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Insufficient Storage Available Fix for a Low-End Android Phone


March 25, 2015

When I signed up for monthly mobile phone service from Smart Communications (here in the Philippines), I paid for three O Plus (O+ USA) 8.33 mobile phones. It seemed to be a popular, cheap model. It didn’t take long for me to start having a problem with insufficient storage available on my phone after I started installing all the apps I wanted on it. Well, I’ve fixed that problem and I may have lost a bit of my hair in the process. If you’re afraid of rendering your phone useless (bricking it), you don’t want to take the steps I took. I’m going to explain the process anyway but if you want to save yourself a lot of grief, get a more expensive phone with a lot of internal storage.

Insufficient Storage Available

I don’t remember how much I paid for the phones with my 24-month monthly contract. I remember that it was less than 2500 pesos for all three (actually, I think it was less than half of that, but I really don’t remember and I paid in cash). The sales clerk quoted me one price, which I gave him, and then he gave some cash back when it was all said and done.

I didn’t know enough about modern mobile phones, especially O Plus phones, before getting those phones. If I knew each one only had 124 MB of storage space and that I would have a problem with insufficient storage, I would’ve saved my money until I had enough for better phones. I don’t even know who’s at fault, O Plus or Smart Communications (they install their own applications as well as what comes with Android).

I’m not going to tell you how many times I tried to install something and was told I had insufficient storage available. All I’ll say is that I restored the phone to factory condition and started over several times (removing all the unnecessary apps I could). My problem was solved using the three-step nuclear option: Rooting the phone, partitioning the memory card and using the Link2SD Plus app to link and move applications.

Rooting the Phone

I read all kinds of stuff on the web and tried several ways to root the phone and none of them worked until I found Kingo Android Root. I had tried it before with an older version (I didn’t know it was an older version at the time) but it didn’t work. The latest version did.

Before running the program, I had to connect the computer to the phone by USB and then make sure it was in MTP mode. Somewhere along the way, I turned on USB debugging by turning on the developer options. On Android 4.4.2, KitKat, I went to Settings/About phone and then tapped on Build number at the bottom 7 times to enable it. I don’t remember if I needed debugging for Kingo Android Root, but I had it on anyway. It didn’t affect anything otherwise.

After it finished, I found myself with a Kingo app on the phone, along with the SuperSU app, which I knew I needed to use to grant permissions. I deleted the Kingo app and finished the first step in getting rid of the insufficient storage problem.

Partitioning the Memory Card

The wiki article for SD card partitioning was wrong in some ways and right in others (for my particular phone). After I connected it by USB and turned USB storage on, both Windows and the partition wizard saw the memory card as another drive. A USB card reader wasn’t needed. For some phones, USB mass storage isn’t available and a card reader is necessary.

I first had to move/resize the existing partition to about one gigabyte less that it was (1000 MB less). Then I had to create an Ext4 partition. All the instructions I read on the web said Ext2, but I knew Ext4 would work. When I was done, the second step in getting rid of the insufficient storage problem was completed.


Using the Link2SD App

I installed and played with the app for a short time before I coughed up the peso amount for Link2SD Plus. It didn’t cost much at all (88.31 pesos, which is around $2.00). The thing I needed most was to be able to link the internal data files and the basic version had that function crippled unless I bought the plus license.

A new problem I faced was getting the stock launcher to behave. Every time I moved certain apps, they’d disappear from the launcher and even restarting wouldn’t bring them back. After a few attempts, I decided to install a new launcher. I tested two or three before I settled on Solo Launcher. My new problem was solved after I selected the new launcher instead of the old one after restarting.

I removed the cached data and restarted the phone after installing the apps I wanted. I failed to do it once and a bunch of icons came up missing on the launcher. I made sure I did it every time after that.

I linked everything I installed (except Solo Launcher) to the memory card’s second partition (which automatically moves the files). I didn’t use the “move to memory card” option.

One thing I didn’t do was upgrade any Google apps (Google Play Services, Google Play Store, the Google Search and Gmail) and I won’t because what I have works for me perfectly.

I installed the Phone Clean app so I could clean the caches and junk files from the home screen periodically. The final step in getting rid of the insufficient storage problem was completed.

Low-End Android Phones

I’m looking at the storage available now and I have a little more than 54 MB available. I shouldn’t get any insufficient storage available or insufficient storage remaining messages again but if I do, I’ll only need to use the Phone Clean app to clear the junk and I’ll be back in business.

I probably wouldn’t have seen the insufficient storage problem in the first place if I had used the phone like most Filipinos using low-end phones do. I hate to say this, but most Filipinos use their phones for only a few of the functions: Voice calls, text messages, taking pictures and Facebook. Guess which app was pre-installed by Smart Communications?

I now use my phone for all of those things plus Skype, Firefox, Inoreader (RSS), Twitter, Out of Milk (shopping lists and to-do lists) and Gmail, but I don’t type anything on it other than short text messages. I use it mainly for reading and type what I need to type when I’m at my laptop computer.

I haven’t seen an insufficient storage message of any kind since I did what I did and that was a few days ago.

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