Exclusive: Fire TVs may soon uninstall your apps for you to free up storage space

A common issue many Fire TV users run into is running out of internal storage space for their apps and games. Even though it has been nine years since the first Fire TV debuted with 8GB of internal storage, nearly all Fire TV models, including all Fire TV Sticks, still only come with that same 8GB of storage. Worse yet, as Fire OS has increased in size over the years and the number of pre-installed system apps have ballooned in both size and quantity as well, there is now less than 4GB of free space on most Fire TV models out of the box. One solution to the problem that Amazon is working on is simply automatically removing apps you don’t use much, but, thankfully, it seems like it won’t be as ridiculous of a solution as it may initially sound.

Certainly, the best solution to running out of storage space is to simply include more storage from the beginning. While the Fire TV Cube and most Fire TV Smart TVs come with 16GB of storage, all Fire TV Stick models, including the higher-end Fire TV Stick 4K Max, still ship with only 8GB of storage. With two new Fire TV Stick models being announced soon, a lot of people are hoping they will finally be the first ones to go beyond 8GB of storage.

Increasing the internal storage size of future Fire TV models certainly isn’t going to do anything to help the millions of existing Fire TV users facing low storage issues today, but it seems like Amazon is working on a solution that might help. I’ve learned through reliable means that Amazon is working on a new app “offloading” feature for Fire TV devices that works as a middle ground between having an app installed and fully uninstalling the app.

The problem with uninstalling seldom-used apps to free up space and reinstalling them when they are needed is the inconvenience of having to set the app back up again. At the very least you usually have to sign into the app again but some apps also have configuration options that need to be redone as well. Amazon’s upcoming app offloading feature is designed to eliminate that inconvenience while still freeing up internal storage space.

When a Fire TV app is offloaded, as opposed to just uninstalled, the app itself will be removed but the user data of the app will remain on the device. This means that if you reinstall the app in the future, it should, theoretically, be immediately ready to use without you needing to sign in or configure the app. I say theoretically because if the app has been updated in a significant way since you last had it installed, there’s always a chance the newer version of the app might be incompatible with the old user data that was left on the Fire TV when the app was offloaded.

The size of an app generally consists of three types of data: App Data, Cache Data, and User Data. App Data is the actual app itself that is downloaded from the appstore. Cache Data is temporary data downloaded and stored by the app to make it function more smoothly. This can be deleted at any time and the app will remain functional, since the app will just re-download it as needed. User Data includes everything unique to your particular instance of the app, like your login credentials, game state information, and local user settings. Fully uninstalling an app will remove all three data types from your Fire TV but this new offloading feature appears to remove only the App Data and Cache Data.

By choosing to offload an app, instead of uninstalling it, you’ll be trading some internal storage space for future convenience. Many Fire TV apps, especially from streaming services, have very little User Data since all they need to store are your login credentials. On the other hand, some apps, like games, have a ton of user data. This is because game developers don’t want the game to take a long time to initially install so they make the App Data tiny and have the game download the rest of the files needed to play the game when it is first launched, which all gets stored as User Data.

Thankfully, it seems like you won’t need to analyze the different data types of your Fire TV apps manually because the upcoming offloading feature will simply tell you how much storage space you’ll save if you choose to offload the app. When an app is offloaded, it’ll remain in your settings app list so that you can later choose to uninstall it completely if you’d like. You’ll also be able to select if you want your Fire TV to automatically offload apps, as needed, when storage space is low. Fire TVs already keep track of how often an app is used, so, I assume, it will auto-offload large seldom-used apps first.

This new app offloading feature for Fire TVs is currently in development at Amazon. While it seems close to being completed, there’s no guarantee it will actually be released. There have been plenty of Fire TV features tested and even completed that were never actually released. Amazon often includes new features like this on new Fire TV models, so we may see the two upcoming Fire TV Sticks ship with app offloading capabilities before the feature comes to existing devices.

39 comments
  1. Eric Akawie says:

    How much you wanna bet that this will only apply to third-party apps and not to the half-a-dozen Amazon apps I never use?

    I already keep the minimum number of apps possible on my Fire TV. I can get away with maybe 1 FAST app, and I have no games on there. And still every time an app has an update, it fails because of lack of space and I need to go hunting down cache to clear, and then it’s 50/50 whether or not the app installs.

  2. Michael says:

    They should copy Roku. My Roku stick has never indicated low memory.

    • tech3475 says:

      Roku also uses it’s own OS as opposed to the Android based Fire OS, so whilst such a move might be good for just basic streaming apps who will be more likely to port their software, it could have potential downsides if you want e.g. Kodi, games, etc.

      • John R. says:

        You’re 100% Correct! One of my fire TV’s uninstalled two third party apps that I use everyday of the year and didn’t touch the Amazon Apps that I never use. I had to do a hard reset of the entire Firestick and set it up from scratch in order to free up space. What’s interesting is that I reinstalled all the apps that I had before and and after the reset I’m nowhere close to running out of storage space.

  3. Phil says:

    They should figure out a way for any app to be run from external memory, ie: a USB thumb drive. That would help those of us stuck with ridiculously low memory.

  4. Marty S says:

    Can we all agree any excuse for not increasing the internal storage space to a minimum of 32 GB on ALL FTV devices other than “it’s physically impossible” is complete and utter bs.

