Android Browser Using Extra Space? Check Gears!

I finally found out what’s been taking up so much space on the Android web browser on my G1: Gears!

Whenever the low-on-space warning* icon shows up on the phone, I open up the list of applications. Then I sort it by size, look for the largest apps that I don’t use anymore, and start uninstalling.

“Browser” is always high on the list, but it’s all data. While I could free up the space by telling it to clear everything, I want to hang onto things like bookmarks. Each time the icon popped up, I’d go back to the app, open up More and then Settings, and clear the cache, or the history, or cookies**, one category at a time.

Then I’d go back to the App list and it would still be using up several megabytes of space.

Yesterday, it occurred to me to check the Gears settings. Months ago, I’d set up two WordPress blogs with Turbo mode, which uses Gears as a permanent cache for the admin area. It’s great on a desktop or laptop with lots of local space and a slow or flaky Internet connection. But it wasn’t helping me much, because…

  • WordPress Turbo Mode is only really useful if you use the rich-text editor, which I don’t.
  • On the phone, I rarely manage either blog through the browser anyway. I usually use WordPress for Android (formerly wpToGo).
  • The files it stores take up a whole megabyte — per blog! (possibly more, depending on how the file system stores them.)

So I removed both sites from Gears, along with a couple of other sites that I’d added, but didn’t need anymore, and freed up about 3 MB.

It should be a while before I see that low-space icon again, and I shouldn’t have to ration my installed apps quite so closely!

*This wouldn’t be a problem if they’d given the G1 enough memory for apps in the first place, or if they’d let us install apps to the SD card (where I still have gigabytes of free space), or if I were willing to root my phone, or if I’d just bite the bullet and buy a Nexus One.

**I’d really like to be able to selectively delete cookies — or rather, to selectively keep a few cookies and delete the rest — but that’s another issue.

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