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How to Free Up Storage Space on Android

Authored by:
Support.com Tech Pro Team
This Guided Path® was written and reviewed by Support.com’s Tech Pro team. With decades of experience, our Tech Pros are passionate about making technology work for you. We love feedback! Let us know what you think about this Guided Path by rating it at the end.

Introduction

As you use your Android phone or tablet, files and apps will eventually accumulate, leaving you with less free space for new content. Once you know how much available storage you have, you can use various methods to free up space on your device such as deleting data, uploading to cloud storage or adding external storage.

Storage overview in Android settings.

How Is Data Stored?

Before you begin freeing up space on your Android device, it's important to understand how data is stored on it. The amount of space that data takes up on your device, is measured and represented in bytes (B). Bytes however, are a very small amount of data and nowadays data size and storage space are more commonly represented in multiples of bytes. Each multiple is approximately a thousand times it's submultiple. The most common multiples are:

  • Kilobytes (KB) which are approximately a thousand bytes,
  • Megabytes (MB) which are approximately a thousand kilobytes,
  • Gigabytes (GB) which are approximately a thousand megabytes,
  • Terabytes (TB) which are approximately a thousand gigabytes.

To better understand how you can practically use this information, on average, you can think of a song or picture taking up about 2-5 MB and a short one minute video clip taking up about 5-10 MB. Quality makes a considerable difference in the amount of space a file uses.

1 Review and Free Up Storage Space on the Device

Android devices allow you to organize your data so that you can make the most of the storage capacity you have. If you're running out of space, the first thing to do is review the used and available storage space then delete unused or unneeded data.

  1. Open Settings on your device.
    Android 10 Settings.
  2. Scroll down and select Storage.
    Storage option highlighted in Android settings.
  3. Then select Internal shared storage.
    Internal shared storage highlighted in Storage settings on Android.
  4. At the top you'll see an overview of how much space is used up out of the whole total on your device.
    Space usage overview in Storage settings on Android.
  5. Below the overview you'll see a list of the types of data and the amount of space each type uses. This can give you an estimate of how much space you can free up and what type of data you need to review.
    Storage space highlighted for listed data types in Storage settings on Android.
  6. To start, tap Free up space at the top.
    Free Up Space button highlighted in Storage settings on Android.
  7. You'll be shown a list of older items you can delete from your device. Inspect them carefully and if you no longer need them put a check mark next to their name then tap Free up at the bottom to delete those items.
    Check mark and Free up button highlighted in storage cleanup tool on Android.
    Showing nothing to remove?If you get a screen that says Nothing to remove at the top, tap Review recent items to find more files to delete.
    Review recent items option highlighted in Storage settings on Android.
  8. Next, you can configure the Storage manager. This feature will delete photos and videos from your device if they are already backed up in the cloud with the Photos app and have been sitting on your device for a certain amount of time.
    Storage manager option highlighted in Storage settings on Android.
  9. Turn the feature on or off with the toggle switch next to Use Storage manager and tap Remove photos & videos to choose after how many days the files should be removed: 30, 60 or 90 days.
    Toggle switch and Remove photos & videos option highlighted in Manage storage feature settings on Android.
  10. To delete files manually select the Files category at the bottom.
    Files option highlighted in Storage settings on Android.
  11. You can scroll left and right at the top to pick a file type and/or select a folder below from where you'd like to delete files.
    Arrows showing where to swipe and folders highlighted in file manager on Android.
  12. Tap and hold each file to select it. You will see a check mark on each of the selected files. Tap the trashcan at the top right to delete them.
    Check marks and trashcan highlighted in file manager on Android.
    To select all the files at onceTap the More (three dots) icon in the top right corner then tap Select all from the drop down menu.
    More icon and Select all option highlighted in file manager on Android.
  13. Go back to the settings screen and select Apps & notifications.
    Apps & notifications option highlighted in Android settings.
  14. Tap See all apps.
    See all apps option highlighted in Apps & notification settings on Android.
  15. Scroll up and down through the list and select an app that you would like to manage. They all show how much space they take up under their name. That includes the app size and personal data.
    Double pointed arrow showing scroll direction in app list on Android.
  16. From here you can choose to remove the app from your device by tapping Uninstall. This will remove the app and all associated data with it.

    Make sure you save any personal data you wish to keep from within the app before uninstalling it.

    Uninstall option highlighted for selected app in Android settings.
  17. If you only want to clear data stored within the app, tap Storage & cache.
    Storage & cache option highlighted for selected app in Android settings.
  18. Tap Clear cache to remove any temporary files used by the app. The Cache doesn't contain any personal data but only duplicate data used to launch apps faster.
    Clear cache option and Cache size highlighted for selected application in Android settings.
  19. Tap Clear storage to remove the User data and the Cache. The User data contains your login, preferences and other data specific to how you use the app. It may also contain personal data that may only be accessible within the app.

