Community Advocacy on Environmental and Social Justice

Saturday, 31 March 2012

How to Speed Up, Clean Up, and Revive Your Android Phone

We're all decluttering our closets and basements in celebration of spring, but it's time for a break. Kick back on the couch, pull up your Android phone, and act like you're still being productive by giving it some spring cleaning of its own.

Reclaim Drive and SD Card Space

Most Android devices have two different storage spaces: your internal space (where apps are stored) and your SD card (where your music, photos, and many of your apps' settings are stored). The SD card is easy to clean up—just delete any music, photos, and videos you don't need. If you see any folders that look like settings for apps you've removed, you can delete those too. If you're rooted (which is really easy to do), you can even use an app like previously mentionedSD Maid to clean up all that cruft for you.
Cleaning up your internal storage is also pretty simple: just uninstall unnecessary apps. Chances are you have a few apps you don't use anymore, not to mention games you don't play—they'll take up the most space—and you can just uninstall them from the Play Store to free up that space and, hopefully, speed up your phone a little bit. If your phone is starved for internal storage and you can't spare any of your hard-earned apps, you can try moving them to your SD card instead. This will free up that internal space and speed up your phone, but keep all your apps close at hand. To do this, just head to Settings > Applications > Manage Applications. Select an app, and tap the "Move to SD Card" button to move it. Some apps won't have this ability, but you should find that lots of your space-hogging apps have no problem living on your SD card. You can read more about this process here.

Give It a Battery Boost

Android phones in particular are notorious for sucking the life out of your battery. If you haven't dug through your settings in awhile, this is a good time to make sure you're getting the most out of your battery as possible. This means turning the brightness down, the Wi-Fi and Bluetooth off when not in use, and turning off any eye candy (not to mention uninstalling apps that constantly use up your data). Tweak these settings yourself orautomate them with a program like Tasker or JuiceDefender for an easy, hassle-free battery life boost. I'm always an advocate of getting a second battery, too—just keep it in your glove box or in your desk drawer for those emergencies where your phone is about to die.

Speed It Up with Some Settings Tweaks

How to Speed Up, Clean Up, and Revive Your Android PhoneIf your phone is a bit older, or it's just feeling sluggish, there are a number of things you can do to make it feel a little smoother. Trying a new home screen launcher is always good for a bit of speed, as is lowering your number of home screens and ditching all those widgets. If you're rooted, you can even overclock or install a custom ROM for even more speed. And, if you really want to get technical, there are some advanced settings you can play with to eke every bit of speed out of your phone possible. Just don't use a Task Killer, whatever you do (unless you're on a really, really old version of Android—like, 1.6 old). For more info on how to speed up your phone, check out our in-depth guide.

Remove and Clean Your Case (If You Use One)

Of course, the inside of your phone isn't the only thing that needs cleaning. If your phone has gotten a bit dirty over the past year—which is even more likely if you have a dirt-trapping case on it—you might want to take it off and clean it up. The case shouldn't be too hard to clean, but make sure you don't clean your phone with anything that'll harm the screen. We've gone through how to safely clean and disinfect your gadgets before, so check out that guide for more info.

Unfortunately, Android devices are finicky, and can take a lot of maintenance to work well—especially the older ones. Be sure to check out our more in-depth guides above, and you should be able to get your phone running as optimally as possible. Got any maintenance tips we left out? Share them with us in the comments below.
Contact Whitson Gordon:
I disagree with the "don't use a task killer" bit; you just have to use the right one. I use Watchdog, and it actually tracks application behavior and will tell you which ones are actually consuming way too much CPU in the background. I was able to use it to identify Facebook and Amazon Appstore as the biggest culprits causing my phone to drag; once I ditched Facebook and used Watchdog to set up Amazon Appstore to get killed if it starts taking too much CPU while in background, my phone actually became usable again.
Ah yeah, Watchdog is good (which I talk about in the Task Killer post). I still don't think killing tasks is usually a good solution though. Watchdog is good for finding problem apps, but instead of killing them, you should either restart or, if it's a regular issue, uninstall the app.
On that note, why is Facebook's app so inexcusably horribly bad? It eats up CPU power and memory, while somehow also managing to be really slow. I might see an interesting post on the widget, but it takes maybe 10-20 seconds to open it up. My phone is a tad old (Evo 4G), but with 1GHz and a speedy custom ROM, you'd think it could handle the demands of goddamn Facebook.
Fair enough, and that's what I did with Facebook. I can't uninstall Amazon, though, not unless I want to rebuy all the apps I've gotten from their Free App of the Day from Google Play. Blacklisting it to where it gets killed if it goes over 30% CPU usage while in the background is effective enough.
Edited by HeartBurnKid: Agent of R.O.A.C.H. at 03/30/12 12:29 PM
I believe in Linux, and a task killer is not needed. It's obvious that any app that is syncing, updating, checking for updates will eat resources...
Rooting and installing aftermarket ROM's usually has great performance benefit, especially for people like me still on old phones... the Verizon Droid1. I also installed a swap partition on my SD card to make up for lack of physical memory. Still runs beautiful.
You haven't seen how hideously slow my phone can get when Amazon Appstore gets out of control. A task killer is most definitely needed for me.
And I'm well aware of the benefits aftermarket ROMs can provide. I'm running CyanogenMod.
I believe you... and i never tried amazon app store (prob never will).
I use Steel Droid Rom, it's built on Cyanogen. Cyanogen by itself got way to buggy.. and he recently stop support for my old phone. Adding a 512mb swap on my SD card made my phone run like new... much better than using Compcache
That's great advise unless you can't remove them. =j It seems like most of the runaways on my phone are all AT&T stock apps that I never use, yet will launch themselves every time I have to pull the battery and restart the phone. I don't want to root my phone until my service contract is up, so I just have to live with it. I listened to your article and removed my task killer a few months ago, and while it doesn't crash as often as it did I seem to be getting more runaways now. I'm trying the free Watchdog as of now, we'll see what it can do.

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Hi Eroo !! Whats your Views on this ?