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Move apps to SD? Uninstall pre-installed apps?

Discussion in 'Android Devices' started by OsakaWebbie, Feb 5, 2022.

  1. OsakaWebbie

    OsakaWebbie Newbie
    Thread Starter

    I recently got a cheap phone (a stripped-down Aquos sense3 called an Aquos sense3 Basic, built for some cell providers here in Japan) - it only has 32GB internal storage, but it does have an SD slot. But I'm sure you would agree this situation is a bit ridiculous:
    It's almost all "Other apps" (12GB) and "System" (14GB). Obviously I can't move System, but I'd love to move apps - most of them I use extremely rarely, so I don't care if they're slow. I'd also love to uninstall pre-installed apps I will never use (most are small, but there are a lot of them), but that doesn't seem to be an option.

    Everything I can find on the web about how to move apps to the SD card don't seem to be available on my device. Settings -> Storage -> Other Apps -> any-app displays a page that has no option to change where anything is stored - the only options are Clear Storage and Clear Cache. In fact, it doesn't even SAY that the app is on internal storage, as if nothing else exists. And inside the apps themselves, I was only able to switch the default data location in three apps. (The above screenshot was after doing that and cleaning temp files - it was worse beforehand.)

    On my previous phone, I made the SD card a semi-extension of the internal storage (apparently called "adoptable storage") - yes, I'm well aware of the risks. But even that doesn't appear to be available on this phone. Settings -> Storage -> SD card (Files app opens) -> ... -> Storage Settings only offers Format, not "Format as Internal" which many articles on the web think I'll find there.

    Any tips for how to improve my internal storage are appreciated.

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  2. ocnbrze

    ocnbrze DON'T PANIC!!!!!!!!!

    its a cheap phone, don't expect much from it. and though it might help in the short term, formatting a card as internal is not always a good idea. you will wear out the card faster and thus increasing the risk of corrupting the card losing all of your data.

    always remember that the system partition (this is where the android os resides) will lie within the internal storage......so a 32 gig storage will most likely translates to 5 gigs or so of actual space.

    you might be able to delete some of the bloatware and thus free up some space without having to root it.
    GameTheory, Dannydet and puppykickr like this.
  3. puppykickr

    puppykickr Android Expert

    @ocnbrze is correct, except for one thing...
    he likes Samsung devices, so he is used to the system eating up most of the memory (lol, @ocnbrze ).

    Most devices, you can count on the sysem using 25%-33% of the total memory.

    You stated that many apps you have are rarely used.
    Ditch them.
    Get another device for them, or download them when you need them.
    Perhaps there are smaller apps that do the same thing.
    Get rid of any social media apps, and use a browser or a wrapper app instead.

    Keeping the used memory at 70% full or below provides enough space for a device to operate properly.
    OsakaWebbie, ocnbrze and Dannydet like this.
  4. OsakaWebbie

    OsakaWebbie Newbie
    Thread Starter

    Yeah, I know about wearing out an internal-formatted SD - it happened to me once. First choice is definitely to NOT do that, but I was exploring all my options. Apparently even if I want to take the chance, it doesn't seem to be possible on this phone or this version of Android or something.

    According to the article you linked (and some comments below it that clarified things), the pre-installed apps are in the system partition, so deleting them would not free up space that could be used for other things (unless I root the device and adjust the partitioning, which is more than I want to attempt). I didn't realize that. It's strange that they are listed in the 12GB "Other apps" section if they are actually in "System". Anyway, never mind about those if they won't actually free up storage - they aren't really bothering me in other respects.

    If "actual space" includes where the non-system-partition apps are located, I have 32GB - 14GB = 18GB, which is quite a bit more than 5GB. But I hear you.

    The system partition is a bit of a mystery. On my old phone (a Moto G4) with Android 7 (upgraded from 6) I think its system partition is about 5GB (Settings->Storage says total space is 10.94GB but doesn't mention the system at all, and the real total storage is 16GB, so I assume the other 5GB is system). But on this new phone with Android 10 (upgraded from 9) system is explicitly mentioned and is 14GB. Did Android grow that much larger in three versions? Or is the partition half empty? Hmm... Mysteriously, if I look at "System" in FX File Explorer, it claims to have 2.4GB used and 550MB free, which only adds up to about 3GB, not 14. And the directory tree doesn't make any sense - within System are many directories, one of which is "data", which is 12GB used and 2.9GB free, more than its parent! Where is a Linux shell when you need one...

