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Insufficient Storage Available and simple2ext (s2e)

Having made my living by fixing computer software problems, I find it incredible that we used to do this without being able to “google the error message”. So often, that quickly leads to just the solution needed, which allows me to get on with something more interesting. But not always...

Sometimes there are not many search results, and it seems like nobody else has had the problem. Other times, you end up trawling forum after forum: loads of people are in the same boat, but nobody has a fix. When this happens, I try to make a post here, in the hope that the next person will have an easier time.

Such was the case with Insufficient storage available, which seems to be a favourite error of Google Play Store when installing updates or new apps on Android. Like most of the people on the forums, I was certain that the obvious possibility — that I really had run out of storage space — was untrue. Indeed, I use simple2ext (also known as s2e) to mount a partition on my SD card over part of the phone's internal storage. There was definitely bags of room, and one of the apps I was trying to install was a mere 13k!

Very frustrating. And the more so, because just a few days earlier I had reinstalled my phone with CyanogenMod 9. I'd largely been delighted with it over the previous CM-7, which had never seemed entirely solid. (My phone is a HTC Wildfire S, so it's an unofficial port of CyanogenMod.) But now it was looking bleak. Android without Play Store would be a bit like eating an egg without salt.

A few simple “fixes” hadn't helped. Wiping the dalvik cache was a first resort solution to problems on that earlier install, but brought me no joy now. And clearing the Play Store data cache did nothing to help either.

I did suspect that simple2ext might be part of the problem, particularly since I'd realised that although I had it installed on CM-7, I'd never actually made it work properly! Also, several of the forum posters had fixed the problem by tweaking the settings of the similar link2sd.

But adding simple2ext or s2e to the search query didn't seem to give me any different results, so it looked like I was on my own. I took a look at the s2e settings. There aren't many to choose from, but you do get to say which of four kinds of data you want on the SD card: Applications, Private apps, Application Data, and Dalvik cache. I'd ticked the first 3, leaving the dalvik cache on the internal storage, as I'd read that it should live on the fastest storage available, which will normally be the internal storage.

I unticked Application Data, and rebooted so that s2e could move that directory back into the phone. Et voilà! Google Play Store works again, and it looks like one or two other oddities I'd seen have gone away as well.

So I'm happy to have found a solution. I'd prefer it if I really understood it. So many questions remain. What was Play Store measuring? Why did having one directory on a different partition cause its measurements to go wrong? How can the various developers involved improve the situation? Let me know if you have any answers...