How to Clear Cache on Android

Cam Summerson
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If you’ve been around the Android space for any amount of time (or any computer system, really), you’ve likely seen the term “cache” thrown around. But what is it? What does it do? Why on Earth do you need to “clear it?” This, and many other answers you may or may not want, are all here. Pick and choose or read the entire thing. Let’s go. 

But first, the thing you want to know most. 

Android Device Management

How to Clear App Cache on Android

So, there are three types of cache on Android: app, web, and system. We’ll talk about this in more detail down below, but when we talk about “clearing cache” as a general term, it usually means “app cache.” So here’s how to do it (and what it does, if you’re into that sort of thing). 

  • Head into your device’s Settings menu. The good news is that this is usually in the same place on every Android device — you can find the Settings shortcut in the app drawer. 
  • Find the “Apps” option. This is where it starts to get a little bit murky. Depending on your device’s manufacturer, this entry could be hidden inside another menu. If you can’t easily find it, try using the search function. 
  • Choose “See all apps.” Again, the device you’re looking at may have slightly different phrasing here. The goal is to see a list of all your installed apps. 
  • Find the app that you want to clear the cache for. Maybe it’s causing problems, or you just want to clear up some space. The reason doesn’t really matter! 
  • Tap the “Storage & cache” option. Guess what? The phrasing might be different depending on your device. Good ol’ Android, right? 
  • Tap “Clear cache.” Here you are — at the end of your journey. Tap that “clear cache” button, and away you go. 

Easy enough, right? Sure. There may be some speedbumps along the way if your device’s manufacturer decided to move things around, but that list should get you 90% of the way there. Just rinse and repeat for every app you want to clear. Easy peasy. 

💡Note: You may have to re-log-in to apps after clearing cache!💡

How to Clear Browser Cache on Android

The web browser on your device handles cache a little differently than other apps, mainly because we’re talking about two types of cache here (app cache and web cache). You can clear app cache on any web browser on your phone using the above instructions. But that doesn’t clear web cache. Here’s how to do that.

We’re using Chrome as the example, but it should be able to use it as a general guide for other browsers, too. If you still can’t find it, you can always Google “How to clear web cache <your browser>.”

  • Open Chrome and tap the three dots, then choose “Settings.” This will take you to Chrome’s Settings hub. 
  • Choose “Privacy and security.” It’s not the most intuitive option for where to look for cache options, I know. 
  •  Tap “Clear browsing data.” This is where you have some choices: Basic and Advanced.
  1. Basic: This is a simple way to clear cookies, site data, browsing history, and cached images/files. This is painting with broad strokes, removing a lot of data. For a more granular approach, use the Advanced option.
  2. Advanced: This is where you can pick and choose which data to clear, including history, cookies and site data, cached images and files, and so on. 
  3. Either way you go here, you want to at least tap the “Cached images and files” option. 
  • Tap “Clear data.” And that’s that. 

That’s how you clear web cache, but it’s also worth having a quick conversation about cookies. Clearing web cache does not clear cookies. You have to do that separately, which you can do in the above menu. We’ll talk more about cookies and how they relate to web cache down below if you’re curious. 

How to Clear System Cache on Android

System cache isn’t as straightforward as app cache and requires quite a bit more tinkering to clear. There are a couple of ways to go about this, so choose the one that makes the most sense. 

How to Clear System Cache Using Recovery Mode

The first (and probably simplest) method will have you explore the darkest depths of your device’s psyche — Recovery Mode. I know it probably sounds scary, but it’s not that bad. Here’s how to make it happen. 

  • Power your device down. Yep, just turn it off. 
  • Jump into Recovery Mode. This is where it gets a bit tricky, because different manufacturers might have different ways of going about this. Here are your options (press and hold): 
  1. Volume up + power button
  2. Volume up + home + power button
  3. Volume down + power button
  4. Try each of those, or just Google your specific make and model + recovery mode.
  • Use the volume buttons to navigate this menu. Touch is disabled here, so you have to go old school to make your way through these menus. Volume up and down to go up or down, respectively. Power is enter.

