Does Windows Phone 8 GDR2 fix the ‘Other Storage’ issue? Microsoft says yes, but we’re not too sure

A vexing problem for those on Windows Phone 8 is that of space-filling ‘Other Storage’ found under Settings > Phone Storage. The problem is after a few days, weeks or months of usage, that mysterious area begins to fill up with “stuff” and users really have no recourse to getting it back.

While Nokia and other OEMs have introduced apps to delete Temporary Files, which for some does gain back significant space, it does not touch the other Other Storage problem for many.

Now, Microsoft’s Joe Belfiore stated in a Tweet today that at least in GDR2 (OS build 10327), the problem has been addressed. But from our usage of the Lumia 1020, we’re not too sure users will still be satisfied.

Belfiore responds in a Tweet that:

“Don't worry: non-deleted large files (XAPs, eg) that caused 'other' storage issues were fixed in GDR2. on all 1020s.”

That may be true and we’re not going to disagree with the man who “runs the team doing Windows Phone product definition & design” but the changes do not completely get rid of the ‘other storage’ problem either.

Case in point, our Nokia Lumia 1020, which we’ve been using only since Tuesday already has 2.6GB of ‘other storage’ (according to Nokia’s app; if we use the system reading, it’s 3.65GB). That’s about 1GB more than our previous daily driver, the Lumia 920, which we used for months. We should also note we still have 22GB of free space on the 1020, so it’s not because we’re filling it up with a lot of media or apps.

On our Lumia 925, the story is a little better with only 696 MB allocated to ‘other’, which is good since the Lumia 925 has half the storage of the Lumia 1020 at 16GB.

Regardless, we can’t quite say to people that the GDR2 update will magically fix the ‘other’ storage observation. Sure, Microsoft may have improved upon it with the update, but it’s still there.

What is the Other Storage issue?

Storage

‘Other Storage’ on Windows Phone 8 includes cached data this stored on your device. Everything from email, games, videos, game info, app info, documents, images synced to SkyDrive, etc. are all items that can fill it up.

It’s been observed by many users that having auto-upload to SkyDrive is one culprit that can quickly fill the mysterious area up. Heck, even just manually uploading files can contribute to it. Over at WPXbox, they give some tips for trying to regain space back including limited syncing of email accounts, not opening SkyDrive folders with loads of images (thumbnails) and other “tricks” that have mixed results.

Another method is to try and use the app ‘Shrink Storage’, which once again, has varied results (we’ve never gained anything back from using it).

We should note that believe it or not, this is really not a bug but rather seemingly a side-effect of how the OS operates. That’s why it can’t just be patched. It appears to be a low-level OS feature that allows app, game and service data to be stored locally on the device for fast-retrieval (and reduce OTA data consumption). It's more akin to having to re-do your plumbing than fixing a leaky faucet.

The problem of course is there appears to be no way to reset it, besides wiping the device, nor a way to help gain space back or know what is causing it. While we still have 22GB of storage left on our Lumia 1020, ergo we don’t mind the lost-space now, others have lost 5, 10, 14GB and more on their devices.

So in conclusion, while GDR2 may have made it better, make no mistake that your ‘other storage’ can still fill up with seemingly little usage. How high will ours go? What exactly caused it? We have no idea but we’ll tinker around to try and find out.

Daniel Rubino
Editor-in-chief

Daniel Rubino is the Editor-in-chief of Windows Central, head reviewer, podcast co-host, and analyst. He has been here covering Microsoft since 2007 when this site was called WMExperts (and later Windows Phone Central). His interests include Windows, Microsoft Surface, laptops, next-gen computing, and for some reason, watches. Before all this tech stuff, he worked on a Ph.D. in linguistics and ran the projectors at movie theaters, which has done absolutely nothing for his career.

