My Droid is low on space. What? Halp.
December 15, 2011 5:43 PM   Subscribe

Android phone error: "Low on space -- Phone storage space is getting low." Help?

My HTC Droid Incredible keeps giving me a message that it is "low on space." When I click into the app manager, I see:

All: Internal storage: 315 MB used / 435 MB free
On SD Card: SD card storage: 1.3 GB used / 516 MB free
Running: RAM: 246 MB used / 118 MB free

This seems like enough free space? I mean, 1/3 of the RAM is free, there's more free than used internal storage wise, and there's around 1/4 of the SD card free. (Probably I need to clear photos from the SD card again.)

Android version 2.3.4

In the past I have been able to fix this by going through and clearing data from various apps, particularly facebook, but this is a very annoying error, I don't understand why it's there, and I'm tired of clearing data. (Sometimes clearing data clears account info and you have to start from scratch.)

Searching online turned up the fact that there IS an error, and that clearing data from apps will make it go away temporarily, but no info on why there's an error or how to fix it.
posted by Eyebrows McGee to Technology (22 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
Is your phone unlocked? Rooting is easy and the ultimate freer upper.
posted by Calzephyr at 5:48 PM on December 15, 2011

Best answer: Yeah. This is Droid Incredible problem. I was having the same issue before I got rid of it last week. I couldn't find a fool-proof solution, but some of the things I found that did work included:

Uninstalling Flash (or at least the updates... I couldn't uninstall the whole thing)
Clearing the data/uninstalling Yahoo Fantasy Football

I feel like there may have been another app that I cleared, but I don't remember what it was. So if you have those to apps installed, give it a shot.

If not? Good luck, it seems like this isn't a problem that is going to get fixed... which is ridiculous.
posted by alaijmw at 5:56 PM on December 15, 2011

Best answer: Try going to Settings -> manage applications. Then select apps to move to sd card.
posted by 6550 at 6:08 PM on December 15, 2011

Best answer: "Try going to Settings -> manage applications. Then select apps to move to sd card."

Do do this. But it isn't a surefire way to solve it either. You have plenty of free space, it's a bug. I did this several times and I could usually get it to go away for a while, but it would come back in a day or two. It wasn't until I found the few apps causing issues (Flash/Yahoo FF) that it solved itself for a longer period of time (as in a couple weeks, then I had to clear stuff again).
posted by alaijmw at 6:10 PM on December 15, 2011

Best answer: Yup - I had this problem too. Here's how I solved it:

First you need a bigger SD card... you can get a cheap one on Amazon.

- uninstall and reinstall the Facebook app -- and only sync your existing contacts with your phone. The Facebook cache holds all sorts of crap.

- go into your Gmail contacts (on a computer) and delete email addresses that are just hanging out in your gmail. And merge doubles. All those little icons are being saved in your Gmail. (And if your space problem continues, delete your contacts on your phone and resync with Google after you've cleaned out your gmail contacts.)

- put non-essential apps on the SD card for SURE.

- are you using K9 mail? If so, make sure that all of your accounts are having the mail store on the SD card.
posted by k8t at 6:23 PM on December 15, 2011 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I keep running into this too. It's driving me CRAZY because it's happening about once a week.

I've moved everything I'm allowed to move onto the SD card.
I've uninstalled the Facebook app (forever - there is no way to reinstall it now that doesn't make the low memory icon appear).
I uninstalled the updates for Adobe Flash.
I uninstalled any app that I don't use regularly.

I have a lot of free memory - a LOT. It's not an SD card problem, or an app problem. It's a system software problem from what I've experienced. Everytime I run into the low memory problem and then fix it, the phone tries to download another system update. I don't know what that's about, either, but whatever it is, it's not fixing anything.

I'm up for renewal/new phone credit next month and am thinking seriously about getting something else (iPhone). I love my phone and have really loved Android - but the last system upgrade really screwed it up and there's no fix that I can see. Frustrating, to say the least.
posted by hms71 at 7:41 PM on December 15, 2011

I'm in the same spot as hms71. If it weren't for this bug I wouldn't be researching next phone. I have so much space it's ridonk. It makes me sad.
posted by susanbeeswax at 8:44 PM on December 15, 2011

I'm about to move to CyanogenMod about this. There's too much on my phone that can't be uninstalled.
posted by rhizome at 12:35 AM on December 16, 2011 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: I don't know enough about rooting to know if it's for me. I've moved most non-essential apps to the SD card and uninstalled some apps I don't use much. There are an annoying number of verizon apps that I don't use but that won't uninstall.

I guess I can decide to live without some more apps, and moving pictures off the phone generally makes the fix last longer, but I just fill back up with photos.

My contacts file is like 29 mb, is that bloated? That seems bloated but what do I know. I've already cleaned up contacts in google and refused to let it pull facebook contacts at all (ugh, so annoying).
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 5:57 AM on December 16, 2011

Best answer: Yes - 29 MB is bloated! I read somewhere that it should be a single digit MB. (I just checked mine and it is 16 MB and I haven't cleared it out in a few months. I had it down to 6 MB after clearing.)

So what I successfully did was (1) clear out all the crap from your Google contacts. (2)
UNLINK Google accounts to the phone. (3) Go into the contact storage app (under management) and click 'clear data' (I learned this on an Android forum). (4) Relink your Google account to the phone and let the new cleared out contacts sync.

(I'd probably also clear out the Facebook data at the same time...)

Other little things...

