Skip to main content

I couldn't stop this Android bug from eating up all of my phone's storage

And there's still no fix in sight.

When you've been using the same phone for a long time, it's just expected that you'll eventually run out of space and have to clean things up from time to time. Google has made it easy to clean your phone up for a few years now with the Files Go app, and big OS updates like Android 12 have built-in smart storage that's designed to automatically free up space when it makes sense. So imagine my surprise when I found out a hidden system app that can't be cleaned up was taking up nearly 20GB of my phone's precious storage space.

That system app in question is "Phone and Messaging Storage"; an innocuously named app that, based on my experience with trying to trim up its size, doesn't do exactly what you think it does. I've been using this Pixel 4 XL for the past year-and-a-half — a phone that does not support storage expansion with the best microSD cards, mind you — and no amount of operating system updates seem to have solved this problem for me.

I basically ignored the problem for months, as I would just continually run the clean-up utility through the Files Go app and that would free up enough space to keep it from whining at me for several days. Eventually, though, it became too much to deal with and it ended up ballooning to the point where I could no longer install new apps on the phone. This is when I started to dive a bit deeper to figure out the problem.

Ancient origins

Up until about two weeks ago, I simply could not find where my storage had gone. It was as if roughly 20GB of storage had just up and disappeared one day until it dawned on me to check system apps. Sure enough, right at the top of the list was the Phone and Messaging Storage app; a system app I didn't realize even existed beforehand but was now the center of my attention.

Like most system apps, Phone and Messaging Storage cannot be removed or altered by a normal user. To do that, you'd need to root the phone and go through several different steps using a utility like Titanium Backup, or whatever it is the kids use these days. As it stands, I haven't rooted or ROMed a phone in probably half a decade, and I wasn't about to start doing it now.

Just as you might do yourself, I sought out help with a simple Google search. I figured I had a once-off problem on my hands that I would never be able to resolve, but the results of the search told me that this bug has been around since at least 2016, although I couldn't find any user reports of a file size quite to the level I was experiencing.

This is a problem that's been around since at least 2016 and seemingly has no fix.

The journey I embarked on included clearing out the usual temporary file storage places, emptying cache, and going through all the steps Google outlines on its Pixel Phone Help website to free up storage space — despite the fact that this problem is not only happening on Pixel phones. These steps amounted to zero, zilch, nadda. I was back to square one and feeling at least a little bit desperate by this point.

Nuke it

As one gentleman and scholar Steve Jobs once put it, I then went "thermonuclear" on my Android phone. Some people suggested clearing out all of the phone apps' data and rebooting. That didn't work. Others suggested deleting every text message you had ever received; an hour-long process that took several retries, very long waits between MMS group deletions, and even kicked me out of quite a few RCS groups I hadn't intended to leave.

Despite all this, no progress was made on the elusive storage mystery. After all, if clearing out all of your call logs and messages doesn't clean up the Phone and Messaging Storage system app, what in the world would?

After all, if clearing out all of your call logs and messages doesn't clean up the Phone and Messaging Storage system app, what in the world would?

I then went app-by-app and cleared data and cache on basically everything I could, from system apps to user apps, spending much more of my day than I intended on such a stupid problem. I followed the last shreds of hope to their end as I removed all the Google accounts on my phone, rebooted, and slowly added everything back. Even then, absolutely nothing has been solved and I'm still sitting at 1GB of free space left on my phone.

At this point, the only foreseeable solution I can find is to factory reset the device.

So I contacted Google, who would most assuredly produce some magic super-secret way of resolving this bug that seemingly has no solution anywhere on the Internet. After a solid week of back-and-forth correspondence, the best solution was to refer me back to the very same help document I linked above. Thanks for the effort, at least.

At this point, the only foreseeable solution I can find is to factory reset the device. The worst part is that — if forum users are right — this likely won't solve the issue long term. I've now come across several users who have said they performed this action only to have the bug creep right back up several weeks down the road.

