As I said in this post, I own a cheap Android phone. If you don’t want to go back and read that article, I’ll give you the short version: I owned three Android phones – each costing between $179 and $299 – and all of them were junk: they locked up, they spontaneously rebooted and stock apps crashed. So I bought a $79 LG Tribute phone just to “tide me over” until I could switch carriers, or until my carrier got some new phones. But I ended up really liking the Tribute: it does everything I want an Android phone to do, and it doesn’t crash or reboot or give me much trouble at all.
In fact, the only two things I don’t like about the Tribute are the subpar camera and lack of storage space. I can’t do much about the camera, but I can fix the storage space issue. Here’s how. To add space to your Tribute, you’ll need a large (16 or 32GB) micro SD card, a few free apps, and about 30-45 minutes.
But first, a warning: THIS PROCEDURE WILL ROOT YOUR PHONE. Although I have done the following procedure on my phone 4 times now without incident, there is a NON-ZERO chance that you could screw up something that will render your phone unusable. Please read the instructions below fully before trying this on your own phone. If you don’t understand something, please read the instructions until you do, or leave a comment so I can help. Having said all that, I am not responsible for any damage to your device!
What we’re going to do is root the phone, then install an app which divides your SD card into a FAT32 (Windows) partition and an ext4 (Linux) partition. We’ll then install an app which moves your apps to the ext4 partition on the SD card and creates symbolic links (symlinks) on the phone’s storage, which “tricks” Android into thinking the apps are installed there instead of the SD card.
STEP 1: BACKUP THE SD CARD
If you already have a 16GB card in your phone, go to Settings > Storage > SD card and see how much free space you have. What we’re going to do is shrink the existing partition by half. If you’ll still have plenty of free space left over after shrinking the partition, then you’re good to go. But if going from 16GB to 8GB will only leave you with a few hundred megabytes free, you’re going to need to either move some stuff off the card or upgrade to a 32GB card.
Either way, you need to back up the contents of the card just as a precaution. You can do that by attaching the phone to your computer and copying the files, or turning the phone off, pulling the SD card and putting it in an adapter and card reader. Whichever way works for you.
STEP 2: PREP THE PHONE
The first thing you want to do is enable USB Debugging. Click on Settings > About Phone > Software Information and tap “Build Number” seven times. You will know this is working because the phone will say something like “Tap 3 more times to get Developer Options”. Once you tap the full seven times, go back to the main Settings screen. You’ll now see an “Developer Options” menu. Click that, then click “OK” to the warning message. Lastly, scroll down and tap “USB debugging” to enable it.
Next, go back to the main Settings screen and tap “Security”. Scroll down to the “Unknown Sources” option and tap it to enable it. Click “OK” to any warning messages you may get.
STEP 3: ROOT THE PHONE
Using your phone’s web browser to go this page and download the latest version of KingRoot. This is a well-known rooting app, and it’s hosted on XDA, one of the largest Android enthusiast sites. It’s safe and legit, I promise. The download links are near the top, just under the introduction section. Download the file and save it to your phone (click “OK” or “Allow” if you get a “this file may harm your phone” warning).
After downloading, open File Manager and go to your Downloads folder. Tap on
(the file name might vary according to version). Android will ask if you want to install the app. Tap “Yes” or “Allow”.
Once the app is installed, run it. You will see a screen that says “Root access is unavailable” and a big blue “Start Root” button. Tap the button, and a round progress meter will appear. It will probably go very slowly at first, but once it gets to around 24% it will move very rapidly. You should get a “root successful!” message. If so, reboot your phone, if the app asks you to. Also, note that KingRoot might reboot your phone while trying to obtain root. It never has on my phone, but you’ll see an on-screen message that it might need to.
STEP 4: INSTALL APARTED
Go to the Play store, search for “Aparted” (web link) and install it. Reboot your phone if the installer asks you to.
Next, go to Settings > Storage > SD card and choose “Unmount SD card” – this step is crucial!
