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What files are stored in System Data? How to reduce its size? Little Internal Storage space left

Discussion in 'Android Devices' started by roseuz, Dec 25, 2011.

  1. roseuz

    roseuz Newbie
    Thread Starter

    Hello. I have a Samsung Dart telephone by T-mobile and as much as I love the phone, I am hating it more and more because of the issue of low internal storage. Once that happens, as those very familiar with android phones know, I can't get any text messages and must begin deleting items.

    The problem is, most of the data is being stored is under "System Data" according to the DiskUsage app and there is no way for me to see what's there!* According to DiskUsage, my phone has 177.4 MB of internal storage, with 58.6 being used by applications, 20.4 MB free, and a whole 98.3 MB by System Data.

    *From what I have looked up online, the only way to see what's being stored there is to root one's device. I would however like to avoid doing this because I may return this phone and have no idea, nor have found any instructions on how to unroot this device.

    The second solution I have found is to reset the phone. I would for now prefer not to do this as I don't want to have to go through apps and write down things for those apps for which there are no way of backing up items, like ColorNote and Shazam, or to figure out how to backup things, along with making a list of the items I have installed.

    So, my main question is, other than rooting the device and looking what's stored in system data, and other than doing a factory reset, how can I see / guess what's in system data and reduce it's size?

    What kinds of files are usually stores in system data?

    And finally, I see many people asking about this problem. It's either something all of us users are doing wrong, or Android really wasn't built in a smart fashion. What good is a powerful phone if you can't do anything powerful with it thanks to such a terrible and irritating limitation?

    Also, because of this problem, especially if there aren't easy or straight forward solutions, and also because I want a phone with a camera that has auto focus, I would like to find another prepaid phone with a larger internal storage, but they seem (for the few that I looked at) to either be around the same size as my current phone (either a little higher or lower). Any recommendations would be appreciated.

    I also don't understand why the internal storage of phones seem to be a number that is not immediately mentioned with the specs of a phone, especially considering how it impacts the user experience once it's almost full. One has to do a lot of researching to find this number.

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  2. t499user

    t499user Newbie

    You can move applications to the SD card. Settings>Applications>Manage Applications> SDcard click on the app and choose "move to SD card".
  3. roseuz

    roseuz Newbie
    Thread Starter

    I am very disappointed at this response, but it's my fault for not mentioning in my original post that I have already installed / moved all apps that can be installed / moved on an SD card. The current apps that are installed on the phone cannot be moved to the SD card.
  4. t499user

    t499user Newbie

    I am extremely disappointed that you hadn't mentioned this in your original post.

    There are ways of making the unmovable, moveable. First, have a talk with the application developer that set it up that way.
    Then you can take a look at: Moving Your 'Non-Movable' Android Apps to an SD Card: Introduction - Techgage

    When you are talking about the cheapest underpowered phones, most people aren't interested in how much memory it has, just that it works.

    Generally, the older and cheaper phones are going to have less storage. If it has enough storage to brag about, it will usually be mentioned. When you are looking at something as cheap as the Dart, you can pretty much say 100% that it's going to be limiting, in almost every area. Then again, how much performance do you want for $100usd. It has little storage, slow processor, crappy camera, no flash, and that horrible screen my goodness. But I still like mine :) I also have a SGS2 that you would LOVE, and be absolutely happy with, but you have to pay to play!

    Spend more money and get a better phone if that is your desire. Find yourself an unlocked quad band GSM phone and you will be all set. You don't have to buy a T-mobile branded phone from Walmart or whatever.
    Want to compare some phones, check out GSMArena.com - GSM phone reviews, news, opinions, votes, manuals and more...

