Pro tip: Fix the dreaded Android USB storage full issue


Staff member
Mar 24, 2011
By Jack Wallen May 6, 2014, 6:06 AM PST

Jack Wallen provides several different fixes to help you overcome the Android USB storage full issue.


This is a problem that shows up every now and then. You'll go to visit your Gallery only to be told your USB storage is full. You open up your file manager to find nothing in /sdcard/usbstorage -- so, what's the deal?

This problem can really be confounding. The issue can affect:

  • The Gallery
  • Music
  • You cannot transfer files, via USB, to a computer
  • You cannot install apps (even though you have plenty of space on your SD card)
This "simple" issue can become a frustrating treadmill of a nightmare -- until you know a solution. The fix can be either incredibly easy or a bit time consuming. Either way, you'll have your phone back to normal in no time. I'll show you the easy fix first and then the more time-consuming possibilities.

The easy fix

Restart your phone. That's right, restart it. Often this will clear up various caches on your phone and reset the likes of the USB storage back to normal. Unfortunately, this doesn't always work. Even if this doesn't resolve this particular issue, it will give you the added bonus of speeding up your phone (funny how that works). If that doesn't work, it's time to move on to the next fix.

Cache cleaner

There are various apps on the Google Play Store specific to cleaning your phone's cache. One of the better cache cleaners I have used is Clean Master. This easy-to-use tool (Figure A) is one of the best at cleaning up the cache and residual files.

Figure A

Clean Master running on a Verizon-branded HTC M8.

Install a cache cleaner, run it, and see if that hasn't solved your USB storage issues. If not, time to move on to the next possible fix.

File manager

If you install a file manager (such as ASTRO File Manager with Cloud), navigate through your directory structure and see if you find a folder called SD memory, usb, or usbstorage. If you find one, look inside and see if there are any residual files. If this folder is empty, then you might have to take drastic measures.

Move apps to SD card

If your phone allows it, you might need to move some of your apps to the SD card. There are apps available to help you with this. Hop onto the Google Play Store and take a look at the listing of move to SD card apps. There are plenty of them, and they're certainly not created equal. Do understand, many phones (such as the HTC One lineup, Galaxy S3 / Note 2 / S DUOS / Tab 2, and Optimus L5-L9) do not support moving apps to the SD card. If you try this, and get nowhere... that is why.

There's one last solution, and it's a big one. Are you ready?

Reset phone memory

Finally, if nothing else works, you can reset your phone memory. You must make sure you've backed up all of your data, because this will erase your pictures, music, and all other data that resides in storage.

Remember, this is a last-ditch effort -- a Hail Mary solution. If you've reached this point, here's how to do it. Every Android device will treat this differently. For example, the Motorola Moto X has you Erase USB storage (from within Settings | Storage). The HTC M8 has you erase different elements (Apps, Gallery, Miscellaneous) from within Settings | Storage | Content. Not all devices actually allow you to even do this (Such as the Galaxy S4). In those cases, your best bet is a factory reset.

You probably haven't run into this issue. But if you have, you should now have at least one solution that will succeed in getting you back up and running. Hopefully, you'll have solved the issue with one of the previous steps so that you don't have to resort to resetting phone memory or restoring the device to factory defaults.