You're on vacation and you've run out of phone storage—what to do?

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You're taking that killer selfie in front of a national monument and you get that dreaded notice on your phone—you've run out of storage.

Apple will offer a paid solution: upgrade your iCloud account now in order to snap more , as iCloud only offers 5 gigabytes of for free. Samsung has a similar Cloud service, with 15 GBs of free storage.

Most entry-level phones come with 32 GB of storage, which, once you add a bunch of apps, will greatly fill up in the phone, even more than all those high-resolution photos and 4K videos.

What to do? It's not just about spending money. You have several options.

Download Google Photos or Amazon Photos apps

Both apps offer free, unlimited uploads, and automatic backups of all your photos and videos, but with caveats. Google has free uploads, at slightly lower than full resolution, and Amazon's offer is full resolution, but only to members of its $119 yearly Prime expedited shipping and entertainment service. When the storage is full, backup your data here, confirm they are there, and then delete off the phone.

Delete apps

Not only do smartphone apps eat up a lot of valuable real estate, they also grow the more you use them. See for yourself.

Go to the Settings section of your phone, and check out the size of the apps. If you haven't used any of these in awhile, delete them.

On this reporter's iPhone, photos and video apps were the worst offenders. The photo editing app Adobe Lightroom Mobile was the big one, with a whopping 8 GB, followed by the Apple Photos app 7 GB, the DJI Go app, used for flying a drone, at 4 GB, Google Photos with 1.4 GB and the Adobe Rush -editing program, at 1.2 GB.

My friend Adam's Samsung phone found Facebook as the biggest data hog, with 744 MB, followed by Google Chrome at 729 MB, Instagram with 622 MB, Chase bank with 515 MB and American Airlines at 506 MB.

One telltale place to look for excessive data hogs is the Apple Podcasts app. Going back to the pre-streaming days, when you had to subscribe to podcasts in order to hear them in your app, many phones still subscribe to them, and thus, all these data rich podcasts end up on your phone automatically. There's no need for this in an on-demand world. Take a look in the General Settings tab, and you might find some free multi-gigabyte space worth getting rid of here.

Delete videos

Aside from apps, videos take up more room than any other form of data. Once you've downloaded Google Photos or Amazon Photos and confirmed that the file is backed up there, start deleting videos off your .

Trim back texts

These aren't data hogs, but if you make a lot of them, you might want to go in and start getting rid of the ones you no longer need. This should be your last resort, as deleting texts will be very time consuming.

Buy storage

And when all else fails, get ready to spend money.

Google One offers the most generous free storage, at 15 GBs, compared to 5 GBs from Apple and Microsoft OneDrive, or just 2 GBs from Dropbox.

But these services, with the exception of iCloud, won't back up the apps, only photos and videos. With the gazillion photos taken every year on smartphones, the odds are, we'll need to pay for the upgrade.

The cheapest options comes from Apple and Microsoft, at 99 cents monthly for 50 GB, or $1.99 for 100 GB from Google. Unless you're very good about transferring images elsewhere, 50 or 100 GB won't get you very far.

If that's not enough, $5.83 monthly will buy you 1 Terabyte of storage from Google. For $9.99 monthly, Apple, Google and Dropbox will all offer you 2 TBs.

Good luck making room everyone!


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Jul 05, 2019
What about expanding storage by using MicroSD cards that can fit into the phone?
I realize that some phones don't come with expandable storage option, but for those that do, you'd be better off just buying 120GB microSD card and putting it into the phone to expand the storage.

The price of expandable storage will vary of course (depending on the size), and for a one time purchase, it will actually cost you the same amount of what google charges for a full year of 100GB.

If it were me, I'd just get the microSD card and later on just upgrade the card itself to a bigger one and transfer all the stuff off it to a larger capacity one using a computer or via network transfer (though the latter would take a lot longer).

This will of course depend on whether the phone's OS can recognize the high capacity storage, but technically, it should... and if not, by the time you do fill up the card, you might actually want to get a new phone which has much larger storage capacity.

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