  5. Eric Sirois says:

    Info on which pre-installed Amazon apps that come on firestick that can be uninstalled if you don’t know what they are and hence don’t use them would be nice. Without researching it online yourself I mean. Like in the manual or a separate paper.

  6. Gabriel Leontine says:

    on my Fire Stick there is a new button next to download apps from the Appstore telling me which of my Fire TV devices the app is compatible with

  7. kenneth lantier says:

    Not many apps can be installed on an external drive.
    I had contacted Amazon about this, there answer was that the developer of the app locks it to only being installed on the fire devices main storage.
    Paramount plus, max, vlc, freevee, alpha guns, alpha guns 2, I hart radio, local now, mission destruction, pandora, strike squad, that is what I have installed to an external USB thumb drive.
    I bought 2 128 gb drives from Amazon thinking I could install most apps to it,not even 1gb

    • Rik Emmett says:

      Right, seems like Amazon should mandate that all apps be permitted to install on external storage, but, instead, the solution is to uninstall apps that are deemed to be unused. Go figure.

  8. Rik Emmett says:

    The newer 3rd gen and 4k max sticks have the capability to install apps on external storage, unfortunately, the app developer can decide if the app is permitted to be installed on external storage. Certainly, Amazon could require all apps have the ability to be installed on external storage. Instead, the solution is to uninstall apps.

  9. Bud A says:

    I have change from 2- gen 1 fireboxes and 1- Gen 2 firebox from 2014 to 4- Gen 2 Cubes and 1- gen 3 cube . All my Cubes are sitting about 8.5gigs of the 12 gigs after all the crap from 16 gigs.. they give me 0 issues unlike the original fireboxes.

  10. Doug says:

    I should hope, as stated, that unloading requires permission from users. Because my answer is ‘No’. My TV has multiple USB ports, so I have both Firestick and ROKU, with different apps on each. Some apps have better features on one device vs other; some only exist on one vs other.

  11. Eric Sipco says:

    My FireCube has already this but nobody will believe me. All the apps it took off are not available in the App Store but the message for the app says if I need it go to the store.

  12. c ag says:

    I believe this is what ROKU does or something very similar.

  13. Xiaolei says:

    I don’t understand why Android TV family all come with tiny storage <= 16GB, give storage is dirt cheap now. Even Google TV on Sony TVs that cost thousands come with 8GB and only 4GB is available for installing apps.

    I never have this problem again since I switched to Apple TVs.

    (Another thing puzzles me is that they almost all come with 100mbps Ethernet, WTF)

    • tech3475 says:

      I suspect cost reduction and ‘meh good enough’ are the reasons.

      They’re likely expecting people to just have a few streaming apps and the odd utility.

      For video streaming 100mbps ethernet is theoretically ‘good enough’, with 15mbps I’m seeing quoted for Netflix in UHD.

      Even if these might only cost pennies to implement 16GB and 1Gbe ethernet, they’re likely looking at this on a large scale where this might add up.

      I don’t know what the profit margins are on smart TVs/devices, closest I’ve heard from one manager at a UK retailer was that a £500 TV might only have a £5 profit for the store.

      I’m doubtful we’ll see this change until they’re either forced to or someone in the market sells devices which catch on in the market.

  14. Elizabeth Meek says:

    I own a Fire TV Omni Seires and I don’t play any games on it or even use it with accessories. I don’t understand much about what people are saying here. I just wanted a good television to watch Prime and Freevee. Also Paramount+ and Tubi & Netflix I feel stupid and afraid now. What’s going to happen to my TV now, did I get the wrong one? I don’t use the Amazon photos or the music and I think the volume on the TV is just fine. Does the TV expect me to Use all of this? Is that why it does stuff I haven’t asked it to do? I don’t use the smart home stuff. I just wanted a good TV to do just that. Watch TV. What do I do now?

    • This article is about the storage space on Fire TV devices. Your TV has 16 GB of storage, which, for most people, is pleantly so you likely have nothing to worry about. If you run out of storage, it just means you’ll need to uninstall an app or two that you don’t use, but based on the apps you’ve mentioned it sounds like you’ll probably never run out of storage. If you’re curious to know how much storage you have free, you can go to Settings > Device & Software > Storage to see how much storage is still available. If you have over 1 GB available, then you won’t have any issues.

  15. William littlejohn says:

    Mine is just stuck on updating can’t even get back to home page to do factory reset hope there is a solution soon

  16. Tom C says:

    Freetech talked about this on his YouTube channel, https://youtu.be/iP-NJCyzezg?si=cyR3Y7y-OrLeylBc. He gives some suggestions on fixing it and also says you may be able to get a new Firestick from Amazon since their update may have bricked it.
    A good video with a joke to start it off (he always starts with a joke). He talks about (and credits) AFTV News when he sees something new, so he’s a stand up guy.

  17. E.C. says:

    I have an issue now that I moved certain apps to USB drive after I rebooted my fire stick 4K today all the apps on the USB drive have now been offloaded. It states “you can bring back offloaded apps anytime via the App store”. But these are third party apps so they won’t be in the App store. Even the app icons went away. How do I get them back where they were?? HELP.

    • Kenneth lantier says:

      I had the same issue, restarting the fire stick 4k max did not work, I had to unplug the unit from the power adapter, waiting about 3 minutes, plug it back in, the stick recognized the external storage and all of the apps were there.
      Apps that were installed should also be in the apps store, if not do a search, apple tv is one that I had to manually search for.

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