Why Is My Phone Storage Full?


Have you ever tried to download a new app or even update a preexisting one, only to be met with a warning that your phone storage is almost full? You can have huge internal storage space and still run out of it for many reasons.

This is a recurring problem among smartphone owners. Here, we’ll look at possible answers to the question, “Why is my phone storage full?” and how to address each one of them.

What’s Taking Up All the Space on My Phone?

When you buy a new phone, storage space is usually one of the critical features that sell you on the specific brand or model you’re choosing. Today, there are models on the market with a monstrous 1TB of internal memory. However, most consumer smartphones have 128GB, 256GB, or 512GB internal storage.

While this is by no means a small space to cram your stuff into, other things hang in the background. All this junk ends up sharing the room with your apps and photos.

Within months of owning your phone, you might notice problems like lagging or warning messages about unused apps and insufficient space. Let’s take a look at what is filling up your phone storage.

The Phone’s Operating System

Almost all smartphone owners realize that the advertised storage space on their phones includes the real estate taken by the operating system. And while nearly all non-Apple smartphones use Android, there are features formed by the manufacturer that set it apart from other brands. These features require additional space to run smoothly, and with regular firmware updates, this space can be pretty significant.

Unfortunately, this is something you’re stuck with since you can’t take away from the leading software components that keep your phone running. But you can check out the other plausible reasons your phone is running out of storage below.

Cache Files

Cache files are components the apps and websites store on your phone’s memory. This helps start up the app faster or reduce the amount of data your phone uses.

However, if unchecked, cache files can pile up to occupy a huge chunk of your phone’s internal storage. It’s always good to clean them up regularly so that all the excess files don’t weigh down the app.

On Android Phones

  1. Go to Settings > Apps > Sort by used storage. This will put the apps in descending order according to size. 
  2. Tap on any app you want.
  3. Choose the option to “Clear Cache“, and watch as your phone’s available space gets bigger!

On iOS

There’s no direct option to clear the app cache. However, you can still save space by “Offloading“, which means you’re going to delete the app but keep all of your user data. When you re-download it from the App Store, you’ll pick up right where you left off.

  1. Go to Settings > General > iPhone Storage.
  2. You’ll see a list of your apps arranged by size; tap on the one you want.
  3. Choose “Offload App“. This will significantly reduce the space occupied on your iPhone or iPad.

Message Backups

Messaging apps often create a backup database on your phone’s internal storage. Apps like Whatsapp that use end-to-end encryption can’t store your messages on a cloud service without your permission. 

If you want to delete those databases from your phone’s internal storage, check out the steps below.

  1. Open your File Manager app.
  2. Choose the Whatsapp folder.
  3. Delete the “Databases” folder. This can clear up some internal storage space on your phone.

Media Downloads

Messaging apps have another issue: the media and files they automatically download when received. You can save a lot of space on your phone if you disable automatic media downloads on Whatsapp.

  1. Launch Whatsapp and choose Settings.
  2. Select “Storage and Data“.
  3. In “Media Auto-Download“, select all three options (mobile data, WiFi, and roaming): tap on each and choose “No media“. This will prevent the app from downloading unnecessary media that will clutter your phone.

To delete existing media, follow these steps.

  1. Open your File Manager and choose the Whatsapp folder.
  2. Delete the Media folder.

Beware when deleting folders. If the data is not backed up on a cloud service, it’s lost forever if you delete it from your phone.

Streaming apps like Spotify and YouTube Premium have a download feature that lets you save your music, podcasts, and videos for offline use. These can pile up, which is a problem for a video or podcast that’s hours long. 

To save space, open “Downloads” in each of these apps and delete the content you’ve already watched or don’t need.

Unused Files

You probably have taken the odd blurry photo and never bothered deleting it. Or maybe you downloaded a .apk file, installed it, then forgot about the file and just left it in the Downloads folder – not to mention all the screenshots taken to show something to someone with no use afterward.

Over time, these files pile up and consume a lot of the internal space on your phone. This is why the app Files by Google has a cleanup feature that uses AI to detect the junk on your phone. From old screenshots to large downloaded files, you can use the feature to spot any file that overstays its welcome.

It doesn’t hurt to go over your photos and files manually every so often to clean up what you don’t need. No AI can gauge the importance of a picture your kid took or a work-related pdf.

It’s also best to have your media backed up somewhere else. Some prefer cloud storage services like Dropbox, Google Drive, or iCloud. You can also move the files over to an SD card if your phone supports it.

Unused Apps

Almost everyone can relate to this: you downloaded an app for a specific purpose, but you didn’t use it in about 6 months and probably won’t use it again. Now imagine this happening five or six times, and these apps are just chilling in the background of your phone.

Go to your Play Store or App Store and sort your apps in order of when you last used them, and you’ll find a bunch of junk there. Uninstall them and enjoy the newfound space on your phone!

This can be tricky in the case of pre-installed apps that come with your phone, as you can’t uninstall some of them. However, you can uninstall their updates to free up some space and then disable the app so it doesn’t hoard any more data.


A phone memory with insufficient space can be a pain. Finding out you can’t download an app or take any more pictures is quite inconvenient.

You can save up a considerable amount of space if you pay attention to a few things. Clearing your phone’s cache, deleting old apps and files, and stopping automatic downloads can help tremendously.

If these tips don’t work for your phone, you can always backup your data and restore it to factory settings. However, be careful because you will lose any data not saved elsewhere.

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