Posted by: kurtsh | March 30, 2013

HOWTO: Free up space on a Windows Phone 8 device

imageAre you running out of “free space” on your Windows Phone 8 device like me?

I have an HTC 8X Windows Phone 8 device & it has 16GB but lacks an microSD expansion.  I’ve loaded about 5.2GB worth of media, photos, and apps on the device & discovered some rather weird instability that occurs once the device gets to about 1.0GB of free space (freezes, reboots, etc.) so I always make sure I am above that threshold.

Here’s the problem:

  • I have 3.6GB of apps installed.  I’d uninstall the big apps if I could figure out which ones were the space hogs, but alas, there’s still no way to tell which apps are the HIPPOS on my phone without going through them one-by-one on http://www.windowsphone.com/en-us/store/ and checking the registered app size.  ANNOYING.
  • There’s 5.4GB of storage occupied by “other”… a category listed in SETTINGS->PHONE STORAGE that no one seems to understand very well.  Between the 5.2GB of personal apps & data installed, the 5.4GB of “other”, 2.4GB of System storage used… I’m basically out of storage.  This bumps me up against about 1.5GB left, leaving me only 500MB to play with before I hit that 1GB threshold I mentioned earlier.

Q: So what the heck is 5.4GB of “other”?

I found a tool on the Windows Phone Store that appears to fix this problem by freeing up much of that ‘other’:

The background on the interwebs says that Joe Belfiore himself has admitted the free storage clean up needs some tuning and thus after using the device for a while, “other” storage can build up and eat up your free space.

There’s some key things to know before using the tool:

  • Disable photo/video automatic uploading-to-SkyDrive.
    Before you use the tool, go to PHOTOS->SETTINGS.  Look at “Auto upload:  SkyDrive” and if “turned on”… turn it off.  Apparently this is the source of much of this “wasted” space that gets consumed by “other”.  Temp space is consumed during this process & storage isn’t reallocated as free after photos are uploaded to the cloud.
    (NOTE: This was somewhat verified by a tweet sent by Microsoft Corp VP Joe Belfiore about the issue of “Other” storage consuming space on a device.)
  • Let the Phone OS clear “Other Storage” after using the ‘Fill Phone Storage’ function.
    The tool essentially consumes all the storage on the device when you press “Fill Phone Storage” (takes as much as 10 minutes or more) then you’re supposed to do a reboot/soft reset.  After the restart, use the phone for a while by running some apps, preferably ones that use a decent amount of memory & storage like Internet Explorer, Outlook Mail, etc.  What will happen is the system will be nudged into clearing up that “other” storage & freeing it up.  After using the device for a bit, check SETTINGS->PHONE STORAGE and see whether “other” has been reduced. Now reopen the Shrink Storage app and use the “Clean Phone Storage” and you find your phone to have much more free space on it.

Personally, I had 1.51GB left before I used the tool.  After running Shrink Storage, using the ‘Fill Phone Storage’ function, rebooting, using the app for a bit, then checking Phone Storage, I noticed I had 2.28GB free.  Remember:  This was BEFORE I used the ‘Clean Phone Storage’ feature.

After running Shrink Storage again, then using the ‘Clean Phone Storage’ feature, I found I had 3.79GB of storage:  An improvement of exactly 2.28GB of free space.

Thumbs up, Manu Bauer! (The author of the tool)

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UPDATE 3/31/13:
Apparently Corporate VP Joe Belfiore tweeted something that verified that this is a known issue.
http://answers.microsoft.com/en-us/winphone/forum/wp8-wpstart/what-is-other-under-storage/979d2948-249b-4303-a475-4183b15af2d6

There’s also been a few articles that talk about what other things you can do to reduce your storage utilization.
http://www.wpxbox.com/windows-phone-other-storage/

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UPDATE 4/1/13:
I thought I’d elaborate on the issues I started having out of the blue a few days ago – all of which were completely resolved once I did the above optimization:

  • Random, unpredictable reboots – even while it’s just sitting on my wireless charger.  Once a week.
  • Random shutdowns – which was scary because I’d pull my phone out of my pocket only to discover it’ was completely off & no one could call me or text me.  Every other day.
  • “SIM error” message that would appear in a Notification bar at the top of the screen, that would shut off the cellular phone stack & communication (WiFi would continue to work)  Every other day.

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