Memory and storage management: Android

Available on YouTube for the following devices:

  • HTC One S
  • Samsung Galaxy S III
  • Samsung Note II


Understanding Memory & Storage

Memory and storage are often confused. It is important to know the difference.


What is it?What happens when it's low?
Memory (RAM)

Internal memory (RAM) is where your device runs apps and open docs. It holds files being used.


It is short term memory. When you restart your device or stop an app, it is no longer in memory.

Android may close apps, slow down, or cause errors.


See Memory management below.

Storage (ROM)

Internal storage (ROM) is where your device stores app data and the system files it needs to keep. It can load these stored files into memory to use them.


It is long term memory. When you restart your device or stop an app, all saved information is still in the storage.

Android may have problems saving and reading files, and may even make some apps not function correctly.


See Storage management below.


For more detail, see Example of the difference between memory and storage below.



Help & How to



Memory (RAM) management


Restart the device daily

You should restart the phone at least once a day. Turn it off and back on.


Reduce memory use
  • Remove some widgets from Home screens (especially ones that update or have animation).
  • Turn off the live wallpaper.
  • Remove all unused Home screens:
    • Pinch the Home screen.
    • On the grid of Home screens, drag unused screens to the trash.


Manage apps
  • If a problem starts after installing a new apps, uninstall all new apps.
  • Keep your apps updated.
  • Read reviews of your apps in the Play Store to see if they are causing issues for others. Not all apps work well with all phones.
  • Manage or remove apps that run in the background. Background apps use up device resources.
    1. Restart the phone.
    2. In Settings, go to Apps or Application manager, and then Running.
    3. Examine the list of apps running in the background. View apps that are running in memory, and either:
  • Task and battery managers:
    • Android 4.0 and later include a task manager you can use to close running apps. Open the recent apps screen, and manage your apps listed.
      Note: Some older devices include a pre-installed task manager, which you can access from the applications menu.
    • Never install third-party task managers or battery managers. If you have installed a task manager, then uninstall it.


Note: Some devices with limited storage space (ex: Gravity SMART, Wildfire S, etc) show memory issues when the storage fills up. Continue to Storage management below.




Storage (ROM) management


Clear storage weekly
  • Check the available internal device storage. It must be over 150 MB for Android 4.0+, or over 25 MB for older versions. If it is less, clear more storage and delete more apps.
  • Delete unnecessary text messages (SMS) and picture messages (MMS).
  • Delete unnecessary e-mail, including 'Sent Items', 'Spam' and 'Trash/Deleted Items' folders
  • Transfer pictures/media to a computer, and remove them from the phone.
  • Clear the browser cache, cookies, or history.
  • Clear Facebook app cache.
  • Delete the call logs.
    Note: See your user manual for steps.


Set the device to manage some memory
  • Set the text message limit to delete messages automatically.
  • Change the setting for email synchronization to download only for the past three days.


Manage apps
  • If a problem starts after installing a new apps, uninstall all new apps.
  • Delete apps you are not using.
  • View other apps that are using storage or memory:
    1. When in Manage Applications settings, press Menu. Some devices may require you select All first to view all apps.
    2. Touch Sort by size.
    3. For apps that take up a lot of space, clear the app cache and data.

Note: Clearing data in an application can delete user created information out of that applications (contacts, call logs, etc)

    1. For apps that continue to use a lot of your storage space, uninstall them by touching the app name, then Uninstall.
  • Move some apps to the SD card or storage partition.
    Note: Some apps may not work correctly from SD card. Do not move: live wallpaper, widget apps, apps that use the notification bar, or apps that synchronize online. Move unstable apps back to internal memory or upgrade to a new SD card (class 6 or above).





Example of the difference between memory and storage?

As an example, think of your device as an office.

Your file cabinet is the storage (ROM). You save files in the cabinet, but you would not read or edit them there.


Your desk is the memory (RAM). You take files that you want to use out of the file cabinet, and put them on your desk. The desk is your work space. When you're done with the files, you can save them by moving them to the file cabinet again.