If you've ever peeked in your Android app drawer, you've noticed that every app has two actions: Clear Cache and Clear Data. There's also something called the "cache partition," which isn't the same thing as the individual app caches.
Why do these all exist? What are the differences? And most importantly, is it possible to clear them when you need to free up space on your Android device? Keep reading to learn everything you need to know about Android app data, Android app cache, and Android system cache partition.
What Is App Data on Android?
When you install an app, either from the Google Play Store or by sideloading a third-party APK, the executable app file along with any necessary runtime library files are stored in the system's /data/app directory. This directory is inaccessible by file explorer, unless you root your device.
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Each installed app also gets its own directory for private data, located in the system's /data/data directory. This directory is also inaccessible except by rooting your device.
As you use your various Android apps, certain settings and inputs get stored between sessions. For example, logging into an app and checking "Remember me" will store your details to private data. Data also stores things like account settings, app preferences, etc.
Some apps (like Spotify) may store offline audio data, while others (like Maps) may store offline map data. This can take up a LOT more storage space than you were expecting, so it can be useful to know how to wipe app data in case your storage space runs low.
How to Clear App Data on Android Phones
When you clear app data, you're essentially clearing all of the private data it has ever stored since you installed it and used it. In other words, clearing app data "resets" an app back to how it would be when first installed.