    Make sure you save any personal data you wish to keep by opening the app before clearing the User data.

    Clear storage option, User data and Cache size highlighted for selected application in Android settings.

2 Review and Free Up Storage Space in the Cloud

Besides storing data on your Android device you can also store data in the cloud. Cloud storage is an online service that allows you to safely and securely store or back up your personal files. You can choose to upload your content manually or you can choose to back it up automatically and synchronize it whenever you make changes on any of your devices using the same cloud storage.

You have up to 15 GB of free storage with your Google account and you can upgrade to a larger storage plan for a premium.

The cloud storage within your Google account is shared between Google Drive, Google Photos and Gmail.

Google Drive
Google DriveGoogle Drive is an online file storage, sharing and synchronization service.
Google Photos
Google PhotosGoogle Photos is an online photo and video storage, sharing and synchronization service.
Gmail
GmailGmail is an email service offered by Google.

While you can upload your photos and videos to Google Drive, it is recommended to back them up with Google Photos instead. This is because it allows you to organize them better and also because it gives you the option to save up a lot of storage space. You can back up your photos and videos in their original quality which makes them count towards your Google account's storage quota because the file sizes are much larger, or you can back them up in high quality with a reduced file size which makes them not count towards the storage quota. This basically gives you free unlimited storage for photos and videos. Unless you're a professional or enthusiast photographer, backing up your photos and videos in high quality is a great option as there is no noticeable difference in quality but a very noticeable difference in file size.

Review the Used and Available Cloud Storage Space

Reviewing the cloud storage space can give you an estimate of how much space you have available to upload data from your device to the Google cloud storage or how much space you can free up in it and what type of data you need to review.

  1. Open Google Drive on your device.
    Google Drive
  2. Tap the Menu (three lines) icon in the top left.
    Menu icon highlighted in Google Drive app on Android.
  3. Select Storage from the menu.
    Storage option highlighted in menu of Google Drive app on Android.
  4. At the top you'll see an overview of the used and available space in your Google account's cloud storage. It will show you how much space is used up out of the whole total and how it is divided between the three Google services that allow you to store data in the cloud.
    Overview of used and available storage space in Google account.
  5. If you scroll down you'll be presented the option to upgrade to a Google One plan. This can increase your total storage space limit of your Google account for a monthly fee. If you to upgrade to a paid plan, you can make the purchase directly from your device and it will immediately update your Google cloud storage space limit.
    Current storage plan in Google account.

Upload Files to Google Drive to Free Up Device Storage

If you have important files on your Android device, but they take up to much storage space, you can upload them to Google Drive, then delete them from your device.

  1. Within Google Drive, go to the Files tab on the bottom right.
    Files tab highlighted on Google Drive app on Android.
  2. Then tap the Add button.
  3. And select Upload.
    Upload option highlighted in Google Drive app on Android.
  4. Tap and hold each file you wish to upload to put a check mark on it, then tap Select at the top right to upload them.
    Check marks and Select option highlighted for selected files for upload to Google Drive app on Android.
    To select all the files at onceTap the More (three dots) icon in the top right corner then tap Select all from the drop down menu.
    Menu icon and Select all option highlighted to upload files to Google Drive on Android.
  5. Your uploaded files will show up under My Drive in the Google Drive app.
    My Drive contents showing in Google Drive app on Android.
  6. After your files are uploaded to Google Drive, you can delete them from your device to free up storage space.

Delete Files from Google Drive to Free Up Cloud Storage

If you wish to free up storage space in the cloud to be able to upload other files from your device, you can delete existing files from Google Drive. This is done in two steps: first you have to move the files into the Trash, then you have to delete them from the Trash. Files in the Trash are still counting towards your Google account's quota.

  1. Tap and hold each file you wish to delete to put a check mark on it, then tap the Trashcan in the top right.
    Check marks and Trashcan highlighted for selected files in Google Drive app on Android.
    To select all the files at onceOnce you selected at least one file in Google Drive, tap the Select All button at the top right.
    Select All button highlighted in Google Drive app on Android.
  2. Tap the Menu (three lines) icon in the top left.
    Menu icon highlighted in Google Drive app on Android.
  3. Select Trash from the menu.
    Trash option highlighted in menu of Google Drive app on Android.
  4. Select the files you wish to delete then tap the More (three dots) icon in the top right corner.
    More icon highlighted in Trash folder of Google Drive app on Android.
  5. Select Delete forever from the pop-up menu at the bottom.
    Delete forever option highlighted in pop-up menu for selected files in Trash folder of Google Drive app on Android.

