How to Manage Your Android Tablet's Storage

Somewhere, deep in your Android tablet's bosom, lies a storage device or two. That storage works like the hard drive in a computer, and for the same purpose: to keep apps, music, videos, pictures, and a host of other information for the long term.

  • Android tablets come with 8GB, 16GB, or 32GB of internal storage. In the future, models with larger storage capacities might become available.

  • Removable storage in the form of a MicroSD card is available on some Android tablets. The capacity of a MicroSD card can vary between 8GB and 64GB.

  • A GB is a gigabyte, or 1 billion bytes (characters) of storage. A typical 2-hour movie occupies about 4GB of storage, but most things you store on the tablet — music and pictures, for example — take up only a sliver of storage. Those items do, however, occupy more storage space the more you use the tablet.

Reviewing storage stats

You can see how much storage space is available on your Android tablet's internal storage by following these steps:

  1. At the Home screen, touch the Apps icon.

  2. Open the Settings app

  3. Choose the Storage item.

    On some Samsung tablets, you'll find the Storage item on the General tab in the Settings app.

    The screen details information about storage space on the tablet's internal storage and, if available, the MicroSD card.

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Touch a category on the Storage screen to view details on how the storage is used or to launch an associated app. For example, touching Applications displays a list of running apps. Choosing the Pictures, Videos item lets you view pictures and videos.

  • Things that consume the most storage space are videos, music, and pictures, in that order.

  • To see how much storage space is left, refer to the Available item.

  • Don't complain if the Total Space value is far less than the stated capacity of your Android tablet. For example, your tablet may have 16GB of storage but the Storage screen reports on 11.94GB of total space. The missing space is considered overhead, as are several gigabytes taken by the government for tax purposes.

Managing files

You probably didn't get an Android tablet because you enjoy managing files on a computer and you wanted another gizmo to hone your skills. Even so, you can practice the same type of file manipulation on the Android tablet as you would on a computer. Is there a need to do so? Of course not! But if you want to get dirty with files, you can.

Some Android tablets come with a file management app. It's called File or My Files, and it's a traditional type of file manager, which means that if you detest managing files on your computer, you'll experience the same pain and frustration on your tablet

When your tablet lacks a file management app, you can swiftly obtain one. You'll find an abundance of file management apps available at the Google Play Store. One good choice is the ASTRO file manager/browser from Metago.

If you simply want to peruse files you've downloaded from the Internet, open the Downloads app, found in the Apps drawer.

Formatting MicroSD storage

Once installed, a MicroSD card's storage is available for use by your Android tablet. You can save pictures on the card, move apps, and use the external storage to keep more junk on the tablet. Before you can do all that, however, the MicroSD card must be formatted. Here are the steps that are necessary to accomplish this task:

  1. Open the Settings app.

  2. Choose the Storage item.

    On some Samsung tablets, you'll find the Storage item on the General tab.

  3. Touch the Format SD Card command.

    The command is found at the bottom of the Storage screen.

  4. Touch the Format SD Card button.

    All data on the MicroSD card is erased by the formatting process.

  5. Touch the Delete All button.

    The MicroSD card is unmounted, formatted, and then mounted again and made ready for use.

After the card is formatted, you can use it to store information, music, apps, photos, and stuff like that.

  • Some tablets may not let you format the MicroSD card when the device is connected to a computer. Disconnect the tablet (unplug the USB cable) and try again.

  • The Camera app for most tablets automatically stores images on the MicroSD card. This setting can be changed.

  • When copying music to the tablet, choose the device's "Card" storage when using programs such as Windows Media Player.

  • Apps can be relocated to the MicroSD card storage.

  • The Unmount SD Card command is also found on the Storage screen in the Settings app. It allows you to remove the MicroSD card without turning off the tablet. This unmounting process is necessary to prevent data from being lost or the media card from being destroyed if it's removed while information is being accessed.

    If such a thing concerns you, turn off the tablet and then remove the MicroSD card. That way, you'll always be safe.

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