When I first got my 16GB Nexus 7, it was fast. Probably faster than any other Android device I'd ever used. Everything was fluid, apps launched quickly, and transitioning between open applications was the best experience that I'd ever had on Android.

I was in love.

Then, a couple weeks ago, it inexplicably started to lag. A lot. I had just installed a test build of Horn, so I assumed that had something to do with it and uninstalled the game. After a quick reboot, I expected all would go back to normal. I was wrong.

I checked to see if anything out of the ordinary was running in the background, but found nothing amiss. Assuming that the tablet was possibly running low on storage, I jumped into the Storage menu. There were nearly 2GBs of free space.

Finally, I gave up trying to figure out what was going on and decided to perform a factory reset. As it were, I had been planning on unlocking/rooting for a while, so I was going to have to start over anyway. So that's what I did, and everything has been golden ever since.

Two days ago, we got a tip that many 16GB N7s were suffering from terrible performance with less than 3GB of storage space left. Could this be what happened to mine? After reading thread after thread, I'd almost guarantee it. Like I said, the last thing I installed was Horn, which clocks in at nearly 2GB. That put my precious Nexus 7 just under the 3GB threshold. After performing a factory reset and re-installing several apps (including Horn), I now have a little over 5GB free, and it's still running like a top.

So, what's the cause for this issue? At this point, it's hard to say. Given ASUS' history of problems with physical storage, however, I would assume the culprit is likely found within the hardware. Further backing up that theory, the 8GB and 16GB variants of the N7 use different eMMC packages, which explains why the former doesn't suffer the same issue (good thing, too).

You don't have to take my word for it, either. There are plenty of benchmark results floating around that show the incredible difference in performance with less than 3GB free versus after a fresh install. For example, take a look at the results in this thread over at XDA (tested with AndroBench):

Before factory reset:

SEQ RD: 17.83 MB/s
SEQ WR: 0.56 MB/s
RND RD: 1548.85 IOPS(4K)
RND WR: 33.0 IPOS(4K)

Insert: 1.36 TPS
Update: 3.29 TPS
Delete: 3.17 TPS

After factory reset:

SEQ RD: 12.29 MB/s
SEQ WR: 7.8 MB/s
RND RD: 753.66 IOPS(4K)
RND WR: 74.12 IPOS(4K)

Insert: 27.74 TPS
Update: 26.15 TPS
Delete: 28.92 TPS

As you can see, there is a pretty massive difference in the sequential write, as well as all the SQLite results.

According to this thread on Google's product forums, there has already been a case opened with ASUS, and the OP is requesting that others who are experiencing this problem do the same. Unfortunately, it's unlikely that ASUS will respond or do anything about it, given their response to I/O issues of the recent Transformer tablets (read: none).

For now, the only real solution is to keep at least 3GB of storage free at all times. It's not ideal by any standard - after all, you did pay for 16GB of storage space - but for now, it's the only thing we have.

[Thanks for the tip, Jenkins!]

Cameron Summerson
Cameron is a self-made geek, Android enthusiast, horror movie fanatic, musician, and cyclist. When he's not pounding keys here at AP, you can find him spending time with his wife and kids, plucking away on the 6-string, spinning on the streets, or watching The Texas Chainsaw Massacre on repeat.

  • Mathieu

    Never had this issue on my 8GB Nexus 7 and there is way less than 3GB of free space ;)

    • fixxmyhead

      yea me too but if u READ the article this only happens in the 16gb model NOT the 8gb one

      • Mathieu

        I know that it's supposed to happen only with the 16 GB model.
        Just wanted to share my experience with the 8 GB model in case anyone was wandering if this issue also affected 8 GB models.

    • http://www.liliputing.com/ Brad Linder

      But the 8GB model becomes practically unusable if you have less than 400MB or 500MB of space. I got there once, and constantly received messages telling me there wasn't enough space to perform one task or another.

      • Mathieu

        Android will tell you that there isn't enough space but it performs as well as before in my own experience... except that you can update/install apps.

        • someone.asdf

          Android needs roughly the same as the the apk size ffree to update. This is probably why it was complaining about free space.

      • http://twitter.com/phonecount StalkyTheFish

        At that level I think that comes down to /system vs /data partition space. I run into this all the time on my Nexus One.