    Okay, I decided to go down that rabbit hole. I put the phone in USB debug mode and installed ADB on my PC, so I could look at it with a shell. But it looks just as strange by this method. Some commands I wanted to use (like du) didn't work right with limited permissions, but here is the result of df:
    VIF:/ $ df -h
    Filesystem Size Used Avail Use% Mounted on
    /dev/block/dm-1 2.9G 2.3G 550M 82% /
    tmpfs 1.3G 1.0M 1.3G 1% /dev
    tmpfs 1.3G 0 1.3G 0% /mnt
    tmpfs 1.3G 0 1.3G 0% /apex
    /dev/block/mmcblk0p79 3.7M 56K 3.4M 2% /kitting
    /dev/block/dm-2 288M 132M 150M 47% /odm
    /dev/block/dm-3 1.8G 1.6G 150M 92% /product
    /dev/block/dm-4 992M 552M 424M 57% /vendor
    /dev/block/mmcblk0p85 15G 12G 2.8G 82% /data
    /dev/block/mmcblk0p82 19M 3.2M 15M 19% /durable
    /dev/block/mmcblk0p72 294M 348K 271M 1% /tombstones
    /dev/block/dm-5 6.3M 6.2M 0 100% /apex/com.android.media@311311000
    /dev/block/dm-6 4.8M 4.7M 0 100% /apex/com.android.conscrypt@310911000
    /dev/block/dm-7 3.7M 3.6M 0 100% /apex/com.android.resolv@311313010
    /dev/block/dm-8 18M 18M 0 100% /apex/com.android.media.swcodec@311311000
    /dev/block/dm-9 836K 808K 12K 99% /apex/com.android.tzdata@294400200
    /dev/block/loop7 96M 96M 0 100% /apex/com.android.runtime@1
    /dev/block/loop8 232K 36K 192K 16% /apex/com.android.apex.cts.shim@1
    /data/media 15G 12G 2.8G 82% /storage/emulated
    /mnt/media_rw/3934-130A 58G 328M 57G 1% /storage/3934-130A

    Yup, /dev/block/dm-1 (aka /) is "System", and /data/media (aka /storage/emulated) is what FX calls "Main Storage". But even though it's clear that some sizes are overlapping, I still don't see any logical combination of stuff that adds up to 32GB. I guess that will remain a mystery, and it's straying far afield from my original question. Rabbit hole indeed!
  5. OsakaWebbie

    OsakaWebbie Newbie
    Thread Starter

    Ah, @puppykickr, you replied while I was working on my response to @ocnbrze, so I didn't see yours until now.

    Well, mine is 44%, but since it's a cheap phone, perhaps that isn't out of line.

    A "wrapper app"? How does that work? I don't do much social media, but the Facebook app is the third largest app on this phone after Play and Google (422MB), so if I can replace that with something lightweight, that's great. I think I need the Messenger app, though, because I want it to audibly notify me of incoming messages, unless a wrapper can do that too. My default browser is Firefox Focus, which doesn't do cookies at all, so I guess a wrapper app would hook into Chrome for the cookie ability.
    ocnbrze likes this.
  6. OsakaWebbie

    OsakaWebbie Newbie
    Thread Starter

    Aha! I just now discovered Facebook Lite - instead of 422MB, it's only 10MB and seems to still show everything. I wonder what the other 412MB was doing??? (I'm not that familiar with the app anyway, as I spend 95% of my screen time on my computer, not my phone. On the computer, I have highly tuned my Facebook experience with extensions to Firefox.)
    ocnbrze likes this.
  7. Hadron

    Hadron Smoke me a kipper...
    VIP Member

    A "wrapper app" is a basic browser that accesses the Facebook site (so acts like an alternative Facebook app). Although it's browser-based, because it accesses nothing but Facebook it doesn't leak information about your other web activities to Facebook: no possibility of reading cookies from elsewhere, browser signatures won't help them track you because you aren't browsing anything else, etc.