    Some more information for you and others that may read this post:
    If you want to root the SGH-T499, superoneclick does work. SuperOneClick | shortfuse.org

    You can gratis(free) sim/network unlock this phone very easily, you must do this on one of the original stock roms: xda-developers [TUTORIAL] Unlock Samsung [GT-S5570 / i5500 / Galaxy Ace]

    The stock T-mobile and Mobilicity(Very Clean/Stock/Canadian) roms for the T499 are available here: [Archive] Stock ROMs and Tools

    Finally there is a CyanogenMod 7.1 (android 2.3.7) port mostly working(incoming call screen delay and button lights aren't working) on the SGH-T499 at: [Development] CyanogenMod 7.1 "SGH-T499" Port

    If I helped you at all, please click Thanks!
    roseuz likes this.
  5. You tell the guy to buy a new phone, and then beg for thanks? Seriously?

    Yeah, it's a pain with low-end phones. But I spent my Saturday doing a little research, and finding and proving the long-term solution for this issue on my own Dart. You don't need to spend a dime, just a little time.

    Short answer - the problem isn't small total "internal storage" (although of course, a lower-end phone will have less total than a more expensive one) it's the tiny partition size for the /data partition where all of your apps store...well...data. (Actually it's /data/data, but nevermind that now.) Once you know that, it's not hard to see there are three solutions; add space to the /data partition, remove things from the /data partition, or lie to your phone and make it think things you moved are still in your data partition. Can't really do the first with the stock ROM, don't want to cripple the phone by doing the second, but the third option works really, really well.

    I wrote an over-long step-by-step and posted it on my blog at Nostalgic Rumblings
  6. roseuz

    roseuz Newbie
    Thread Starter

    To: CharlieSummers

    Thanks for the information you provided CharlieSummers. I will look into it later and see if it can be of help to me. I will provide some stats here also on how the space is allocated on my phone just in case there is nothing else that can be done with my phone, you can point that out (of course if using the SD is part of the solution, well then something can always be done).

    This info is according to Titanium Backup Pro:

    System ROM: 203 MB (1.59 MB free)
    Internal: 186 MB (19.0 MB free)
    SD card: 7.95 GB (1.36 GB free)

    Now, about t499 user, I would not criticize him because the information he provided was actually very helpful at the time. I got more space on my phone. Later I then ran out of space again.

    To: t499user (and if you want to read more, CharlieSummers), and Others

    Thank you very much for your help. I have always meant to come back to say Thank You and have felt guilty for not doing so. The reason I didn't do so earlier is because in addition to thanking you I had also wanted to post a very long, detailed response in which I would ask more questions and for clarification as well. I don't remember all of them now and some of them would involve me using various apps and then me reporting my findings with regards to the size of apps before and after doing various tasks.

    So, I'll mention what I can remember or summarize some of my points / questions and also directly respond to your post.

    First of all, thank you very much for the link for "Moving Your 'Non-Movable' Android Apps to an SD Card: Introduction - Techgage" That was very helpful and something I never found on my own. It was easy and helped a lot, and all without rooting!

    Present Condition of My Phone (Part 1):

    Anyhow, I did want more information from my phone and to be able to do other tasks, so I did end up rooting my phone. I was very scared, but everything turned out o.k. Once in a while when I would resume my phone (getting the first screen off by sliding the lock icon), my screen would be all frozen or sometimes white. This rarely happens and I don't know if it was due to the rooting or if the phone might slowly but surely be going bad or if it's just some software causing a problem.

    I also installed Titanium Backup and bought the Pro version to get extra benefits. I hate paying for apps, but felt that this one was worth it.

    Direct response to t499 user's post:

    I responded originally the way I did with the disappointed comment because your response was rather quick and not helpful since I had already done what you suggested. Also, being that I think at the time you were a New Member, I figured it was just some idiot responding quickly with unhelpful advice.

    Regarding your comment about performance on cheaper phones and the Dart specifically, I have never once considered my phone slow or had any complaints about the screen, camera, etc. and so on. The only thing I wanted was more space. Also, I simply assumed that the phone's internal memory size didn't matter because the phone allowed one to add external storage. The insufficient space limited a phone that to me can do so many great things.

