If your Android smartphone or tablet is running low on storage for your apps, photos, video, music and other files – perhaps you have received an error message suggesting you have insufficient storage available – there are several ways to get around it. Here’s how to get more storage on an Android phone or tablet. See also: what is the best Android phone?
How to get more storage in Android: microSD card
The easiest way to add storage to your Android phone or tablet is with a microSD card – even if it doesn’t support one.
Assuming it does, when buying a microSD card for your phone or tablet you should first check the manufacturer’s specification or reviews of that device to see what type of cards it will accept. Many budget phones, for example, will accept only 32GB, while higher-end devices typically handle 128GB. You certainly don’t want to pay out for a 128GB card only to find it won’t work in your phone.
You’ll find manufacturers offer various types of microSD card, with some claiming to be faster or more secure than others. For simple storage of your files any microSD card will do, but note that fakes can be found online, so be wary of anything too cheap or brands you haven’t come across before. Also see: How to spot fake tech.
If your phone or tablet doesn’t natively support MicroSD, it’s easy to attach one to make use of on an ad-hoc basis. We really like Inateck’s MicroSD Card Reader Adaptor, which costs just £6.99 from Amazon UK.
This tiny gadget can house a MicroSD card up to 64GB in capacity, and features a Micro-USB connection that lets you plug it into your phone or tablet. As long as your Android device supports USB OTG (many do), the microSD card will show up as USB storage.
Clearly you won’t want to leave the Inateck attached to your phone or tablet at all times, but it’s small and lightweight, and features a tethered plastic plug that lets you attach it to the headphone port so it doesn’t get lost. Our only gripe is the fact the end cap that protects the Micro-USB port isn’t tethered. New, it’s a fairly snug fit, but we don’t suppose it’ll be long before this small plastic piece goes missing.
How to get more storage in Android: USB OTG storage
You might not realise it, but many Android phones and tablets support USB OTG (On The Go), which allows you to plug in peripherals such as storage drives, just as you would with a PC.
Whether or not a device supports OTG won’t always be listed in its spec. A quick and easy way to check whether your device supports OTG is to download to it theUSB OTG Checker app, free from Google Play.
Once you’ve established that your device supports OTG you simply need an OTG adaptor such as the Inateck HB3001G. It costs just £12.99 from Amazon, and has an assortment of USB slots and card readers for letting you attach peripherals to your phone or tablet. If you’re going to use it simply to insert a microSD card to a phone that doesn’t support removable memory then the phone should be able to power the device by itself. However, if you want to add an external hard drive you’ll probably need to also power the OTG adaptor (a USB power cable is provided). For more information see How to add microSD support to your Android phone or tablet.
How to get more storage in Android: Delete unwanted apps and clear your app cache
Sometimes you don’t really need more storage, you just need to make better use of what you’ve got. Your phone or tablet probably came with several apps you have no interest in using, and you’ve probably since installed even more that you never use.
If you don’t use them, uninstall them. If you later decide you need them then just download them again – any apps you’ve paid for at Google Play will be available to any Android device on which you’re logged into your Google account.
Even the apps you want to keep can be taking up more space than they require. Over time every app on your phone fills space with cached files, and clearing these out can free up some room without you resorting to one of the other methods listed here. Clearing your app cache can also help to solve problems with misbehaving apps – perhaps you’re getting messages that ‘Samsung Galaxy has stopped‘, for example.
Clearing your app cache won’t delete any important files on your phone, but keeping things backed up is never a bad idea.
In clearing your app cache you have two choices. You can go to Settings, Apps and go through each app, clearing the cache as required, or you can wipe the whole lot at once.
We’re not referring to a factory reset (although that will solve your storage problems by returning your device to its out-of-box state), but to wiping the app cache. In order to do this you need to enter Android’s Recovery mode and choose to wipe the app cache.
It’s not exactly the same process for all phones, so it’s worth Googling your exact model to see how you enter recovery mode. On my HTC Desire Eye, for example, you need to switch it off, then press and hold volume down, then press and hold the power button to enter recovery mode. You then press and hold volume up and power to access recovery options. An option here offers to wipe the cache partition (make sure you don’t choose wipe data/factory reset).
How to get more storage on Android: cloud storage
Another really good option for freeing up space on your Android is to embrace cloud storage on your smartphone or tablet.
Cloud storage apps such as Dropbox can automatically back up all your photos to the storage site, or you can upload only those you want to store online. Once in the cloud you can free up space by deleting them from your phone or tablet.
The only down side to using cloud storage is that you will be able to access those files only when you have an active internet connection.
Take a look at our article on 2015’s best cloud storage services to see which is is best for you.
Google offers several apps that are usually built into your phone or tablet for storing online your music, photos and more. For example, Play Music lets you store all your tunes in the cloud for accessing on any device, and if you need to hear them offline you can also download them to your phone or tablet. Similarly, Google Drive lets you store online all your word documents and spreadsheets.
Using a service such as Spotify is an alternative to storing tracks on your own device. This music-streaming service offers a free service (with ads) that will let you listen to almost any tune you like.
How to get more storage in Android: Wireless hard drive
One final option you have for getting access to more storage on your Android device is by using a wireless hard drive. A wireless hard drive is exactly the same as a normal portable hard drive, but you connect to it via Wi-Fi. Loads of options are available, and they’re becoming more affordable, too.