In the past few weeks, posts have surfaced online describing the problem users are having with the new Chromecast with Google TV and its tiny, head-scratching 8GB of onboard storage. When I first saw this, I had a few thoughts. At first I thought that those plagued by the low disk space issue probably installed a few too many games or downloaded too much content. While at this point in 2021 I think 8GB of space on each device is a bit absurd, I didn’t have any storage issues with the new Chromecast until I started installing a bunch of games.
My second thought was how strange it seemed to have these problems popping up for multiple users at about the same time. Although I hadn’t looked at this particular problem since October last year, it felt like my time was coming. I felt like the writing was on the wall. And it absolutely was.
It wasn’t until this weekend that my wife called from outside (I hit a couple of golf balls) and asked why Chromecast wasn’t updating the app she was trying to launch. She always made a mistake, she said, and I knew exactly what I was going to see before I walked into the living room. It was no longer in storage.
Of course, I immediately went into clean up mode and searched the apps we had installed to find the culprit. Surely one of my kids had gone wild and had some random games installed, right? I would certainly recognize the culprit quickly, delete the app and go back to streaming TV happiness. This was certainly a quick fix.
Certainly not. Instead, I found a strictly curated list of apps on my Chromecast that was around 8 in total, and none of them had any reason to be big or have a lot of data stored on the local device. I assume I cleaned up my apps a few weeks ago, so the apps installed were just simple things like YouTube, YouTube TV, HBO Max, Disney +, Netflix, Hulu, MLBTV, and Stadia. When it comes to the app range, I’ll assume I’m targeting the most common use cases out there. In other words, I shouldn’t have any memory issues.
An ongoing problem
After looking at the app information for each service, I saw a shocking trend. Although the installation size of many of the streaming apps I use is small at first, the cached data balloons seem disproportionate pretty quickly. For apps that averaged 60MB to 80MB to install, I saw hundreds ofMB of cached data for no apparent reason. By clearing every app cache, I was able to free up tons of storage space (relatively speaking) and then get back to normal operations afterwards.
I suspect these caches will grow over time and those of us who have been using the new Chromecast since October are just beginning to feel the effects of this slow puff. I don’t know what exactly is causing the problem, but I don’t think it’s a coincidence that all users are feeling the pressure at the same time.
What can you do about it?
The worst part is the fact that there is not much you can do other than clear the cache of your installed apps. To do this, just go to Settings> Apps> Show all apps and you can look at the cached storage on each one. Delete any of them if you want. I didn’t see any degradation in performance and things continued to work just as I would expect after this step. I would say that you shouldn’t clear the memory as you will have to sign in again, but that’s an option that you can use if you want.
The other alternative is to simply switch to a different streaming dongle. We highlighted how good Android TV boxes / dongles get with the updated user interface. Something like the NVIDIA Shield (you can buy one on sale here at B&H Photo) would give you easier expandable storage to work with if you wanted to install some games forward.
Finally, you could be looking for a USB Type-C dock that actually works with Chromecast. I haven’t had much luck with ours here in the office, but there have been reports of some that can get the job done. With a working dock, you can still get power and plug a USB drive into your Chromecast and tell the device to use that storage for future app installs. We’re still looking for the right dock, but the guys at 9to5 Google seem to have had some luck. Your mileage may vary.
All in all, it’s a lousy situation that Google could easily have avoided with a little more storage space. While I still think 16GB is skimpy, it would go a long way in this situation. I hope the next Chromecast fixes this easy-to-solve problem and gives users the space they need to do the basic job of this device: daily hassle-free streaming of digital content. At the moment I’ll probably just monitor my app cache and hope that sooner or later an updated Chromecast will be in the cards.