Thursday, January 12, 2017

How to Stop WhatsApp from Clogging Your Phone Storage

WhatsApp is a very popular social media tool for sending pictures, videos and documents over even poor data networks. This makes WhatsApp extremely popular in third world countries like Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone, where slow data connection speeds are currently the norm.

Unfortunately, WhatsApp by default is set to automatically download media content on to your phone, making the phone slow, unwieldy and sometimes causing it to freeze. Sometimes you wake up in the morning and find all sorts of audio and video content downloaded automatically on to your phone, especially if you belong to many WhatsApp group forums. Sierra Leoneans never ask your permission before subscribing you to their forums. We do not have a very formal culture.

However, unwanted audio and video media quickly fills the storage on your phone, and if you are in a country like Sierra Leone with not enough money for expandable storage, or only have a cheap knockoff Android Chinese phone, this can be a real problem. 

A very easy solution to this problem for those who know their phone's settings is to regularly delete downloaded content from the phone's storage. But there are many people who have phones and do not know how to navigate the settings. So for these people, a more practical solution will be to stop WhatsApp from downloading content onto the phone in the first place, or set up WhatsApp to only download content they are interested in. 

So how do you do this?

This advice is for phone users with Android Marshmallow, as that's the operating system (OS) I have on my Galaxy Note 4. It also assumes you have the latest version of WhatsApp capable of video calling.

1. Click on WhatsApp. At the far top corner of the App are three dots. Click on the dots.
2. You will see the following: New Group, New Broadcast, WhatsApp Web, Starred Messages, Status, Settings 
3. Click on Settings.
4. You will see the following: Account, Chats, Notifications, Data Usage, Contacts, About and Help.
5. Click on Data Usage.
6. You will see Media auto-download: When using mobile data/When connected on Wi-Fi
7. If you use mobile data click on When using mobile data. You will see checked boxes with: Photos, Audio, Videos, Documents.
8. If you do not want WhatsApp to download anything on to your phone, uncheck all the boxes. If you want only audio, check the audio box. I leave my audio box checked to get traditional music from Sierra Leone that somebody has shared.
9. If you use Wi-Fi follow the same steps.

I hope the steps are not difficult to follow and you can finally stop people from downloading all types of random and unfiltered content on to your phone. 

Unfortunately, as there are multiple versions of Android, the guidelines for your phone may be slightly different. So use your curiosity. 
Sheku Sheriff.


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