Back Up Photos and Videos Automatically with Google Photos

As mentioned before, when storing photos and videos in the cloud it's best to use Google Photos instead of Google Drive. If you wish to back them all up at once, you have to enable the "Back up & sync" feature.

  1. Open Google Photos on your device.
    Google Photos
  2. Tap the Menu (three lines) icon in the top left.
    Menu icon highlighted in Google Photos app on Android.
  3. Select Settings from the menu.
    Settings option highlighted in menu of Google Photos app on Android.
  4. Select Back up & sync.
    Back up & sync option highlighted in Google Photos app settings on Android.
  5. Turn on Back up & sync, then set the Upload Size and Back up device folders the way you prefer.
    Back up & sync option and toggle switch, Upload Size option and Back up device folders option highlighted in Back up & sync settings of Google Photos app on Android.
  6. The Upload Size setting is where you choose the quality in which you wish to back up your photos and videos:
    • High quality items will be smaller in size and won't count towards your Google account's storage quota.
    • Original quality items will be larger in size and count towards your Google account's storage quota.
    Upload Size options listed in Back up & sync settings of Google Photos app on Android.
  7. Your files will start being backed up to the cloud.

Back Up Photos and Videos Manually with Google Photos

If you prefer backing up only certain photos and videos and not all at once you can do that as well.

If you haven't enabled automatic "Back up & sync" yet, the photos and videos will be backed up in original quality which means they will count towards your Google account's quota. You can change this anytime by briefly enabling that feature, selecting the Upload Size you prefer, then disabling it.

  1. Within Google Photos, tap the Menu (three lines) icon in the top left.
    Menu icon highlighted in Google Photos app on Android.
  2. Select Device folders from the menu.
    Device folders option highlighted in menu of Google Photos app on Android.
  3. Here you'll see all the folders that store photos and videos on your Android device. Choose a folder you wish to back up files from.
    Photos on device showing in Google Photos app on Android.
  4. Tap and hold each file you wish to back up, to put a check mark on it, then tap the More (three dots) icon in the top right corner.
    Check marks on photos and More icon highlighted in Google Photos app on Android.
  5. Select Back up now from the drop-down menu.
    Back up now option highlighted in More menu of Google Photos for selected photos on Android.
  6. The selected files will start being backed up to the cloud.

Delete Files from Google Photos to Free Up Device Storage

Once you backed up your photos and videos to Google Photos, either manually or automatically, you can quickly remove the duplicates from your device to free up space.

  1. Within Google Photos, tap the Menu (three lines) icon in the top left to open the app menu.
    Menu icon highlighted in Google Photos app on Android.
  2. Select Free up space from the menu. With this option you can delete all the files that have been backed up to the cloud.
    Free up space option highlighted in menu of Google Photos app on Android.
  3. Tap the Free up button to delete the files from your device.
    Free up button highlighted on confirmation prompt in Google Photos app on Android.

You can also choose to delete files manually:

  1. Return to the app menu and select Device folders.
    Device folders option highlighted in menu of Google Photos app on Android.
  2. Here you'll see all the folders that store photos and videos on your Android device. Choose a folder you wish to delete files from.
    Photos on device showing in Google Photos app on Android.
  3. Tap and hold each file you wish to delete, to put a check mark on it, then tap the More (three dots) icon in the top right corner.
    Check marks on photos and More icon highlighted in Google Photos app on Android.
  4. Select Delete from device from the drop-down menu.
    Delete from device option highlighted in More menu of Google Photos for selected photos on Android.
  5. Then select Delete from device from the pop-up menu at the bottom.
    Delete from device option highlighted in pop-up menu for highlighted photos in Google Photos app on Android.
  6. If your files haven't been backed up, you will get a warning in red to prevent you from losing them. If you no longer need them, go ahead and delete them.
    Items not backed up warning for highlighted photos in Google Photos app on Android.

Delete Files from Google Photos to Free Up Cloud Storage

If you are backing up your photos and videos to the cloud in original quality it means they count towards your Google account's quota. If you wish to free up storage space in the cloud, you can delete files backed up to Google Photos. This is done in two steps: first you have to move the files into the Trash, then you have to delete them from the Trash. Files in the Trash are still counting towards your Google account's quota.

