Like the car in your driveway, your Android smartphone or tablet could use the occasional bit of love and care to make sure it's running as smoothly as possible. Spending a few minutes checking up on the health of your device and carrying out some maintenance can make a difference to its currently performance and long-term life. Here's how to spring clean your Android phone for better performance.
Fortunately, spring cleaning your Android phone isn't difficult to do — the software already does much of the hard work for you. We'll guide you through the various menus, features and settings you need to be aware of if you want to brush away the cobwebs on your handset.
Remove unused apps
You may think there's no harm in leaving old and neglected apps to gather dust on your smartphone or tablet, but they take up room that another app could be using, as well as valuable bandwidth every time an update rolls out.
Uninstalling apps isn't difficult: Tap and hold on the relevant icon in the app drawer and then drag it up to the Uninstall button at the top of the screen. If you change your mind you can easily download and install it again (the Play Store remembers all of the apps that you've already paid for).
If you head into the Apps menu from Settings you can see how much room each one is currently taking up on your device. Before you uninstall an app, check there's no useful data within it that you need that isn't backed up elsewhere: saved games, documents, ebooks and so on.
Clear out the cache
Most apps have a cache of data that they keep close to hand for easy access. In the majority of cases, these apps will keep a lid on their own temporary files and make sure the cache doesn't grow too large, but there might be occasions when this doesn't happen as it should.
Tap through to the Apps page in Settings, select an individual app from the list, and you can see how large the cache currently is. Select Clear Cache to wipe out all of the stored data (many apps default to 12KB) — the app might start up a little more slowly next time, but you'll have reset its data-collecting activities back to zero.
Clearing the cache can also help troubleshoot any problems you're having with your device. It's different to the Clear Data option, which wipes out user databases, preferences and so on — it returns the app in question to the state it was in when you first installed it.
Check the storage
There's likely to be a bunch of files and folders taking up room on your Android device that you've forgotten about, from cached Spotify music that you don't need any more, to photos taken three summers ago. If you don't have a file manager app pre-installed on your phone then something like ES File Explorer File Manager or Astro File Manager with Cloud can help you out.
Delve into your apps to see if there's anything you can do without: Old podcasts, cached playlists, videos you've finished watching, offline maps, even text messages and emails can all add up. With more free space on your device the apps that remain have more space to breathe.
There's no doubt you don't want to be deleting precious family photos but apps like Dropbox or Google+ can help you get them backed up to the cloud and your computer with no need for wires. This is something you should be doing anyway, otherwise you're only one accident away from losing all the images you've taken on your device.
Get some help
Fortunately there are plenty of apps ready and waiting to help you in spring cleaning your device. One of the best is CCleaner: It removes junk files and data you no longer need, reclaims as much storage space as it can, and will get rid of unwanted applications too. You can let CCleaner do its thing automatically or take some manual control.
Then there's Clean Master, which takes a very similar approach (and has a very similar icon). As well as cleaning up redundant data from your device it runs a thorough security check, puts the brakes on apps that are overtaxing your phone's processor, and frees up memory. You may not notice much of a performance boost but your phone or tablet will be a lot tidier once Clean Master has finished.
If you want another option to pick from, The Cleaner is also worth a look. Again, it can tidy up junk files, cached data that's been left behind, and call and SMS history. There's a scheduled mode included too so you can set these clean-up routines to run automatically on a regular basis. The app shows you how much space you can save before the clean-up starts.
Don't forget you have the 'nuclear' option too — you can run a factory reset from your phone or tablet's Settings menu and reload all of your apps and contacts from scratch. Remember to back up any photos, messages and other content first.
Have you done a spring clean on your Android phone yet? Do you want to fix its laggy performance?