Clearing App Cache on Android: A Step-by-Step Guide and the Importance of Doing It

Should You Clear App Cache on Android? Here’s What You Need to Know

Clearing app cache is a controversial topic when it comes to maintaining your Android phone. Many people clear app cache instinctively to free up additional storage on their phone or to keep their phone and apps from getting sluggish. But should you clear the app cache on Android? If so, how? Does it even do anything, or is it just a placebo?

Many users believe that Android should handle app cache and that interfering with default caching behavior is asking for trouble. But the truth is far murkier. Some apps don’t use cache space responsibly, some break when they use too much cached data, and others won’t start after an update without being manually cached. Blanket statements aren’t helpful here. It’s useful to understand what app cache is, why it matters, and why you might want to clear it on your Android smartphone.

What is a cache?

Caching lets applications like browsers, games, and streaming services store temporary files to reduce load times and make your overall experience faster. YouTube, Spotify, Google News, and other apps save information as cache data. This can be video thumbnails, search history, or snippets of video used to minimize user input.

Caching can save time, as internet speeds aren’t the same everywhere. Although, apps offloading data onto your phone will slow it down, especially when there’s not much storage to spare.

Difference between clearing app cache and data on Android

While we often mention clearing cache and data in the same breath, they’re two distinct actions on Android. When using the Spotify app, for example, it holds onto information like new artists you viewed, album art browsed, and search history as cache. When the app cache is cleared, all the mentioned data is cleared.

The application stores more vital information like user settings, databases, and login information as data. When you clear the data, both the cache and data are removed. Clearing data is the equivalent of starting an app from a clean slate as if you just installed it for the first time.

Why should you clear the app cache?

The primary reason for someone to clear the application cache would be to free up storage, which might impact the phone’s performance. But clearing data is a much more dramatic step, which is generally reserved for when an app is buggy or fails to start. This could result from corrupted cache files, untested server-side changes, misbehaving software, or a new OS update to Android.

Some poorly written apps or poorly sandboxed apps could pose a security threat if they store sensitive user information in their cache and data. In such a scenario, it makes sense to clear them both.

How to clear app cache and data

Clearing the cache is best seen as a temporary fix since every app will once again start populating the storage immediately. Despite the benefits, doing so too often can be pointless as it defeats the purpose of improving load times. Only clear the cache when it’s essential instead of making it a daily routine.

How to clear app cache and data on Google Pixel

  • Open Settings
  • Scroll down and select Apps
  • Tap the See all option at the bottom
  • Tap the app name whose app cache you want to clear
  • Tap Storage and cache
  • Select Clear cache
  • Tap Clear storage to clear data and cache

How to clear app cache and data on Samsung Galaxy phones

  • Open the Settings menu
  • Scroll down and select Apps
  • Tap the app name whose app cache you want to clear
  • Scroll down and select Storage
  • Tap Clear data to clear data
  • Tap Clear cache to clear the app cache

How to clear app cache and data on OnePlus phones

  • Open Settings
  • Scroll down and select Apps and notifications
  • Tap See all to list all installed apps
  • Tap the app name whose app cache you want to clear
  • Select Storage and cache
  • Tap Clear cache to clear the cache
  • Tap Clear storage to clear data and cache

How to clear cache and data on Xiaomi phones

  • Open Settings
  • Scroll down and select Apps
  • Tap Manage apps
  • Tap the app name whose app cache you want to clear
  • Select the Storage option
  • Tap Clear cache to clear only the app cache, or tap Clear data to clear data and cache

Why not use a third-party app cache cleaner?

Third-party cache cleaner apps are one of the most futile exercises in the history of humankind. If you use an app that claims to boost your phone’s performance, take some time to evaluate whether it has helped. Even worse, many apps in this genre have been known to mine user data and send it to foreign servers. As the saying goes, an app either dies a hero or lives long enough to see itself become a cleaner app.

Jokes aside, there are genuine concerns about using these apps due to their shady practices and privacy policies. They generally demand extensive permissions or display sketchy full-screen ads. Their common selling point of speeding up your phone is usually outweighed by the need to run continuously in the background and use system resources.

Some legitimate apps like SD Maid or Files by Google are worth considering. They offer value in showing a detailed view of what’s occupying your phone’s storage.

Is there a perfect solution?

The option to clear data is a useful feature in solving many issues and is unique to Android. But we could use an automated solution similar to iOS for when an older device becomes full. At some point, it’s worth looking into the best new Android phones. Newer phones tend to have more storage and faster speeds.

The now-shelved Nextbit Robin presented some interesting ideas in 2016 that relied on backing up and retrieving files from the cloud. This solution seems less than ideal when internet reliability becomes an issue. Older versions of Android gave users the option of clearing the cache for all installed apps with a one-click button. Maybe Google will bring the feature back, but for the time being, users need to clear the cache individually.

Most people clear their cache in search of faster phone performance. If you still need quicker processing times but don’t want to buy a new phone, try these tips to speed up your old Android phone.