With our devices being so much a part of our daily lives, it’s easy for them to become bogged down by cluttered processes, misbegotten updates, overloaded caches, RAM holdups, a crappy ROM that slipped by developers and several other issues that can affect modern Android devices.
And if you’re not using a Droid, why not? Sure, Google bogs it down with dozens of apps and processes that most of us find useless, but there’s a lot worse things to deal with.
Here’s a bunch of tips to help get (and keep) your Android devices running as fast as their processors will allow. Note that not all options will work for all devices. Some ROMs don’t allow each and every tweak mentioned and flashing a new one on your device (ie., rooting) may make it faster, but it can also brick it and/or void your warranty.
1. The Obvious: Restart
It had to be said. I know most of you are well aware of this. However, in the circles I run in, I’m a pseudo expert in all things tech. Trust me, the majority of the population, even smart folks, don’t understand the concept of restarting a phone when it’s running slow or plain not working at all.
*Restart, then proceed to number two.
2. Clear App Caches
This is another rarely used speed hack that only the most frustrated of users seem to catch onto and employ. App caches have a definite purpose (ie., making specific apps fetch data faster), however, they also gum up your phone, especially if you have dozens or more rarely used but essential-to-you apps.
*Head over to Settings > Storage > Make More Space / Clear Cached Data and clear that stuff out. You can also go to Settings > Storage > Apps and then clear the cached data for individual apps if you have any that you’re concerned about messing with.
3. Reduce Animations
This is a universal trick to speed up any modern device of any kind, including PCs and laptops. Animations take up ROM and RAM and otherwise slow down your phone or tablet. Since you can’t upgrade to an external graphics card like you would on a PC, the amount of graphics running on your Android can bog these devices down to turtle speed.
*Click on Settings > About Phone / Tablet and then tap the build number displayed a number of times and set the Window animation scale, Transition animation scale, and Animator duration scale to .5x or just turn them off altogether. Some devices have Developer Options listed directly under Settings too.
3. Kill / Uninstall Unnecessary Apps
This is another common problem I run into with even the most seasoned of Droid users’. Phones especially, but tablets also. Most people have no concept of what’s going on when you click “Yes” to install an app every darned time you’re asked to.
Very few users are discriminating when it comes to app installs, until their phone slows to a crawl and they have to pay someone to fix it or get chastised by someone like me for having “so many bloody apps it’s no wonder this thing still works at all!”
*Unfortunately, this won’t work for Google’s bloatware that comes installed with the phone (#angryface). Alas, you can still get rid of useless apps you don’t need / don’t remember installing by heading to Settings > Apps and examine the apps displayed.
Select the Downloaded option and go through and Uninstall whichever ones you don’t need. You can always reinstall the little-used ones as needed. Alternatively, you can Force Stop any apps you don’t need, but this will only work until you restart the device since the majority of apps will restart at that time.
4. Turn Off Data-Intensive Apps Until You Need Them
Data usage soaks up RAM and processor speed and slows your device down.
*Head to Settings > Data Usage and look for apps that are using an inordinate amount of data. If you can live without some or all data-intensive apps listed, or would simply like to troubleshoot to see if killing or uninstalling them will speed up your device enough to justify getting rid of them, head back to #3.
5. Factory Reset — Or…
A factory reset can be helpful if you’re not a tech-savvy type and just want to start over from scratch. This option will get rid of all your customizations, downloads, pictures, videos, downloaded apps — everything! So, if you’re going this route, read this article and embrace Google Cloud backup for your devices and you’ll be able to do a rather seamless factory reset whenever you want.
*Consult your owners manual or Google how to factory reset your specific phone.
Or.. Check out this article detailing how to root your device using a hack that I personally love and choose a reputable ROM that does what you need. I’ve never bricked a phone doing this, but know people who have had troubles with it. Doing this allows for more complete customization, including getting rid of those pesky Google apps you don’t use. Bricking, in my opinion, is such a small risk it’s worth it.
Share your own tips for making Android faster by leaving a comment.
Main Image Credit: Sergey/Flickr