Fast fixes for 6 com­mon An­droid prob­lems

J R RAPHAEL solves some of the most com­mon An­droid is­sues with our trou­bleshoot­ing guide

Android Advisor - - Con­tents -

Let’s face it, tech­nol­ogy wouldn’t be tech­nol­ogy with­out the oc­ca­sional facepalm-in­duc­ing fail­ure, and mo­bile de­vices are no ex­cep­tion. But an an­noy­ing An­droid er­ror doesn’t have to send you scram­bling to the near­est clue­less car­rier store or on­line help fo­rum. We’ve been cov­er­ing and us­ing An­droid since its in­fancy, and we’re here to help.

1. What to do when your An­droid phone freezes or won’t start

It’s one of the scari­est feel­ings of our al­ways-con­nected lives: glanc­ing down at your phone and re­al­iz­ing it’s frozen on some screen and not re­spond­ing to your touch. Worse yet is the heart-drop­ping sen­sa­tion you ex­pe­ri­ence when you try to turn your phone on and ab­so­lutely noth­ing hap­pens.

Be­fore you launch into full-fledged CPR – which, in full dis­clo­sure, is more likely to re­sult in a cracked screen than any sort of re­sus­ci­ta­tion – try the fol­low­ing:

• Press and hold the power but­ton for a full 30 sec­onds, and don’t cut it short. Some­times hold­ing the power but­ton down for an ex­tended pe­riod of time is all it takes to wake and restart an un­re­spon­sive de­vice.

• If your phone won’t turn on at all, plug it into its charger and leave it for a solid cou­ple of hours, then come back and try again. I’ve per­son­ally seen nu­mer­ous in­stances when a phone looks like it’s a goner, but

the only prob­lem is that its bat­tery is dead. Give it a whirl, even if it seems like there’s no log­i­cal rea­son for that to be the case (a mis­be­hav­ing app can drain your bat­tery in a sur­pris­ingly short amount of time).

• Still no luck? Try press­ing and hold­ing your phone’s vol­ume-down but­ton and then press­ing and hold­ing the power but­ton at the same time. Hold both but­tons down to­gether for at least 10 sec­onds. If your phone was frozen, this should force it to re­boot. If the phone won’t turn on, this should force it to boot up to a re­cov­ery menu. In the lat­ter case, you’ll want to tap the vol­ume-down key upon reach­ing that menu un­til you see an op­tion for either pow­er­ing off or restart­ing the phone, then tap the power but­ton to select that op­tion.

If the freez­ing keeps hap­pen­ing, it’s time to try boot­ing your de­vice into some­thing known as Safe Mode, which is a state that dis­ables all apps you’ve down­loaded and uses only the de­vice’s orig­i­nal soft­ware. The pro­ce­dure for en­ter­ing Safe Mode can vary some­what de­pend­ing on your phone’s man­u­fac­turer, but you may be able to reach it by press­ing and hold­ing the power key for a cou­ple of sec­onds and then press­ing and hold­ing ‘Power off’ on the menu that ap­pears.

If that doesn’t work, try pow­er­ing up your phone nor­mally. As soon as the startup an­i­ma­tion be­gins, press and hold either the vol­ume-down key, or the vol­ume-up and vol­ume-down keys to­gether un­til the phone fin­ishes boot­ing. When you reach the lock screen, you should see the words ‘Safe Mode’ along the bot­tom of the screen.

Now, the test: see how your phone func­tions. If ev­ery­thing seems fine when in Safe Mode, that’s a sign that

an app you’ve down­loaded is mis­be­hav­ing and caus­ing prob­lems. Restart your de­vice to go back to the reg­u­lar (‘non-safe’) en­vi­ron­ment, then unin­stall your down­loaded apps one by one. Restart your phone af­ter each unin­stall and watch for things to get back to nor­mal.

If you’re un­able to find the cul­prit, all you have left is the nu­clear op­tion: re­set­ting your phone to its orig­i­nal fac­tory state and start­ing over fresh. And un­less your ac­tual hard­ware is just fail­ing, that’ll al­most cer­tainly get you back on track.

