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Tips & Tricks

If you want to get the max out of your Xperia phone then check out Xperia tips page.

Memory in Android™ devices

Sony Xperia Support
Message 1 of 1
Message 1 of 1

Memory in Android™ devices

To use Android devices efficiently, users should be aware of the different types of device memory. This knowledge is important in order to understand, for example, where music, photos and videos are saved; how many apps can be downloaded from Google Play™; and how photos can be copied to a PC.


The below information is also of interest to developers who want to optimize their programs to make the best possible use of the resources in the device.


Generally, all Android devices share the same basic memory setup. What differs is how much memory is available to you via the different types of memory, and whether your device uses an external SD card or an internal memory chip.


Types of memory


The types of memory described and numbered below are consistent with the terminology used in Sony mobile device menus and in other content relating to 2013 Xperia™ devices:


1. Dynamic Memory (also known as RAM) is used by applications that run when the device is turned on. The amount of Dynamic Memory influences how many applications and operating system services can run at the same time. The Android operating system automatically closes applications and services that are not being used.


However, such automatic functionality has limits. For example, if a lower amount of free RAM is available to applications after a new release of the operating system (due to increased capabilities in the system), device speed will eventually be impacted. This is the main reason that a device cannot be indefinitely upgraded to newer releases of Android™.


If you experience problems with RAM, for example, if the device runs slower than usual or if the Home application restarts frequently when you leave an application, you should minimize the use of apps that run all the time. Such apps could include, for example, applications that frequently download social networking service updates. You could also consider using a static wallpaper instead of a live wallpaper.


To see which apps and services are currently active, go to Settings > Memory. You should have at least 50 MB, and ideally 100 MB or more, of free RAM to avoid slowdowns and application restarts.


You should also be aware that if you update the device to a later Android release, the load on the built-in Dynamic Memory will increase due to the addition of more features, as mentioned above. As a result, the device may run slower after an update.



2. System Memory (also known as “System partition” or “/system”) is used for the Android OS and for most applications that are pre-loaded from the factory. This type of memory is normally locked, and can only be changed through a firmware upgrade. There is usually some free space available in this section of memory. However, since it is locked, you cannot save apps, photos or any other content to this memory. System Memory is reserved for future firmware upgrades, which almost always need more memory than the original firmware. You cannot see or influence the use of this memory.


3. Internal Storage is memory used as” working” memory. It can be compared to the C: drive on a PC or to the startup disk on a Mac.


This type of memory is used to store all application downloaded from the Google Play™ Store (and other sources) as well as their settings and data (such as emails, messages and calendar events, for example). All applications have an allocated area which no other applications can access and where

the application data can be stored.


Some game applications also store content such as game music and game level information outside their own designated area. In most cases, an application can choose to save its data in a location of its own choosing (outside the protected application settings area). Generally, such content is not deleted when an application is uninstalled; it must be removed manually by connecting the device to a computer with a USB cable, or by using a file manager application.


Internal Storage is also used for all user content added, for example, as a result of the user taking photos with the camera, downloading media files, and performing file transfers. Typical user content includes:

• photos

• movies

• music

• downloaded documents (as email attachments, for example)


Internal Storage will tend to fill up as a result of normal usage. Examples of such usage are the saving of data by applications; the downloading and installation of new applications; the downloading of free or paid content; and the shooting of pictures and movies. Therefore, the larger this memory is from the start, the more applications you can download and use, and the more pictures and movies you can shoot.


If the Internal Storage starts to get full, the device slows down, and in some cases it might no longer be possible to install more apps. You should always ensure that you have at least 100 MB of free Internal Storage. If not, you should consider removing some apps that you seldom use, or move content that you do not frequently access to safe storage.


You can see approximately how much Internal Storage is free in Settings > Storage >Internal Storage. You can also view more detail about how much memory is used by applications in Settings > Applications.


Please note that in Sony Mobile 2013 products, “Internal Storage” is now the combination of what was previously known as “Device Memory” or “Phone Memory” (for applications and their data – also previously known as “/data”) and “Internal Storage” (for user’s content – also previously known as “/ sdcard”). The reason for this change is to make the use of available memory more flexible, and also to enable the optional encryption of user’s content.


