Old files can take up space on your device like those musty boxes in your attic. Get tips on how to free up space on your phone or tablet.

Hi, my name is Chris, and I’m a recovering data hoarder.

When it comes to my smartphone, I like to think I’m a tidy guy, but a recent bout of device cleaning proved just how much of a file hog I actually am.

Sure, I’m diligent about shutting down apps to preserve battery life and keeping my camera roll under control so I don’t run out of space. But when a quick look at my phone’s memory uncovered a shameful trove of old voice mail, text messages, podcasts and audiobooks gobbling up my phone’s storage space, I knew I needed to do something about it before things really spun out of control.

Along my road to recovery, I learned a bunch of tips and tricks that were helpful in tidying up my phone. Here are four essentials:

Hunt down what’s eating up your memory

I was amazed at how much storage space I found hiding right under my nose.

My Facebook® app, for example, required 89.5 MB of space when I downloaded it, but over time it had ballooned to 447 MB. Apps routinely cache web pages and profile pictures to speed up future downloads, and that adds up. I cleaned out that cached data by deleting and re-downloading the app.

Facebook probably isn't the only app on your phone clogging up your memory. For a list of the downloaded files on your phone and how much space each one consumes, follow one of these routes:

  • For Android™: Settings > Storage
  • For iPhone®: Settings > General > Usage > Manage Storage
  • For Windows Phone®: App > Storage Sense > Phone or SD Card

From there, an app such as DiskUsage (Android) or DaisyDisk (iOS) can also help you root out cached data, duplicated files and aborted downloads by scouring your phone right down to the last kilobyte.

Stash your stuff in a virtual storage unit

Does your phone have an SD card? That's the perfect place to store memory-clogging photos and documents. Instead of downloading music, I like to free up space by streaming songs with an app like Spotify.

But your best bet is to store all your files on a service such as Verizon Cloud, which houses music, videos, contacts, call logs and text messages. The first 2 GB of storage is included.

Set up a My Verizon account intervention

While I was spring cleaning my device, I used My Verizon to look at my account and plan, too. The Wireless Account Analysis tool helps me see data usage, messages sent and received and minutes used. A peek into your usage may reveal that you’re not enrolled in the best plan for your data usage, and you can adjust your plan accordingly.

Dust off your device

After a weekend of pruning my hard drive, I found myself wanting to give the phone itself a good cleaning.

First, I removed the case and shook out the dust, and used a lint-free microfiber cloth (paper towels are too abrasive) to gently wipe the grime and fingerprints from the screen.

I also found that my headphone jack was getting a little gross, so I created a mini lint roller with a piece of tape and a paper clip to delicately remove the debris.

To really keep out that grit and grime, I’d suggest buying a new case—say, something durable from OtterBox® or LifeProof® for extra protection—or adding a tempered-glass screen protector.

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