💡Note: You may have to do some tinkering here! Different devices have different ways of loading Recovery Mode. For example, on the Pixel 6 I used for testing, I had to enter Recovery Mode, then press volume up and power to get the actual menu. Sneaky!💡

  • Navigate to the “Wipe cache partition” option. Here’s a fun fact: your device might not have this option. Yep, it’s another one of those “manufacturer-dependent” things. 
  • Reboot. Once it’s finished, navigate to the “reboot system” option. Boom. Done! 

Going back to that whole “your device may not have this option” thing — if it doesn’t, the only solution here is to perform a factory reset. Sorry. 

What is Cache? 

On Android and many other operating systems, cache is a storage area where frequently accessed data is temporarily stored for quick access. The type of cache we’re talking about determines what is stored: 

  • App cache: Every app on Android (or, again, other operating systems) creates and stores its own cached data. This is where the app keeps temporary files that it needs to function. For example, Instagram caches images and videos so you can access them quickly without re-downloading them every time. Music streaming apps also cache music as you play it, making it available for offline playback. 
  • System cache: These files are for the operating system. They’re used to speed the boot process or enhance the performance of the overall system by keeping commonly used files easily accessible. Ultimately, it makes the device feel faster. 
  • Web cache: This is similar to app cache but for websites instead of apps. Web cache stores temporary files like images or videos from websites. While every app gets its own cached data, the same isn’t true for websites. All web cache is stored together in the browser cache. 

Makes sense, right? Apps, websites, and the operating system use cached data to make everything work quickly and smoothly. But there’s another type of file closely related to cache that we should talk about: cookies. 

What are Cookies, and Are They Related to Cache? 

Ah, cookies and cache — my favorite ice cream! Seriously though, cookies and cache are similar but not the same. Cookies are similar to web cache in that they temporarily store website data, but instead of generic data like images and videos, cookies contain user-specific information like login status (not credentials), settings, etc. 

For example, when you go to Facebook, it loads your timeline because you’re already logged in. The browser manages that login status with a cookie. If you clear that cookie, guess what happens? You got it — you get logged out. 

But there’s more than one type of cookie. There are also tracking cookies, which websites use to serve targeted advertisements. Facebook is another example — you know when you’ve been shopping for some new toy, and suddenly you get ads for that on Facebook? Tracking cookies are responsible. You can clear these, too, but they’ll keep repopulating as you browse the web. Ce la vie! 

So, Why Clear Cache or Cookies? 

There are a few reasons why you should clear cache and cookies. Here’s a quick and dirty list:

  • Resolve app issues: Sometimes, apps stop working right — especially after an update. And sometimes, clearing app cache can fix those issues. So that’s a good reason to try it. 
  • Free up storage: Cache can take up a lot of space! Think about music or video streaming, for instance. You can easily use up several gigabytes of space with just cache. Clearing it will free up some of that space. 
  • Improve performance: Cache can be a double-edged sword — on one hand, it’s supposed to speed up a device’s performance. But on the other hand, if the cache gets too heavy, it can slow things down. 
  • Fix web login issues: Since cookies contain login status, clearing them can sometimes resolve website login conflicts. If you can’t log in and know your info is correct, try clearing cookies. 
  • Prevent tracking and protect sensitive information: Again, cookies contain a lot of user-specific information. Clearing them can prevent websites from tracking you (or showing you targeted ads) and protect sensitive data. This is especially true for shared devices! 

So there you go — a few reasons you might want to clear cache or cookies. Or both.

Need a device management solution that offers robust and granular control of all your devices? You need Esper. Remotely clear cache, delete cookies, and a lot more on any of your devices — from anywhere in the world.

Next-Gen MDM Software


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Cam Summerson
Cam Summerson

Cam is Esper's Director of Content and brings over 10 years of technology journalism experience to Esper, including nearly half-a-decade as Editor in Chief of a technology publication. He currently oversees the ideation, execution, and distribution plans for numerous types of content from blog posts to ebooks and beyond.

Cam Summerson
Learn about Esper mobile device management software for Android and iOS
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