useful.

  • Kerry

    I’m stuck on step 5 as well.I can’t get “platform tools” to appear in the cmd window. At the sdk folder, do I double click adb? How do I get past the c promptusersmy name? Help!

  • http://www.facebook.com/jessica.w.mcintyre Jessica Williams McIntyre

    This has been driving me crazy! I did exactly as you said and everything seemed to go smoothly. Was able to move things to my SD card! So hopefully no more problems. THANK YOU!!

  • Rich

    Thanks so much for this guide. For anyone getting the error message: Error: Device not found. Try:

    adb kill-server

    adb start-server

    Also, you can enter adb devices to see a list of devices connected that the shell can interact with.

    Check in Windows Device manager that you have your phone’s ADB driver installed correctly. For example, we had to fully download and install Samsung Kies latest version and run the full version (not lite) for the ADB driver to be installed correctly.

  • Ryker

    Can you please make a video tutorial on how to do this step by step please.

  • Hugo

    My android phone sucks :S why would I have to be dealing with this crappy error, apps should be stored on SD on default or at least when there is not more space on the internal memory.  Yeah there is a fix but it should work right out of the box.

  • jsilva

    it worked great!! at first i had trouble finding the driver for my phone but after looking around a bit i found it and the rest was super easy. huawei fusion u8652 :) THANKS A LOT!

  • kcnibs

     LG Optimus S. Command  pm setInstallLocation 2 gets me this:
     [1]           Killed               pm setInstallLocation 2
     Any fixes here?

    • Cohrs2

      I’m waiting for an answer to this same issue as well.

      • Ben

        I’m having the same problem. But I don’t know if anyone who knows anything actually reads these threads.

  • Mohd ijtaba Alavi

    i hv Spice Stellar MI355
    windows are not installing the adb drviers from teh CD i got with my phone :(
    “latest driver is already isntalled”
    but under the ADB Interface section i see that yellow triangle nd in properties it’s written : “reinstall teh drivers”
    what to do now? :’(
    m a new bie 

  • Ysr_nkp

    my memory space is running out, how can i select to use my SD card?

  • Hulkalmuzaini

     Hi I’ve bought phone Alcatel been for a simple I did not know there was a gorgeous Ndham Android and asked for Alndham For all answered as the finest of the iPhone and when a problem occurs storage space is not sufficient thought to end the minor problem and there are solutions to the E and was impressed by the large number of existing solutions categorize the web and you experimenting with more than 44 way and, unfortunately, I did not have a solution and all the roads have not succeeded g and searched far and pearlskhalil almuzainin Oman

  • Steve

    I need help, i’m not new to dos commands but still learning this android technology, i have a rooted samsung gt-i5500m with a stock rom (eclair 2.1 update 1). I got the latest jdk and android sdk installed on my pc, followed all the procedures here and still could not make the command “pm setInstallLocation 2″ or pm set-install-location 2 push through. It kept saying that it was not a recognized internal/external command and will display a long list of useable commands. Looking forward to your professional advice, thanks.

  • samual75

    Hi, I have a HTC Wildfire S which I’ve had for about 5 months now. I constantly clear my cache, because sometimes my phone says that the storage space is so low that I can’t send/recieve messages. At first when I got the phone I downloaded about 7 apps, none of which took up massive memory space, but my phone seemed to cope with them, and then it suddenly stopped and said I needed to uninstall them. So eventually I uninstalled everyone, so now, I don’t have any installed apps. And my phone still says it’s low on storage space. My message limit is set so that for each contact I can only have 100 messages and then it deletes the oldest when I start to go over that, I rarely use any apps already installed on the phone apart from facebook and youtube. When I try and get onto my gallery to look at pictures it says low storage, and I can’t view them, and I recently connected my phone to my laptop to get rid of some photo’s and videos (and I got rid of at least 5 videos which were all above 20 mb) and when I went to look back at my phone, it said the storage was still too low, even though I have removed something like 100 mb worth of videos and pictures. And lastly, I have a 2GB SD card, but when I had installed apps when I first got the phone, it would only let me put about 2 of the ones I’d downloaded onto my SD card, and for some reason it wouldn’t let me put the rest on! I really need help with this because it’s dead frustrating and I just want to find out how to get my phone working normally without having limitations on what I can go on because of the ‘low storage space available’

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/CHYTKXFODCUZA6UMRSUJZ55WG4 Valley

    This helped a lot with my phone running faster, thanks for the advice.