357 Comments
  • Does it fix the multiple songs on SD card problem? That's super annoying!
  • Are you sure it's not songs on Xbox music and your actual songs showing as double?
  • Its the Xbox music songs. I'll download say ab album, and then there will be at least a duplicate of each song. Sometimes there will be four of each song. . The SD card storage will be lets say 3gb full but when you dive into the menu the music portion says 17gb full even though it's actually 3
  • this is the os problem.. hope microsoft fix the duplicate file issues in GDR2 update.. i have lots of music and photo duplicate in my phone
  • I dont have Xbox Music, because Indonesia has not Xbox Music, so i really sure that's not the Xbox Music files.
    about the duplicate song on the SD Card, it just happen on my Phone. On my computer, nothing looks duplicated include the song.
  • Yeah bro its fixed;) I've had no drama with my 925 but having said that, without an SD card I only have half the picture
  • I used to have that issue in my l920, without a SD card of course but haven't had it lately
  • I think that's a syncing problem, I have almost 10,000 songs on SD with no duplicates.
  • I've more or less traced it to that.  I recommend ejecting the the phone before unhooking it from the USB connection... Worked for me at least. 
  • Mind also happening, but with different case. Saved images transferred from PC has become multiplied
  • If you are syncing your music to the cloud, there will be double entries. (Turn off the cloud sync feature or stop syncing music to the cloud that you do not want to be available on all your devices.)
     
     
  • This is the problem I'm talking about: http://discussions.nokia.com/discussions/attachments/discussions/Nokia_w...
  • I solved duplicate file problem long time ago.........yeah! I stop using SD card and limit my stuff in 5 GB but one of awesome thing is almost 1GB is taken by "Others" , so...its actually 4GB, See, how flexible I am......Now I am so happy....thank you Microsoft for one more limitation.
  • I have 45 GB if photos & music on SD card... No duplicates. Maybe you're doing it wrong.
  • 100 thousands of users facing this problem. Its all over the internet and even Microsoft recognize this as issue and fixing this in GDR 2.
    I don't think I am doing anything wrong.
  • Maybe you're not doing it wrong... but somehow, I figured out how to do it right. BTW - hundreds of thousands of morons on the internet with WPs.
  • We are morons, even Nokia service centre are also full of morons because even they can't solve this problem.....................So, may be WP is not a good choice for 100 thousands users.
    Wonder what will happen if these hundered thousands of users shift to another platform.....................i think WP will become endanger OS.
  • From what I can gather, if you have a slower sd card it won't duplicate, if you have a class 10 it does.
  • Uncheck Settings...Applications...music+videos...Connect with Xbox music.
    You may have to back up the contents to your computer, reformat the SD Card, click on Remove SD card in Settings...system...phone storage, turn off the phone, insert the card into your computer, and copy the files back onto the card.
     
    When you put the card back into the phone and restart it, the problem of duplctae songs should be gone.
  • Dublicate songs in my Lumia 720 is the worst and more annoying bug ever!. I can't believe Microsoft  hasn't fix it... now Nokia music is showing me Artist and Albums i don't even have in my SD card
  • My 1020 has 3gb of other storage. I wonder if I should not recovered from backup while first setting up the phone?
  • I didn't recover, so I don't think that's it.
  • Good to know. I don't want to reset if I don't have to. I noticed the major bug where the 920 gets bricked after doing a hard reset is fixed on the 1020.
  • I recall reading somewhere that turning off the auto upload to skydrive will help save space... never tried it but it is worth a try.  To me turning it off is backwards thinking.... I like having everything backed up.
  • I just went through this... Can't believe its not fixed.
  • True, all phones running the Portico Update will get bricked sometimes when you try to install an update or reset your phone. If that happens and your phone get's stuck at the gears spinning screen forever, you should first try the soft reset by holding down your Volume Down key and Power Key simultaneously for 10 seconds. If that doesn't fix your problem, and you don't have a removable battery, then you should let your battery run out completely, disconnect any chargers, remove your SIM Card, plug in the phone to a wall charger and wait for the phone to switch on automatically, don't attempt to switch on the phone manually after plugging it in. Once when the phone switches on successfully, then switch off your phone, reinsert your SIM card and then switch it back on again. If on the other hand you do have a removable battery, then you may just remove your battery for a few seconds and then insert it back again. This will certainly work for phones bricking.
  • Perhaps the fix is that the 'other storage' still works like before, keeping files accessible for 'fast retrieval' as you mentioned in the article, HOWEVER, making sure there is always X GB free space available by clearing some, whenever space is required.
     
    Chregu (below) posted that installing the update cleared SOME of his 'other storage', and then that the other storage has since, gone down even more.
     
    The problem I still see with this (if it's the case) is that you'd never really know how much free space you have available.. :)
     
  • That's a good explanation. So every temporary file is kept in case it's needed again (like picture thumbnails from skydrive) but when the space is needed it deletes it. But I would prefer an option where you can set a time after which temporary files are deleted or a GB limit, so after 7 days for example or after 3GB.
  • Exactly; all that's needed is transparency so we can decide how much 'other' we want and under what conditions 'other' purges itself. 
    Once that's done, 'other' becomes a good feature that saves time and bandwidth, not a problem.
     
