Where did my 256 GB go? A Measurement Analysis of Storage Consumption on Smart Mobile Devices

Ashish Bijlani, Umakishore Ramachandran, Roy Campbell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This work presents the first-ever detailed and large-scale measurement analysis of storage consumption behavior of applications (apps) on smart mobile devices. We start by carrying out a five-year longitudinal static analysis of millions of Android apps to study the increase in their sizes over time and identify various sources of app storage consumption. Our study reveals that mobile apps have evolved as large monolithic packages that are packed with features to monetize/engage users and optimized for performance at the cost of redundant storage consumption. We also carry out a mobile storage usage study with 140 Android participants. We built and deployed a lightweight context-Aware storage tracing tool, called cosmos, on each participant's device. Leveraging the traces from our user study, we show that only a small fraction of apps/features are actively used and usage is correlated to user context. Our findings suggest a high degree of app feature bloat and unused functionality, which leads to inefficient use of storage. Furthermore, we found that apps are not constrained by storage quota limits, and developers freely abuse persistent storage by frequently caching data, creating debug logs, user analytics, and downloading advertisements as needed. Finally, drawing upon our findings, we discuss the need for efficient mobile storage management, and propose an elastic storage design to reclaim storage space when unused. We further identify research challenges and quantify expected storage savings from such a design. We believe our findings will be valuable to the storage research community as well as mobile app developers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)17-18
Number of pages2
JournalPerformance Evaluation Review
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jun 2021


  • mobile
  • smartphones
  • storage management

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Software
  • Hardware and Architecture
  • Computer Networks and Communications


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