  1. Within Google Photos, make sure you're on the Photos tab where your entire photo and video library is.
    Photos tab highlighted in Google Photos app on Android.
  2. Tap and hold each file you wish to delete to put a check mark on it, then tap the Trashcan in the top right.
    Check marks and Trashcan button highlighted for selected files in Google Photos app on Android.
  3. Select Move to trash from the pop-up menu at the bottom.
    Move to trash option highlighted on confirmation prompt on Google Photos app on Android.
  4. Tap the Menu (three lines) icon in the top left to open the app menu.
    Menu icon highlighted in Google Photos app on Android.
  5. Select Trash from the menu.
    Trash option highlighted in Google Photos app menu on Android.
  6. Select the files you wish to delete then tap the Delete at the bottom.
    Delete option highlighted for selected files in Google Photos app Trash folder on Android.
  7. Select Delete from the pop-up menu at the bottom.
    Delete option highlighted on confirmation prompt in Google Photos app on Android.
    To delete all the files at once from the trash
    1. Tap the More (three dots) icon in the top right corner.
      More icon highlighted in Google Photos app Trash folder on Android.
    2. Select Empty trash from the drop-down menu.
      Empty trash option highlighted in drop-down menu of Google Photos app Trash folder on Android.
    3. Tap Delete to confirm you want to permanently remove the files and empty the trash.
      Delete option highlighted on confirmation prompt for emptying trash in Google Photos app on Android.

Delete Emails from Gmail to Free Up Cloud Storage

Deleting emails from Gmail can free up storage space in the cloud. This is done in two steps: first you have to move the emails into the Trash, then you have to delete them from the Trash. Emails in the Trash are still counting towards your Google account's quota.

  1. Open Gmail on your device.
    Gmail
  2. Tap an hold an email you wish to delete to put a check mark on it, then tap any additional emails you want to check off, and tap the Trashcan icon in the top right.
    Check marks and Trashcan highlighted for selected emails in Gmail app on Android.
  3. Also make sure you check other folders where emails are stored. Tap the Menu (three lines) icon at the top left.
    Menu icon highlighted in Gmail app on Android.
  4. Check the Sent folder or any other folder you think may contain emails you can delete.
    Sent folder highlighted in menu of Gmail app on Android.
  5. Regular emails do not take up a lot of space. To free up the most space in Gmail, you can delete emails that contain attachments, such as documents, photos, songs, etc. To look for these, tap where it says Search mail at the top.
    Search mail field highlighted in Gmail app on Android.
  6. Type in has:attachment to show only emails that contain attachments. From the list of search results you can delete the emails you no longer need.
    Keyword highlighted in Search mail field in Gmail app on Android.

Once you deleted all unneeded emails you can empty the trash.

  1. Return to the app menu and select Trash.
    Trash folder highlighted in menu of Gmail app on Android.
  2. Tap Empty trash now.
    Empty trash now option highlighted Trash folder of Gmail app on Android.
  3. Tap Empty on the confirmation pop-up to delete all emails from the Trash.
    Empty option highlighted on confirmation prompt to delete all emails from Trash in Gmail app on Android.

 

3 Use Other Cloud Storage Services

If you're running out of free space on your Android device and you've used up all your free Google cloud storage or you simply want to try an alternative, there are other cloud storage services you can sign up for.

Microsoft OneDrive
Microsoft OneDrive
  • File storage and synchronization service, as well as authentication services for Windows.
  • Closely integrated to Windows 10, and Microsoft Outlook.
  • 5 GB of free storage + premium plans.
Mega
Mega
  • Cloud storage and file hosting.
  • Notable for an extremely high level of privacy.
  • 15 GB of free storage + you can earn up to 50 GB of free storage for a limited time + premium plans.

4 Use External Data Storage

If you prefer storing or backing up your files offline, then you can also opt for physical alternatives. These can vary in form factor, capacity, speed, affordability and even convenience.

Micro SD or SD Cards

Certain Android devices have a special slot where you can insert Micro SD Cards and expand the storage capacity beyond what the devices come equipped with. This external data storage form factor doesn't expand your storage capacity as much as other options do, but it is the most affordable and convenient. Once you insert the Micro SD Card into the slot, you can keep it there for as long as you want.
Micros SD Card.
If your Android device isn't equipped with a Micro SD Card slot, you can use a Card Reader Adapter to temporarily expand your storage capacity. This type of adapter allows you to transfer data to and from different form factors but also between different types of devices. They may have Micro SD Card and/or SD Card slots, a Micro USB connector to attach it to the Android device and a regular USB connector to attach it to a computer.
USB OTG Card Reader

USB Flash Drives or External Hard Drives

Since Android devices only come equipped with either a Micro-USB or USB-C slot, you'll have to use a USB OTG Adapter (short for On-The-Go) to, again, temporarily expand your storage capacity. This adapter allows you to connect devices with a regular USB connector to your Android device.
USB OTG Adapter
USB Flash Drives are very frequently used with computers to store data on or transfer data between devices. They can offer similar but also more storage capacity than Micro SD Cards and SD Cards, are affordable and very portable. Combined with a USB OTG Adapter they can be great external data storage option for Android devices as well.
USB Flash Drive
External Hard Drives typically offer the largest amount of storage space for the money. There are both portable and larger form factor external drives on the market. The difference is not only in their size, but larger external hard drives usually require external power, while portable drives only require a regular USB or USB-C connection. Keep this in mind if you would like your external drive to be portable.
External Hard Drive

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As you use your Android phone or tablet, files and apps will eventually accumulate, leaving you with less free space for new content. Once you know how much available storage you have, you can use various methods to free up space on your device such as deleting data, uploading to cloud storage or adding external storage.

