Friday, December 16, 2011

Android Contact Storage issues when syncing Twitter and/or Google contacts?

For the last 6 months I've slowly been running out of phone storage space on my HTC Desire. This means that I've been hovering between 3 and 16 MB free for a while. Unfortunately the HTC Desire only has 128 MB of internal storage and as soon as I go below the 15 MB mark my phone stops syncing its apps.

Until recently I didn't realise where the space was going so I tried a few things, short of rooting my phone, to fix it.

Firstly I made sure that all apps that could be moved to the SD card were moved. This helped slightly but I soon realised that it didn't help as much as I had hoped, this is due to the dalvikCache. Even though an app is on the SD card, Android creates a dalvikCache instance of it on the main phone storage which is usually smaller than the original but not always by much.

Secondly I deleted all applications that I didn't need. Then I started to delete applications that I do use in descending priority order. Three days ago I was down to only having the apps that came loaded onto the phone, the Google+ app and DiskUsage. Blogger, Facebook, Evernote, Feedly and Twitter had all been uninstalled.

This was the last straw and I made a last ditch effort to find a solution, or I'd go ahead and root my phone.

Though I'd searched for solutions many times before, this time I came across an article that gave me some hope.

Clear Storage Space on Your Phone Without Rooting

This article mentions a Contact Storage bug which causes it to bloat but doesn't give a great amount of detail. Mine was around 50MB so I figured that this post might be onto something. Long story short, I tried the solution listed in the post but wasn't able to restore my contacts other than the ones that were saved to my phone as opposed to my Google account. What this did allow me to discover was that I had over 1200 contacts synced to my phone from Google+ each just containing a URL to their profile. I believe that this could well be the reason why my contact storage was so huge rather than a bug.

What I ended up doing to fix the issue was as follows:

1) I uninstalled Google+
2) Turned off all app syncing within Accounts & Sync
3) Deleted my Facebook for HTC Sense account entry from Accounts & Sync
4) Cleared my Contact Storage
5) Restored my backed up phone contacts to my phone storage (not the 1200+ that were attached to my Google account)
6) Verified that the small amount of contacts had been imported correctly
7) Added a new Facebook for HTC Sense account and made sure that Sync contacts was on.
8) When the Facebook sync was complete, I verified that there were entries in my people app and re-linked accounts appropriately
9) Reinstalled all the apps that I wanted.
10) Turned on all the app syncing again, except for Sync contacts for my Google account and my Twitter account.

Note: I did lose some contacts so I don't recommend you do this yourself

When this was all done I had most of my contacts back and Contact Storage was down to about 2MB in size. For now I'm not going to sync my Google or Twitter contacts to my phone as I have between then 1900+ people. This will hopefully give me enough room until I upgrade my phone in 8 months.

I'm curious of any other heavy users of Google+ or Twitter have experienced similar problems.

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