Anyone who has ever encountered an app or software problem on Android may have received “clear app cache” or “clear app data” advice. These two solutions are often viewed as a miracle cure for Android, but what is the difference between these seemingly similar operations? That is exactly what we are trying to explain in this article.
What is cache
Before we dive into app cache, let’s try to understand what “cache” is. In the simplest case, the cache is a reserved space in which temporary data is stored. This data is mainly used to make it easier for apps, browsers, and websites to load faster. Another way to remember this is to think of the cache as a tool that speeds up and provides a faster experience. Not only does the cache provide a faster and smoother user experience, it also helps you reduce the amount of data that is processed and consumed.
Let me try to help you understand this using an example.
After restarting your phone, have you ever noticed how slow your camera app opens at first, while each subsequent attempt is faster? The increase in speed after the first start of an app is thanks to this cached data. Similarly, you may find that websites load faster on a second visit. This is because your browser is storing some data because files like images were previously cached.
Now that you understand what “cache” really means, it is also easier to understand the term “clear app cache”. If you do this step, essentially all temporary data about an app will be deleted manually.
Nowadays there is often no need to manually manage cached data on Android smartphones as Android is able to do it on its own without you noticing. However, if an app is behaving badly or has stopped working, you may need to try this troubleshooting step.
When you clear an app’s cached data, you’re removing the temporary files placed there, and you’d be surprised how often this simple step works. However, you should also note that this is not the case guarantee Better performance, and the app might even be temporarily slower the next time you use it.
What does “delete app data” mean?
If you haven’t noticed before, “Clear App Cache” and “Clear App Data” are two different steps. What to keep in mind, however, is that clearing app data is a more serious step (for lack of a better word). While the cache can be cleared with little risk for app settings, settings and saved states, these are completely deleted / removed by deleting the app data.
Clearing data essentially resets an app to its default state: your app behaves as if you downloaded and installed it for the first time. Let’s say you’re making changes to the settings of your favorite fitness app. You change the length of the exercises and the sound settings.
Clearing the cache will Not affect these saved settings. The deletion of stored data can and most likely will.
When should they be used?
In certain circumstances, you may want to delete app or cached data.
- First, to save storage space. Some apps can store several GB of data that you no longer need (podcast apps are often to blame). In this case, you may want to delete their data.
- The other, and more common, reason is to reset an app to its default state when it has become problematic, buggy, or otherwise disruptive.
How do I delete app data or cached data?
On Android 11 and later, follow these steps to clear app data or cached data.
- Go to the settings Menu
- Click on warehouse
- Choose Other apps
This will open a list of the apps currently installed on your phone. By default, the apps with the most used data are shown at the top. With older Android versions, you also have the option of sorting the apps by size.
- Select the app you want to clear the cache / data for
- You don’t see two options: Clear Cache and Clear Data.
- Choose between one of these options depending on your intent
- Note again that “Clear App Data” is the more drastic of the two options and should only be used if you are having massive problems with an app or if you are really running out of storage space
If you’re using an older version of Android, you can delete all of the cached files with a single click. All you have to do is go to Settings -> Storage -> Cached Data and select “Clear Cache”. This option is no longer available in newer versions of Android, including Android 10 and 11.
However, this only works to clean up an app. Follow the steps to clear each app’s cache at the same time
On Android 8 Oreo, depending on your manufacturer’s skin, you may not be able to perform a system-wide cache and data clear. If you go to … Settings> Storage> Free up storage space> Temporary files and find Cached data There.
A word on “performance enhancing” apps
There are many apps out there that claim to improve device performance, but often this just isn’t true. In many cases, these apps only offer a one-touch button to end processes and clear the cache. Both are largely unnecessary on today’s Android platform.
You can and should do this manually if ever you need to, but don’t make it a habit.
Cleaning your app when your phone is running slowly or memory is full may seem like the best option in the short term, but it can have long-term ramifications, which is why you shouldn’t do this too often.
There is no “better” or “worse” option when it comes to clearing the cache and clearing app data. Both processes have their own purpose.
Your first step in fixing a problematic app should be to clear the cache as this is the least intrusive way to quickly fix apps. If that fails or you want to free up more space, delete the data. Remember that any files saved or saved in the app, including audio, video or image files, will also be removed.
Did this allay your app data and cached data concerns? If not, let us know in the comments.
This article was last updated in April 2021. Older comments have been retained.