  • yes. I really don't think it's good like this, having 32GB of memory and 28GB of other, then you want to drag and drop 11GB of photos on there. Just amagine under what pressure the phone suddenly has to clean up space, that can't be done efficiently. And Microsoft is just like: "It's not a bug, it's a feature."
  • Hi Daniel, I just wanted to report you something I've noticed regarding to other storage problems.
    So, I had around 5gb free space on my Ativ S, having 2gb for system, 3gb for apps and 6gb for other. I then wanted to try out N.O.V.A. 3, which was just released, so I downloaded the trial of it, and then went to check out my stirage: I had 4gb left, 4gb was taken by apps and 7gb by other. I only downloaded the trial, didn't even try it. So I played it a bit, didn't enjoy the controls, so I deleted it, hoping to get my 2gb back. But I didn't, after deleting it I had 3gb taken by apps and still 7gb by 'other'. So I tried something just for fun, I downloaded the trial again and deleted it, only apps section grew by 1gb and downed by 1gb. So I was stuck having 7gb on other, and shortly after that I hard reseted my phone and started again (lost my MS youtube app :'( ). Haven't downloaded any big games after that..
  • That is a bummer.
  • Just like Windows it should be under my control when to delete temp and cache files or to remove them after a certain limit of time or GBs. And Anyways, if MSFT thinks to grow like this, then certainly no more WPs.
  • You said yourself it includes cache. So if it did shrink without cause, that would actually indicate an issue. Try filling up all remaining space and if that doesn't trigger a cache purge then yes, there is an issue. Please update the article after filling up the device.
  • I'm at 2.9 GB of other.
  • Phone storage actually shows 5gb in other section. Nokia storage app shows 3gb. Confused :-/
  • From what I see the "other" folder in phone storage include "Maps", "Temporary Files", "Application Data" and, obviously, "other" from Nokia Storage Check.
  • Really? Me too! (I wish I couldn't say that but it' better than somes 29 GB)
  • 2.4gb used on my 1020 out of the box. No recovery.
  • This is super annoying.. I want my space back❕
  • Need space?? Join NASA! ;-)
  • I ain't playin with you fool❕
  • He isn't either, Nasa would love to have new recruits.
  • Ha you guys actually included me in an article :D
  • To quote myself from the forums: 
    Just installing the update reduced my "Other Storage" from 4.8 GB to 2.5 GB (which I think is a good thing).
    Surprisingly, now it is at 1.96 GB. So it seems better, at least on my HTC 8X.
  • Which update are you talking about?
  • GDR2 of course.
  • I thought you were talking about an app update.
  • GDR2 (what the article is about) ;)
  • What carrier do you have? Im on Verizon and still haven't gotten an update yet. I have an 8x and would love to cut my other storage down instantly..
  • It's a unlocked and unbranded phone, Orange Switzerland.
  • I was hoping the screen fading to grey would be fixed by now and I'm not totally sold on the storage being fixed yet either
  • Screen fading to gray?? You mean the readability under light??
  • How about the lockscreen fading to gray when you start playing a song (default music app)...
  • That's what happens when you play a song by an artist that isn't recognized by Xbox Music. Go to "Lockscreen" in your settings and turn off "Show artist when playing music."
  • Thank you :)
    Used to happen to all my songs and I am the kind of guy that makes sure that all the tags are proper and every song has the correct album covers and stuff.
     
    Man, I never figured that one, always thought that was some stupid 'feature'. Did notice that the Nokia music app didnt have that issue, 
  • It would affect all songs because you might have your Indian Live account tied to your WP, and there is no Zune pass support in India. Hence, it wouldnt recognise any artist. 
  • There is a simple solution to your issue. Download and install MPATool app from the marketplace. Link: http://www.windowsphone.com/en-in/store/app/mpatool/a6056e5e-34bd-4098-9cd8-4ed5df611d97
     
