WTF? How did I collect 5GB of articles on my Pocket?
July 22, 2014 - Tech
Unless you’re talking movies or high-resolution images, five gigabytes is a lot of space. Especially when you’re talking about your mobile phone. That’s why I was surprised to discover recently that Pocket, the read it later mobile app, displayed that the app’s total storage was above 5 GB!
That’s nearly a third of my device storage (16 GB).
Since I started using Pocket back in 2011 (when it was Read It Later) I haven’t gone in and deleted any of my archive so I know I have a lot of articles saved, and admittedly, I probably save 3-8 articles per day on top of that, and yes, I am in the top 1% of readers on Pocket (ahem), but still…. FIVE GIGABYTES? That’s a lot of HTML text.
How Many Articles Does It Take to Reach 5GB?
If the average webpage was 1200 KB in 2013, a saved article on Pocket must be less because it strips away much of the webpage noise, saving only the HTML text and maybe an image or two, I would guesstimate the average pocket save is 200KB, and I am being generous.
If that’s the case, with 1,000,000 KB in a GB, I must have over 25,000 articles in my Pocket. If I started using Pocket back in 2011, then this means I was saving 17.1232876712 articles every day for four years. I can definitely say that I wasn’t doing that. So what gives? My phone was definitely slowing and I was getting the dreaded “system might not be working because you saved too much shit” icons and prompts.
Deleting Just Archived Articles from Pocket
I’m a hoarder in many aspects of my life and virtual text isn’t any different. So because I still have dozens (ok, hundreds) of articles that I haven’t read, I wanted to go in and delete just my archives. Pocket, unfortunately doesn’t have this feature, so my answer was to go into pocket (web or mobile) and bulk delete thousands of articles. Though bulk delete is a nice option, when you have thousands of articles, it isn’t easy nor quick. After frustratingly trying to delete my archive and having mild success (the web app would refresh and I would see that all the deletes I made in the last five minutes didn’t go through), I decided I would go and delete some photos from my phone instead.
A few days later, I contacted Pocket Support on Twitter, and as always, they were very quick to respond to my issue.
So, just logging in and logging out would clear the majority of the data? In addition to the cache and other residual data that comes with saving items, apparently, the items that you delete off of Pocket aren’t entirely disposed of until you log out of the app and log back in. For me, that did the trick.; I went from 5.11 GB of data down to 133MB — a much more appropriate amount for storing articles.
UPDATE: I got this nice email from Pocket Customer Service in regards to the Pocket storage issues:
To add a bit more clarity here, we can see from your account that it has just under 20,000 items saved since August 2010. Most of these items have been Archived or Deleted, and when this happens we attempt to remove all associated files. However, we have learned more recently that some information can be retained under certain circumstances. This is why logging out and back in dropped Pocket’s storage usage so dramatically.
The great news is that we are working on an update that makes cache cleanup much more thorough, and as you mention, a way to limit the offline cache so it won’t exceed a certain amount.
The good news is Pocket is planning on adding a feature that will allow users to limit offline storage on their mobile devices.