Monday, February 25, 2013

Defeat Windows Phone 8 'Other' Storage with Shrink Storage app

Windows Phone 8 has a strange storage 'bug' that keeps eating away at your storage space if you are not too careful. Now this happens all the time (it happens on my Android and iPhone as well), but on my HTC Windows Phone 8X, with its limited 16 GB of storage (12 GB after formatting and system allocations) and no ability to expand storage via microSD slot, this can lead to tons of frustration.

A Windows Phone developer once told me that all Windows Phone apps are run sandboxed, meaning if you delete them, everything associated with the app goes. This also means there is no reason for a file explorer or registry so you can go an manually delete any orphan and temporary files. Unfortunately this isn't always exactly true.

It appears that Windows Phone 8 uses a susbtantial amount of storage space which is labelled as 'Other'. And like the misunderstood villains of the first few series of Lost (before the series turned into an orgy for writers to make stuff up as they go along), the 'Other' can turn your Windows Phone 8 stay into a rather unpleasant one.
From what we know, the 'Other' is where temporary storage like web browsing cache, e-mails, text messages, attachments, possibly Facebook galleries/cache, app cache and data, and map data are stored. But this doesn't account for how fast the 'Other' can rapidly expand. On my 8X, 4.02 GB of storage was taken by the 'Other'. This despite only having a handful of sub 20 MB games and only having downloaded the map data of England (around 240 MB).

I have read a couple tales of woes by users who has their 'Other' taking up 10 GB of storage space! There are speculations that SkyDrive cloud storage is also causing 'Other' to bloat. This issue also appears to plague Windows Phone 7 as well, as I remember vividly having to battle to regain storage on my old Lumia 800, where it would occasionally run out of storage but a sync through Zune would then bizarrely free up some storage.

Fortunately an enterprising developer has created an app that forces the 'Other' to flush some of these redundant data and free some storage up for users to claw back. Called Shrink Storage, the app will attempt to free up storage by tricking the phone into believing it is running out of storage - by actually filling up the internal storage with useless data. This forces the OS to release some additional storage allocation from the 'Other', resulting in some gained storage. After using the app for the first time, my 'Other' shrank to 2.87 GB, freeing an additional 1.15 GB for me to use, so yay, it works!
Now, it's fair to say that Microsoft has engineered Windows Phone 8 to use those other empty storage space to speed up operations by caching stuff. After all what is the point of ignoring a perfectly good empty storage? It's a valid point, but I disagree. Some users (like me) allocate some storage for later use, so we don't appreciate when an app or OS would reserve them. I can remember several occasions where I was recording HD videos of live shows, only for the phone to rudely interrupt the recording because the storage filled up quickly. Because of the 'Other'.

All this would be moot if Microsoft would mandate a minimum amount of storage that OEMs must ship their phones at. Surely in 2013, 32 GB should be bare minimum for a phone that comes equipped with a camera capable of recording 1080p video files. Expansion slots should also be encouraged. After all, what is the point of crafting a multimedia phone when I can't even use it? It is in Microsoft's best interest to ensure a good user experience. At the very least give us a way to control how much space is reserved for 'Other'.

Until then, if you are a Windows Phone 8 user needing free up some storage and defeat the bastardly and evil 'Other', Shrink Storage will do you good.


Anonymous said...

This is exactly what is needed to kill the other storage. Reduced the bastard from 6GB to 2GB!

AlamNobi said...
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