    Use it to attach artist art to all the artists you have in your phone. Voila! The lockscreen would show the artist picture now. You also have the option of backing up your covers to skydrive. Give it a go.
  • That is a feature when in bright sunlight
  • You guys are great and responsive. Not what I'm talking about though. The fading is the same as low readability but it happens at random under any lighting conditions
  • And you. Can. Turn. It off
  • I see. what. you. did there...
  • You're Awesome❕
  • The storage check on Nokia phones helps by doing what exactly? Just shows what is taking up space? Can it actually delete stuff from there other than the temporary files??
  • Of course, that's the idea. you can delete it manually or set it to delete them automatic. 
    Problem is that it doesn't yet seem to be still elaving some extra there that is not needed and most of all this shoulndät be happening in the the first place. So OS level fix is needed. 
  • How do I delete the "other" storage manually??
  • Its called a Hard Reset. Only way at this time.
  • You can delete using Nokia's storag app if you have a Nokia.
  • No, it does not. Nokia app only deletes temporary files; I have almost 4GB of "Other" on my 920.
  • Some people it seems sadly don't read at all let alone an article about it. It is a wide spread bug which strangely affects some people but not others...
  • That doesn't really help Nokia 810 users. At this point in time only a hard reset will help us. Hopefully 8.1 or 9 will fix this issue making the entire storage issue no longer relevant.
  • Which Nokia storage app?! I have looked in Nokia Collection and do not see that app. I have also searched in marketplace and it did not find it...
  • Storage check in settings on a Lumia. Sorry.
  • Oh ok yeah I use this and my other storage is at 1.5 gigs... Which I am happy with. I have also installed and used shrink storage app. However I am pretty diligent about deleting history in IE and purging log files in WPC app among a few other things.
  • The early bird might get the worm, but the second mouse gets the cheese.
  • Killian
  • Thank you for this article.   As an ex-810 owner, I know how critical this issue is, especially for the 8gb phones.    MS really needs to focus not only on adding new customers to the WP platform, but keeping those of us who are already on the platform happy by resolving issues like this.
     
    We should be able to clear or reset the other storage, and MS needs to get off their asses and get it done.
  • They should have a second ram chip for is and app cache
  • I'm not an engineer, but that sounds like a significant change to the platform, when all that I really think is necessary is a clear cache type of feature.
  • No you are correct had that back in wm days but the real solution would be to give us separate storage from the rom and apps.
  • that could arise other issues. 8GB is still 8GB, but imagine a user only being able to use 3GB for apps, when they dont use media and need 5GB. same in reverse. They want most of their storage for media, but some of it is reserved. And if one includes a secondary, clearable memory, JUST for other storage, that creates the problem of increasing the cost of devices, as well has creating another WP7/WP8 scenario where adopters of the last platform lose something.
  • It's pretty simple really MS, just give us access to OUR OWN f#ckin files!!!
  • I would think the files are pretty fragmented, making such a task pretty difficult to do.  Look at how they handle .dll's on windows 8, there's a lot of stuff everywhere.
  • Well, it's as the article said, it's a problem lying at the very core of the OS. It's not like fixing a leaky pipe, it's like replacing the whole plumbing system.
  • Thanks for this article and any follow up. This is a big concern for me in choosing whether to move to the Lumia 1020.
  • How do you only have 629gb lol I've had mine for shorter and already have 2g
  • My phone storage says 2.15gb of other and Nokia's storage check says 691mb in other But my phone does say I have 2.16 in apps where storage check says I have 2.8gb in apps. Which is more accurate. Because if storage check is more accurate then theoretically deleting apps will lower my other storage that the phone reads as 2.15 damatically
  • I think Microsofts other counts maps and app save data while nokias puts them in separate categories.
  • It's still B.S. when you can't install a great game such as Spartan Assault, because there "is not enough space on your phone. Go free up some space and try again." *stares at 6GB Other Storage* o_o
  • I really hope they fix this we really need as much space especially on the 1020.
     