      • akoli

        Yeah I know how that feels... it performs ok under the 500mb but doesnt let you do anything with the sytem... regardless of what you do... no play apps etc

  • http://tinyroar.com Cats-R-Friend

    I have had major issues with this as well, although mine is the 16gb version and have well over 7gbs free.
    Even after factory resets nothing fixes this issue.
    I have basically now had to remove everything on my device and only have about 6 user installed apps so the device will not slow down :-(

    • http://twitter.com/physicalist09 Physicalist

      It could very well be one specific app that bogs down the system. Many use a lot more apps.

  • Tim Kermode

    So a product with limited space, non-expandable space, has issues when you try to use that space.

    That's just not cool :-(

    • Phoenix31756

      WELL, You did BUY into that hype, didn't you ? Believing that NOT having a means of external storage like an SD card wouldn't cause any problems, didn't you ?

  • ddpacino

    Damn, this sucks. Been waiting to get the 16GB, but hopefully they fix this soon before I cop it.

    • http://twitter.com/BottleRocket_ BottleRocket

      My wife and I both have one under 2 gbs of free space left and neither are showing any signs of problems.

      • ddpacino

        Thanks for reporting that. I need to hear things like this from the actual users themselves. Thanks!

        • http://twitter.com/BottleRocket_ BottleRocket

          You're welcome.

      • http://www.facebook.com/magnet.man.54 Magnet Man

        I can second that. My N7 was experiencing some problems, and uninstalling a set of apps that I had installed just prior to the problems, seems to have cleared up performance issues. It seems that some apps misbehave and cause things to move slower. My 16GB N7 runs very smoothly despite having less storage free than ever.

        Disclaimer: This is just my anecdotal experience, and in no way scientific.

        • http://twitter.com/BottleRocket_ BottleRocket

          We all know how these things work. One person may have a problem and the next one may not. My screen is popping up some and I have to take the battery cover off and readjust the screws. My wife's doesn't have that problem at all. My mom was having major issues with her Incredible. I had her uninstall all her apps and then reinstall one by one. The problem ended up being an app.

          • makapav

            Which app? Such information should always be shared :-)

          • http://twitter.com/BottleRocket_ BottleRocket

            lol, I wish I could remember. It was a game that she downloaded from the Amazon appstore, I can tell you that much.

          • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000738940938 Moosa Mahsoom

            The left side of the screen on my nexus 7 feels a bit loose but, doesn't seem to be so severe that its going to come off. I'm in India and got my nexus 7 from the USA. So, getting a replacement is not logical.

  • Ken

    Just as I was thinking about getting a N7

    • ocdtrekkie

      You still should.

      • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Cameron Summerson

        I agree. This is definitely not a deal-breaker to me.

        • Phoenix31756

          As long as one doesn't think it's a burden to constantly backup whatever's data is on the device, right ?

          Oh, excuse me but DOESN'T backing up one's device use the same device for STORAGE of that backup ?

          • jj14x

            Eh? Who in their right minds would store backups on the same device (that is being backed up)?

          • Phoenix31756

            Answer ! Simple everyday people who don't know any better !

            You know, I encountered a guy the other day and he was fuming mad that his NEW cellphone wouldn't work, he was about too toss it into the deep end until I said let me take a look at it. You know what the problem was ?

            HE FORGOT TO CHARGE IT !

  • Charles Clout

    I've had to factory reset my Nexus 7 twice because of this. First time I didn't realise it was due to the amount of used space I had on the thing, second time I googled it and found others were suffering the same. Such a shame as the N7 is a great piece of kit.

    • makapav

      It still is a great piece of kit. I am picking up an 8GB version this afternoon - so excited!

  • Matt Tithof

    It's not directly linked to storage space. There's a thread on XDA about it (In the N7 general section called "The LAG thread" that talks about some ppls experiences. There has also been a case opened with Google (details in the XDA thread). Hopefully an OTA can fix it.

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ David Ruddock

      Did you even read the article or?

      • Matt Tithof

        Yes, and I also have a N7 with the lag problem. I've also read through the entire 38 pages of the lag thread on XDA (
        http://forum.xda-developers.com/showthread.php?t=1776538). There were ppl who experienced the lag even after doing a factory reset with nothing installed on their devices. Post above edited as well. It may not be directly linked to storage.

      • triangle8

        I've actually been experiencing some lag caused by certain apps, but it's not linked to the amount of storage left (since I have more than 5 GB free). I'm sure there is something to what Cameron is talking about, but I don't think it's the only cause of lag. My nexus has generally been running like a champ, but when I use certain apps, it grinds to a halt.

