I download a lot of stuff. A lot of stuff. I try to write about that stuff for you folks, but I also tinker quite a bit just because its kind of a fun, or a new app seems cool.
This has led to a LOT of programs on Grace (my Samsung Galaxy S3)…over 350 in the last three months (and those are just the ones I downloaded). They are not all still on there…but that is what today’s post is about: cleaning your device, internally, every once in a while.
In today’s digital age, with 16 or 32 or 64 GBs of storage + additional card storage, and the needs of programs to work on your Android devices to be small, fierce and fast, that’s a lot of nooks and crannies where you can tuck away things you thought you’d try but forgot about, did try and weren’t that keen on but keep forgetting to uninstall, cached things that aren’t going away, things that got set up to start at start up but you maybe didn’t know about, and all the little pieces of things that could get left over after an uninstall (which shouldn’t, but when you’re depending on a developer of a product to clean up, and you’ve never met that developer, sometimes they are not as tidy as they ought to be).
So, in initiating spring cleaning, I went through Applications Manager and made a list of everything on my phone that showed up there. Note: you can skip any steps in this process (or all of them) so if this is a really long list and you don’t feel like it, don’t worry.
I categorized them by Game, Live Wallpaper or Tool (Tool being anything other than a Game or Live Wallpaper). In some cases, I had to put a question mark (?) in there because I didn’t actually know what it was.
Then I systematically went through each of my items and made notes – get rid of (don’t use often, don’t use at all, etc.), keep, investigate, etc.
I started with investigation – looking up the names of things (they often appear in Application Manager with different names than they appear in the applications folder, or even on the Google Play store or Amazon store). Then I either tried them out immediately or I classified them and moved on. I definitely got rid of things I don’t need/use anymore. A good rule of thumb is that if you don’t know what it is, then its probably okay to get rid of it (provided you downloaded it in the first place–randomly removing Jellybean internal stuff is frowned upon by the operating system).
I started by uninstalling things. All the things on my list I’d noted to uninstall, got uninstalled, first. Less complex background to look amongst/deal with moving forward if there are fewer things to start with.
Then I went through my Live Wallpapers. There are several I know are fine and so I didn’t need to check them. The others I went through and made sure that a) they worked (and didn’t crash) b) I liked them and c) they weren’t ad filled. I can tolerate some ads–people who provide free content should get paid somehow–but not by spamming my phone, randomly opening web browsers and sending me notifications constantly. I may or may not have also taken advantage of this opportunity to try out new live wallpapers. Ok, I think we all know that I did. I also took the time to remove some wallpapers that I like but don’t use often (for example, I like winter holiday wallpapers around the holidays…not as we’re moving into April).
Next, Games. I didn’t sit and play each game constantly — I know the ones I play a lot, for example (I’ve even reviewed some of them here for you), so I didn’t have to try everything. Again, I may or may not have wasted 30 minutes on Plants v. Zombies when I should have been spring cleaning. You’ll never know for sure. Just a few minutes of each to: a) determine if it is the type of game I like to play, b) I know how to play it, c) its not filled with ads. Anything that I’m unlikely to play right now–for example, I ended up with LOTS and LOTS of games after that–I uninstalled the ones I don’t play as often as the others. Since I have noted what I have I can always re-install them later.
Finally, Tools. Did you know how many different types of comic reader I had? I may do a post about that in the future. I just kept installing them because I didn’t know I already had one…two….three…four…too many. I had also deliberately installed competing programs to see how they worked and then never gotten around to it.
When I was done with all that (and maybe installing one or two other cool things, since hey, I’m organizing and cleaning anyway?), I settled in to tidy up the system a bit more. In my previous post, Be in Control at Start Up (Mostly), my favorite of the available programs was Startup Manager (no space). After having installed a bunch of stuff, its good to open your startup manager and see what detrious the programmers of the various apps may have left behind; an awful lot of them feel its very important to start up their program when your device starts up, even if maybe you don’t need instant access to Mystery live wallpaper when you aren’t even using that wallpaper (which I ended up keeping, just disabling in the startup; there are some ads, but its cute). Remember to look at not just user content, but also system content–I don’t know about you, but I don’t need Google Play Movies and TV to auto launch every time I restart my device.
Obviously I’ve had my anti-viral software up during this entire process. For example, I immediately removed Forest Live Wallpaper because my Lookout Mobile Security informed me there was a threat in the apk. Note, at the time you are reading this, the creators may have corrected it, but be careful.
Next, I did some sort of “regular” maintenance I set up Chrome to sync and made sure all my devices are in sync. I checked for updated anti-virus definitions (again). I re-configured anything after using other things that seemed to make sense. You know, silly stuff. But stuff that really irks you when you get there and it’s not done/set up.
Finally, I installed a cleaner program on my system; I use ccCleaner on my windows desktop (yes, still a heathen, still using Windows on my desktop). While they plan to port ccCleaner to Android, it has not been done at the time of this writing. So I went for the most popular cleaning program I could find on the Google Play store, Clean Master, which, while it sounds a bit full of itself, seems to work just fine. In addition to scanning for any leftover pieces to remove, it also cleared the cache poor Grace, and freed up about half a gig of space. Yes, it’s been a few springs since I cleaned, thank you for noticing.
Anyway. When you’re done you’ll actually a) have an inventory of what you have on your device, b) have an inventory of programs you tried and liked or didn’t like (good for avoiding re-installs when you don’t want them and installing when you do) and c) reclaim valuable space on your device…which you can immediately begin filling up all over again.
Next on my list: using the results to make it easier to do the spring cleaning on my Asus Transformer tablet. I know, I have the most exciting life, EVER.