Not Your Average Android Low Space Story?
August 7, 2011 6:20 AM   Subscribe

My Nexus One keeps hitting a low space wall lately and doing everything the Internet suggests isn't helping :\

I noticed lately though that I am running into the dreaded low space problem on the internal storage for my Nexus One. The thing is though, I have tried all the usual stuff to free up space and I don't know what's eating it up. I have searched the web and performed all the usual advice.

I have Apps2SD, and there are only a handful of apps that I can't move - Google ones, DoubleTwist, Twitter client etc. I uninstalled iBird, which couldn't be moved to the SD card, to free up space, and suddenly I have lost that freed up space. The Google apps are part of the phone and can't be uninstalled.

Everything that has been moved to the SD card has been.

All caches are empty, including the browser. The phone is fully charged.

I dumped all my photos and movies and still no luck.

I have DiskUsage and it is showing me that a fair amount of space is being used by "data" but I don't know how to access it or if it's data the phone actually needs.

I downloaded a file explorer and can't find anythng else to clear or move. While I was dickering around trying to free up space, the internal storage actually of my phone dropped 5MB :S

Powering the phone on and off didn't improve anything.

Any ideas I haven't mentioned?
posted by Calzephyr to Technology (13 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Sounds like you may need to resort to a factory reset. Before you do that, though, try to get a back-up app like MyBackup Pro or the one built into Astro File Manager so you don't lose absolutely everything.
posted by InsanePenguin at 6:39 AM on August 7, 2011

Ugh :-( I was hoping it wouldn't come to that. I have had the phone for a year.

One thing I realized I forgot to mention is that this started happening after I unsynced the services on my phone. I went camping and did that to preserve battery life. When I re-synced everything, I think Gmail may have downloaded all my mail, but I'm not sure.
posted by Calzephyr at 6:49 AM on August 7, 2011

Well have you tried unsyncing most of it? Or even just removing all accounts from the mail client, since you can always add them back later?
posted by anaelith at 7:17 AM on August 7, 2011

When I try to remove my Google account, I get a warning that it is required by some apps and I can only remove it by resetting the phone to factory defaults.
posted by Calzephyr at 7:37 AM on August 7, 2011

If you run Cyanogenmod instead of the stock ROM, it gives you the ability to move pretty much any app to SD (even the Google apps, I think) and free up space that way.
posted by flod logic at 7:44 AM on August 7, 2011 [1 favorite]

My geeky heart would be thrilled to run Cyanogen or root my phone, but I'm too scared of dickering around with that much :-) I would love to get a spare phone to play around with. I know there are big space gains to be made when rooting the phone.

Well, I'm stumped. I uninstalled some apps that were on my SD card and suddenly I'm gaining space on the internal storage. I didn't realize that moving apps to the SD card was not a solution to the problem :\
posted by Calzephyr at 7:50 AM on August 7, 2011

Sounds like it was one of those apps that was doing something space-eaty as it went about its business.
posted by flabdablet at 8:04 AM on August 7, 2011

Doh, I'll be super annoyed if it was flabdablet, but you are probably right :-)
posted by Calzephyr at 8:14 AM on August 7, 2011

OK, so here's a better answer. First, check how much space GMail is eating. The app is just under 5 MB, I think stock Apps2SD should also give you a specific number for how much data GMail alone has, as opposed to data from other programs.

You could still de-sync it again. Open GMail, menu > More > Settings, choose your mail account. For amount of mail to sync, pick 4 days (or fewer, if you get a ton of mail). For all of the labels, pick either n days or None.

Then you can forcibly delete the mail data from your phone. Simple instructions here. After you've de-synced, obvious, or it'll just re-download everything.

If GMail doesn't seem to be the problem, then go through and figure out what the largest thing actually is (can stock Apps2SD sort by size?).

On a little side note, one of the best things about unlocking the bootloader and rooting your phone is that then you don't need to be afraid of messing with it. Once your phone is rooted/unlocked you can use TitaniumBackup for partial backups and ClockworkMod for full backups. I've had upgrades go wrong, leading to Not Booting At All, and just thought "hmm, that didn't work, oh well, restore.." and had my phone back to how it was before in about five minutes. The Nexus One is practically made to be rooted, if you stick with one of the common methods it's easy and not scary.
posted by anaelith at 9:22 AM on August 7, 2011 [1 favorite]

I have the same problem, and regularly need to tweak and clear caches to recover space.

I'm running Cyanogenmod 7, so have additional tools and options, but the basics will apply to stock android.

Settings -> Applications -> Manage Applications -> All
Select "sort by size", and look for the big offenders.

Moving an app to the SD doesn't move the whole thing - you'll still be left with some data on internal storage, the proportion of which varies by app.

I find that the facebook app uses a lot of cache. You can "clear data" to delete everything. The next time you open the app you have to sign in again, at which point it'll slowly increase the data usage again as it caches image thumbnails and such.

Look for "contacts storage" which sometimes balloons in size. You can clear data on this, and the phone will sync down your contacts from google, removing some of the bloat.

Same with gmail itself - you can "clear data", and it'll just re-sync the mail when it next runs, though you'll lose local settings (which is just things like number of days to sync, whether "always show images" is selected for given addresses, ...)

If you're running swype, then make sure you're running the smaller version. There's (from memory) a "english only" and a "all languages" installer. The small one is around 4M, the larger one is 10+M. Delete and re-install as needed.

Clearing the dalvik cache might help (though I don't know off hand how to do that on the stock OS). It'll regenerate itself for any apps you have installed, but it seemed that when I did this before it was able to recover some space, possibly be deleting cache files for apps I had installed and then deleted.

Also, it's really not a big deal to install CM. Very painless, especially on the N1 since unlocking the bootloader is a factory approved option.
posted by devbrain at 10:07 AM on August 7, 2011

If you're running the "official" Twitter client make sure and clear out your cache periodically. After running it for a month or two my copy had cached several dozen megabytes of old tweets.
posted by yellowbkpk at 11:51 AM on August 7, 2011

Seconding, thirding and n-ing just rooting the phone and installing an alternative ROM already. I used to own an HTC Desire (basically an HTC-branded version of the Nexus One) and went through the same situation you describe, uninstalling apps and wiping caches every other day to try and keep the thing from running out of memory. Eventually the apps always win, though: a few of them are huge memory hogs (particularly Skype and Facebook, IIRC), and every new update to Gmail, Google Maps etc. would add ever so slightly to their footprint. It was driving me insane. There is no excuse for a phone to require THAT much maintenance.

Eventually I yielded and went through the whole root-and-flash thing to install a lightweight ROM called Oxygen that I'd hear good things about, and the difference was like night and day. Besides being able to move anything to the SD card, I had something like 150 MB extra space for apps thanks to all the HTC-related cruft that had been removed. I never saw a low memory warning again, and the whole phone was notably snappier.

It did require a fair bit of fiddling and was a bit intimidating at first, but seriously - rooting and flashing an Android phone is not that difficult these days, and the Nexus One is singularly open to tweaking. Ludicrously unlikely circumstances excluded (such as your building getting struck by lightning, causing power to suddenly go off at the very instant you're flashing the phone), the chances of actually bricking anything are cosmically slim. And, as anaelith said above, 90% of brickings are actually easy to recover from.
posted by doctorpiorno at 4:47 PM on August 7, 2011 [1 favorite]

Thanks for the comments guys. It's been very helpful. Rooting sounds like it will have to be a weekend project for me :-)
posted by Calzephyr at 5:02 AM on August 9, 2011

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