Next, open Aparted and tap “Tools”. check the box for your existing FAT32 partition (this will most likely be “Part. 1: FS: fat32”. Scroll down and choose “Resize” from the drop down box. Drag your finger across the blue partition from right to left to shrink the partition. You want it to be roughly half the size it is now, but don’t worry about getting it exactly half the size: you almost certainly won’t get it exactly half. When you’re ready, tap “Apply”. Aparted will then shrink the existing FAT32 partition to the size you chose.
Next, tap the checkbox for the first available empty space – it will likely say “Part 2: FS: empty Size: 7989MB” or something similar. You’ll know you’ve chosen the right one when the the empty space to the right of the existing FAT32 partition is highlighted. Once you’re sure you’ve chosen the right one, select “Create” from the drop-down box. You’ll then be presented with a list of file system types. I know ext2 is normally preferred for external storage like this, but I tried it twice and it did not work. I have never had a problem with ext4, so select that, then tape “apply”. When Aparted is done, you should have an 8GB FAT32 partition (for camera pics and external storage for your apps, like downloaded Spotify music) and an 8GB ext4 partition for your apps, Reboot your phone if Aparted asks you to. If not, exit the app, then go to Settings > Storage > SD card and choose “Mount SD card” is allow Android access to the SD card again.
STEP 5: INSTALL LINK2SD AND MOVE THOSE APPS!
Go to the Play store, search for “Link2SD” (web link) and install it. As always, reboot your phone if the installer asks you to.
Open the app. Click the upside-down pyramid next to “Link2SD” at the top of the screen and choose “User”. Although it’s possible to move almost any app to the SD card, at this time I do not advise you to move system apps, just user apps (apps you have installed on the phone). It possible that moving a core Android app to the SD card could crash the phone, and besides, moving the user apps should free up plenty of space.
After choosing “User”, you should see a list of apps on your phone. Tap one, then scroll down and tap “Link to SD Card”. You should then see a screen that allows you to choose which types of files to move: the application file, the dalvik-cache file, the library file (which may be greyed out if not applicable) and the internal data (which is only available in the paid version of the app). Choose the first two (or three, if library is available) and click “OK”. Link2SD should move the app and create symlinks on your phone. If you get a “cannot find entry point” error, go back to Link2SD’s main screen, click the three lines at the top left and choose “Recreate Mount Scripts”.
If the first move was successful, continue on to other apps. Note that some apps, like Spotify, do not like being moved at all. I tried moving it, and Spotify would take FOREVER to load and eventually hang. So I moved it back to my phone’s main memory. But most apps will work just fine, and if you move enough of them, you’ll end up with tons of free space on your phone. After moving most of my apps, I had room to install the regular Facebook app (not Facebook Lite, as I was using before), Facebook Messenger, MyVegas slots, Firefox, Accuweather, and a lot more!
I also bought Link2SD Plus, my first-ever paid-for Android app. As mentioned, the paid version lets you also move the app’s internal data. This can free up even more space on your phone, but be careful with this. Your phone’s internal storage is much faster than an SD card. For an app like Facebook (which often has 150MB of internal data on my phone), moving the internal data to the SD card can make the app very slow to start, almost to the point of being unusable. You’ll have to experiment with this on your own, as I don’t know which apps you use and how much internal data they have, and what your personal threshold of “takes too long” is. But know that moving the data around isn’t an “all or nothing” proposition: you can always move an app, test it out, then go back to Link2SD and click “Remove Link” to move all of it (or just the internal data) back to the phone if you’d like.
Lastly, note that Link2SD keeps an eye on app updates. If you link an app to the SD card and it later gets an update via Google Play, Link2SD will automatically move it to the SD card for you after the install. It can take anywhere from 30 seconds to a few minutes for Link2SD to see the change and initiate the move, so don’t download an update to Instagram and immediately open it: wait for a blue SD card icon to appear in the notification area. Once you get the “Link2SD has moved the application ‘Instagram” to the SD card”, the app is safe to use.