The new “app archiving” feature in the Play Store means you can now uninstall your big games or rarely-used apps without losing your data.
Back in March, Google announced plans to bring the idea of app archiving to the Play Store. It was a system that would allow you to save space on your phone by removing apps without losing the data in them.
As of the Play Store version 33.4, which began rolling out on November 24th, app archiving is now available. And because it isn’t a part of the Android OS update, it’s even available on the kinds of older devices that might benefit from it most.
How App Archiving Works
The idea behind the feature is that you have the option to “archive” apps from the Play Store instead of fully uninstalling them. Google says that this will recover about 60% of the space used by the app while retaining key parts that will make it quicker and easier to re-install, and keeping all your user data intact.
App archiving will be particularly useful for gamers who often find themselves juggling several multi-gigabyte titles but are reluctant to uninstall them for fear of losing their progress. It’ll also help those on older devices or ones with limited storage, as well as anyone else who has got rarely-used apps cluttering up their phones but who doesn’t want to lose the data stored in them.
Apps need to be supported for archiving, and developers can opt out if they’d prefer not to offer it. To archive your apps, tap your profile icon and select Manage apps and device. Under Manage, select the app or apps you want to archive and tap the three dots icon. You’ll now see two options—Delete or Archive—with the latter showing you how much space you’ll save.
The app archiving feature is part of the Play Store version 33.4 update which is rolling out now. Your copy of the app should update automatically, but if you can’t wait you can check whether it’s already available to you and update manually.
To do that, open the Play Store, tap on your profile icon, then go to Settings > About, and tap Update Play Store. That will either install a new version or tell you that you’re already up-to-date.
Save Space on Your Phone
App archiving is a good way to save space on your phone, especially if you’re a gamer. And it’ll help you to remove clutter if you have a lot of apps that you only use from time to time and don’t want to uninstall them completely.
Most of us are probably in that latter group and archiving will help you look after the health of your device, along with other recommended tips like removing permissions from apps you rarely use. You can do that through Google’s Play Protect.