    They've been around for a long time, are usually used as a privacy measure rather than to save space but of course they are much lighter than the bloated monster that is the Facebook app.
    OsakaWebbie, puppykickr and ocnbrze like this.
  8. Hadron

    Hadron Smoke me a kipper...
    VIP Member

    Very possible, not all phones do include it. Though it's usually high-end phones that don't (e.g. Samsung don't want people blaming their flagship phones for the problems caused by using microSD cards this way so they have never included it in their Galaxy S or Note series).
    Updates to system apps do live in the /data partition, so if you disable a system app you should be able to save space by uninstalling updates to it. Once upon a time disabling would automatically do that for you, but that's been less clear in recent years.
    No, it didn't. My previous phone was a Pixel 2, which had 2 system partitions, which together used only 9GB. And at different times that had Android 8, 9, 10 and 11. So no, Android 10 did not suddenly grow to that size. But different manufacturers may have larger systems, or may allocate more space than needed to the system partitions. I do recall a few years back people noticing that higher-capacity Samsung devices were allocating more space to the system, even though obviously the operating system, radio firmware etc do not get bigger just because the device has more space (this was basically an example corporate carelessness and idiocy).

    That said, reporting storage usage tends to be a confusing mess anyway, with the system Settings usually being the least clear of all. It's likely that what it's calling "system" is not the size of the /system partition but the difference between the total storage and the /data partition (the bit that you can access). The actual system partition will be smaller than that, e.g. on my Galaxy s21 there is 30 GB of "system" usage but the /system partition itself is 6.3 GB in size. Some of that will be other essential firmware like baseband, recovery, bootloader (though these are not usually very large), some will be heaven knows what. Some of it will probably be space for temporary files, even though there is no longer a system /cache partition which you can wipe from recovery. Without root it's impossible to really know what's going on. But then this is what you are observing below:
    Yeah, I reckon I can account for about 22GB from that. It's possible that there are other partitions it isn't even going to admit to without root. A further source of confusion here is that some utilities will report size in decimal units and some in binary (and they usually do not tell you which they are using). A binary GB (2^30 bytes) is about 7.4% larger than a decimal GB (10^9 bytes), so a "32GB" storage device (decimal) only has a capacity of 29.8 GB (binary). But as you can see that only accounts for 2 GB rather than 10 GB, so at most is only part of the explanation.

    The bottom line though is that the size of /data has been set at 15GB, and that's where any of your stuff has to live. That does seem exceptionally mean for a 32GB device, but you'd have to take that up with Sharp, as it's them who has set the partition sizes.
    #8 Hadron, Feb 5, 2022
    Last edited: Feb 5, 2022
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  9. puppykickr

    puppykickr Android Expert

    I quickly grew tired of Firefox Focus (and Firefox in general).

    Try this instead, as it is much more capable.


    There are other versions, all of which can live on the same device together.

    The benefits of this are many, including the fact that each one can be used for a specific site (change the homepage) and how they all have similar operation.

    I use one for my main browser, and a couple more for individual sites.

    They all allow for unlimited tabs and unlimited bookmarks.

    They also are very small when compared to other browsers.

    Facebook Lite will start oit small, but will grow- although not as big as the normal app.
    Plus, you still have to have Messenger or Messenger Lite.

    I use Frost, which does the work of both apps and remains small.


    I also have (exclusively) cheap devices.

    My current device has 32GB of intenal memory, and I only use 32GB memory cards because I have no luck with the larger ones, even though the device claims that it can handle 512GB cards.

    I cannot even get a 256GB card to work right in the last device I had, it crashed after 30GB and I lost everyrhing.

    So now I stick with the small cards, and have not had any more issues with them.
    Plus, they are (much) cheaper anyway, so I live with the inconvenience.
    Dannydet and ocnbrze like this.
  10. OsakaWebbie

    OsakaWebbie Newbie
    Thread Starter

    Thanks for the additional clues, @Hadron. [FYI: The numbers I posted were binary (df -h); if I had done df -H it would have been decimal.]

    I get the impression from your wording that "updates to system apps" is different from "system apps" or even "updated system apps". Does it put new pieces of the app in a different partition from the factory-installed code? (I'm a programmer - I can't imagine having a program fragmented like that.) I would think that even if /system totally ran out of space and the new version of a system app wouldn't fit, it would just put the whole thing in /data and just a link inside /system to point to it. But Android is mysterious, so nothing should surprise me...

    I had been timid to disable apps, because every one that can be disabled but not uninstalled will give this warning:
    warning when disabling.png

    But I'm getting bolder now. Surely the OS won't break without something like Android Auto, and I don't even own a car!