  • Pete

    I had high hopes for this working and it did not on my LG Vortex. Still pissed.

  • Me10142011

     Got stuck on steps 4 and 5 so still no results for me im so angry

  • Darylneow2

    totally works! havin an error at first but i have changed c:Androidandroid-sdk to C:Program FilesAndroidandroid-sdk insteaddar

  • C Graham147

    Didn’t work for me couldn’t find my phone on my computer, so there was no OEM. UGH!!

  • Justaguest

    It works. Thanks a lot!

  • http://www.facebook.com/serverx63 Handy Hanafiah

    thank you very much, i can move from phone to SD card now
    NOTE : apps can be moved if that is not default factory apps or you must unistall thats apps and reinstal that

  • Khuram Shahzad

    May I apply the same process on HTC Desire with 2.2.2

  • Jewel

    hello, just wondering if it’s safe to use Android SDK to uninstall factory apps on HTC Wildfire S?

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/RET6IK2X2FSVUZJYSL3S3KDMFI Matt

    I just had to thank you. After a few snags along the way I  was able to make this work I’m so happy I can use my phone again. Thank you.

  • almost there

    2.2.2 Froyo, rooted, have sdk tools loaded, and have attempted to change the setting to “2″ (external card), but something is killing the process when I execute.  I can issue the command “pm setInstallLocation 0″ and it accepts, but when I execute it with the “2″  I get [Killed] …  I have spent many hours trying to get this to work, normal user, SU, downloaded a terminal and tried directly from phone, but no success.  Any ideas?

  • Tom

    I’d love to be able to do this for my Evo 4G. Currently stuck at this alert:
    File not found: C:Program FilesAndroidandroid-sdktempusb_driver_r04-windows.zip (Access is denied) … when I try to install the Google USB Driver package.

    • Tom

      Thought I would give it a try on my Mac … but things sort of fall apart in the directions as they relate to Mac after the brief mention in Step 1. Darn. Wonder if on the Windows directions I should be concerned that I don’t see a folder called Android 2.3.5.

      • Macpage2010

        yes youre right tom. it seems the instructions after STEP 1 – Download the Android SDK to your computer…ALL APPLY to windows.  annoying actually that its not clear whether the windows  instruction is what we should follow for the MAC downloaded SDK. My android is also 2.3.5   can anybody shed light on this?

    • fische

      I got this too.  did you figure out how to download the driver?

  • http://twitter.com/krishnamohan10 Krishna Mohan M

    thanks a ton ….best method to solve the low internal space problem for android.

    • Divakar Vishal

      Krishna, Can I have your contact number please?

  • Califglass

    Love your article!  However I did have  a few problems with the procedure.  I did everything and it didn’t work.   I tried it a second time and played close attention to details.  I first preped my phone.    I did a factory reset,  once the phone was ready, I did the precedure.  I noticed some of the DOS commands need to be run twice in order to work.   Now, it works great.  All the apps I download that would load to the phone with no ability to load to SD card are now loading to SD card automaticly. Apps that give you the choice of phone or SD card are loaded to phone, and I have to manually switch them to SD card.  But system apps stay on phone.

    • askstudent

      @Califglass, glad it worked out for you.

      • Califglass

        I’ll be buying you a beer or two.   Thanks

  • Dave H

    In case anyone else is having problems downloading lists and packages in SDK Manager on Windows 7: I resolved this by disabling my firewall (PC Tools Firewall Plus) before installing and running SDK Manager, and when you do run SDK Manager right click on it’s icon and make sure you run it as Administrator. If you still get problems, you might want to look here: http://blogs.captechconsulting.com/blog/karthik-krishnamurthy/setting-android-development-environment-manually

  • steven

    Doesn’t work

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/4BDQ23GWD7LXG6Y6QVPKV2PUZ4 Govind

    Works perfectly on my SE Xperia Mini Pro.
    A lot of thanks.

  • Myth494

    hi, i was wondering if these instructions include the pendo pad, its and android 2.1 and if so i was wondering what oem to download :/

  • Britefuture1

    Step 7 is the best for my touch

  • Aaa

    lllll

  • Gracie

    I went through this entire process but got stuck on step 5. I typed in exactly what is on the screen and the cmd screen tells me that there is no path. I know that the files exist bc I found them in the C: folder inside the program files (x86) folder. Help!

