How to clear cache on your Android phone or tablet (and why you should)

Storage settings provide options to clear storage or clear cache for Facebook

Jason Cipriani/ZDNET

If you are experiencing slow performance on a smartphone or tablet, there are common troubleshooting steps you can take and they often fix them. Simply restarting your device can solve a lot of problems.

Another popular way to increase performance, or at least free up extra storage space, on your Android phone is to clear app cached data And Clear cached Chrome data for the websites you visit.

Below, I’ll walk you through both the processes, which don’t take long at all. The hardest part is knowing where to look, and that’s exactly what I’m going to show you.

also: How to record a call on your Android phone

As with any tutorial that walks you through how to do something on an Android device, your steps may differ slightly from what I outline below due to different device manufacturers and custom software on top of Android. But the gist of the process is covered and it should be similar enough to get you, at the very least, pointing you in the right direction. (And here How to clear cache on iPhone.)

How to clear app cached data

The quickest way to view all the apps installed on your Android phone or tablet is to open the Settings app and look in the main menu for storage; Click on it. On the next screen, find a file Apps Selection. Some phones, eg Moto G 5G phoneSkip the Storage option and list apps directly in the Settings app. If you’re having trouble finding the apps list, use the search bar at the top of the Settings app to find it.

When viewing the list of apps, to make it easier to see which apps are using the most storage space on your device, tap the three-dot icon in the upper-right corner and select Sort by size.

The Android Storage and App Storage pages show apps categorized by size

Screenshots by Jason Cipriani/ZDNET

Select any app from the list. Note that I selected Select an app and not a system service as Android System Intelligence because I got mixed results when clearing the cache of an app or system service. So I only recommend doing this for apps.

When you open an app, you can see the app’s size, user data, cache size, and the total amount of storage it’s taking up. At the top of the page, you will have two options: Clear Storage and Clear Cache.

Do not select clear storage as this will more or less reset the app and you will have to set it up again. However, you can clear the cache without any negative consequences.

Clear cache for Facebook

Screenshots by Jason Cipriani/ZDNET

Continue browsing the list, looking at the apps that are taking up a lot of space, and clearing the cache for each of them. Or, if you really want to be precise, you can go through and clear the cache of every app on your phone. But I would recommend starting with the major culprits, like the Facebook app shown here in the screenshots.

How to clear cache in Chrome

Open the Chrome app on your Android phone or tablet, then tap the three-dot menu icon in the top-right corner. Next, select Date > Clear browsing data.

Clear browsing data for Chrome browser

Screenshots by Jason Cipriani/ZDNET

The next screen will show you a list of options; You can choose the data you want to remove from Chrome, and choose the time frame for which you want to remove the data. Each data option contains a brief description of what it means and what kind of impact it will have on your experience.

For example, clearing your cookies and site data will sign you out of some (in my experience, all) websites. Clearing cached images and files may cause Chrome to take a little longer the next time it has to load images for a site you frequent.

also: How to clear the Opera browser cache (and why you should)

Pick and choose the data you want to erase, the amount of time, and click the Clear Data button at the bottom of the screen.


What is cached data?

When you clear cached data, whether it’s for an app or from Chrome, you’re actually removing many files and information that the app downloaded. For an app like Facebook, cached data can be profile pictures, photos, videos, and similar content that the phone saves to speed scrolling through your timeline.

In other words, while files and data help the overall experience, they aren’t essential and can often balloon, taking up a lot of storage space.

How often should I clear the cache of my Android device?

It depends! If you’re seeing a lot of performance issues, that should be something you do on your list of troubleshooting steps. Otherwise, maybe every three months, or twice a year? It just depends on how well your phone or tablet works.

Do I get storage space just by clearing cache?

No. In fact, one of my first troubleshooting steps when I encounter any strange errors or issues with an app is to clear the cache. More often than not, the files in the cache are corrupt or outdated, and forcing the app to build the cache again fixes this problem. It’s the win.

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