BlackBerry How To: Free Up Device Memory

Power users of Research In Motion (RIM) BlackBerry smartphones need all the device memory they can get. These seven tips can help free up memory and keep your handheld running as smoothly as possible.

Just like any other computer, your BlackBerry has a set amount of internal memory to perform tasks and run applications. Some devices have more memory than others, and some can be outfitted with external cards, but one fact remains the same whether you use a BlackBerry 6230 or Curve 8320: The more services you employ and apps you run, the more memory you need. As you increase the number of applications and processes running on your device, you'll eventually see degradations in performance and perhaps system crashes.

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Over the past weeks, we've brought you BlackBerry keyboard shortcuts, tricks for advanced users, free software downloads, as well as tips on how to extend your battery life and put your Bluetooth to good use. This week, we're offering up seven device memory tweaks to keep your RIM smartphone fast and responsive.

(Note: You can check how much memory your device is using at any given point by clicking the Options icon on your BlackBerry home screen--the icon looks like a wrench--and clicking Status. You'll then see a number of bytes for your total device memory [File Total] and your free memory [File Free].)

RIM   BlackBerry Status Screen

Delete Any Unnecessary/Unused Applications

The more applications you have on your BlackBerry, the less free memory that's available to you. New BlackBerrys ship with a wide variety of applications that you may not need or even know about. And you've probably downloaded a number of third-party apps with good intentions, then only used them occasionally if at all.

Deleting unwanted or unused applications is simple, and depending on how many you've got, it can really improve your device's performance.

To delete programs from your BlackBerry, click the Options icon on the device's home screen. Then scroll all the way to the top of the list and select Advanced Options. When you click Applications inside this menu, your device will build a list of all apps on your device. Scroll through them and you'll probably find a number of programs that you don't need. Delete apps by scrolling over them and hitting your BlackBerry menu key. Select Delete and confirm that you want to remove the app when the dialogue box pops up.

A few examples of applications you may want to remove are the Help app, games like BrickBreaker, the Password Keeper and the BlackBerry Messenger--if don't use instant messaging or employ another app, like AIM for BlackBerry. (Note: You often need to restart your device for app deletions to take effect.)

RIM   BlackBerry Application Delete Screen

Delete Old/Read Messages and Maintain a Tidy Inbox

Storing old or already-read text, e-mail and PIN messages on your BlackBerry can take a significant bite out of your device's available memory. Get rid of all that clutter.

Click your Messages icon on the BlackBerry home screen to open your messaging application, and then hit the BlackBerry menu key. Scroll down the list until you see Options, in the next menu choose General Options, and then scroll down to Keep Messages. Set that option to the smallest number of days/months you can tolerate. Obviously, the lower the number of days, the more memory you'll free over time. You can keep your messages for as long as you want--forever, if you choose--but 15 days is the shortest time period

RIM   BlackBerry Messages Options Screen Shot

You can also minimize the amount of device memory taken up by messages by keeping a tidy inbox. Don't let your message counter get out of control, if you've got 50 or 100 unopened messages that you already read on your laptop, get rid of them on your BlackBerry. One easy way to delete a bunch of messages without having to go through each one is to hold the left or right Shift key while scrolling through your inbox or outbox. This highlights all the messages you scroll past until you release Shift. Then simply hit your BlackBerry Menu key and select Delete to get rid of the list.

You can also delete all messages sent or received before a specific date. To do so, scroll down to a date line and hit the BlackBerry Menu key. From there, select Delete Prior, and you'll trash all previous messages.

Enable Content Compression:

BlackBerry content compression is meant to decrease the size of the data on your device to take up less memory, and you should take advantage of the option. When enabled, all your device data is compressed, including messages, contacts, calendar entries, tasks, and memos.

RIM   BlackBerry Content Compression Screen

To turn content compression on, click the Options key on your BlackBerry's home icon screen, scroll to and select Security Options and then choose General Settings. Once inside the General Settings menu, highlight Content Compression, click your trackball or trackwheel and choose Enabled. Then save your changes by exiting the screen via the Escape key or otherwise and select Save when the Changes Made dialogue box appears.

Remove Excess Media

Some newer BlackBerrys, like RIM's Pearl and Curve devices--and the as-of-yet unreleased 9000--have cameras for photos and media players for watching video and listening to music. Some BlackBerry devices can also capture video, like the BlackBerry Pearl 8120. Even RIM devices without cameras, like the 8700 and 8800 series handhelds, have media players so users can view images and video downloaded from websites or sent by friends or coworkers. Media files, particularly video files, are quite large and can do a job on your device's available memory.

If you like to store lots of images, music files or video on your device, your best bet is to get an external storage card, like a MicroSD card, so you're not using internal memory for your media consumption. It's also a good idea to do away with any images or video you don't want to keep or other media you don't use frequently.

You can delete media files via PC or Mac using the BlackBerry Desktop Manager software, or you can use your handheld. To do so using just your BlackBerry device, click your Media icon on the BlackBerry home screen and select the type of media files that you wish to delete: music, videos, ring tones, pictures or voice notes. Once you've selected a media type, highlight the file that you wish to remove, hit your BlackBerry menu key, choose Delete and confirm the deletion. (Note: Some preloaded images or file types can only be removed using the BlackBerry Desktop Manager software.)

Optimize Calendar Appointment Settings

Like your Messages application, your BlackBerry calendar stores data on past appointments, meetings and other events. You can free up some device memory by reducing the period of time for which the calendar stores that data. Depending on whether or not you sync your calendar with a BlackBerry Enterprise Server (BES) and a corporate mail client or frequently enter in meetings and other happenings, you could see a noticeable increase in available memory by tweaking your Calendar app's Keep Appointment settings.

RIM   BlackBerry Calendar Options Screen Shot

To change those settings, click Calendar on your BlackBerry icon screen, hit your BlackBerry Menu key and choose Options. From there, scroll down to Keep Appointments and set the value to the shortest acceptable time period. Again, like your Message app, the shortest interval is 15 days, but you can also choose to keep appointment information forever.

Erase Your Event Log

BlackBerrys keep a record of the recently run events and processes, called an Event Log. Your Event Log can come in handy if you're experiencing a problem with your device or a specific application or service, because it can be used for troubleshooting. But storing all that information also takes up your BlackBerry memory.

RIM BlackBerry   Event Log Screen

To access your Event Log, go to your Home Screen, hold down the ALT key and then type "LGLG." To get rid of the list of events, hit the BlackBerry Menu key while any event is highlighted and then click Clear Log. A dialogue box will then pop up asking if you're sure that you want to delete the log. Once you confirm the deletion, your log will be cleared. And don't worry. If your IT department is running device management software along with its BlackBerry Enterprise Server, your company likely has its own record of this event log.

Clear Your Browser Cache

As you surf the Internet, your mobile browser caches various information from the sites you visit. That information has to be stored somewhere and that takes valuable device memory. Depending on how often you use your device to access the Web, your cached content may not take up much memory, but it's still a good idea to occasionally clear that cache.

You can clear your BlackBerry Browser's cache by launching the application and clicking your BlackBerry Menu key. Choose Options and then select Cache Options. From there, you can clear your browser's content cache, wipe its pushed content and erase your cookie cache. You need only click the Clear button next to each option to do so. After clicking the button next to content cache, a dialogue box pops up to notify you that the device is cleaning its memory. As soon as that box closes itself, your cache is cleared.

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