    For example, one cannot receive text messages unless my phone has at least 18 MB free. With 17 point something, it says the phone is running low on memory and as a result, no text messages are able to be received by the phone.

    Present Condition of My Phone (Part 2) and Size / Space Issues that I don't understand:

    With my phone having some more space, I installed a few more apps. I was however soon running out of space again. To this day I still have issues with space. The instant I use Google Navigation, I get a low space warning message and so I must then delete WEB data or data from maps, or something else (data and or cache from other apps) until I can have more space.

    You and others reading might say "Well, just uninstall the new apps you installed". The thing is, it isn't this easy, which is what bugged me of this phone and had me looking all around the phone and using various programs to look at the sizes of different things.

    The issue is, that the space one has lost by installing new apps, is not equal to the space that one re-gains when uninstalling those same apps. For example, let's say right now my phone has 50 MB free, and I installed 3 apps. I would then look at the size of those apps and sum them up. Let's say they equal 33 MB. The free space on my phone should then be 17 MB. (I believe in a case like this, this would be the free space shown, or even a little bit less, like an additional 1 to 5 MB). So, I would then uninstall those 3 apps, and the space gained would be less than 33 MB!

    This is why I wanted to see exactly what files are stored in System Data. Prior to rooting my phone, I was using the app DiskUsage, and that would only show one big block that would say System Data or something of that sort. Now that my phone is rooted, I can see more information, but one day I added up all the info there or all the numbers from Apps in Settings > Applications > Manage Applications, and they didn't add up to the 160 MB. (This number I have seen mentioned for my phone, the Samsung Dart, even though the total is 177 MB, but I guess since the phone can't do much with any app that needs space once the free space is 17 point something is probably why 160 MB is published. This number was rarely published though in the specs of this phone on multiple websites. And when it was, some had higher numbers and others even had lower numbers. To this day, some websites don't mention the internal memory of the phone in their specs. I have to go hunting around to find out what the number is.)

    Also, different apps would report on different sizes of apps or different available and used space. With Windows, when a program is installed, most or all of the information is stored in one folder, so if one is running out of space, one knows exactly where to go to delete things. And if one has created a file with the program, one knows where he/she stored it. If one doesn't know or if one feels that it's his/ her user created files that are taking up lots of space and not necessarily the programs, there are many great free programs that break down the size of all data on the hard drive, and the numbers do add up.

    This is is what I wanted for my phone, but I can't seem to be able to rely on the numbers that show a break down of what space is each app is using up.

    Anyhow, I later learned of Dalvik cache and how when a program is downloaded the installation file (the apk file -- an exe equivalent of Windows), is stored there and not always deleted. So, I have Titanium Backup to help me out with that.

    I also learned of log files that are created but that one is usually not aware of these. So, I use SD Maid to help me out with that.

    Remaining Solutions (Supposedly):

    The only solution that I remembered at the time that was left was to do something with the phone in which it would think that the information is being saved on the phone, but it is instead being saved to the SD Card. (I am not sure if this is what CharlieSummers is proposing. I will know when I look more into it). I think what I am referring to is Solution C here: [GUIDE] How to get more FREE SPACE for your apps - ZTE Blade / Libra - Blade.MoDaCo.com - MoDaCo

    The other solution was to delete apps and files that came with the phone that cannot be moved and that one may never use. One set of files is that of fota_delta_dp1. It is for firmware delivered over the air. I believe my phone has two of those files, but every time I deleted them, they would be re-created once I would shut down the phone and turn it back on and I have never found a solution to permanently delete them. I think they were about 10 MB each.


    That's it for now. If my space situation improves or someone posts a response, I would respond if a response is needed.

    In the future I would like to get a prepaid phone with much more space. Now that I know that is a very important factor because even with a large SD Card, unless one does multiple tricks here and there, the large SD card is useless. I see that Metro PCS has phones for $150 and less that have large MB's and even GB's of internal storage. They actually publish the internal memory numbers for all or most of there phones unlike Straight Talk and others. I also want other features, like automatic zoom so that I can scan barcodes.
  7. epp

    epp Well-Known Member

    Part of this problem, can be blamed on the part of the developers of applications. Many of them are designed so that they CANNOT be moved to the microSD card.

