iPhone users who are gluttons with their data have again faced that familiar problem of an iOS update requiring more storage space. More storage space?! “I’m filled to the brim as it is!” While not exactly Sophie’s Choice, you don’t want to end up deleting something you’ll regret just to get the latest updates on your phone.
As smartphones continue to rise in eminence and become part of our daily lives, there is an increasing need to be informed about the storage space you have available. That space dictates all of the things you can hold on your phone, after all - everything from apps to movies. It’s easy not to think about the space, but we’ve all had a moment of, “I thought I had more space than this.” Why is that?
Unless you’re one of the few who sprung for the 128GB iPhone 6 or purchased a likewise massive SD card for your Android phone, this situation is probably familiar to you. It is no secret in the tech world that the listed space of a product is approximate; in other words, that your 16GB phone assuredly doesn’t have 16 gigs of available space on it. In fact, depending on the model of your phone and the amount of pre-installed apps, your 16GB phone might have as little as 8GB to work with! We’ll tell you a few ways to skirt this annoying issue, whether or not you prefer the iOS or Android ecosystem.
1. Be conscious of file size
Strange though it might seem to say, files of the same type can vary greatly in size. The more file-savvy among you might already know what it’s like: you have an album that takes up 50MB, and right next to it, you’ve got another album that’s taking up 150MB. They have a similar amount of tracks with similar lengths, so why is one so much bigger? To spare a lot of technical talk about loss-less compression, the simple explanation is “sometimes they’re just bigger for arbitrary reasons.” This applies to movies, audiobooks, and images as well; always double-check the sizes of your files if you’re looking to make space.
2. Backup your storage
Backing up your storage is but one tech-related activity we all know we should be doing but rarely do. Much like defragging was to computing in the 90s, the 21st century is all about retaining your data. Since our phones are a mainstay in our daily lives, we end up collecting a lot of stuff on them. 30 pictures from a day at the park? 12 different takes of trying to record a cover of “Blank Space?” It’s easy for things like this to go unnoticed at the time, but it’ll eat up your storage space in a hurry. Make sure to periodically come back through and delete/backup these unruly files if it’s not necessary to keep them on the device itself.
If you have a consistent Wi-Fi or data connection, utilizing streaming or syncing services can clear up loads of space. Spotify, Netflix, and Audible can cover most of your media needs via data or Wi-Fi connections, freeing much needed space on your device for things like apps. Dropbox, Google Docs, and iCloud are all great cloud-based option for storage of a variety of file-types.
The iPhone 6 in particular has taken huge strides in the realm of syncing and cloud storage, eliminating lots of problems with storage from older models, although even the Huffington Post is publishing content on ways to mitigate remaining storage problems that confound the iPhone. While the iPhone does not allow for external physical storage, other smartphones do offer replacement internal and external memory augmentation and addition.
3. Mind the cache
While this does apply to both iPhone and Android users, for Android users, it is very much the crux of the matter. You may have encountered the infamous “insufficient storage space available” error, seemingly in spite of however much space you feel you should have available. There’s a reason for this, and it’s relevant to things behind the scenes.
Simply put, caching is the indexing of information for later use. It’s a vital function for lots of technical things, and it helps you as a user, as well (notice how your YouTube app remembers your previous searches?). The issue comes in with the long-term storage of cached information. Imagine you’ve made thousands of searches on your YouTube app and your browser. Well, the phone kept all that information around, and it might be consuming huge amounts of storage, up to the hundreds of megabytes.
What to do? If your phone doesn’t provide a simple option for clearing the cache, there’s almost certainly an app for that. Keeping a cleaner app for your android is an advisable, well-reviewed option for the less diligent data-consuming user.
4. Don’t Download Everything; Embrace the Cloud
iTunes music cloud-based options and new Apple Music features encouraging you to offload your storage into the cloud seems an almost fair compromise in exchange for their severely gimping the storage of the cheapest model of the newer iPhones. From Microsoft Drive to the constant updates of Google Drive, this seems to be the trend of every high-end smartphone manufacturer—to provide at least the option of cloud storage.
Both local and remote storage have their benefits, so to have the best smartphone experience, ask yourself when you would be most likely to need to have access to certain types of data and also be without an Internet connection.