Memory card slot

In some products you may find both a large internal memory and a memory card reader slot. However, on the current Android platform, the card reader slot does not work in the same manner in a device with a large internal memory as it does in a device with ONLY a memory card slot.


Generally, since most applications expect only a single location for storage, such applications will not generally allow you to SAVE anything to the memory card (i.e., they do not offer the option to choose a storage location). However, some applications (for instance, the Sony Mobile “Camera” application) may actually allow you to do so. Other applications, for example, backup applications such as the Sony Mobile “Memory” application, will by definition be configured to copy content from the Internal Storage to the external SD card.


On the other hand, when it comes to reading from an external SD Card, you will be able to access content (for example, videos, photos and music) on a memory card inserted in this slot without any special consideration since the Android system searches all available memory for content. Therefore, such products may be regarded as supporting a fourth type of memory, called “External Card” or “SD Card”.


4. SD Card (known as “/ext_card” from a programmer’s point of view, or by other names in other Android products) is the name for the removable SD memory card in all 2013 Sony Mobile products. As described above, this External Card memory is generally more limited in that any application can read from it, but many applications cannot save to this card. Only a few applications, including backup applications and file manger applications, have the capability to save to this card.


Backing up data to different memory types

Generally, you should not save photos, videos and other personal content solely on the internal memory of a device. If something should happen with the hardware, or if the device is lost or stolen, the data stored on the device’s internal memory is gone forever.


In a device where an SD card reader is the main memory, it is relatively easy to take the card out and copy all content to a PC or Mac, or to an entertainment device with a memory card slot. In a product featuring Internal Storage as the main memory, it is not possible to physically remove the memory. Instead, any critical or high-value content must either be copied to an external SD card by a special backup application, transferred to remote storage over a network (mobile or Wi-Fi), or to a computer via a USB cable.


To facilitate the transfer of data via a cable, the Xperia™ phone supports the Microsoft standard, Media Transfer Protocol (MTP), which makes it possible to easily transfer content back and forth between your device and a Windows PC. For Apple Mac computers, a special application called Sony Bridge for Mac is available with built-in support for MTP. This application can be downloaded from the

Support page.


Note that you do not need to back up or make a copy of applications that you have downloaded from the Google Play™ Store. They can normally be downloaded again after you have set up your Google account to work in a new device (or in a device where the memory has been completely erased).


Note 1:

As noted above, some Android devices, including Sony Mobile devices from 2012 and Sony Ericsson devices from 2011 and earlier, do not use a single “Internal Storage” for both applications (and their data) and user content. Instead, these devices use either an external SD card for user content, or a corresponding area of internal memory to reproduce the functionality of an SD card. In such devices, there is a fixed limit between the application area (“/data”) and the user content area (“/sdcard”), with the result that user content can build up and reach this limit. The consequence of such a limit being reached, for example, for the camera application, would be that no new pictures could be taken even if there was still a considerable amount of free space in the application area (or in the user content area). In such an instance, the download and installation of new applications would also not be possible, even if there was enough free memory in the content area.


Note 2:

Some devices with integrated storage have abandoned the distinction between the application area and the content area when it comes to a Factory Data Reset. As a result, there is no option in such devices to perform a Factory Data Reset and preserve content. In such devices, all content is mandatorily and completely deleted from the device when a reset is performed.


In contrast, Sony Mobile’s memory integration solution makes it possible to preserve user content in this situation. Therefore, when performing a Factory Data Reset, the default action will still be to only remove applications and their data, and an option box must be checked if all content is to be removed as well (as might be desirable when selling the device second-hand, for instance).


Note 3:

For a developer, it is important to note that from a programming point of view the location names used to refer to the different memory areas described in Note 1 are still valid, i.e., the area used for applications (“/data”) is still present, as is the area used for content (“/sdcard”).


In reality, “sdcard” is a so-called “symbolic link” to “/data/media”. However, from inside an Android application, “/sdcard” can still be used. For example, you can use “sdcard/DCIM/100Andro” to find all camera images. The continued use of “/sdcard” to access the content area ensures compatibility across different products and Android releases in this regard.