    Related question: How many of the Google apps can I safely disable? Pre-installed Google-based apps I have never knowingly used include: Google News, Google One, Google Podcasts, Google TV, Lens, Speech Services by Google (I talk to my Home Mini speaker, but not my phone), and YouTube Music (I use the regular YouTube app but not the music one). Lens looks kinda cool, but I doubt I'll remember it's there. But if any of these are prerequisites for stuff I do use, like Drive, Home, Maps, or Photos, I'll leave them running.
  11. OsakaWebbie

    OsakaWebbie Newbie
    Thread Starter

    Why is that? As previously stated, I don't use my phone much, but on my computer, I adore Firefox.

    That would take more space, right? I am happy to have only two browsers installed: one that does passwords and cookies (which might as well be Chrome, since it can't be uninstalled anyway) and one lightweight browser that doesn't do cookies, cache, history, etc. (for quick searches, which is all I need most of the time).

    Does Frost have the ability to send notifications if a Messenger message or video chat call comes in? Its description on Github doesn't even mention Messenger at all.

    FYI: Such wrapper apps are apparently dropping like flies as Facebook tries to shoot them all down. Perhaps Frost will stay available longer than most because it's open source and therefore can be forked by fans like playing a game of cyber keep-away. But it sounds like there might even be risk for the users of wrappers - a scary sentence in the middle of this article: https://www.androidpolice.com/2021/...y-apps-swipe-and-simple-social-into-oblivion/

    It's nice to know someone does besides me - it seems that my friends all have iPhones or more powerful Android phones. Only recently did I even start using a smartphone as a phone - I previously had a flip phone for phone use (and a Moto G4 with a LCC's data-only SIM). I loved my flip phone (it comfortably fit in my jeans front pocket and was easy to operate), but 3G was being discontinued, so I had to switch to smartphone, and my cell provider offered this Sharp model for free as part of the deal. Free is the best version of cheap! ;-) My computer, on the other hand, is not bargain basement - I spend all day on it doing things like magazine design, video editing, and programming.

    I just used the card I already had (that was in my old phone) - so far it's working okay. Since I can't move apps to it, and I don't keep a lot of photos on my phone (they automatically go to Google Photos, which is where I want them), I'll never fill it up - it will mainly hold Kindle books, Bible app books, and photos recently shot.
  12. puppykickr

    puppykickr Android Expert

    I abhor Chrome, and anything Google.

    How big is your Chrome app?
    I am willing to bet that it is huge compared to Lightning.

    Firefox is fat, and slow.
    Slower than molasses in Alaska.
    Not only that, but the devs are basically against the first amendment.


    One big drawback to Firefox and browsers like it is the fact that they use their own webview, even though there is one already installed on every device.
    (A webview app allows other apps to display web content.)

    Lightning is basically a wrapper app for the Android System Webview app in your device.
    This is exactly why it is small and fast.

    It would save space by disabling Chrome (bringing it down to its original state in the process) and using the built in webview.

    It has the capability of allowing/not allowing cookies and tracking and other security and privacy features.
    It also has a built in ad-blocker that can be customized.
  13. OsakaWebbie

    OsakaWebbie Newbie
    Thread Starter

    I don't like Chrome either, although I'm okay with many other Google services. If you abhor anything Google, why do you have an Android phone?

    36MB, which is smaller than average for the apps on my phone, but of course larger than browsers designed specifically to be small. Have you heard of Via? According to this list, it's even smaller than Lightning. Anyway, I'll take a closer look at Lightning and other choices - there are way more out there than I realized (here's a list of 27 lightweight Android browsers!).

    Are you talking about the mobile app, or the browser in general? I totally agree with you regarding the mobile app (the full-featured version, that is, not Focus). On my computer full Firefox runs fine, and it has good out-of-the-box features (Container Tabs alone has been a lifesaver for my workflow) plus awesome extensibility - I use a number of add-ons that make it even better.