Storage overview in Android settings.

How Is Data Stored?

Before you begin freeing up space on your Android device, it's important to understand how data is stored on it. The amount of space that data takes up on your device, is measured and represented in bytes (B). Bytes however, are a very small amount of data and nowadays data size and storage space are more commonly represented in multiples of bytes. Each multiple is approximately a thousand times it's submultiple. The most common multiples are:

  • Kilobytes (KB) which are approximately a thousand bytes,
  • Megabytes (MB) which are approximately a thousand kilobytes,
  • Gigabytes (GB) which are approximately a thousand megabytes,
  • Terabytes (TB) which are approximately a thousand gigabytes.

To better understand how you can practically use this information, on average, you can think of a song or picture taking up about 2-5 MB and a short one minute video clip taking up about 5-10 MB. Quality makes a considerable difference in the amount of space a file uses.

Android devices allow you to organize your data so that you can make the most of the storage capacity you have. If you're running out of space, the first thing to do is review the used and available storage space then delete unused or unneeded data.

  1. Open Settings on your device.
    Android 10 Settings.
  2. Scroll down and select Storage.
    Storage option highlighted in Android settings.
  3. Then select Internal shared storage.
    Internal shared storage highlighted in Storage settings on Android.
  4. At the top you'll see an overview of how much space is used up out of the whole total on your device.
    Space usage overview in Storage settings on Android.
  5. Below the overview you'll see a list of the types of data and the amount of space each type uses. This can give you an estimate of how much space you can free up and what type of data you need to review.
    Storage space highlighted for listed data types in Storage settings on Android.
  6. To start, tap Free up space at the top.
    Free Up Space button highlighted in Storage settings on Android.
  7. You'll be shown a list of older items you can delete from your device. Inspect them carefully and if you no longer need them put a check mark next to their name then tap Free up at the bottom to delete those items.
    Check mark and Free up button highlighted in storage cleanup tool on Android.
    Showing nothing to remove?If you get a screen that says Nothing to remove at the top, tap Review recent items to find more files to delete.
    Review recent items option highlighted in Storage settings on Android.
  8. Next, you can configure the Storage manager. This feature will delete photos and videos from your device if they are already backed up in the cloud with the Photos app and have been sitting on your device for a certain amount of time.
    Storage manager option highlighted in Storage settings on Android.
  9. Turn the feature on or off with the toggle switch next to Use Storage manager and tap Remove photos & videos to choose after how many days the files should be removed: 30, 60 or 90 days.
    Toggle switch and Remove photos & videos option highlighted in Manage storage feature settings on Android.
  10. To delete files manually select the Files category at the bottom.
    Files option highlighted in Storage settings on Android.
  11. You can scroll left and right at the top to pick a file type and/or select a folder below from where you'd like to delete files.
    Arrows showing where to swipe and folders highlighted in file manager on Android.
  12. Tap and hold each file to select it. You will see a check mark on each of the selected files. Tap the trashcan at the top right to delete them.
    Check marks and trashcan highlighted in file manager on Android.
    To select all the files at onceTap the More (three dots) icon in the top right corner then tap Select all from the drop down menu.
    More icon and Select all option highlighted in file manager on Android.
  13. Go back to the settings screen and select Apps & notifications.
    Apps & notifications option highlighted in Android settings.
  14. Tap See all apps.
    See all apps option highlighted in Apps & notification settings on Android.
  15. Scroll up and down through the list and select an app that you would like to manage. They all show how much space they take up under their name. That includes the app size and personal data.
    Double pointed arrow showing scroll direction in app list on Android.
  16. From here you can choose to remove the app from your device by tapping Uninstall. This will remove the app and all associated data with it.

    Make sure you save any personal data you wish to keep from within the app before uninstalling it.

    Uninstall option highlighted for selected app in Android settings.
  17. If you only want to clear data stored within the app, tap Storage & cache.
    Storage & cache option highlighted for selected app in Android settings.
  18. Tap Clear cache to remove any temporary files used by the app. The Cache doesn't contain any personal data but only duplicate data used to launch apps faster.
    Clear cache option and Cache size highlighted for selected application in Android settings.
  19. Tap Clear storage to remove the User data and the Cache. The User data contains your login, preferences and other data specific to how you use the app. It may also contain personal data that may only be accessible within the app.

