What the Tech: Smartphone Storage

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Most people use their phones as their primary cameras. And you don’t want to see a pop-up that you have no more room on the phone when you’re trying to take a photo or video. How much space do you need for vacation photos and video? It largely depends on the video and photo settings. A 22-second video clip of a sunset takes up 163 MB of storage, while photos are generally around 2 MB. If your phone has 64 GB, you’ll need to delete some things if you plan on taking lots of vacation photos.

Here are a few dos and one don’t to prepare your phone to be a vacation camera:

See what’s taking up a lot of storage by looking in settings and deleting the apps or data you don’t need.

You may want to start by deleting photos and videos on the phone. On Androids and iPhones they’re saved automatically in the cloud (if you have cloud backup turned on). But you need to be careful. On an iPhone if you delete the photos with iCloud backup turned on, it’ll remove them from all of your devices, and the iCloud.

So before you delete photos and videos turn off iCloud backup in settings. That’ll keep them in the cloud but delete them only from your device, freeing up lots of space on the phone.

You can also get a USB stick that plugs into the phone’s Lightning charging port so you can download photos and videos before you delete them. This also makes it easy to move photos and videos to a computer or hard drive.

Facebook and Instagram might use hundreds of megabytes for photos, posts, and messages it saves on the device. The easiest way to free up this space is to delete the app and then reinstall it. You won’t lose anything if they’re already on Facebook. The photos won’t be removed from Facebook or Instagram, just your phone.

If you stream Spotify, Apple, or Amazon Music, there’s no need to have the music on your phone, at least if you need the space. You can delete all music on iTunes, or delete specific songs or albums to free up storage. This isn’t going to affect much if you listen primarily on a streaming device and you’re connected to the internet.

Speaking of streaming music services, those apps download songs for listening offline. That’s unnecessary if you’re connected to the internet and you won’t notice a difference. Free up that space by deleting and re-installing the app.

Check your apps. Some require a lot of storage. If you don’t use need them on vacation delete them. You can always re-install them once you are back home.

If you subscribe to podcasts, check those titles in the podcast app you use. Many episodes may be on your phone and they take up a lot of storage. When I checked my podcast app I found over 7 GB was being stored on my phone for later listening. You can delete those podcast episodes and listen online.

You may also have downloaded videos from Netflix or Amazon Prime for offline viewing. These can be deleted as well.

The only caveat to these tips is that if you’re going to want to watch or listen to the shows on a long car ride, you might need them downloaded if cellular service is spotty. In that case, you can delete the episodes after you’ve watched or listened to them.

You can also do take these steps while on vacation. Upload photos and videos you take every day to Google Photos or Dropbox to make room for the next day’s vacation memories.

You never want to run out of storage when you want to take a picture.