    As for your second point about Firefox, I read the link, but it seems that particular add-on developer has an axe to grind and is twisting the narrative. Mozilla has been one of the most consistent and active proponents of an open web for decades - that's one reason I like them. Add-ons are supposed to add functionality to browsers or other software, not promote a political agenda. Regardless of what you or I think of the Gab social network, the whole purpose of Dissenter appears to be to color people's view of the web with the opinions posted on Gab (increasing the echo chamber effect), which is more likely to hinder an open web than help it. That's not what add-ons are for.
  14. Hadron

    Hadron Smoke me a kipper...
    VIP Member

    It's been a few years since I've rooted my phones and fiddled with them, but back then yes, there would be a copy of the pre-installed app in /system/app and yet updates to it would go into ./data/app. Daft, I know.
    Correct: that boilerplate message will appear when you try to disable any system app, no matter how unimportant it it. There can be unintended consequences of disabling something if you don't know what depends on it, but disabling is reversible. It should not let you disable anything truly vital (though I've known some manufacturers prevent you from disabling apps that are not at all important, even commercial junk that they accepted money to pre-install - yes, Samsung, I am looking at you!).
    I'm pretty certain Google Home requires the Google app (the Google app also powers Assistant, Google's Voice Search in Maps, and any Google search widget - none of which I use myself). I've no idea what Google One app might be, never seen it, so it's probably not vital, and nothing depends on media apps like TV, Podcasts, YouTube Music etc. I think I played with Lens once when it came out and never used it again, and I don't use any Text To Speech stuff, so if you don't talk to the phone or have it talk to you I'm sure that can be disabled.
    OsakaWebbie and puppykickr like this.
  15. puppykickr

    puppykickr Android Expert

    Didn't the CEO of Mozilla quit because of their censorship and other nit so wonderful things?

    Not to mention that every single extention slows Firefox down even MORE.
    Yeah, slow browsers are way out of my league.
    Homey don't play dat.
    I have better things to do that fight with a slow browser that keeps tabs on everything that I do with it.

    My Ol'Lady uses Firefox on her laptop, and my old, crappy $40 device runs circles around it.

    Lightning is easier, faster, and more secure.
    Most sites cannot even correctly tell what browser I am using.

    Back to Dissenter, all itdoes is allow an open discussion on websites.
    You are free to join the discussion or not to.
    Twitter, Facebook, and others all do the very same thing, and do they not also push their political agendas?

    Yes, they do.

    And as for GAB, all are able to speak whatever they desire- so if that means what is heard there is upsetting, then perhaps more people feel the opposite than some would like to admit.
  16. OsakaWebbie

    OsakaWebbie Newbie
    Thread Starter

    Don't worry, I'm not turning off the basic Google app - I would assume half the phone's functionality would fall apart!

    Thanks, @Hadron, for lots of good info.

    Once again, mobile and computer are completely different in this regard - my computer doesn't have trouble running anything. I'm sure a browser tuned for speed will run faster, but on my computer I need features I need - I'm a missionary in Japan who runs the IT admin for multiple ministry organizations (hence my love for Container Tabs), and I do web development that needs browser dev tools. But on my phone I don't care about that, so as I said, I'll look at lightweight browser apps (Lightning, but also others), especially for small footprint, which is more important to me than raw speed.

    I'm not sure what browser you're referring to in this regard, but Mozilla is a non-profit organization that has no commercial reason to gather/sell data - in fact, they do their best to protect user privacy in how they build Firefox and Thunderbird. I would be most suspicious of browsers made by for-profit companies (e.g. Apple, Google, Microsoft), although geeks way smarter than me continuously scrutinize the packet communications surrounding all the major browsers - websites use tracking cookies to follow users around to each other's realms, but I haven't heard of major browsers doing snooping directly. Minor players, who knows...

    I think this thread has run its course - thanks for your help, everyone!
  17. puppykickr

    puppykickr Android Expert

    Ever see the way Firefox keeps a record of everything you download?
    I found that strange, considering how they brag about privacy.
    Stranger yet is how they bury this download info deep within the settings and if I remember right deleting them was a one at a time irritation.

    Then there is their other info grabbing, which supposedly can be turned off- but we all know how well that works with Google, which is Chrome- and how even when users turn things off the provider can still do as they please.
  18. OsakaWebbie

    OsakaWebbie Newbie
    Thread Starter

    That's for the user's convenience - you can restart failed downloads, look up where you saved something if you can't find it, etc. It's your history on your browser for your reference - it has nothing to do with privacy, unless you have a habit of letting random strangers use your computer.

    [Your second comment is non-specific and mistrusting with no actual facts. And this whole discussion is off-topic - let's please just put this thread to bed.]


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