    Make sure you save any personal data you wish to keep by opening the app before clearing the User data.

    Clear storage option, User data and Cache size highlighted for selected application in Android settings.

Besides storing data on your Android device you can also store data in the cloud. Cloud storage is an online service that allows you to safely and securely store or back up your personal files. You can choose to upload your content manually or you can choose to back it up automatically and synchronize it whenever you make changes on any of your devices using the same cloud storage.

You have up to 15 GB of free storage with your Google account and you can upgrade to a larger storage plan for a premium.

The cloud storage within your Google account is shared between Google Drive, Google Photos and Gmail.

Google Drive
Google DriveGoogle Drive is an online file storage, sharing and synchronization service.
Google Photos
Google PhotosGoogle Photos is an online photo and video storage, sharing and synchronization service.
Gmail
GmailGmail is an email service offered by Google.

While you can upload your photos and videos to Google Drive, it is recommended to back them up with Google Photos instead. This is because it allows you to organize them better and also because it gives you the option to save up a lot of storage space. You can back up your photos and videos in their original quality which makes them count towards your Google account's storage quota because the file sizes are much larger, or you can back them up in high quality with a reduced file size which makes them not count towards the storage quota. This basically gives you free unlimited storage for photos and videos. Unless you're a professional or enthusiast photographer, backing up your photos and videos in high quality is a great option as there is no noticeable difference in quality but a very noticeable difference in file size.

Review the Used and Available Cloud Storage Space

Reviewing the cloud storage space can give you an estimate of how much space you have available to upload data from your device to the Google cloud storage or how much space you can free up in it and what type of data you need to review.

  1. Open Google Drive on your device.
    Google Drive
  2. Tap the Menu (three lines) icon in the top left.
    Menu icon highlighted in Google Drive app on Android.
  3. Select Storage from the menu.
    Storage option highlighted in menu of Google Drive app on Android.
  4. At the top you'll see an overview of the used and available space in your Google account's cloud storage. It will show you how much space is used up out of the whole total and how it is divided between the three Google services that allow you to store data in the cloud.
    Overview of used and available storage space in Google account.
  5. If you scroll down you'll be presented the option to upgrade to a Google One plan. This can increase your total storage space limit of your Google account for a monthly fee. If you to upgrade to a paid plan, you can make the purchase directly from your device and it will immediately update your Google cloud storage space limit.
    Current storage plan in Google account.

Upload Files to Google Drive to Free Up Device Storage

If you have important files on your Android device, but they take up to much storage space, you can upload them to Google Drive, then delete them from your device.

  1. Within Google Drive, go to the Files tab on the bottom right.
    Files tab highlighted on Google Drive app on Android.
  2. Then tap the Add button.
  3. And select Upload.
    Upload option highlighted in Google Drive app on Android.
  4. Tap and hold each file you wish to upload to put a check mark on it, then tap Select at the top right to upload them.
    Check marks and Select option highlighted for selected files for upload to Google Drive app on Android.
    To select all the files at onceTap the More (three dots) icon in the top right corner then tap Select all from the drop down menu.
    Menu icon and Select all option highlighted to upload files to Google Drive on Android.
  5. Your uploaded files will show up under My Drive in the Google Drive app.
    My Drive contents showing in Google Drive app on Android.
  6. After your files are uploaded to Google Drive, you can delete them from your device to free up storage space.

Delete Files from Google Drive to Free Up Cloud Storage

If you wish to free up storage space in the cloud to be able to upload other files from your device, you can delete existing files from Google Drive. This is done in two steps: first you have to move the files into the Trash, then you have to delete them from the Trash. Files in the Trash are still counting towards your Google account's quota.

  1. Tap and hold each file you wish to delete to put a check mark on it, then tap the Trashcan in the top right.
    Check marks and Trashcan highlighted for selected files in Google Drive app on Android.
    To select all the files at onceOnce you selected at least one file in Google Drive, tap the Select All button at the top right.
    Select All button highlighted in Google Drive app on Android.
  2. Tap the Menu (three lines) icon in the top left.
    Menu icon highlighted in Google Drive app on Android.
  3. Select Trash from the menu.
    Trash option highlighted in menu of Google Drive app on Android.
  4. Select the files you wish to delete then tap the More (three dots) icon in the top right corner.
    More icon highlighted in Trash folder of Google Drive app on Android.
  5. Select Delete forever from the pop-up menu at the bottom.
    Delete forever option highlighted in pop-up menu for selected files in Trash folder of Google Drive app on Android.

Back Up Photos and Videos Automatically with Google Photos

As mentioned before, when storing photos and videos in the cloud it's best to use Google Photos instead of Google Drive. If you wish to back them all up at once, you have to enable the "Back up & sync" feature.