I'm here to end my sad tale of woe with as much a resolution as I came into it with. Really and truly, I have no idea how to move forward with fixing this problem other than carrying a second phone around with me to store all my games and offline music. The worst part is that, at least based on my correspondence with them, Google doesn't seem to know how to fix it either. If they don't, I surely don't know who else does.

Source: androidcentral

Popular posts from this blog

Black Friday: Get the latest updates on PS5 stock, games, and accessories- #BlackFriday

It's that time of year when we start getting ready for the Black Friday PS5 deals, and you certainly shouldn't be waiting until the day itself if you haven't bagged Sony's new console yet. Since launch, last November, the PS5 has never lasted more than a few minutes when it comes into stock, and we expect the feeding frenzy to be no different well into next year. Jump to Black Friday PS5 deals See PS5 stock Internal SSD Headsets Controllers TV PlayStation Plus We're here to help point you in the right direction of the stores most likely to get the PS5 in next. There won't be any discounts on the console, though, and Black Friday PlayStation 5 bundles that appear will likely feature a range of items all added at full price because people will pay it. Sad, but true. So, if you see a sensibly priced PS5 at any moment from now, just bag it while you can. It's not all bad news, as the genuine stars of the Black Friday PS5 deals will be found on so

Technics EAH-AZ60 review: Contending in stunning fashion

Technics serves notice that everyone should notice these earbuds. Technics ventured into the wireless earbuds category to go after the big dogs in the race. Think of the likes of Sony, Bose, and Sennheiser on sound quality, as well as the best you can find on design and functionality. It's a combination that comes at a price, but if done right, it gets easier to justify spending more. That's the case Technics makes with its EAH-Z60 earbuds. Its newest pair aims to take what the company has done in the past and make it even better. The results are easy to like and are significant enough to consider them as serious contenders. Technics EAH-AZ60 review: Price and availability What's good What's not good The competition Should you buy? At a glance Technics EAH-AZ60 Bottom line: Technics didn't just do one thing right with the EAH-AZ60. It covered almost the whole gamut of what makes wireless earbuds feel and sound exceptional. As a result, the p

The 100+ Best Amazon Black Friday Deals 2021

Amazon drops thousands of Black Friday deals every year, and this year is no different. The Tech Talk team is sorting through all of those price drops to find you only the best discounts on the best products. Bookmark this list of the best Amazon Black Friday deals worth your time, as we'll continue to update it through the weekend. And if you're interested in sales from other retailers, we have an even bigger list of the best Black Friday deals to help you find everything you want and need this holiday. Vacuum and smart home deals Take your home to the next level with deals on all of the best appliances, speakers and security systems . iRobot Roomba 694 Robot Vacuum Deal price: $180 ; street price: $250 . A robot vacuum, if your pets can tolerate it while it's in action, is one of the best ways for dog and cat owners to deal with the inevitable accretion of hair. This is a nice opportunity to save on a variant of one of our top robot vacuum picks. The 600 series comes i

PS5 restocks: Here are the latest PS5 stock updates & how to find one

PS5 stock is selling out fast, so be sure to have your credit card ready. Looking to buy a PS5 ? Well, so are millions of other people. It doesn't help that stock levels remain really tight, even nearly a year after its launch. Every time a retailer puts stock up for sale, it sells out super quickly. The longest we here at Android Central have seen PS5s stay in stock is between 15 to 20 minutes (often just a few minutes, though). That's also at random times, so finding a PS5 is a truly challenging task. Sony warned it will be hard to find stock throughout the year and well into 2022, but retailers promise more are coming and that Sony has secured additional semiconductor chips to make them. In our PS5 review, we called the system a technical marvel with a groundbreaking controller. And after spending a few months with the PS5, it's nearly impossible to go back to the PS4. Everything about the PS5 is better , from the games to the DualSense haptic feedback . So you'