You may have noticed that the app takes up a lot of storage space on your mobile device. Even when you’re not actively using Snapchat, it can still eat up gigabytes of storage over time. This seems counterintuitive for an app centered around temporary content.
In this post, we’ll dive into the reasons why Snapchat requires so much storage space compared to other social media apps. We’ll look at factors like the app’s design, how Snapchat manages multimedia content on devices, and tips for freeing up storage being used by Snapchat.
Snapchat Stores Much More Temporary Content Than You Realize
The main reason Snapchat takes up so much storage is that the app doesn’t instantly delete every piece of temporary content right after you view it. The content is still stored locally on your device for a period of time determined by Snapchat.
For photos, videos, and messages you receive, Snapchat stores them for up to 30 days in case you want to replay or restore that content. Any Snaps you load in the app continue to take up space until they are automatically deleted after the timeout period passes.
This means there may be gigabytes worth of Snaps accumulating on your device that you already viewed once but are still being retained in storage by the app. Even though the content is temporary, Snapchat needs to keep it cached on your phone so it’s available for replay or restore if needed.
Other social media apps may immediately delete temporary content as soon as you view it. But Snapchat buffers a lot more temporary content for much longer compared to rivals like Instagram Stories.
Snapchat Creates Local Copies of Photos & Videos from Your Camera Roll
Snapchat also takes up extra storage space because it makes local copies of photos and videos you share from your phone’s camera roll.
When you upload a photo or video from your camera roll to send to friends, Snapchat doesn’t simply upload the original file. It actually makes a duplicate local version that is saved in the app’s internal storage.
This serves a couple purposes:
- Snapchat applies edits, filters, captions, etc. to the local version before sending. This maintains the original untouched camera roll version.
- The local version allows Snapchat to display the sent photo/video in your feed and conversation threads until it is automatically deleted.
- If your friends replay or restore the Snap later, Snapchat retrieves the local version to re-share.
As you can imagine, storing all these local copies of camera roll media being shared back and forth requires substantial storage capacity over time. The duplicates build up unless Snapchat proactively frees up space by deleting older Snaps.
Snapchat Temporarily Caches Stories Content
Snapchat Stories represent another storage-heavy feature. Stories are photos and videos shared publicly to your connections which remain viewable for 24 hours.
When you upload Stories, Snapchat makes local copies to cache on your device’s storage. Friends who view your Stories are loading them from these temporary cache files rather than the original camera roll source files.
Snapchat also temporarily caches Stories content posted by friends whose Stories you view in the app. This allows you to replay your friends’ Stories later if you want. But all those copies occupy storage space.
The local caching makes Stories quick to load, but the tradeoff is it quickly eats up your phone’s storage capacity as image and video duplicates accumulate with daily usage.
Snapchat Saves Deleted Snaps & Chats
Here’s another counterintuitive Snapchat storage drain – the app also retains deleted Snaps and chats for an extended time.
When you delete a Snap or conversation thread, Snapchat keeps it stored locally before wiping it permanently. It operates similarly to your computer’s recycle bin or trash folder.
Deleted Snaps remain recoverable for up to 30 days. Deleted chat threads stick around for up to 7 days.
So even after proactively deleting old Snaps or chats you no longer need, Snapchat continues clinging to that deleted content for days or weeks before freeing up the storage space.
Snapchat Requires Fast Storage for Peak Performance
Snapchat is designed to provide a smooth, fast-loading experience when sending and viewing ephemeral Snaps. This requires storing content locally in phone storage that offers the quick read/write speeds necessary to enable Snapchat’s core functionality.
In contrast, storage alternatives like SD cards or cloud storage can’t achieve the IO speeds needed to move Snaps seamlessly between users. External storage or the cloud may be cheaper, but it’s too slow for the demands of Snapchat performance.
Consequently, Snapchat relies heavily on your phone’s internal storage for retaining Snaps, Stories and your friends’ content. The app needs to “keep it close” in fast local phone storage rather than extended storage that would introduce latency issues.
While this results in fast performance, the tradeoff is quickly filling up your phone’s precious internal storage capacity.
Tips for Freeing Up Snapchat Storage Space
If Snapchat is consuming an excessive chunk of your phone’s storage, here are some tips to reduce Snapchat storage space.
- Delete old Snaps – Open the Snapchat app settings and select “Clear Conversations” or “Delete Old Conversations” to wipe conversations and associated media.
- Limit Stories replays – Go to Settings > Stories and disable “Allow Replay” to prevent local caching of friends’ Stories.
- Close unused Snapchat lenses – Long-press on a lens icon and select “Remove” to delete unused augmented reality lenses.
- Turn off Background App Refresh – Disable this iOS feature under Settings > General > Background App Refresh. This prevents Snapchat from downloading content when not in use.
- Offload unused Apps – Use your iPhone’s Offload Unused Apps setting under Settings > General to temporarily remove unneeded apps while retaining their data and documents.
- Check storage usage – Go to Settings > General > iPhone Storage to see which apps are consuming the most storage. Delete and reinstall any bloated apps.
- Upgrade iCloud storage tier – Paying for a higher iCloud storage tier can allow you to sync more content to the cloud and reduce reliance on limited onboard phone storage.
- Add external microSD card (Android only) – Some Android devices support expandable storage via an external memory card (sold separately). This can supplement internal storage reserved for apps like Snapchat.
Snapchat’s ephemeral messaging comes at the cost of consuming much more storage space than you might expect. The app retains a large volume of temporary Snaps, Stories, and chat content locally on your device for speedy performance.
This cached content accumulates until deleted automatically in the background or manually by the user.
Managing Snapchat’s storage footprint requires proactive maintenance like deleting old conversations or disabling replays.
But ultimately the convenience and privacy of ephemeral messaging may be worth the tradeoff of reserving ample phone storage for Snapchat’s needs. Improving onboard storage or adding external storage can also help mitigate issues.
With an understanding of why Snapchat requires substantial storage, you can now take steps to balance keeping those fun Snaps while conserving limited phone capacity.