Posted by: Frank | February 13, 2009

Managing Browser Storage on Android

You should be able to tell from the number of posts that I have written on this topic, that storage space management on the T-Mobile G1 is a problem. The problem is caused by the limited amount of usable storage space (256 MB) with the G1 and the fact that you cannot install applications on the SD card or configure the web browser to use the SD card for the browser cache. (Not to mention how Market chews up storage!)

The Android browser lacks features that are critical for mobile web browsers: the ability to specify where the cache is stored and the ability to specify the maximum size for the cache. Because these two features don’t exist it means the browser can continue to use more and more storage on the G1 until it runs out, at which point you have to delete items to free up storage space.

I have found that there are two ways to free up the storage the Android browser is using. One is to use the browser settings by pressing the Menu button when the browser is open, then selecting More, Settings. Under the Privacy Settings section there are options for clearing the cache, clear history, clear cookie data, clear form data, and clear passwords. You have to select each one individually to completely clear up all of the storage the browser is using. Here is where Android should have settings for the maximum amount of storage these options use, or it could have an option for clearing the browser cache every so many days. My recommendation is that every week or so, depending on how much you use the browser, go into settings and clear the cache. You might see a slight decrease in browser performance because the purpose of the cache is to keep frequently used data on the device so that the browser doesn’t have to retrieve the same data from the Internet every time it is needed.

There is a faster way to delete all of the data the web browser uses, which is to go into the G1 device settings (Menu, Settings from the home screen), select Applications, Manage Applications, scroll until you see Browser and tap it. You will see a Storage section that shows the total storage the browser uses, with a button to Clear Data. When you tap that button all of the browser data: cache, history, cookies, passwords, is deleted. This will also delete any bookmarks that you may have saved!

Losing bookmarks is the worst part of deleting the browser data, but I have found a work around. You can store bookmarks on the home screen and those bookmarks will not be deleted when you delete browser data. What I have done is create a folder on the home screen that I call Shortcuts, then add to that folder the browser bookmarks that I want to save. Press and hold on the home screen and tap Shortcut, Folder to create the folder, then do the same again and press Shortcut, Bookmark to create a bookmark. You must have first added the bookmark to the web browser. When you add the bookmark shortcut it will appear on the home screen, which you can then drag to the folder that you created.

My frustrations with managing the storage the Android’s browser uses led me to try Opera Mini, which is an alternate browser available in the Android Market. Many Windows Mobile users prefer the Opera mobile web browsers over Internet Explorer because it is faster but I have never liked them because I don’t like how they bury the back button in the menu structure.

I found that Opera Mini on Android has problems rendering pages when you switch between landscape and portrait. However, unless it doesn’t have a cache, it is worse than the Android browser because there are no options, anywhere, for clearing the cache, or for that matter deleting any data. When you go into the Android Application Manager the only option is to uninstall the application. My fear then with using Opera Mini is that it will just use more and more storage without providing a way to clear the storage. Now it is possible the program doesn’t use a cache or clears it whenever the program shuts down since it’s is designed for use on phones, but the rendering problems are annoying enough for me to not use the program. For now I’ll continue using the Android browser, manually clear the cache, and use the bookmarks on the home screen.

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Responses

  1. Opera Mini does not have a persistant cache, only a RAM based one that is thrown away when you exit the browser. The only thing Mini writes to “disk” is the settings, and saved pages if you choose to save any of course.

  2. Check Refine Efficiency Pro:

    - cache cleaner (root and non root(individually)), no sd card cache support;
    - market history cleaner;
    - task killer;
    - start up manager (root and non root(no guarantee));
    - task scheduling.
    Also browser history cleaner.


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