    • Anonymous

      Gracie, under the android-sdk folder, if you go the “tools” folder, do you see a .txt file called “adb_has_moved”?

      • Megan

        I’m having the same problem, and yes that’s what it says for me. Is this a problem?

  • Gracie

    I went through this entire process but got stuck on step 5. I typed in exactly what is on the screen and the cmd screen tells me that there is no path. I know that the files exist bc I found them in the C: folder inside the program files (x86) folder. Help!

    gracie

  • Gracie

    Hello,

    I went through this entire process but got stuck on step 5. I typed in exactly what is on the screen and the cmd screen tells me that there is no path. I know that the files exist bc I found them in the C: folder inside the program files (x86) folder. Help!

    gracie

  • besnoopagain

    Great info. I’ve been dealing with memory issues for a year. Method A, of clearing cache and deleting data from apps worked so well, I am able to postpone trying Method C. Soft reset (and for that matter, hard resets) stopped working as soon as the problem became significant. As soon as I restored my apps, I was back in the same boat. If Method C works, I can see it being a permanent fix. Thanks.

  • lgrey

    I am new to smart phones and all of this might as well be in chinese for all I’m getting out of it. I got the error message but I’m afraid to do any of this as it is so far out of my knowledge base. Is this safe? If I start this and get lost what happens? Is it possible to just follow the directions even though I have no idea what I’m doing? I don’t want to get started and end up messing up my phone….. any help would be greatly appreciated. Thanks in advance

    • http://www.askstudent.com AskStudent Admin

      We have plenty of pictures in the article to walk you though and you can always ask the question here in comments and hopefully one of us or the community can help you out. However, we want you to be cautious anytime you are doing something outside of the norm to resolve an issue with your smartphone.

    • hugo

      me too, its too much to do and understand just to install more than 10 apps (my phone is crappy I know). 

  • Susan S

    I tried this and it didn’t work for me either. Google Maps is hogging 11.34 MB + marketplace at 7.88 are the top two and they still aren’t moving anywhere! I could also do without google goggles @ 4.63
    Is the only option to root the phone?

  • basil

    This along with http://jamesgiang.wordpress.com/2010/04/25/adb-drivers-for-htc-desire/
    Helped me get my HTC Desire to work properly. I needed the above site to install the drivers.
    Now I just need to work out how to get rid of the Telstra bloat ware pre-installed without rooting it.

  • Brian

    This problem has been driving me nuts and I finally discovered an answer.
    I downloaded a third party uninstaller. When I started it, it showed the apps on the sd card by placing a little icon off to the side of the app. A lot of apps I thought were installed to the sd card (because I told the phone to move them to the sd card) did not appear to be on the sd card. I had a theory that because I had updated many apps (and most apps had gone through several updates each), there might be some junk left over that the cache cleaners weren’t catching. So I made a list of all the downloaded apps, and I chose the largest (google docs, skype, etc.) removed them, and lo and behold my INTERNAL phone memory doubled. So much for them being on the sd card!
    I then re-installed them from the market and the phone storage is virtually unchanged (I moved them all to the sd card again). So, try uninstalling and reinstalling the larger apps and see if it helps.

  • Jeroen

    same issue as Paul.

    When I type ‘adb shell’ I get an error: “abd is not recognised as an external or internal command, operable program or batch command.”

    • Jeroen

      I digged into the log files and found: “‘adb kill-server’ failed — run manually if necessary.”
      Is this the problem? And if so, what can I do? I do not know how I can “run manually”.

  • Chris

    These directions are great for PC. I need better directions applying to Mac.

  • http://wip.hartoog.nl Alfred

    All went well up to step 5.
    Typed “pm setInstallLocation 2″ at the $-prompt,
    and it replies:
    pm setInstallLocation 2
    Error: unknown command ‘setInstallLocation’
    followed by a list of available commands.
    Tried a safe one, eg. “pm list features”, and a nice list of my phone features is displayed.
    So I seem to be on track, but not far enough.
    Can anyone help?
    I have a HTC Hero with android 2.1

    thanx

  • Heather

    when i type adb shell i get error device not found

  • http://www.guvnoruk.com paul

    I have hit a snag @ step 5 as well.

    ‘You need to change your path to the platform-tools folder in the Android SDK you downloaded and installed. Check pictures below for help
    Go to android-sdk folder and then go to platform-tools
    Type adb shell and a $ prompt will appear’

    says the command is not recognised as an external or internal command, operable program or batch command. where do i go from here?

