What are temp files for apps? How do you clear Android’s cache? When should it be done? Here’s all the information you need.
The limited space on your Android phone can fill up quickly. And it’s easy to forget that one reason for this is the information that apps need to store to work well.
This group of temporary files is called a cache, and they may take up a lot of your Android phone’s storage space. Let’s talk about temporary app files and how to clear Android’s cache.
What Does Cache Data Mean?
When you open an app, your phone uses the temporary data it has stored in cache files to quickly remember the information that goes with it. For example, Spotify might keep a copy of your most-used playlists so that it doesn’t have to load the whole list of songs every time you open them. Google Chrome might store a large image on a website you visit often so that it doesn’t have to download the image every time you open the page.
A cache file can only be used by the program that goes with it. For example, Spotify can’t use Instagram’s cache. When an app decides that the temporary information it has stored is no longer useful, it often gets rid of the files that went with it. Cache files are used by websites, apps, and games to make your experience better.
The cache is not just something that your Android phone does; desktop browsers and other software also use it. Without cached data, your device would have to reload common images and other elements every time you used them, which is inefficient.
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How to Clear Android Device Cache
Modern versions of Android don’t have a way to clear all cache at once. Instead, you have to delete the cache files for each app individually. Keep in mind that you rarely need to clear all of your device’s cache. Most problems with storage or performance can be fixed by clearing the cache of a few troublesome apps.
Follow these steps to clear an Android app’s cache. We used stock Android 12 for these instructions, so your device may look a little different or have different menu names.
- Select Storage in Settings.
- Tap the Apps entry in the list that comes up (Other Apps on Android 11 and earlier). This will take you to a list of all the apps you have on your phone.
- Pick the app whose cache you want to clear. Tap the three dots in the top right corner and choose Sort by size to see which apps are taking up the most space. We’ll show how this works with Chrome.
- Tap the Clear Cache button on the app’s info page.
All you have to do to clear the cache files for any app on your Android phone is follow these steps. Remember that if you tap Clear Storage instead, all of the app’s data will be deleted. This brings it back to a clean state as if you had just downloaded the app from the Play Store. Do this only if the app is acting in a very bad way.
You could delete all cached files at once in older versions of Android by going to Settings > Storage > Cached Data. When you see the option to delete all cache files, you can just tap OK. Modern versions of Android don’t have a built-in way to clear all the cache, so you’ll have to repeat the steps above for each app you want to clear the cache for.
What Happens After I Clear the Cache on Android?
After you delete cached files, you’ll have more space on your device, and the app will work as usual. However, since you erased the data used for optimal performance, some elements (like those mentioned above) will load more slowly the next time you use the app.
You might notice that it comes back after you clear the cache. This is normal. As you use apps, cached data will build up again over time. You shouldn’t worry when an app builds up cached files because a cache is useful.
When you clear your cache, you shouldn’t be logged out of any apps or see any other big changes. You won’t lose data like game progress, browser bookmarks, or similar.
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Benefits of Clearing Cache on Android
Cache files are important, and you usually don’t need to mess with them. But sometimes it’s helpful to remove cache files from your Android phone by hand.
Here are a few reasons why it can be helpful to clear the cache on an Android device:
- In the short term, clearing your phone’s cache lets you save storage space. But this is only a short-term fix because as you use apps, new cache files are always being made. If you need to clear the cache on your device often because it doesn’t have enough space, it’s probably time to get a new phone with enough storage for your needs.
- Old cache files can sometimes get messed up. When this happens, apps may not work as well as they should. Getting rid of bad cache files can fix these problems.
- In theory, old cache files could be a threat to security and privacy. Web pages that are saved in your browser’s cache could have sensitive information on them. If someone who wasn’t supposed to could get into these files, they might be able to use them to find out private information.
- If a browser or other app won’t get the latest version of a page, clearing the cache can force it to do so.
Should You Clear Cache on Android Often?
Now that you know why it’s good to clear cache, you might think you should do it yourself on a regular basis. But this actually makes things worse. Remember that cached files are useful because they make it faster to get to content you use often.
Because of this, you shouldn’t often delete old cache files by hand. Android already has a way to delete files that aren’t being used, and it works well in most cases. The most common times to delete cache files by hand are:
- The cache files of an app are broken, which makes the app act up.
- You want to protect your privacy, so you want to get rid of files that have personal information in them.
- You’re running out of space on your phone, but you don’t want to get rid of your videos, photos, or apps. Remember that this is only a short-term fix. Eventually, you’ll need to find other ways to free up space on your Android.
Should I use apps to clean up my Android?
There are a lot of apps in the Play Store that says they can quickly and safely clear your phone of unused photos, videos, and cache files. Even though these apps can sometimes be useful, it’s usually not worth it to use them for a few reasons:
- They often say things that aren’t true, like that clearing your phone’s cache will make it run much faster, which it won’t.
- The apps take up more space on your phone and may even slow it down if they run in the background all the time.
- Most of the time, they have annoying ads and require in-app purchases to do most things.
If you decide to use Android cleaner apps, be careful. Stay away from them as much as possible. Most Android phones already have some kind of smart storage that gets rid of old files, so you don’t really need third-party apps for this.
How to Clear Cache on Android Fast and Easy
Clearing Android’s cache files that aren’t being used is a good way to free up space temporarily and can be useful when trying to fix app problems. But you shouldn’t do it too often or through apps that you don’t trust. You should only use it as a specific tool when the device needs it.
Further, it’s good to know how to spot the signs of a slow Android and how to fix them.