By Chris Hoffman
Everyone wants their devices to run faster and scammers prey on that. Recently, a scam app named Android Defrag Pro popped up on Google Play. Android doesn’t need defragmentation, but many users installed it anyway and left positive reviews. Android isn’t like Windows and doesn’t require as much maintenance — still, there are some things you can do to make your device perform faster.
You may have heard that “Android fragmentation” is a problem, but this refers to the number of devices and versions of Android in the wild – fragmentation on Android’s file system is not a problem.
What Works – The Basics
These easy-to-follow tips will work for everyone, no rooting your device required:
- Optimize Your Home Screens: Loading up your home screens with widgets and live wallpapers will slow things down a bit, particularly if you have an older, slower device. Trim the number of widgets you use and you may see a performance increase – of course, widgets may not slow things down too much, especially if you have a newer device. While animated wallpapers provide eye candy, they may cause your home screens to lag — not to mention the battery life hit
- Kill & Uninstall Misbehaving Apps: Task killer apps are unnecessary — we’ll get to that later — because Android normally does a good job of managing processes for you. However, in some cases, an app may misbehave, taking up a lot of CPU time and slowing your system. You can identify these apps from the Task Manager by their high resource usage. You can also use an app like Watchdog Task Manager, which watches for misbehaving apps. After you spot a misbehaving app, kill it. If it continues misbehaving, you should uninstall it.
- Install a Different Browser: If you’re one of the majority of Android users stuck on an older version of Android, like Gingerbread, you could see a performance increase from installing a new browser. Android’s built-in browser is only updated with the operating system, which means that Gingerbread’s browser hasn’t been updated in a long time. The new Firefox app for Android runs on Gingerbread and seems significantly faster than the built-in browser, in my experience. Users of Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich and above can also try Google Chrome for Android. Opera Mini is another good choice – Opera Mini renders pages on Opera’s servers before sending them to your device, saving your device’s processing power and reducing network usage. Opera Mini will help more with slower devices that take a while to load web pages.
What Works – The Geekier Stuff
These tips will require rooting your device or installing a custom ROM – not necessarily for the average user! That said, rooting your Android phone or tablet may be easier than you’d think.
- Overclock Your Device: Just like with a desktop or laptop computer, you can overclock your Android phone or tablet to speed things up. However, this will require root access. SetCPU is a popular choice for overclocking your device’s CPU. Bear in mind that overclocking can be dangerous – an overclocked phone will generate more heat, and this could result in hardware damage. Overclocking will also decrease your device’s battery life.
- Install Custom ROMs to Get a Newer Version of Android: Newer versions of Android perform better than older ones. For example, Android 4.1 Jelly Bean is significantly more responsive than older versions thanks to Project Butter, which aimed to dramatically reduce lag. While your phone may not have an official update to a newer version of Android, you can often upgrade by installing a custom ROM. A custom ROM is a new build of the Android operating system, customized for your device and developed by the community. One popular custom ROM that supports a variety of devices is CyanogenMod.
- Manage Autostart Programs: If you’ve rooted your Android, you can also use an app like Autostarts to manage which apps have permission to automatically start with your device. This can speed up your boot process.
What Doesn’t Work
These things just don’t work, or may be counterproductive.
- Defragment Your Android: For decades, Windows users have been told that defragmenting their hard drives will speed their computer up. With this in mind, it’s no surprise that scammers would create Android defragmenting apps. You don’t need to defragment Android for the same reason you don’t need to defragment a solid-state drive on a Windows computer. The SSD automatically manages where the data gets placed — defragmentation doesn’t speed anything up. In fact, defragmentation can actually harm things – SSDs have a limited amount of write cycles, so defragmentation can reduce the life of your Android’s storage.
- Run a Task Killer: Task killer apps end processes and remove them from memory – this sounds like it should speed things up. However, it may actually slow things down. Android will manage processes for you – processes running in the background don’t use up resources like they do on Windows. While your memory may be full of processes, that’s a good thing – unused memory does nothing, and the apps in memory will load more quickly when you go back to them. When a task killer kills a process, the app will take longer to load next time – it may also start back up immediately, slowing things down. Let Android manage processes for you. The one exception to this is misbehaving processes, which you should kill and uninstall – see the information about that in the basics section above.
If you’re an Android user, you should also check out our list of the 100 best Android apps.
How do you speed up your Android smartphone or tablet? Have you run into any other scams we haven’t mentioned here? Leave a comment and let us know!