It’s Springtime which means it’s time to clean out the clutter in your life. While it’s important to do it in your home or office, you shouldn’t forget to do it with your smartphone. Like any clutter, it’s actually better to do it periodically so things don’t “pile” up, but hey, even if it’s once a year, it’s better than never. With most people on 2-year contracts, it’s nearly impossible to never do some cleanup and keep your phone running like it was the day you first turned it on. Also understand that it’s not always about the slowness of your phone. Many phones have limited storage space and you might be experiencing errors from lack of free space. In either case this guide will make sense.
If you really want to clean and start anew, the best way is to do a factory reset, but it makes sense to avoid it if you can. Try these six steps and you could avoid the headaches of a reset and get rid of the sluggishness you’ve been experiencing. Even if you think you phone is running okay, I still recommend going through this short guide to keep things from “piling up” down the road. Some of these steps won’t pertain to you so don’t feel like you have to complete each step. Hit the break to get started.
#1 Delete old text messages. If you do any amount of texting, you will be surprised how many pile up, and you really don’t need them. Grab Delete Old Messages from the Google Play Store. This is a simple free app that will delete all messages based on your specifications. For example, you can tell it to delete all messages older than 1 month ago. It offers more fine tuning options for pro users, but this free version should suffice. I’m not a heavy texter so I chose to delete all messages older than 2 months. If you text upwards of 500 messages per month, I would go no more than one month, and 1 or 2 weeks might make more sense.
#2 Uninstall unused apps. We’re all guilty of downloading an app to try and then forget about it. Now is a good time to look at all your apps, and if you aren’t using them, just uninstall them. Most of you veterans know how to do this. With ICS and some manufacturer UI’s it’s easy to do it from your launcher drawer. Just open your launcher drawer and long press on any app you want to uninstall. If you have ICS or the manufacturer UI has the built-in feature, you will see an option to uninstall. Just drag the app icon over that. If you don’t see the option, then the best way is to open the Play Store, tap the menu, and tap my apps. This will show all the apps installed on your device. Just tap the ones you want to remove and tap again to uninstall.
#3 Clean the cache from your apps and browser. Cached files are temporary files created by all your apps. These can take up a lot of space and drain you memory, especially for apps you don’t use often. There are a number of apps that will clear out your cache and some will even go so far as deleting text messages (step #1), but I like Easy Cache Cleaner. Upon opening the app, it will scan all your apps and tell you the total amount of cached files. I had over 507MB the first time I ran it. At the top, you will see the option to “Clean All.” Go ahead and tap that. The whole process from opening the app to clearing all your cache will take less than a minute. Unfortunately a lot of these apps don’t work with Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich so you will have to manually delete the cache for each app. Just make sure to click “Clear cache” NOT “Clear data.” If you don’t have ICS, you can still clear your cache by using this method as well, if for whatever reason you don’t want to delete all the files.
#4 Move apps to your SD card. If you have an older phone with limited internal storage, it’s a good idea to move some of your apps to your SD card. Just grab Apps2SD from the Google Play Store. All apps aren’t eligible to be moved to your SD card so Apps2SD takes out all the guess work. It will let you know which apps can be moved and for those that aren’t eligible now, it will notify you when things change. I would start with the apps that you don’t use often, but don’t use this option to move unused apps. If you don’t plan on using an app then please uninstall it from your device as mentioned in step #2. Apps2SD happens to have a built in cache cleaner so you can utilize this app instead of Easy Cache Cleaner from step #3.
#5 Delete unused files on your SD card and on your device. I know you’re thinking there must be something wrong with me because I just told you to move apps to your SD card, and now I’m telling you to clean it up. Utilizing your SD card for apps is okay, but you should go through it and look for files that are not needed. Sometimes apps that you’ve uninstalled leave folders behind. Delete all those. Look at your photos. Do you really need all of them? The same with music. Delete what you don’t need. You can do this by connecting your phone to your computer via USB or through an app called Astro File Manager from the Google Play Store.
#6 Remove deleted (or trashed) emails. If you’re using the stock email app (not gmail) there could be a lot of unwanted emails in your trash. Unfortunately there isn’t an easy way to “delete all emails” in the trash folder so you might have to actually remove the email account from your phone and set it up again. This will start things from scratch, but if your email is IMAP based, this won’t be a big deal. If you’re using a POP account, you will lose all your “non trashed” emails that are on your phone. In that case you might have to manually delete them which won’t be any easy task. If you can live with it, I highly recommend just deleting the account from your phone and setting it up again. It won’t take long at all.
If you follow these 6 steps, I think you will find your phone will be back to how it worked when you first got it. If you find that these things just aren’t enough, than you should consider a factory reset. You need to make sure you’ve backed up everything that you want BEFORE doing it. If you are going to go this route, you should download MyBackup Pro to back up what you need. Please understand, if you’re aren’t rooted you will not be able to save game progress data or your usernames, passwords, and other settings for your apps. Some apps do have a back up feature so for any of those, make sure to back up that data to your SD card. For most devices you can perform a factory reset by going to menu/settings/privacy and selecting factory data reset. Make sure you don’t have “delete SD card contents” checked. Again, I want to be clear, by doing this, you delete everything on your phone and unless it’s backed up, you won’t be able to retrieve it.
If you have any other recommendations please add them to the comments below.