Android devices are a lot like cars (bear with us on this one). Although they require effectively zero user maintenance aside from putting fuel (power) in them, using a little bit of technical knowledge can help keep them in tip-top condition and running smoothly. You look after your car, er, phone, and your phone will look after you, as the saying goes.
After months of use, there are a number of things that can impact the performance of your device. Whether it’s apps that sit in memory or take up space on the device, data from long uninstalled apps or just an outdated ROM, there are a number of things you can do to give your device that brand new feeling again. Not only that, there are almost certainly some new tips and tricks you can use to help eke the most out of your smartphone or tablet.
Follow our spring-cleaning steps to make your device feel as fresh as – nay fresher – than the day you walked out of the store! Most of our tips are pretty self explanatory, but some are more in-depth so it’s a good idea to take a full backup (and store it off your device) before you break out that virtual feather duster.
1. And your apps…
Now that your ROM is up to date, ensure that all of your apps are up to date too. This is easy for apps deployed via the Play store, but not as straightforward for manually installed apps. A tool such as AppBrain is a great way to ensure that everything on your system is up to date.
All of us have apps that have accumulated on our device that we don’t use any more. It’s a good idea to remove them, even if you don’t run them, as background services could be consuming resources. You can use Titanium Backup to ‘freeze’ (disable) any installed app, just in case you find you need it later!
3. Move apps to SD
If you’re running out of space on your data partition, this can impact performance. In the app list in system settings, you can see which apps are taking up space and would be best moved to a SD card. Not all apps can be moved, but with root access, download Link2SD to let you relocate anything.
4. Free space
Over time you’ll install and remove lots of apps. Although the apps and the main directories are removed, you can orphan data, particularly on the SD card. Use an app like Root Explorer to look for such data. DiskUsage from Google Play will give you a graphical view of where your space has gone.
5. Clear your history
Do you ever clear your call logs, browsing history, old SMS messages etc? Such data not only takes up valuable space on your device, it can also slow down performance as large databases are processed. Items can be cleared manually, or using a tool such as CCleaner (available as a free Beta).
6. Empty cache
Lots of apps store data in a cache directory, but not all of them do a good job of managing it. When viewing an application in the App section of system settings, you can view the size of the cache. Have a quick look through – if you see an inappropriately huge size, consider clearing it out.
7. Background apps
We talked earlier about apps running in the background and how this can affect overall performance. While uninstalling apps you don’t use is one option, you can also use an app such as Greenify (also check out the experimental root features) to hibernate background apps, without breaking their functionality.
8. Try a kernel
Even if your ROM is up to date, regardless of whether it is a stock or custom ROM, you might be able to speed up your device by installing a custom kernel by a developer such as Franco or faux123. The kernel is the low level engine of a device; small tweaks can make a noticeable difference.
9. Try a new ROM
Still lusting for more speed? How about trying a new ROM? If you’re on a manufacturer-based ROM such as Sense or TouchWiz, then switching to an AOSP-based release such as CyanogenMod is guaranteed to feel fast and light by comparison. Just remember to make that trusty backup.