2. What to do when your phone’s get­ting slow

New phones are al­most al­ways as snappy as can be. But, in­vari­ably, most An­droid de­vices seem to grow in­creas­ingly poky over time. So what to do?

First, try restart­ing your phone. (It sounds ob­vi­ous, we re­al­ize, but some peo­ple al­most never do it.) A fresh boot can do won­ders for clear­ing out gunk and mak­ing things run more smoothly.

If that doesn’t do the trick, check the Stor­age sec­tion of your sys­tem set­tings to see if your avail­able space is get­ting low. If you have about 10 per­cent or less of your to­tal stor­age free, that may be your prob­lem.

The last thing to con­sider is if a par­tic­u­lar app might be caus­ing the is­sue. Boot your phone into Safe Mode, us­ing the steps de­scribed in the pre­vi­ous tip. If things feel faster in that state, one or more of your down­loaded apps is al­most cer­tainly slow­ing you down. Restart your de­vice to go back to the reg­u­lar (‘non­safe’) en­vi­ron­ment, then unin­stall your down­loaded apps one by one un­til you see an im­prove­ment.

If all else fails, con­sider a fac­tory re­set, and also con­sider re­in­stalling your apps one at a time as you need them to avoid bog­ging down your de­vice with things you don’t ac­tu­ally use. This is prac­ti­cally guar­an­teed to get your sys­tem run­ning at op­ti­mum speed again – at least for a while.

3. What to do if your de­vice starts feel­ing hot

No one wants a smart­phone that doubles as a fry­ing pan. If your de­vice is feel­ing sig­nif­i­cantly warmer than nor­mal, it’s prob­a­bly be­cause it’s work­ing ex­tra hard at re­source-in­ten­sive tasks like video play­back, game play, up­load­ing or down­load­ing large amounts of data, GPS nav­i­ga­tion, vir­tual re­al­ity use, or Wi-Fi hotspot

broad­cast­ing. Your phone may also feel es­pe­cially warm when charg­ing.

This is all nor­mal and to be ex­pected, but if the sur­face starts to feel alarm­ingly hot, stop any of the afore­men­tioned ac­tiv­i­ties un­til it cools down. You may also want to turn the dis­play bright­ness down and take your phone out of its case to help it cool. (In fact, you may want to con­sider us­ing a less re­stric­tive case or for­go­ing one en­tirely for a while to see if that helps. A lack of ven­ti­la­tion can make it tough for a phone to avoid over­heat­ing.)

Fi­nally, at the risk of be­ing Dr. Ob­vi­ous: If you’re us­ing the phone in the sun, get it out of the sun. Hu­mans aren’t the only ones that can over­heat from too much ex­po­sure.

4. What to do when an app keeps crash­ing

Does one of your apps keep stop­ping and gen­er­at­ing er­rors on your phone? Here’s what to do.

First, try the age-old fix of restart­ing your de­vice. That may be enough. Next, head into the ‘My Apps’ sec­tion of the Play Store and see if any up­dates are avail­able for the app in ques­tion.

Still crash­ing? Head into the ‘Apps’ sec­tion of your sys­tem

set­tings, find the of­fend­ing app in the list, and tap it. Next, tap ‘Stor­age’ and then tap the but­ton to clear the app’s cache and see if that makes a dif­fer­ence. If it doesn’t, come back to that same spot and tap the but­ton to clear the app’s data.

If you’ve done all of that and con­tinue to ex­pe­ri­ence is­sues with the app, the last thing to try is unin­stalling it com­pletely from your phone and then re­in­stalling it from scratch. If even that fails to fix the is­sue, it’s safe to say the app is flawed, and your only re­main­ing op­tion is to ditch it and move on with your life.

