There’s nothing worse than launching your smartphone camera to capture the perfect moment, only to see the words ‘Phone storage full’ appear on your screen. You miss the shot, get frustrated, and then have to go through the arduous task of deleting the clips in your camera roll that you like least – all while missing more and more of the action in front of you.
Phone storage can be an issue for mobile journalists out in the field, especially if they’re working with high-quality footage and audio.
Of course, it’s good – and often necessary – practice to use a mobile device with an internal storage capacity of at least 64GB if you’re doing a lot of filming, but there are a few ways to free up space so you’re not stuck during crucial moments.
Check out these tips and work out which method or mix of methods are right for you and your workflow.
1. Make use of cloud storage apps
Free up space on your device by moving any files to a cloud-based app. For example, Google Photos is free, and can be set to automatically back-up your media files straight from your camera roll using an internet connection. Once uploaded, they can be deleted from your phone, without the worry of losing something important if you need it in the future.
It also means that files can be moved around easily between devices, and content can be shared with team members back in the newsroom. Note that most of these apps, including Dropbox and Google Drive, charge users a monthly subscription fee once they have reached their maximum storage allowance.
“There’s the saying, ‘ABC – always be charging’. I also use ‘ABS – always be syncing’,” said mobile journalist Charles Hodgson, adding that Google photos will also catalogue your files for you.
However, Nico Piro, foreign affairs correspondent, highlighted that reporters should think about where they are going to be shooting. Those working out in the field often don’t have any sort of internet connection, so cloud storage shouldn’t be relied upon in these circumstances.
2. Carry a flash drive
There are various options of flash drives available for smartphone users, which can hold large amounts of material. These are perfect for not only clearing space on your device, but for transferring files onto a PC or Mac.
Flash drives are available with both a USB and iOS/ Android connector, or they can be Wi-Fi enabled, so it is worth playing around with them and seeing what types are better for you on the job.
Got files on a full-size memory card or a regular USB stick without a phone connector? In this scenario, use an inexpensive adapter cable to attach a USB key or card reader directly to your mobile device if you want to edit material on your phone or send it back to the newsroom.
3. Use a microSD card
Sorry iPhone users, this one is for those in the Android club. These tiny cards pop right into the side of your phone, and can provide up to 250GB of extra storage – a method that journalist and mojo trainer Bernhard Lill uses.
Just set your phone to automatically save all media to the card, and then you’ll be able to slot it into the back of your computer if you wish to download the files.
4. Use a cable and transfer content to your computer
Those with access to a computer or laptop can use a direct cable transfer to get their files off their phone – a method that is usually faster than cloud upload unless your Wi-Fi connection is absolutely rock-solid, said Corinne Podger, digital storytelling educator.
She advises iPhone owners to use Image Capture on their Macs to save photos and videos from the camera roll on their mobile device, either to their desktop or to a USB.
Using a cable to transfer files is also good when using an app like Filmic Pro, which saves files to its own library outside of the camera roll, as it gets the content off your phone without compressing it.
“A certain amount of compression applies when a file is imported into the camera roll, so open iTunes, select your device and scroll down to file sharing where you can drag it straight from the app library to your desktop or USB,” she told Journalism.co.uk.
“Obviously at this point any of this content can be put back on the phone if you want to edit in an app, but could also be sent off to a desktop editing system like Final Cut or Premiere.”
5. Delete anything you don’t use or need
“Journalists need to take a more disciplined approach, and be vigilant and rigorous about what they have on their device,” said BBC trainer and mobile journalist Marc Settle.
“Especially if your employer pays for your smartphone, it is not wise to fill it with your personal material with the risk of not having sufficient capacity to use your phone for your job.”
Apps, games and music take up a surprising amount of space on our smartphones, so if you’re not using them, get rid of them. If you go to your phone’s settings you should be able to see a list detailing what is taking up space on your device and how much, and then uninstall anything you don’t use.
And don’t worry – apps you’ve purchased on Google Play or the App Store will be available to re-download if you need them again in the future.
Once you’ve done this, head over to your phone’s storage settings to clear cached files and unnecessary data.