  1. Open Google Photos on your device.
    Google Photos
  2. Tap the Menu (three lines) icon in the top left.
    Menu icon highlighted in Google Photos app on Android.
  3. Select Settings from the menu.
    Settings option highlighted in menu of Google Photos app on Android.
  4. Select Back up & sync.
    Back up & sync option highlighted in Google Photos app settings on Android.
  5. Turn on Back up & sync, then set the Upload Size and Back up device folders the way you prefer.
    Back up & sync option and toggle switch, Upload Size option and Back up device folders option highlighted in Back up & sync settings of Google Photos app on Android.
  6. The Upload Size setting is where you choose the quality in which you wish to back up your photos and videos:
    • High quality items will be smaller in size and won't count towards your Google account's storage quota.
    • Original quality items will be larger in size and count towards your Google account's storage quota.
    Upload Size options listed in Back up & sync settings of Google Photos app on Android.
  7. Your files will start being backed up to the cloud.

Back Up Photos and Videos Manually with Google Photos

If you prefer backing up only certain photos and videos and not all at once you can do that as well.

If you haven't enabled automatic "Back up & sync" yet, the photos and videos will be backed up in original quality which means they will count towards your Google account's quota. You can change this anytime by briefly enabling that feature, selecting the Upload Size you prefer, then disabling it.

  1. Within Google Photos, tap the Menu (three lines) icon in the top left.
    Menu icon highlighted in Google Photos app on Android.
  2. Select Device folders from the menu.
    Device folders option highlighted in menu of Google Photos app on Android.
  3. Here you'll see all the folders that store photos and videos on your Android device. Choose a folder you wish to back up files from.
    Photos on device showing in Google Photos app on Android.
  4. Tap and hold each file you wish to back up, to put a check mark on it, then tap the More (three dots) icon in the top right corner.
    Check marks on photos and More icon highlighted in Google Photos app on Android.
  5. Select Back up now from the drop-down menu.
    Back up now option highlighted in More menu of Google Photos for selected photos on Android.
  6. The selected files will start being backed up to the cloud.

Delete Files from Google Photos to Free Up Device Storage

Once you backed up your photos and videos to Google Photos, either manually or automatically, you can quickly remove the duplicates from your device to free up space.

  1. Within Google Photos, tap the Menu (three lines) icon in the top left to open the app menu.
    Menu icon highlighted in Google Photos app on Android.
  2. Select Free up space from the menu. With this option you can delete all the files that have been backed up to the cloud.
    Free up space option highlighted in menu of Google Photos app on Android.
  3. Tap the Free up button to delete the files from your device.
    Free up button highlighted on confirmation prompt in Google Photos app on Android.

You can also choose to delete files manually:

  1. Return to the app menu and select Device folders.
    Device folders option highlighted in menu of Google Photos app on Android.
  2. Here you'll see all the folders that store photos and videos on your Android device. Choose a folder you wish to delete files from.
    Photos on device showing in Google Photos app on Android.
  3. Tap and hold each file you wish to delete, to put a check mark on it, then tap the More (three dots) icon in the top right corner.
    Check marks on photos and More icon highlighted in Google Photos app on Android.
  4. Select Delete from device from the drop-down menu.
    Delete from device option highlighted in More menu of Google Photos for selected photos on Android.
  5. Then select Delete from device from the pop-up menu at the bottom.
    Delete from device option highlighted in pop-up menu for highlighted photos in Google Photos app on Android.
  6. If your files haven't been backed up, you will get a warning in red to prevent you from losing them. If you no longer need them, go ahead and delete them.
    Items not backed up warning for highlighted photos in Google Photos app on Android.

Delete Files from Google Photos to Free Up Cloud Storage

If you are backing up your photos and videos to the cloud in original quality it means they count towards your Google account's quota. If you wish to free up storage space in the cloud, you can delete files backed up to Google Photos. This is done in two steps: first you have to move the files into the Trash, then you have to delete them from the Trash. Files in the Trash are still counting towards your Google account's quota.

