14 tips on how to restore your Galaxy S’s out-of-the-box speed

Posted on Dec 21 2010 - 5:15pm by P.Schmitz

Has your Galaxy S device felt a little sluggish lately?  Over time after installing, uninstalling, and overall using a smartphone it can get bogged down with dead weight.  We’ve put together this handy guide to help you and your Android smartphone get back on track to a more efficient and productive day.

In this guide you’ll find some little things you can do like clearing the browser cache/history or uninstalling applications you don’t use anymore.  This will free up some extra space here and there, but to truly get that out-of-the-box feeling we recommend doing a hard-reset every 6 months.  At the end of this guide we will walk you through how to backup all your content so that you don’t lose anything using this method.

1. Use the Back button to exit out of apps


Most people when they are done with an app will just press the home button to “exit” out of the app and move on to something else, but you should really train yourself to press the back button always.

How to : Pressing the Home button won’t actually exit an app but instead run it in the background until you open it again.  You do this with enough apps and soon you’ll have paint that moves faster than your phone.

2. Uninstall large and/or unneeded apps


Most apps you run in to on the market will be 10MB or less.  While it seems just a year ago you’d be hard pressed to find a 5MB app for Android there are a few bold contenders out there who go as far as creating apps that are 30+ MBs.  Some of these apps include Firefox, Pocket Legends, and Dungeon Hunter.  If these are essential to your Android life then by all means keep them, but be wary that too many of these will kill your Phone’s CPU speed.  Especially if you don’t pay attention to the first tip!!!


How to : To find out how big each application is just go to your Settings, and then Applications, and then choose the Manage Application option.  This will usually take you to a screen where 3rd party apps are shown as the default view.  This is great, because most other apps that come pre-installed you can’t remove anyways.  Scroll down through the list to see which applications take up the most space.  You can then click on the application to uninstall it right from that menu.

3. Turn off Bluetooth and GPS when not in use


Most Android users would find this point self-explanatory, but its much easier said then done.  One app that can help with this is called Tasker.  It allows you to set certain reactions to actions/events that happen on your phone.

How to : Slide down the notification bar and turn off Bluetooth and GPS.

For example I have my Tasker set to turn on Wi-Fi (which turns off 3G and saves waaaaay more battery) when I’m at home or at work.  If you don’t always get your phone to a charger at night you can also have it turn off your data connection from say 11pm-5am when you’re sleeping anyways.

Enabling Tasker to limit your GPS and Bluetooth function’s capabilities will not only cut down on your battery, but free up that little bit of extra CPU power so your other apps load that much faster.

Search the market for it or here is the QR Code.

4. Change the sync frequency for your apps and accounts


When you first install an application or setup an account with Android, they don’t always tell you how often they will sync with their servers.  For apps that link to services such as Facebook or Twitter, try going in to the settings and finding an option to have it check the service every 30 or 60 minutes rather than 30 or 60 seconds.

How to : Also if you go in to your Settings section of the Android OS and find the Accounts section, you’ll find different options regarding syncing frequency.

5. Backup apps you use infrequently


This sounds weird, but one way I use this is with the Google Sky Map application.  Instead of uninstalling the app, I just use Astro File Manager to back it up to my SD card so that instead of going through the process of searching the market, downloading it, waiting for it to install and then using it, I just go to Astro and restore the app.

How to : We would recommend using this for apps that maybe get used once a week or less.  Here is the Astro File Manager’s QR Code.

6. Clear browser cache, cookies, and history


While this might not speed up your phone as a whole, it will make a difference when perusing the intrawebs.  Some browsers such as Dolphin or Skyfire will let you hold down the back key when exiting the app which will give you a pop up box asking if you want to clear some of this data.  In almost every browser however you can just browse the settings and each should have some section or option to clear this dead weight out.

How to : In a browser, press menu and go to more, setting and then find ‘Clear cache, clear history, clear all cookie data’

7. Backup text messages to GMail and shorten the thread length


Not only will this save all your past conversations with friends, but if done right you can make these messages never show up in your inbox and be searchable from any browser so you never lose that phone number or address again!  We would recommend using SMS Backup+ to accomplish this task.

On the start screen you’ll have a couple different syncing options: auto or manual basically.  We would recommend enabling the top 3 options and for the sake of speeding up your phone we’ll tell you how to change some advanced settings later on to optimize this process.  To do this go under the “Auto Backup” heading in advanced settings, set regular to 24 hours, incoming to never, and require Wi-Fi.  This will make it so your phone will backup once a day and only when there is WiFi to ensure even less battery consumption.

How to : Now while still in Advanced Settings we’re going to optimize the messages getting backed up to GMail with a label.  We did SMS to keep it simple and you do this under the GMail label option 3rd from the top.  Next enable the top two messages so they don’t show as new when backing up.  This system will automatically backup your SMS/MMS messages, organize them under one label in GMail, and mark them as read!  What more could you want??  SMS Backup+’s QR Code is right below.

8. Don’t use a Task Killer if you have more than 256MB of memory/ram


Most people get trapped with this idea that Mobile operating systems are like Windows in that you need to control what’s running otherwise it will slow down you phone.  This is only slightly true with Android 2.1, but as phones get better and Android gets upgraded to Froyo or Gingerbread this becomes non-existent.  Again we wouldn’t even recommend installing a Task Killer on your Galaxy S device because it can actually do more harm than good.

Android is based on linux and so has its own system of limiting and controlling apps built in.  If you have something like ATK on crazy mode killing everything you tell it to, while all of these apps are trying to access servers and your data connection (unless you change this with Tip #4) you now have much more going on now than you did prior to installing ATK.  Google and Cyanogen (a famous modder on the Android platform) have both made official statements regarding this matter.