    • Jeroen

      Hi Paul,

      I experiencing the same. Did you solve the problem by now? Thanx in advance.

  • Mia Wang

    Hey, gave this a whirl on my Sprint HTC Hero on 2.1, the end result being no “Move to SD Card” option shown in Applications.

    On step 5, at the “$” prompt, the command “pm setinstallLocation 2″ resulted in an bad command error message. However, by eliminating “pm” in the above command did result in the display of the 2nd “$”:

    $ setinstallLocation 2
    setinstallLocation 2
    $

    I unchecked USB debugging mode, disconnected and rebooted and… NADA.

    Bummer! (I was so excited at the thought of getting those damn Sprint/HTC bloatware apps out of internal memory.)

    I’d be glad to buy you that beer if you can help me get this working!!! =oP

    Mia

    • Polyys

      you could only move to sd those app you download, but you can’t move native apps

  • Fabian Lujan

    I never saw a “$” sign, it was a “#”
    What’s wrong?

  • http://sumpmrother.com/ Aaron

    Step 5 is where I’m lost. I tried typing in the very same line as you did at the command prompt, but I get “The system cannot find the path specified.”

    I’m running Win7 64-bit, by the way.

    How can I figure out the correct path?

    • http://sumpmrother.com/ Aaron

      Actually, I figured out the correct path and finished the command prompt step without issues. Unchecked the debugging box, rebooted, and nothing changed. The Move to SD card button is still blanked out on all the same apps.

  • John Tare

    Thank you so much. This worked flawlessly. I now have some much needed space on my HTC phone

  • http://www.halostereo.com Andrew Fry

    This did not work for me, I still cannot move most of my apps to my SD card. I have a T-Mobile MyTouch 3G Slide. I was told 2.2 Froyo would fix this problem but it has only partially relieved it because while you can move *some* of the app to your SD, most WILL NOT GO! Plus Froyo is bigger so it takes up more room…meaning you have even LESS room for apps! WTF

    I was really hoping the process you described here would fix this for me, but I followed it exactly and as far as I can tell, nothing has changed. I still can’t move most of my apps to the sc card. >:(

    • http://www.askstudent.com AskStudent Admin

      Andrew, what are the top 3 apps on your phone sorted by size?

      • Rob

        Well, my top three apps by size were: Adobe Flash Player 10.3 (12 MB); Maps (10 MB); and AutoCADWS (10 MB). Of these, the first two – the largest two – could still not be moved to the SD card!

        Does anyone know why?

        There were a handful of other apps that still couldn’t be moved, though many more could. Of course, I’m not sure if it’s wise to move the Flash Player, but Maps could surely move?! Other than that, the steps in method C above were useful and allowed me to move many more apps to the SD card. So thanks for the tip.

        To help others follow these (I did this for an unrooted HTC Desire)….

        I had a little trouble understanding your instruction above in step #3 (I as slow to realise that installing HTC Sync got the USB driver for free!), and step #4 (HTC appears under Android phone and you don’t need the Google USB driver for the Desire). Also if there is a problem then the errors that the adb shell command can give at step #5 weren’t always helpful.

        All in all, it cost me two long evenings to wade through these shortcomings, so that’s a beer each in my book! :-) But, seriously, thanks again for posting this useful solution. I got there in the end!

        • http://www.guvnoruk.com paul

          hi Rob, how did you get through the adb shell command? it still gives me an error result. any help appreciated. thanx

        • dee

          Im using samsung galaxy 551 on android 2.2, im lucky that it’s already coming handy with the ‘move to SD card’ feature. Moved all the possible apps to sd card and still getting the messages. At times it even numbs the text message services tht i can no longer receive any text for a low space warning when i only got 60 text messages intact..
          The most space eating apps for me are the google maps and the ever getting bigger facebook. I uninstalled the google maps update and it works, the phone is back to normal live immediately.
          Thinking to clear the data from the fb apps, maybe it will works too.. Since if i took an eye on it, it increased the size every after data addition (upload photo, newsfeed update(!), etc).
          But for now, tempted to try on super one click and just freakin root the phone.. Ive downloaded connectbot, but im not a techy to begin with and im craving for the superuser permission tutorial on command prompt… need help..

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    • Ganesh

      If we check allow mock locations option. Is downloaded application automatically goes to SD card or waht? For what purpose this option is there

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