    Google should make this option MANDATORY for all apps written for Android.

  8. (*sigh*) If you read the blog post I wrote, you'll understand what is giving you that low-memory issue. It isn't total internal memory (what TiBackup is reporting), it's only the /data partition - you can have plenty of internal memory, but if /data/data fills its part of it, you get the message.

    Look, the whole reason for pointing to that blog post is I don't want to have to repeat everything every place someone is having this problem. (There are other forums discussing this same issue.)

    What I can't figure out is how I was able to, in one day, piece together the required information, fix my issue, detail the steps required culled from various sources, write the blog post detailing all of this information, and post it where other people could benefit, when no none else seems to be able to find any of this stuff. A few web searches lead me to the exact problem and solution; no hand-wringing required. I know I'm pretty good with searching the web, but I ain't that much better than anyone else...

    The blog post explains the precise reason you get that low memory warning, and exactly how to fix it. Not work around it, but fix it. You have two choices; read that to understand what causes the problem and what steps/software is required to deal with it, or don't and keep suffering with the problem. Had you read my post, you wouldn't have needed to post your detailed addendum, since your problem would now be solved.

    That's not strictly true; some cannot run from the microSD card for system reasons (widgets, launchers, etc.). But even those can be moved to a second partition on the microSD card so long as there are persistent symlinks pointing to them. Read my blog post, follow the instructions carefully, and you can move pretty much any user-installed app, along with its data and libraries, if desired. (FWIW, on the Dart, apps that can are by default installed onto the microSD card...but that doesn't prevent their data from being stored in internal memory!)

    (Banging head into wall.) I explain all of this in my blog post.
  9. roseuz

    roseuz Newbie
    Thread Starter

    I doubt Google will ever do this when they themselves are the main culprit. According to Titanium Backup, Maps is taking up 12 MB internally (though through Settings > Applications > Manage Applications , it only reports it as being only 5.30 MB large, which is one example of different numbers being reported that I complained about).

    The Google Play Store is taking up 10.8 MB (10.52 MB in Manage Applications), Gmail is taking up 5.5 MB (5.59 MB in Manage Applications), though almost half of that is data, and YouTube is taking up 3.3 MB (1.24 MB in Manage Applications) with barely anything of that being data. This is all internally, and the size of the apps according to Titanium Backup Pro.

    Hmm. It seems like not all of them are very far off in the Manage Applications area, with Maps being the Huge Exception and YouTube following next.

    To: CharlieSummers:

    I will make a few points and try to keep them short.

    Point 1

    First of all, I did read your blog post a few hours after posting my message here. It looks like a simple task. I will attempt to do what you instructed there when I have a few hours in which I know that I will not be interrupted. Thanks for posting it.

    Point 2

    And yes, I also have not found instructions online that make it this simple and as easy as one, two, three. What I have usually found is very long set of instructions, with multiple warnings, and multiple ways of getting the job done, like the link I posted in my last post.

    You probably figured it all out due to persistence and a lack of fear of ruining your phone or an app or being unable to undo what was done. Yes, apps can be re-installed, but not those that came with the phone for free but are paid apps. Take for example the ThinkFree Office app, which though extremely large--15.6 MB, I wouldn't dare touch this app because so far it's the only free app (free because it came on the phone as free) that I have found that can text wrap pdf's. The latest update changed it from a right to left swipe to up and down, which I hated, but thank goodness I was able to put back the old one there I believe through Titanium Backup. (Yes, you could say that I ruined the app here and fixed my problem, so there is nothing to fear, but it's a procedure I am still not comfortable with).

    If I had a spare phone, then I wouldn't have mind trying any experiment on it.