9. Use less homescreen widgets


Not only will these use more battery power by constantly updating and playing animations, but it will also bog down your system if you fill all 7 homescreens with them.  A few widgets are great (we recommend the Weather Channel, Power Control, and Google Voice widgets), but more than 5 can really pull at your CPU’s heart strings.

How to : Press and hold on widget you like to uninstall and drag down to trash can on the bottom.

10. Don’t use Live wallpapers


Yes its cool to see an entire game of Mario played out in your background or be constantly in a warp tunnel from Star Wars, but if you’re trying to have your phone last more than a trip to the bathroom or be able to access your app drawer, then we recommend not using one of these. (Yes these are extreme exaggerations but you get our point!)

How to : Press and hold somewhere on blank homescreen and choose ‘wallpaper’ to change it.

11. Get the latest updates


Carriers and Manufacturers are always releasing minor updates to GPS systems or to fix known bugs.  By making sure you stay up-to-date with these changes it ensures at the very least if your phone becomes slower that you can take it in and they are to blame not you.  (Also see tip# 14)

How to : While the carrier will let you know if there is a big update, you still like to check manually then go to Setting, Software update and ‘Check for update’

12. Refresh your phone’s battery with a “bump charge”


If you Google how to manage your phone or any device’s battery these days you’ll find articles from praying to the power gods to crazy un-plug, turn off, turn on, turn off, spin in a circle, lick you phone, and turn back on to achieve the best results.  Lets get something straight.  There are 2 thigns you can do to improve your battery’s life and then don’t include anything that is listed above.

First off you should be, once a month, letting your phone completely die and then charging it until it is at 100%.  This will ensure that you phone keeps track of the full and empty gauges more accurately and will result in better reporting of the information.

The other thing you can do is whats referred to as a “bump charge”.  Follow these instructions to see anywhere up to a 15% boost in your battery life:

  1. Charge phone while its turned on
  2. Once it says 100% turn the phone off
  3. Now plug it in again and wait until it says 100%
  4. Quickly unplug the phone and plug in again.
  5. Wait until it says 100%
  6. Turn phone back on

You can repeat steps 4 and 5 multiple times to achieve the best “bump charge” and the Android Police did an exquisite article on this matter which can be found here.

13. Check for “out of control apps”


Even though we said in Tip# 8 that you shouldn’t use a Task Killer because Android is great at doing this already, there are always exceptions.  To clarify this is almost entirely the developer of that app’s fault not Android’s or anybody else’s fault.  There are some great apps that let you check how much each app is using your CPU and we would recommend SeePU.

Whats great is that this app will show the current CPU, RAM, and Data Network usage all in your notification bar!  You can quickly see if your system is being bogged down and take take of any problem app.

How to :  If you notice that you’re having to do this a lot for one particular app maybe its time to find an alternative one that won’t tax you and your phone so much.  QR Code is right below.

14. Best Solution: Backup everything and perform a Hard/Factory Reset


So you’ve tried all the tips above with no results or you don’t want to spend all that time applying each one to get that buttery smoothness you remember for the first couple of days using your Galaxy S device.  When performing a hard/factory reset you do lose all of your data so be sure to pay attention to our backup tips below before embarking on this journey. BEFORE PERFORMING THIS OPTION PLEASE PLEASE ASK US ANY QUESTIONS ABOUT BACKING UP DATA OR ANYTHING ELSE.  WE CANNOT BE HELD RESPONSIBLE IF YOU DO THIS AND THEN LOST ANY PRECIOUS IRREPLACEABLE INFORMATION.

  1. Next you want to make sure all your contacts are Google contacts so that upon resetting the device it will instantly reload all of your friends and family.To do this simply export all your contacts to the SD card, email that file to yourself in GMail, import contacts into a group called “cell phone” or something similar in gmail, then delete all the contacts on your phone, and finally setup your contacts view to only see contacts with phone numbers and from the Google group “cell phone”.  This will ensure that your contacts are accessible from any Android phone or browser! Also keep in mind that when adding contacts in the future always select Google NOT Phone as the type.
  2. By using ASTRO File Manager, you may backup application on SD card. In the ASTRO, Go to Menu, Tools and application manager/backup to select application you want to backup.
  3. I would also recommend installing LauncherPro so you can backup your homescreen layout by selecting ‘Restore backup’ at LauncherPro preferences.  The app does tons of other amazing stuff too so check out our write-up on it here.
  4. This is very important so pay attention!!! Unless you ROOT your phone you will not be able to backup things like your scores on Angry Birds.  Apps store these scores in an inaccessible folder on your phone that only ROOT permissions grant access to.  If you are already rooted then just use Titanium Backup to save and then restore these scores later.  YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED.
  5. Just to be safe at this point I would turn your device off, pull out the microSD card if you have one, and then turn the phone back on before proceeding.
  6. So now that all of you data have been backed up all you need to do is press the Menu button on the homescreen, then settings, then find the factory data reset option.  This can be in different places on each phone but its usually under either the Security, Privacy, or About Phone headings.
  7. And that’s it! Once the phone turns on again it will ask you to re-enter your Google Account data and then from there turn off your phone, insert your memory card again, boot it back up, and then reinstall your backup applications.  Once that is done just restore your information and you should be right as rain!

Well thats all the tips and tricks we could think of/scrounge up.  Do you have any better ones or ones we forgot to mention?? Let us know in the comments and we’d be happy to update the guide and give you credit!

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