  • http://www.facebook.com/j.c.sugrue James Sugrue

    Do we know if this is only affecting certain batches of the 16GB Nex7? I've got a C70K and I've yet to experience any of the issues that others have been reporting with these.

  • Filippo

    I can confirm this issue

  • atowler

    I'm glad you posted this article, as I ran into the issue after installing N.O.V.A. 3. Bringing down your memory usage doesn't resolve the issue. It's upsetting that I paid for 16 GB of storage and get only 13 GB (at best). Hopefully this issue is resolved for those of us who were early adopters.

    • OSagnostic

      Had the same problem with some "discounted" games I downloaded. Uninstalled a few of these big games and now running fine. I guess I will just have to finish them one at a time.

  • Idle Time

    This happens on the 16G and not on 8G? How ironic!

  • Jordi Harrison

    I had this issue after transferring season 2 of falling skies onto my N7.
    I fixed it by applying "Jay's recipe for buttery goodness" from XDA.

  • James Barr

    Wow, I was having this issue, too. I'm pretty pissed that I basically have 13GB of storage instead of 16GB......but at least my performance issues in Chrome have gone away, I was starting to have some major problems rendering web pages and just trying to type things in. Thanks for the article/heads-up, AP.

  • http://www.androidradar.de/ Leif

    I think also that it's just an app. Had it last days as well but I had much more storage left. So maybe it is just one very popular App which missbehaves a lot. Didn't had horn installed...but well..maybe something else. Everything fine after a quick reset now.

  • Himmat Singh

    Well, 16GB minus 3GB minus pre-installed software space (~3GB) = 10 GB usable.

  • Jonathan

    I had something similar happen with my 16GB N7. I made a backup in CWM recovery, and then the reboot took so long I thought it froze. Performance took a huge dive after that. It was so bad, I was ready to pull my hair out. I was sure something serious was broken. I suspected it might have had something to do with the massive amount of space the backup occupied, so I freed a bunch of space to no avail. Eventually, I gave up trying to fix it and restored the factory image. It's been back to normal ever since, but that sure was a disconcerting episode, especially since it took me half a day just to get all of my apps and settings back to how I like them.

  • EdsonDJ

    I've noticed that mine would lag when I reach around 500MB of storage. Not only that, it'll also have trouble installing/updating any app saying I have insufficient storage, even if they were only a few MBs.

  • http://www.facebook.com/archercc Ryan Stewart

    Asus's support is bad? They really stepped up on the OG transformers with support and Ive been happy with it. I wonder what changed.

  • http://btwnworlds.tumblr.com/ Lou G

    This is not cool. I am glad I opted for the 8gb one but I do feel bad for those with 16gb ones. I'm sure Google/ASUS will do something. they seem to be fairly on top of things.

  • Jerry Gooch

    I was seriously contemplating factory resetting my Nexus 7 yesterday to see if that solved my performance issues. Now I know why. I/O was my only issue with my Prime. Kinda disappointed that a Nexus device would have such a serious flaw.

  • RCCola85

    Ugh this explains the random moments when I'm downloading an app from the Play Store at about 12 kbps until it magically speeds up. Time to delete some Gameloft game data.

  • Dan

    I had a suspicion the lack of available space was causing this. It seemed like everything else I had tried exhausted the other options.

    And yes, I did experience this. :

    • Jaymoon

      I thought maybe I flashed a bad rom... but glad to see that's not it.

      I have been experiencing MAJOR slowdown over the past 2 weeks, so I checked and had 1.3GB free. I uninstalled a couple of big games, now have 5.3GB free, and it's back to being smooth as butter.

      I guess that's what we get when they had only 4 months to make the device. :(

  • Chris Seward

    I had this issue as well. For me, a lot of the missing space is in a corrupt nandroid backup folder that I can't seem to figure out how to delete... It survives a factory reset. Not sure what to do... but now I need to keep 3 GB free not including the wasted backup space or my nexus slows to a crawl... not ideal.

  • Joe

    Probably the forum but I experience lag and sometimes no functionality at all on the left hand side of my screen. The rhs works fine just not the left, forcing me to reboot the device

  • jian9007

    I still have plenty of space on mine so I can't complain. My question is what are you putting on there that puts some of you down to 2GB or less storage space? Just curious, because I have some larger games (like Horn), but still have almost 10GB free. I'm unlocked and rooted though, and store everything I can on external USB sticks and run any music, movies, etc. from them, with the exception of when I'm streaming media, of course.