    Point 3

    Regarding the /data/data area getting full and being the only area responsible for the low memory warning message, I am pretty sure that when I have deleted files from /data/dalvik-cache that I have gotten the low memory message to go away if the size of the file(s) was enough to give me more than 17.XX MB of free space internal space. This is also why other posts on other sites have suggested deleting fota_delta_dp1 and fota_delta_dp2 because they are in the /data area.
  10. No kidding. What I said was, the /data partition is small in the Dart. When it reaches 10% free (the /data partition is 177M in the Dart, so 10% is 17.7M), you get the low message warning. The primary culprit however is the /data/data directory, where all the apps on the phone store data - that clearing the dalvic cache gets you above 17.7 temporarily doesn't really affect the big picture, since it will climb again. I never said that there was a mountpoint at /data/data, in fact I was quite clear the mountpoint was /data. The only real solution, though, is to remove the crap cluttering up /data/data, which the method I detailed directly addresses. All your ramblings deal with temporarily clearing everything except the /data/data directory...these procedures will simply turn the warning off until the next time whatever you cleared grows back.

    The low memory warning triggers at 17.7M free in the /data partition. I currently have 52.40MB free (fifty-two-point-four-zero) free in that partition, after re-installing a bunch of apps (like the SiriusXM player which itself contains a good bit of data for the channel setups) I removed to try to fix the problem your way. If you can get anywhere near that without using the system I detail, or uninstalling every app you've installed and resetting to factory defaults, you let me know. Otherwise, stop nitpicking.

    Look, you seem intent on not reading what I say, and instead finding straw men to knock down to show me how "wrong" I am. I'll just unsubscribe from this topic so I don't have to deal with this anymore, hoping that others who have this problem and find this thread in the future via web search will be less intent on proving me "wrong," and more interested on actually fixing their problem and getting on with their lives.
  11. roseuz

    roseuz Newbie
    Thread Starter

    To: CharlieSummers

    When you make a statement like,

    you give the impression that the /data/data was the only problem.

    My intent was not on proving you wrong, but to simply have the full scope of the problem stated correctly, especially if others who are having space problems come to this discussion first when looking for solutions.
  12. I too had a similar query with my first ever phone and posted about it. I was informed succinctly that the solution is to root. I ofcourse rebelled against it until eventually it was explained to me and some things I discovered myself.

    Internal memory can run out on older phones as at the time that memory was enough and apps used to be smaller. The operating system allows apps to move to sd-card but only partially. Some cannot be moved or break if moved. That is not the developers fault. e.g. a call blacker that I moved via link2sd broke.
    Apps have lib files, data files, apk...traditionally you can't move all of that. So even when you move some of that stays on internal memory. You can use link2sd to move most stuff except the private app data...which is safer for good performance. Moving data to sd is said to hurt your sd card but you're more likely to get a new phone before that happens...it is also likely to destroy your phone...so if you are facing multiple restarts due to this, don't go for moving data to sd.You can also get things that move your app data to sd as well. You can find flashable zips as well as apps for that and you may have to create an ext partition. I've tried moving the entire /data to sd-card via a script. It is easily reversible and does not harm your previous state. Once you undo it, the previous installed apps appear as before. (I am talking about a2sd xdata).
    There are ways of reducing /system size I believe. This I do not have experience with.

    Now you can't do any of that as you do not want to root.

    You can unroot if you have the stock RUU and flash it or if you don't S-OFF and don't mess with your built in recovery you can create a back up of your stock rom and reflash it to go back. Your best option is working stock RUU.*

    But as far as I know there isn't much you can do without rooting. So you can upgrade your phone...or root...or wait for your warranty to expire and take the plunge. In the mean time, you could reduce the apps...get apps that are multipurpose or smaller or more important. For things you can do via html5 or browser, bookmark. Which is pretty much what I am doing right now as my current rom does not like data to sd or link2sd

    You don't always have to S-OFF to "root" I didn't until this year. There is a flashable zip that you can flash through your recovery and it will root you with the stock rom you are already on. [Yes, I have tried this]. Option two is also similarly easy: Simply install a pre-rooted rom by flashing a zip through recovery.

