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How to clear the cache in Android – and why you should

Edward Munn
12 Jun 2018
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Tips for clearing your Android phone or tablet’s cache of temporary files and boosting performance

Caching is an essential part of how an operating system works, enabling apps to run quicker and more efficiently. However, over time, your Android phone can accumulate a large number of cached files, which in some cases can have the opposite effect.

In particular, when your phone or tablet has limited storage space, failing to clear your cache can restrict the amount of storage allocated to virtual memory, making things slow to a crawl. And you don’t even need to be running short on space – clearing the cache can also be a quick and easy troubleshooting step for dealing with misbehaving apps.

How to clear cached data for all apps (Android 7.1 and earlier)

To clear the cached data for all your apps, open Settings, tap Storage and swipe up until you see ‘Cached data’. Tap it, then select OK when a pop-up asks if you’re happy to clear cached data for all apps.

Bear in mind that the instructions above (and those in the tip below) might vary depending on the manufacturer of your Android device and the version of Android it runs. Devices running Android Oreo onwards, for example, take care of clearing the cache automatically, meaning this option has disappeared altogether.

Also, note that after clearing your cache, some apps might actually take longer to open the first time. Rest assured the cache won’t include any precious files, so you don’t have to be worried about hitting OK.

How to clear the cache for individual apps (all Android versions)

Alternatively, if you want to clear the cache for just one app and not the whole system, go to “Apps & notifications” from the Settings menu, tap “See all apps”. Next, select the app, tap Storage and “Clear cache”.

Like the option above, this will not clear logins and other user data, only temporary files associated with that app. If you want to reset an app to its factory settings, tap “Clear data” and then OK instead.

Why should you clear the cache?

If you’re happy with the way your Android phone or tablet runs and you’ve got ample free storage space, the truth is there’s no real reason to clear your cache. However, if you’re running desperately low on space and want to quickly make room to take some more holiday snaps, for example, clearing these temporary files is one of the quickest ways to do so (without losing any precious data). Similarly, if an app is behaving erratically, try clearing its cached files as a first port of call before uninstalling and reinstalling it, to see if it has a beneficial effect on performance.

It’s important to remember that clearing the cache is only ever a temporary fix. If you’re having to clear your cache on a daily basis to make your phone useable, it’s evident you need to clear other large files elsewhere to truly fix your storage problem. Having your device’s performance hamstrung by you needing to clear a few megabytes of cached data is not a good cycle to get trapped in.

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