    • Jaymoon

      Games man. I loaded it up with a couple of games for my nieces (Spy Mouse, Monkey Ball, etc), a few games for myself (Nova 3, Shadowgun, etc), and after a couple of months, it fills up pretty easily.

      Most modern heavy duty games take an anywhere from 300MB to 3GB+. That adds up over time. ...and I didn't even put any music/videos on it. :o

  • http://twitter.com/Joecascio2000 Joseph Cascio

    Lol so ~16GB total, minus ~2GBs system, minus 3GBs to prevent lag = ~11GB Tablet. How fun.

    • http://wakoopa.com/yo2boy yo2boy

      Don't forget actual formatted storage space.

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000738940938 Moosa Mahsoom

        We don't if it affects all the devices. I don't if the 32 GB version has this pproblem which I have.

  • Neil H

    same issue, lags terribly. It made me want to throw it away.... If there is any way up consolidate all similar issues and send to asus for a resolution

  • Sootie

    I had wondered about this on my N7, first thing I did with it when I got home was throw some video's and songs on it to keep me amused on the train which put free space down to about 1gb and I really couldnt work out why all the tech writers kept talking about how fast it was, my galaxy s2 was less laggy. I have recently started removing some stuff and performance seems to have improved a bit so I might try and get up over the 3gb limit to see if it makes a big difference.

  • Phoenix31756

    So, all you people who BELIEVED, that a device with no SD external card support wont have any problems whatsoever in the future...................HOW DO YOU LIKE IT NOW ?


    BTW, It's very IRONIC that there's an article of that GPS feature that Apple has on their products and so does Android btw, is and can be DISABLED from recording audio and video at certain government functions !


    • Droider

      You are a moron.

      • Phoenix31756

        So, Hows that Nexus 7 doing for ya ?

        Did you buy the 7 because of it's "Not Too Complicated Device" for morons ?

    • jj14x

      "a device with no SD external card support wont have any problems whatsoever in the future" <-- nobody believes that it won't have ANY problems. Whenever there is hardware, there is ALWAYS the possibility that there will be problems.
      Do you believe that a tablet with microSD card support will never have any problems? ok, let's narrow down further - Do you believe that a tablet with microSD card support will never have any STORAGE problems? Your OS is not on microSD - it is on main memory. What if there is a problem with that? (or accessing main memory? or corrupted main memory? Or problem with memory access modules?) There are a whole lot of components and there can be hardware/software problems with ANY of these.

  • wuf

    another hw problem with an asus product -_- my tf101 still keeps me from buying something from them again, until they make up for their sins

  • makapav

    I have the same problem on my Galaxy Nexus GSM variant of the phone. I fell below the 3GB threshold and my phone lagged like crazy in transitions, moving from screens, apps, etc.

    I freed up some space to >3GB and now things look much better. I am running AndroBench on my phone now to validate my claim and experience analytically.

  • Louis

    Anyway, this lag issue sia shame to Asus and Google. People bought nexus 7 even before the reviews are made by experts because of the good-will of these two giants. Notable thing is that people bough 16GB version sacrifice USB mounting and card slot thinking that its made by Asus and Google. Luckily I bought an 8GB version because I don't have enough bucks to buya 16GB one.
    Definitely, nexus 7 was released to usurp many tablets of the same price range and even an attempt to upset apple and similar tablet manufacturers... now ran into misfortune. Google discontinues free $25 credit by end of this month!
    Will google release a patch for JellyBean to mount external USB disks any day? Everyone knows Google wants customers to use Google Cloud storage.

  • http://twitter.com/Hiluxtaco Brian B.

    Just when I was about to pull the trigger on a 16GB version of the Google Nexus 7, I read this issue. Now I am on the fence..

    Wondering if I should wait to see if the Apple Mini is going to surface in the next few weeks?

    Decisions. Decisions.

  • Brenda

    My nexus will not come on.

  • http://twitter.com/one_solo Nuno Guerreiro

    It also worked on my Samsung Galaxy S3 !!! Nice app!!!
    I bench after and before with that bench app and got better results after. Also I feel much snapier my device...

    Note - I only have 2GB of internal space left

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000738940938 Moosa Mahsoom

    The my library widget had caused my nexus 7 to lag.

  • igorsantos07

    FYI: Looks like this is a known issue in the XDA and there's already an app for that: LagFix ( https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.grilledmonkey.lagfix )