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The mystery of the "System" folder on Android revealed

If you own an Android smartphone, you've likely come across an oddity that has left many users perplexed: the seemingly exaggerated size of the “ folderSystem“. This folder, which should contain only files essential for the functioning of the operating system, appears instead swallow up a disproportionate amount of space. After years of speculation and theories, the developer Mishaal Rahman revealed the mystery.

Android miscalculates the allocated space of files it doesn't recognize

The “system” folder on Android has long been a point of discussion among users and tech experts. Many they wondered if the large size was due to a "greedy" operating system or to some other hidden factor. A recent investigation has shed light on this issue, revealing that the problem is not intrinsic to the Android operating system. Rather, it is the result of an incorrect calculation methodology which has led many users to take drastic measures, such as resetting the device to factory settings, without any real need.

android system folder
The developer's experiment demonstrates allocating 3 GB of data to the “System” folder

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Android, in its attempt to categorize files, ends up assigning all unrecognized files to the “System". This means that any file that does not fall into the standard categories such as photos, videos or documents is automatically included in the calculation of the space occupied by the “system” folder. Mishaal Rahman demonstrated this phenomenon creating a 3GB file full of random data and placing it in a specific directory. The operating system was unable to identify the file type and therefore added its volume to the folder total “System".

Another interesting example concerns i data used for emulation of games. This data, although actually stored in a different directory, is incorrectly counted as part of the “System" further contributing to the apparent bulk.

But there is a company that seems to solve this problem

At the moment, only the latest UI of Samsung, the One UI, seems to have solved this problem, providing an accurate calculation of the space occupied by the “system” folder. Previous versions of the same interface, however, were affected by the same issue, leading users to believe that the “System” could take up up to 60 GB of space.

Another aspect that adds confusion is the discrepancy in Total storage calculation methods between Android and device manufacturers. While Android uses the gibibyte (1024³ byte) measurement system, manufacturers often advertise storage capacity in gigabytes (1000³ byte), creating a gap between the space actually available and that advertised.

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to June 20, 2024 14:50
Last updated on June 20, 2024 14:50
Gianluca Cobucci
Gianluca Cobucci

Passionate about code, languages ​​and languages, man-machine interfaces. All that is technological evolution is of interest to me. I try to divulge my passion with the utmost clarity, relying on reliable sources and not "on the first pass".


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