When you bought your Android device, the tech who activated your phone might have told you to download a Task Manager. “Download advanced task killer from the Market first thing,” the man at the Verizon store told me as I was paying for my Droid 1. “Use it to kill applications you aren’t using, it will make your phone faster and save battery life.”
Little did I know, this program was completely unnecessary and ended up hurting my phone’s performance more than helping it. You see, Android has built-in process management, and the OS has its own way of ending processes when your phone needs them to be ended, rather than having the user force them to stop all the time. Over-aggressive task killing can harm your battery and make your phone do extra work re-launching apps that it doesn’t necessarily need to do.
The first step is to simply stop using task killers. It’s OK to have them on your phone, but any automatic killing you have set up needs to be removed. A task killer should ONLY be used in the event that an app is acting up and not closing when it’s supposed to. Don’t use them to regularly kill all open processes–this is where it hurts your phone’s performance.
Here’s some other steps you can take to speed up your device. The following steps require root access to your phone, which can take some work to get. We have guides posted for the Samsung Fascinate and Motorola Droid, if you have another phone a quick Google search should find decent instructions.
1. Remove bloatware
Some Android phones come with unnecessary game trials, apps, and other stuff like CityID which you might not want, but since they are “system” apps, you can’t delete them. Here’s how to make sure they never run in the first place.
- Download Titanium Backup Donate from the Market. It’s about $5, the donate version is required for this process.
- Open the app once it’s done downloading, and make sure to give the app superuser access when asked.
- Tap the “Problems?” button, then click “Yes, Do It”. This will install Busybox, which is necessary for Titanium Backup to work properly.
- Tap the “Backup and Restore” button in the app, then press the menu button on your phone and select “Filters.” Change “Filter by Type” to “System.” This will only show you the apps that come on the phone.
- Long press on the apps you’d like to hide, then press “Freeze.” This won’t delete the app from your phone, instead it will just prevent the app from appearing or running. You can’t delete these completely, or else future updates will fail. Be careful what you freeze, but in general any games or trial apps are safe to “freeze.”
2. Manage Autostarts
The second way to effectively manage what’s running in your phone’s memory is with a program called Autostarts. Autostarts is available on the Market for a few dollars, and uses root access to let you manage what programs are launched when certain events occur. Android has a list of “triggers” that can launch specific apps, and Autostarts lets you manage all of this easily.
The trigger you should spend the most time focusing on is “After Startup.” Obviously you wouldn’t want to disable things like the Dialer and Contacts apps, but if you see things in there you are not using, long press on them and select “Disable.” Then the program will stop opening itself at startup.
I use Google Voice for texting, so I’ve disabled the stock messaging app. If you’re not using the stock E-Mail app, disable that one as well. Go through the list of apps and disable each and every one you’re not using that’s not an essential system app. The list of unnecessary apps will vary by phone, but it’s safe to disable anything that’s not listed in yellow (which means that its a system app). You can disable yellow ones as well, but just be careful to not disable essential system apps like Dialer.
With these steps, you can make sure any apps you aren’t using are either “frozen” or prohibited from autorunning when your phone turns on. This will make your phone more responsive, have more free RAM and be generally more enjoyable to use, all without ever using a traditional task killer. Try it out!