News How to Clear the Cache on Your Android Phone or Tablet (and Why You Should)

Jason Cipriani/ZDNET

If you’re experiencing slow performance on your smartphone or tablet, there are some common steps you can take to troubleshoot and often fix it. Many issues can be resolved simply by restarting the device.

Another common way to improve performance or at least free up extra storage space on an Android phone is to clear cached data for apps and Clear Chrome cache data for websites you visit.

Below I’ll walk you through both processes, which shouldn’t take long. The hardest part is figuring out where to look, which is exactly what I’m going to show you.

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As with any tutorial that walks you through how to do something on an Android device, due to different device manufacturers and custom Android-based software, the steps that work for you may be slightly different than what I outline below. But the gist of the process is covered, this should be similar enough to at least point you in the right direction. (Here’s how to clear your iPhone’s cache.)

How to Clear App’s Cache Data

The quickest way to see all the apps installed on your Android phone or tablet is to open the Settings app and look at the main list storage; click it.On the next screen find and click application option. Some phones, like the Moto G 5G, skip the Storage option and list apps directly in the Settings app. If you’re having trouble finding a list of apps, use the search bar at the top of the Settings app to find them.

To make it easier to see which apps are using the most storage on your device when viewing your app list, tap the three-dot icon in the upper right corner and select sort by size.

Android Store and App Store pages showing apps sorted by size

Screenshot by Jason Cipriani/ZDNET

Choose any application from the list. Note that I’m specifying to select an app rather than a system service like Android System Intelligence, because I’m getting mixed results when clearing the cache for system apps or services. So I only recommend doing this for apps.

When you open an app, you can see the app size, user data, cache size, and the total amount of storage it’s taking up. At the top of the page, you’ll have two options: Clear Storage and Clear Cache.

Don’t choose to clear storage as this will more or less reset the app and you will have to set it up again. However, you can clear the cache without any negative effects.

Clear Facebook's cache

Screenshot by Jason Cipriani/ZDNET

Keep going through the list to see which apps are taking up a lot of space and clear the cache for each one. Or, if you really want to be thorough, you can check and clear the cache for every app on your phone. But I recommend starting with the number one culprit, like the Facebook app seen in the screenshot.

How to Clear Chrome’s Cache

Open the Chrome app on your Android phone or tablet and tap the three-dot menu icon in the upper right corner.Next, choose history > clear browsing data.

Clear browsing data for Chrome browser

Screenshot by Jason Cipriani/ZDNET

The following screen will display a list of options; you can choose which data to delete from Chrome and select the time frame for which it will be deleted. Each data option briefly explains what it means and how it will affect your experience.

For example, clearing cookies and site data will log you out of some (in my experience, all) sites. Clearing cached images and files may cause Chrome to take longer the next time it loads images from sites you visit frequently.

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Select and choose which data and when to delete, then tap the “Clear Data” button at the bottom of the screen.


What is cached data?

When you clear cache data, whether for an app or from Chrome, you’re really just deleting various files and information that app has downloaded. For an app like Facebook, cached data might be profile photos, pictures, videos, and the like, where the phone saves them to speed up scrolling through your timeline.

In other words, while files and data contribute to the overall experience, they aren’t essential and often become bloated and take up too much storage space.

How often should I clear my Android device’s cache?

That depends! If you’re seeing a lot of performance issues, this should be on your list of troubleshooting steps. Otherwise, maybe quarterly, or twice a year? It really just depends on what your phone or tablet is doing.

Can I only gain storage space by clearing the cache?

No. In fact, one of the first troubleshooting steps I do when I run into any weird bugs or problems with an app is to clear the cache. Often, files in the cache are corrupted or outdated, and forcing the application to rebuild the cache can resolve the issue. It’s a win-win.

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