- 6 MB of cache on the Internet - clear it out!
- go into downloads (under the main menu) and clear out any random PDFs you might have downloaded.
- A hidden problem for me is an overload Google Reader.
- Linking your Flickr account for uploading is great -- but make sure that the Flickr settings don't also download photos to your phone.
posted by k8t at 6:49 AM on December 16, 2011 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Clearing contacts took that down from 29 MB to 634 kb although now nobody has a picture. So that was huge.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 7:45 AM on December 16, 2011

If you want the photos back, just re-sync and they'll appear. :) And don't forget to sync with Facebook. I am pretty sure that Facebook photos trump Google photos on the phone.
posted by k8t at 7:58 AM on December 16, 2011

I had this same annoying problem with my Nexus 1, but it has seemingly resolved itself after I got an app called Mobo Task Killer, which helps to manage running applications. Haven't seen that error message since I installed it! So it might be an easy thing to try.
posted by Jemstar at 8:44 AM on December 16, 2011

Best answer: I had this problem on my droid. The problem, as far as I could divine, is that the phone storage (*not* the SD card) is full. Some things are kept in the phone's own storage, which is substantially smaller.

1. Check your applications line by line. For me, I discovered that Netflix and Amazon were both storing their data on the phone and not the SD card. There was a button to "Transfer to SD Card" for the Kindle app, while the Netflix app I straight up zapped.

2. Text Messages are also stored on the phone and not the SD card. Nuke your texts, especially if you have a lot of them or there are a lot of photos.

Honestly, it's almost probably some app that is storing stuff on the phone's memory. I started out by nuking my text messages, which was good for about a week, but when it recurred I went through all my apps to discover the #1 above.
posted by absalom at 8:56 AM on December 16, 2011

Best answer: - A hidden problem for me is an overload Google Reader.

Agreed. I had a similar problem on my OG Droid and found that it was caused by a mixture of Google Reader and DoggCatcher. Once the cache was cleared and I changed some setting for those (having stuff get deleted in a sensible time), the problem disappeared.

FWIW, I've had no similar issues on my Bionic despite leaving everything on default setting. Sounds like this could be device- (or carrier-) specific.
posted by coolguymichael at 12:36 PM on December 16, 2011

Response by poster: "And don't forget to sync with Facebook."

Hell no! I have 390 facebook friends and 37 people I talk to on the phone. It took me like a week to figure out how to get facebook contacts OUT of there for good!

"I am pretty sure that Facebook photos trump Google photos on the phone."

They do, and I actually find this annoying. I picked nice, clear headshots of people that my toddler can identify so he can push "the grandma button" when we call her (and other people he knows), and people don't follow that criteria in their FB profile pictures (obviously, and me either).

"Nuke your texts, especially if you have a lot of them or there are a lot of photos."

I nuke them weekly at least. Mostly just because I don't like the clutter.

I'll comb through the apps some more and see what else I can find.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 2:09 PM on December 16, 2011

I'm pretty sure this is a known bug with the HTC Incredible after the most recent system update, and I don't think it actually reflects the storage space on your phone. I ended up rooting mine and installing a custom MOD - it was a complicated process, I'll be completely honest, but I don't get that message anymore and I'm otherwise very pleased with my phone's performance.
posted by sarahsynonymous at 8:29 AM on December 17, 2011

Both me and my girlfriend had these issues on our Droid Incredibles with similar memory usage amounts over the months since we've had them (got them the first week they were out). I rooted mine and installed CyanogenMod on it and haven't had any issues since, so it may just be an issue with the default software install on there.
posted by RyanAdams at 9:45 AM on December 18, 2011

I just spent the last few days rooting a couple Incredibles, and learned that this is an issue with the way the stock phones are configured. On Verizon's forums, this post refers to a root-enabled solution. This thread on XDA details the actual implementation.

I haven't applied this fix yet, but in general rooting and reflashing these devices was surprisingly easy (I'd never done it before). If you do go down this route, the very first thing you should do is backup your current (stock) ROM and data.
posted by unmake at 8:39 AM on December 21, 2011

Response by poster: Clearing out the contacts and deleting a couple of very large game apps seems to have fixed the problem for now. (I don't play games that often, so my new rule is, only two very large ones on there at a time. :) ) My husband also got the error on his phone for the first time over the holidays, and I was able to zero in on the problem quickly.

I also discovered it's better to maintain my contacts in google contacts and sync it with my phone, because verizon's sync did not rescue all my contacts. Annoying.

I'm going to favorite the ones with tips that help (or mention specific memory-eating apps), even if they weren't specific to my situation. I will leave rooting for people braver than me!
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 8:49 AM on December 29, 2011 [1 favorite]

I have a VZW Droid Incredible as well and am having the same damn problem... only I have even more space*, and next to no apps.**

* - all: 130 / 618MB used/free
card: 133M / 1.7GB used/free
RAM: 119 / 249 MB used/free

** - my only regularly-used apps: Andoku and Plume. Everything else that can be on the card is.

(Uninstalling Firefox apparently freed up enough space for google talk to be allowed to run for the first time in a week (gee, really didn't see that coming...), but how long will that last....)

I suspect that a big part of the problem is that I keep getting system updates that utterly fail to run (they count down to 'restart' and then... nothing)---does anyone know where these get kept at, so they can be deleted?

would also love to know where bullshit preinstalls like skype, slacker, flash, &c live so I can get rid of them... the stuff in my 'all apps' screen reminds me of the desktop of an old windows 95 machine.
posted by FlyingMonkey at 9:35 PM on January 25, 2012

Response by poster: One final update ... clearing out the big-memory apps helps temporarily but the alert will come back. Having my phone completely crash and having to do a factory reset solved the problem permanently (or at least, long-term for now). So, painful as it may be, factory reset seems to be the right answer.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 8:11 PM on May 23, 2012

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