Posts online began cropping up over the past couple weeks outlining the issue users are having with the new Chromecast with Google TV and it’s minute, head-scratchingly small 8GB of onboard storage. When I first saw these, I had a few thoughts. First, I figured those being plagued with the problem of low storage likely had a few too many games installed or too much content downloaded. While I think 8GB of storage on any device at this point in 2021 is a bit absurd, I’d not actually had storage issues on the new Chromecast until I began installing a bunch of games.
My second thought was how weird it seemed that these issues started cropping up for multiple users right around the same time. Though I’d yet to deal with this particular problem since October of last year, it began feeling as if my time was coming. I felt like the writing was on the wall. And it absolutely was.
Just this weekend, my wife called me in from outside (I was hitting some golf balls) and asked why the Chromecast wouldn’t update the app she was trying to launch. It kept giving her an error, she said, and I knew before I made it to the living room exactly what I’d see. It was out of storage.
Of course, I immediately went into clean up mode, looking through the apps we had installed to find the culprit. Surely one of my kids had gone hog wild and installed a bunch of random games, right? Surely I’d quickly spot the perpetrator, delete the app and move back into streaming TV bliss. Surely this was a quick fix.
Surely not. Instead, what I found was a tightly curated list of apps on my Chromecast that numbered about 8 in total and none of them had any reason to be large in size or store much data on the local device. I assume I’d cleaned up my apps a few weeks ago, so the apps I found installed were only simple things like YouTube, YouTube TV, HBO Max, Disney+, Netflix, Hulu, MLBTV, and Stadia. When it comes to app assortment, I’d reckon I’m aligned with the most common use cases out there. In other words, I shouldn’t be having storage issues.
One ongoing problem
Once I dug into the app info on each service, I began to see a bit of a shocking trend. Though the install size of many of the streaming apps I use is initially small, it seems the cached data balloons out of proportion quite quickly. For apps that take an average of 60MB-80MB at install, I was seeing hundreds of MBs cached data for no apparent reason. Clearing out every app cache I could freed up tons of room (relatively speaking) and we were able to get back to normal operation after that.
My guess is that these caches grow over time and those of us who’ve been using the new Chromecast since October are just now starting to feel the effects of that slow bloat. While I don’t know what is specifically causing the issue, I don’t think it is coincidence that users are all starting to feel the squeeze at the same time.
What can you do about it?
The worst part of this is the fact that apart from clearing the cache on your installed apps, there’s not much you can do. To do this, simply go to Settings > Apps > See all apps and you can look at the cached storage on each. Clear every one of them if you want. I saw no degradation of performance and things continued working just as I’d expect after this step. I’d say not to clear storage since that would require you to log in all over again, but that is an option you can use if you want.
The other alternative is to simply move to a different streaming dongle. We’ve highlighted how good Android TV boxes/dongles are getting with the updated interface, so something like the NVIDIA Shield (you can buy one here from B&H Photo on sale) would give you simpler expandable storage to work with if you do want to install some games moving forward.
Finally, you could hunt around for a USB Type C dock that actually works with the Chromecast. I’ve not had much luck with ours here at the office, but there are reports of some that can get the job done. With a working dock, you could still get power and attach a USB drive to your Chromecast and tell the device to use that storage for app installs in the future. We’re still on the hunt for the right dock, but it seems the guys over at 9to5 Google have had some luck. Your mileage may vary.
All in all, it’s a crummy situation that Google could have easily avoided with a bit more storage. While I still think 16GB is paltry, it would go a long way in this situation. I’m hopeful that the next Chromecast fixes this easy-to-solve problem and gives users the space they need to do the basic thing this device is designed to do: stream digital content without issue on a daily basis. For now, I suppose I’ll just be monitoring my app cache and hoping an updated Chromecast is in the cards sooner than later.