5. Free up stor­age Run­ning out of room on your An­droid de­vice? Let’s do a lit­tle spring clean­ing:

• Your pho­tos and videos are prob­a­bly re­spon­si­ble for eat­ing up much of your phone’s space, es­pe­cially if you cap­ture con­tent at a high res­o­lu­tion. Either con­nect your phone to a com­puter and man­u­ally back up your me­dia and then delete it, or in­stall the Google Pho­tos app on your phone and fol­low its prompts for au­to­mat­i­cally sync­ing your data to the cloud. Once the app has fin­ished back­ing up your stuff, look for the ‘Free up space’ op­tion in its main menu to re­move the now-re­dun­dant lo­cal copies.

• Got a Google Pixel or Nexus phone? Your de­vice has an op­tion to au­to­mat­i­cally re­move lo­cal copies of backed-up im­ages as space is needed. In the Stor­age sec­tion of your sys­tem set­tings, tap the line la­belled ‘Man­age stor­age’ and make sure the ‘Smart Stor­age’ op­tion is ac­ti­vated.

• Re­gard­less of what phone you have, head into the Stor­age sec­tion of your sys­tem set­tings. On newer ver­sions of An­droid, you’ll see a menu icon in the up­per-right cor­ner with an op­tion called ‘Free up space’. That’ll give you a list of files and apps that haven’t been used in some time and make it su­per sim­ple to delete any or all of them on the spot.

• If you don’t have that op­tion – or even if you do – look in the main area of the Stor­age set­tings. There, you’ll see a break­down of each type of con­tent on your phone and how much space it’s us­ing.

• Tap the line la­belled ‘Apps’ to see which apps are us­ing the most space, then con­sider unin­stalling any apps you no longer use – es­pe­cially ones that are higher up in the stor­age-use list.

• Tap the line la­belled ‘Cached Data’ to clear away tem­po­rary cached files for all of your apps. This could free up a fair amount of space, but just be warned that any gains you make may be short-lived.

• If the line la­belled ‘Au­dio’ shows a lot of space be­ing uti­lized, con­sider switch­ing to a ser­vice like Google Play Mu­sic, which lets you store your

mu­sic col­lec­tion in the cloud at no cost. You can then delete your lo­cally stored col­lec­tion and sim­ply stream songs on the fly as you wish, and also eas­ily man­age what mu­sic is down­loaded on your de­vice at any given mo­ment through the app. • Head back into your app drawer and look for an item called either Down­loads or Files. There, you’ll see all the files you’ve down­loaded from email, web browser, and other apps. Delete any­thing you no longer need.

6. How to fix ac­count sync is­sues

An An­droid phone tends to rely heav­ily on your Google ac­count, so when your ac­count has is­sues sync­ing things can get prob­lem­atic. If you’re see­ing an er­ror about ac­count sync­ing or sim­ply find­ing that your data isn’t up to date, try the fol­low­ing: • Head into the Ac­counts sec­tion of your sys­tem set­tings and select the “Google” op­tion. That’ll show you a com­plete list of Google ac­counts con­nected to your de­vice along with each ac­count’s cur­rent sync sta­tus. • If one of the ac­counts is, in fact, not up to date with its sync­ing, tap the menu icon in the up­per-right cor­ner and se­lect­ing ‘Sync now’ to man­u­ally force a sync. • Still hav­ing trou­ble? Tap the spe­cific Google ac­count in ques­tion, then make sure all the tog­gles are ac­ti­vated for any ser­vices you want synced. • If none of that works, your best bet is to re­move the ac­count from your phone en­tirely and then add it back as new. Just be pre­pared that any as­so­ci­ated apps, data, and set­tings will also be erased, so it’ll take some time for ev­ery­thing to re­pop­u­late and sync back prop­erly.

Re­boot your An­droid de­vice into Safe Mode if it keeps freez­ing to test whether a re­cently in­stalled app is caus­ing your prob­lems

Tap ‘Stor­age’ and then tap the but­ton to clear an app’s cache if the app keeps crash­ing

Stor­age set­tings show a break­down of each type of con­tent on your phone and how much space it’s us­ing

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