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What you can do to save RAM on your Android smartphone

When you've had a smartphone for a while it can start to feel slow, and RAM — Random Access Memory, which is where your phone stores its stuff as it's using it — can be part of the problem. If your phone doesn't have enough RAM, it can struggle, but there are ways to address that. To help you, we've put together some tips on how to use RAM more efficiently on Android.

Generally speaking, the Android system is quite good at RAM management, and modern smartphones pack more than enough memory to get the job done, so RAM worries on Android devices are largely a thing of the past. Nonetheless, if you have an older device or are troubleshooting the reasons for slowdown on your phone, then we can take a look at how to conserve the RAM to see if it might help.

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What is RAM (Random Access Memory)?

RAM is what your device uses when it's doing something. For example, when you're editing a photo both the photo and the app you're using to edit it are in the device's RAM; when you finish editing the photo is then saved to your device's storage so it can't get lost. The more RAM you have the more you can do, so for example, you can have more browser tabs open, more apps running or more system features doing their stuff.

The problem with RAM is that it isn't always emptied properly, and apps don't always behave. Some apps and system processes run when you don't need them to, and others don't clean up after themselves when they quit. After a while those issues can produce noticeable results such as slow performance, lagging and stuttering, and the odd crash. 

Like internal storage, RAM is a physical component of your device so you can't just stick more in. What you can do, though, is use it more efficiently.

How to conserve your RAM

Now that you know ​​what RAM is, we'll show you how to preserve it. In this first part, we focus on tips for non-rooted devices. For those devices you can't magically add more memory, but you can make better use of what you've got. As a rule of thumb, the more your phone is doing the more RAM is being used, so if you can reduce what's running you can free up more memory for the tasks that really matter. 

Limit widgets and live wallpapers

Widgets and live wallpapers are both pretty greedy when it comes to RAM usage. Many refresh often and occupy bandwidth, while some are continuously active. This can also cause your battery to drain faster. So remember to limit the number of them in effect to optimize your current available memory.

androidpit best widgets hero 7
Do you really need all those widgets? / © AndroidPIT

Manually close or uninstall apps

If swiping away an app doesn't help, then you might need to take a tougher approach and close the app manually. This can be done in Settings>Apps, then tap on an app. Under the Memory heading, you can see how much RAM it has used in the past 3 hours. 

From there you can Force Stop an app to free up RAM in the short term, or simply uninstall it if you feel it's not worth using later.

settingsapps
Don't force stop an app that could be doing important work on your system. / © AndroidPIT

If you cannot see an uninstall option for the app, you need to remove the app's 'advanced rights'. You normally grant these rights during the installation of the app.

Go to Settings (general) > Security > Device Admin apps and uncheck the box next to the app. You can now uninstall the app. 

Some Android UIs allow a general overview of the RAM usage on the device. For example, on a Samsung phone, you can go to Settings>Device maintenance>Memory to see all the processes that are using RAM, and how much. This can help you identify the troublemakers.

Disable animations

Animations often steal RAM and are quite inessential; you can manage these in the developer options. To enable Developer Options on your device, go to your Settings, then About Phone and then tap on the build number about seven times until it notifies you that you have become a developer. (Please note that this has no negative effect on your device, it just adds the developer options menu in your settings. You just need to be cautious when poking around in there.)

razerphonedevoptions
In the 'About phone' menu, tap on the build number a few times until it enables the developer options. You can then access that page from your settings menu / © AndroidPIT

Once you have done this, go back into your phone settings and scroll down to Developer Options. Next, go into the Drawing section and turn off the following options. Your RAM will thank you for it:

  •  Window animation scale
  •  Transition animation scale
  •  Animator duration scale
androidpit developer options animations
Go to the drawing section and turn off the animations options. / © AndroidPIT

Did these suggestions work for you? Do you know any other good ways to get make the most of your RAM?

Readers' favorite comments

  • Rakshit ジャイナ教 May 28, 2016

    1. Yes the rest space can be used for music and other data.
    2.if SD is suddenly removed or it fails, your phone might Crash. I've been using it for a while now, they don't usually fail.....

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  • Based on the comments it seems that people don't understand the difference between the storage and the system RAM :)


    • Yup, all the comments about SD cards are completely off the wall. In fact, using microSD as "adoptable storage" (App2SD) requires more RAM than normal. I use Greenify on all my devices, and a RAM cleaner on an old Android J tablet that only has 1GB of RAM - newer devices have more RAM and Android has improved management.


    • They're trolls. Lol


  • Just one little problem. Android isn't Windows. If it needs some of the RAM in use, it kills apps (then brings them back in the state they were when you use them). It's a nice app, but not only is there no need for it, SD cards can't take all that writing, and the card won't last as long. (One of the people on the team that wrote Android wrote a whole article about this, but since I can't post links ...)


    • Manxe 5 months ago Link to comment

      Way I see it, the SD cards cost $11 for 32G. I can buy one every year and not feel pinched.


  • Sorin 10 months ago Link to comment

    I've moved my apps to my SD card. The photo gallery is also set on the SD. Now I have more RAM available.


  • So you can't access your ENTIRE SD card once u use this program? It's wasted? U can't partition it a 64GB card to just use 2GB for Ram and rest for storage/accessible by PC?


  • I have a Samsung Galaxy 6 that doesn't have an SD card what do I do instead?


  • andin Nov 28, 2016 Link to comment

    what if it says no root access and on the SDCARD free: it says -1/ -1
    but when I used the sd it worked perfectly fine
    Update: when I put the SD card the phone was turned off so should I re do it because I saw a setting saying mount SD card maybe I should warn the phone that I am putting something in it


  • andin Nov 26, 2016 Link to comment

    if I use my sd card for more ram and it fail or I take it out will the phone crash? please answer if tried before


  • So if i boost my phone (LG G3S D722) ram with sd-card i will can't Access my sd from pc?


  • Great stuff! Very useful information! I also use All-In-One Toolbox to clean cache and manage the things that occupy my storage. Really solved some of my problems. Highly recommend it.


  • Where is the free version of reohsoft?


    • go on google and search REOHSOFT RAM Expander apk free and click the first one and install the apk and run it and turn on download programs from unknown sources and it will download the program (it won't make a shortcut on the home screen look in the app drawer)


  • If I root my mobile phone to an SD card, will I have to carry around the SD card with me at all times?


  • and how to recover the original memory from the sd card?
    after increasing the ram?


  • I HAVE XPERIA C2305 and i have rooted my device. works Fine. Now i have a plan to increase my 1GB RAM to 4GB. The Question is....
    1) What does link2SD has to do with?
    2) what should i do after installing ROEHSOFT RAM EXPANDER ?
    3) I have a plan to update my android version from JellyBean to Lollipop. How could i do that?

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