  • Hell, no one would ever know until we can get it. Unless you're using a second Gen wp8 device.
  • I have had my 1020 8 days and have 5GB in other.
  • The 925 is not too bad on the other storage but I do have about 1.2 GB after using it since Monday. I have hard reset and am being more selective in what I install.
  • Yea I have 2 and I got mine Wednesday. It sucks we shouldn't have to monitor what we install to try out
  • Isn't the easy way to determine if this is fixed to install the Lumia storage check app Nokia released? Run the Temporary File cleaner in that app and see what the "other" storage changes to, and you'll figure out the extent to which the issue has or has not been resolved.
  • I think we mention that at the beginning of the article, no? It has zero effect on my 1020.
  • What about the discrepancies between what the preloaded phone storage app vs the Nokia storage check says about space. Eg. my phone storage says I have 2.15gb in other and 2.16 in apps but storage check says 684mb in other and 2.8 in apps?!?
  • @Daniel Rubino have u noticed or seen or heard about differences in the what the two apps report how ur storage is allocated/categorized? Cuz it could actually be helpful in knowing how u truely have
  • They just count things differently, AFAIK.
  • Well, you mentioned that it doesn't work for all, not that it specifically didn't work for you, so I didn't know if you had tried it. Maybe it has no effect because the "other" stuff there is stuff that you need? It's worked for me on numerous occasions, with my "other" currently down to 261 MB, according to Lumia storage check.
  •  
    Other storage is (in part) like the trashcan on Windows wit the exception it is supposed to permanently remove files if the space is required by the OS or user. This is the mechanism which did not work previously and would appearto be fixed now. The other area will take as much space as it can without causing you to run out of storage becauase of it.
     
    Constantly keeping an eye on how large it is is the same thing as judging the battery life on what percentage you see in Settings>battery saver which at least for the first few weeks will be inidcative and will stabelize/be more accurate over time.
     
    In fact many people who say they have ths 'issue' really don't but only think they do because too many people are talking nonsense on this issue.
  • So what u r saying is the 2.15gb of other storage my phone reads is fictional and I'm just freaking out for nothing?
  • Games can require up to 3x their storage space to install on the phone. If you have 6 or 8GB of "other" storage preventing you from installing an 800MB game, I consider that a problem. The fact you trivialize this so much shows that you don't pay attention to the amount of complaints this garners from people in the forums, where their device becomes less functional because of it.
  • Excactly. I'm not much of a gamer, but I wanted to try out a shooter once and couldn't install it because I had to little storage with 4.8 GB in other on my 16 GB device. I think that would have made me really mad if I'd cared more.
  • Daniel is right. The "other storage problem"  was no problem before the huge games came out, because the system clean this up till 1gb is free, but 1gb is not enought for the new games. Microsoft had to rebuild to store to deliver the files directly and not the xap, because it is just wrong to need 4gb free for a 1gb game.
  • And this is epecially true if your device shipped with only 8GB of storage.
  • Yup. On my lovely NL720, I have 2.7GB in other storage, which hurts on an 8GB device. Maybe GDR2 will "fix" that and reduce it, but right now, besides hard resetting there is nothing I can do.
  • Daniel, if you keep filling the device with only a few mb of free space at most, 'Other' should start reducing in size. You have to keep adding content to keep the device full to get pre-GDR2 to reduce the usage faster, but you should be able to shrink 'Other' down to at least around 1gb or under. (This is easier than a hard reset, even though it may take a day or so to get the 'Other' allocation to shrink.)
  • I do not trivialize anything. The issue is real and affect a lot of people. Having other storage at 2GB by itself however does not mean the phone is having this issue at all. It appears the biggest problem is that somehow the phone does not remove used XAP files and media downloads not stored to the 'normal' places as the app has no access there.
     
    If you read up on the technical reasons why this are is there is is a collection of system files and the OS may grab as much space as it can for it. Where it goes wrong is when apps put stuff there the OS does not expect and so is not aware of it (and the mentioned .XAP files). As a result on a 'cleanup' these files are not removed.
     
    If you require space from this area for say installing a big game then yes obviously this space should be released and it isn't that's obviously not good.
     
    Point I tried to make is that there is a lot of people who claim they see the issue just because they have a XGB large 'other storage' space which simply is not enough to validate 'I have this issue too'. 
  • No. HTC 8X UK
  • I have GDR2 on my 8X in the UK
  • Chris, me too...but I still have 3.75gb in Other storage which sucks
  • Better than having 7GB like me on my 8x.
  • I don't think this will be fixed before the 8.1 update. I have to reset my phone once in every two months because of that, it's really frustrating.
  • Genuine question... Other OS's have similar issues too, right?
  • I was complaining about this issue the other day and my sister-in-law said that her iPhone 4S has the same problem, so apparently it's not just us. Other OSs must handle it a different way though because I've never heard anyone complain about it as much as us WP folks do.
  • Yeah, it's interesting. I was pretty sure iPhone had this problem too. You can even Bing it
  • Yes, you are right every OS goes through this, but nothing as series as WP right now. I am looking at my storage app on my Evo LTE and under the App Storage, my Apps take up 484mb,