    But if you CAN'T do the above two if your phone won't LET you then you need to find an easier way to S-OFF and install a custom recovery through FASTBOOT flash recovery...one such easier way is superoneclick.
    Yes...you can brick your phone but its not something you should be too stressed about if you follow all the instructions to the letter. Those with S-OFF are able to ..."unbrick" their phones.

    Um...best of luck...
  13. allymac

    allymac Lurker

    Same here 6gb system data most apps on sd but there is not one decent answer here to delete this data file does not open its only 5 months old
  14. allymac

    allymac Lurker

    My question is this i have 6.79gb of system data of my 8gb lg phone apps moved to sd cleared all cache file cleared history browzing music photos on sd which is 32gb can not open system data so can you give me a answer?????????????
  15. allymac

    allymac Lurker

  16. allymac

    allymac Lurker

    SO YOU ARE SAYING IF YOUR PHONE IS UNDER £200.00 Go somewhere else for proper help thus site is a joke
  17. scary alien

    scary alien not really so scary
    VIP Member

    Welcome to our AndroidForums, @allymac.

    Not exactly sure why you're unhappy with our site? :thinking:

    Before you replied here, the last post was from July 1, 2013 and the post you quoted from above was from Jan 16, 2012, so a lot of water has gone under the bridge since those posts and I'm guessing those folks might not be monitoring these threads anymore.

    Can I ask:

    1. Do you have a Samsung Dart?
    2. Is your device rooted?
    3. Can you re-state the issue you're having?

  18. allymac

    allymac Lurker

    I have a lg phone not rooted i want to delete 6gb system data ive 2gb apps all cleared cache moved what i coukd to my 32sd card
  19. scary alien

    scary alien not really so scary
    VIP Member

    Which specific LG device and which version of Android do you have? (if we know that, I can direct you to our specific forum area for it).

    If you are not rooted, you will not be able to move anything off or out of your (protected) /system partition--that's area is reserved for and used by the operating system (Android).

    It's not just Android itself that limits moving of "apps to SD" (if that's still available for your version of Android), but the app developer's themselves have to designate that the app is written for and can be moved (at least, using the Android-approved (i.e., non-root) "move to SD" methods). If you don't see an option in your Settings -> (Manage) Apps -> selected app, then that app cannot be moved (again, without rooting your device).

    Even if you are rooted, it is not necessarily trivial to root and do these things--it is often a risky / dangerous endeavor to root your device, make a proper backup that you can restore back with, make your changes to your /system partition, etc... There are also consequences to doing all of this, principally that you can no longer receive and OTA (over-the-air) update from your carrier for newer versions of Android.
  20. Italianswife

    Italianswife Lurker

    I have discovered by having so many problems with my LG K7 is that the file manager app on some phones is holding an insanely amount of data , that I nearly had multiple meltdowns trying to pinpoint the problem. I just happened to stumble across it one day when I was comparing apps between my and my husbands phone. With him having a Galaxy s5 as I have a LG K7 . I was super surprised to see how different they were in the apps and how differently and where the data was stored. I just assumed that with both phones being androids not a lot would be that different about the programs. It turns out that most of the data from my phone was placed no where near I was instructed to look. .Now if it was a setting placed by default or something else I am not sure. But by the time the discovery was made It took me forever to go thru, figure out and eliminate all the crap that was in there. Folders and folders, line after line of 3 to 5 second recordings of the Google navigation voice bot stating where to go from the last 3 months of traveled. Thumb nails of pics and other things that had to do with texting and voice searches ,I went thru it all. Making sure I wasn't throwing needed info or precious memories away. Good place to hide in plain sight id say. Just thought I would share what I have discovered along the kicking ,screaming and walkie talkies where much simpler kind of days.​
    #20 Italianswife, Nov 16, 2016
    Last edited: Nov 16, 2016

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