7 Steps for a Smartphone Digital Cleanup

May 08, 2018

Most of take some time each week or month to tidy our homes (do laundry, dust, vacuum, take out the trash). We even require this of our children as leverage before allowing them go to a friend’s birthday party.

Your smartphone should be no exception. We seem to pack our smartphones with “stuff” daily. We routinely download songs, movies, games, files, snap photos, or save photos from texts and emails. While our iPhones and Androids are indeed “smart” devices, they can get bogged down with the relentless barrage of digital clutter. Like us, phones have a “limited capacity” to deal with information before it gets overwhelmed. So, before you receive that dreadful “Out of Storage” message (right when you are set up to create this most awesome video), the key is to avoid perfection and use a quick set of tips to get you through the process quickly. Here are six you can do anytime and anywhere:

1. Manage Your Contacts and Text Threads
Take a good look at the contacts in your phone. Most likely there are numerous contacts that are outdated or were used for a short duration communication (such as at business or social events). Update the important ones and delete the unnecessary ones. The same is true with text messages! Text threads consume a huge amount of storage on your phone, as they contain communications, photos, videos and documents. So, purge the outdated text threads completely! Also, consider deleting unnecessary data in your important text threads or deleting and starting new ones. This will free up a lot of space on your phone’s memory.

2. Too Many Photos
It is second nature for most of us to click a selfie, take group photo or click away at something of interest or beauty! The stockpile of photos we accumulate, however, are one of the primary storage hogs on our phones. Simply delete the photos that you do not need or transfer them the next time you sync to your computer or external hard drive.

3. Reduce Photo Sizes
Another way to reduce the impact of your collection of photos on your phone’s storage is to decrease the camera resolution. Many people are unaware that your phone’s camera has options for determining picture resolution. For instance, a “high resolution” setting will save a large picture size and require a large amount of storage, whereas a “low resolution” setting will save a small picture size and use significantly less storage. Android phones allow you to choose the size of picture resolution in your phone’s camera settings. In an iPhone, you can save pictures in “high quality” or “normal” formats by entering Settings, selecting Photo and Camera, then toggling the “keep normal photo” option. Try different settings on your phone to find the optimal choice for photo size and storage needs.

4. Manage and Uninstall Unused Applications
Applications require the most storage space on your phone. There are several ways to manage your apps. First, manage the apps that you have on your phone. Access your applications thru your phone’s settings for “storage” or “manage storage.” Get rid of any duplicate apps and uninstall apps that you no longer need or use. Are you wavering on that app because you think you could use it in the future? Remember that you can always reload it (or a better version of it) in the future. Second, in your phone’s application permissions settings check your current apps to see “what” and “how much” information they are collecting. You may want to delete apps that collect too much of your personal information and/or put you at risk of malware. Both these management techniques help to secure your phone and reduce storage usage by removing unnecessary apps and reducing the information they store.

5. Limit the Apps Your Child Can Download
You wouldn’t let your child go wild in a candy store gobbling up every sugary treat they can grab, the same boundaries need to be in place in the app stores. Consider installing a parental control software that will send you alerts when you child downloads any app. Unwanted apps can require approval before use or blocked from their phone.

6. Remove Unused Games
The games on your phone also eat up large amounts of available storage. Keep your favorite games that you use often, but uninstall duplicate games as well as the ones you never use. Again, removing unwanted games helps to secure your phone and reduce your risk of exposure to malware.

7. Stop Automatic Downloading
Stop your phone from automatically connecting to unknown Wi-Fi sources! If you allow your phone to “automatically connect” to any Wi-Fi source that it encounters, you are also exposing your phone to “automatic downloading” from unknown sources. Automatic downloading of junk on your phone places unnecessary demands on storage capacity and increases risk of exposure to malware. Be sure to toggle the switch to “NO” in your phones mobile settings to disallow automatic downloading to occur.

Don’t Forget!
So now that you have taken the time to declutter and optimize your phone, remember to power-down and restart. The reboot will allow the phone to reorganize the newly freed storage and optimize the new demands you will place upon it. It is good practice to regularly use these digital decluttering tips and “clear cache” in the mobile settings on your phone. Enjoy your phone again - functioning fast and efficiently with plenty of storage!