  1. Within Google Photos, make sure you're on the Photos tab where your entire photo and video library is.
    Photos tab highlighted in Google Photos app on Android.
  2. Tap and hold each file you wish to delete to put a check mark on it, then tap the Trashcan in the top right.
    Check marks and Trashcan button highlighted for selected files in Google Photos app on Android.
  3. Select Move to trash from the pop-up menu at the bottom.
    Move to trash option highlighted on confirmation prompt on Google Photos app on Android.
  4. Tap the Menu (three lines) icon in the top left to open the app menu.
    Menu icon highlighted in Google Photos app on Android.
  5. Select Trash from the menu.
    Trash option highlighted in Google Photos app menu on Android.
  6. Select the files you wish to delete then tap the Delete at the bottom.
    Delete option highlighted for selected files in Google Photos app Trash folder on Android.
  7. Select Delete from the pop-up menu at the bottom.
    Delete option highlighted on confirmation prompt in Google Photos app on Android.
    To delete all the files at once from the trash
    1. Tap the More (three dots) icon in the top right corner.
      More icon highlighted in Google Photos app Trash folder on Android.
    2. Select Empty trash from the drop-down menu.
      Empty trash option highlighted in drop-down menu of Google Photos app Trash folder on Android.
    3. Tap Delete to confirm you want to permanently remove the files and empty the trash.
      Delete option highlighted on confirmation prompt for emptying trash in Google Photos app on Android.

Delete Emails from Gmail to Free Up Cloud Storage

Deleting emails from Gmail can free up storage space in the cloud. This is done in two steps: first you have to move the emails into the Trash, then you have to delete them from the Trash. Emails in the Trash are still counting towards your Google account's quota.

  1. Open Gmail on your device.
    Gmail
  2. Tap an hold an email you wish to delete to put a check mark on it, then tap any additional emails you want to check off, and tap the Trashcan icon in the top right.
    Check marks and Trashcan highlighted for selected emails in Gmail app on Android.
  3. Also make sure you check other folders where emails are stored. Tap the Menu (three lines) icon at the top left.
    Menu icon highlighted in Gmail app on Android.
  4. Check the Sent folder or any other folder you think may contain emails you can delete.
    Sent folder highlighted in menu of Gmail app on Android.
  5. Regular emails do not take up a lot of space. To free up the most space in Gmail, you can delete emails that contain attachments, such as documents, photos, songs, etc. To look for these, tap where it says Search mail at the top.
    Search mail field highlighted in Gmail app on Android.
  6. Type in has:attachment to show only emails that contain attachments. From the list of search results you can delete the emails you no longer need.
    Keyword highlighted in Search mail field in Gmail app on Android.

Once you deleted all unneeded emails you can empty the trash.

  1. Return to the app menu and select Trash.
    Trash folder highlighted in menu of Gmail app on Android.
  2. Tap Empty trash now.
    Empty trash now option highlighted Trash folder of Gmail app on Android.
  3. Tap Empty on the confirmation pop-up to delete all emails from the Trash.
    Empty option highlighted on confirmation prompt to delete all emails from Trash in Gmail app on Android.

 

If you're running out of free space on your Android device and you've used up all your free Google cloud storage or you simply want to try an alternative, there are other cloud storage services you can sign up for.

Microsoft OneDrive
Microsoft OneDrive
  • File storage and synchronization service, as well as authentication services for Windows.
  • Closely integrated to Windows 10, and Microsoft Outlook.
  • 5 GB of free storage + premium plans.
Mega
Mega
  • Cloud storage and file hosting.
  • Notable for an extremely high level of privacy.
  • 15 GB of free storage + you can earn up to 50 GB of free storage for a limited time + premium plans.

If you prefer storing or backing up your files offline, then you can also opt for physical alternatives. These can vary in form factor, capacity, speed, affordability and even convenience.

Micro SD or SD Cards

Certain Android devices have a special slot where you can insert Micro SD Cards and expand the storage capacity beyond what the devices come equipped with. This external data storage form factor doesn't expand your storage capacity as much as other options do, but it is the most affordable and convenient. Once you insert the Micro SD Card into the slot, you can keep it there for as long as you want.
Micros SD Card.
If your Android device isn't equipped with a Micro SD Card slot, you can use a Card Reader Adapter to temporarily expand your storage capacity. This type of adapter allows you to transfer data to and from different form factors but also between different types of devices. They may have Micro SD Card and/or SD Card slots, a Micro USB connector to attach it to the Android device and a regular USB connector to attach it to a computer.
USB OTG Card Reader

USB Flash Drives or External Hard Drives

Since Android devices only come equipped with either a Micro-USB or USB-C slot, you'll have to use a USB OTG Adapter (short for On-The-Go) to, again, temporarily expand your storage capacity. This adapter allows you to connect devices with a regular USB connector to your Android device.
USB OTG Adapter
USB Flash Drives are very frequently used with computers to store data on or transfer data between devices. They can offer similar but also more storage capacity than Micro SD Cards and SD Cards, are affordable and very portable. Combined with a USB OTG Adapter they can be great external data storage option for Android devices as well.
USB Flash Drive
External Hard Drives typically offer the largest amount of storage space for the money. There are both portable and larger form factor external drives on the market. The difference is not only in their size, but larger external hard drives usually require external power, while portable drives only require a regular USB or USB-C connection. Keep this in mind if you would like your external drive to be portable.
External Hard Drive