Snapchat Takes Up So Much Phone Storage: Why?

Here’s why Snapchat takes up so much phone storage:

Snapchat takes up a ton of storage because it involves creating and saving pictures and videos.

These are data types that eat up a lot more storage than things like emails or texts, so even moderate Snapchat use can hog a lot of data very quickly.

That said, there are things you can do to lessen storage consumption.

So if you want to learn all about why Snapchat takes up so much storage from your phone, then you’re in the right place.

Let’s get started!

How Does Your Phone Use Storage? (3 Ways)

Before we take a nose dive into the depths of Snapchat data storage, it will probably help to get on the same page when it comes to data storage in general.

Whether it’s Snapchat or something else, how does your phone use storage?

For the most part, your phone has three sources of storage: native, expanded, and cloud. 

I’ll explain how each of these works in a moment, but before even that, I want to go over the basics of storage itself.

If we build a little context, all of the numbers I throw at you will have a little more meaning.

For computer devices, storage is measured in bytes.

A single byte of data is not very much information.

Simply writing “How are you,” will use up to 12 bytes. It’s virtually nothing.

So, your phone’s storage is usually measured in gigabytes (GB).

A gigabyte is a billion bytes. It’s a fair amount of data.

And, to put ideas in context, 1 GB of data is enough to hold roughly 600 high-definition photograms.

In terms of video, 1 GB is enough for about 20 minutes of high-definition streaming (although streaming usually doesn’t tie up your permanent storage).

If you’re making the video, then a gigabyte offers even less.

1 GB of storage is enough for about 3.6 minutes of high-definition video that you create on your phone.

For anyone curious, the reason you get so much more data from streaming than shooting video is tied to data compression

#1 Native Storage

With a little bit of context, we can now talk about your phone’s storage.

When you purchase a new phone, one of the specifications that is usually advertised is internal storage.

This is storage that exists within the phone’s hardware when you buy it.

You can’t expand this storage or change it (at least under normal conditions).

Modern phones are going to usually offer anywhere from tens of gigabytes to hundreds of gigabytes.

As an example, the base model of the iPhone 13 Pro currently includes 128 GB of storage, and the maximum upgrade you can get is 1,000 GB (or 1 TB).

Based on these numbers, you can expect your phone to be able to hold somewhere in the ballpark of 60,000 photos or 6 hours of your own high-definition video.

#2 Expanded Storage

Expanded storage allows you to use extra devices to hold more data on your phone.

Notoriously, iPhones do not offer expanded storage, but many Android phones do.

Typically, expanded storage comes in the form of microSD cards.

There are a lot of options here, but modern Samsung Galaxy models support microSD chips up to 1 TB of data (which is 1,000 GB).

So, you can use expanded storage to hold quite a bit of data, but eventually, it runs out too.

I’m going to skip a lot of discussion around storage expansion strategies and keep things simple.

If you use a 1 TB microSD card, that allows you to hold an extra 600,000 photos or 60 hours of your own high-definition video.

#3 Cloud Storage

Modern phones also come with cloud storage.

This allows you to save things to a cloud server, which means the data doesn’t have to take up space on your phone’s native or expanded storage.

There are a lot of cloud storage plans, but typically you can get 100 GB or more on a storage plan.

So, you can expand the total amount of data your phone can hold by thousands of pictures and hundreds of minutes of video.

How Does Snapchat Use Storage? (3 Ways)

With all of that covered, let’s talk about Snapchat.

Snapchat uses default storage, and it offers its own version of cloud storage.

If you have expanded storage available, Snapchat can use that too.

Since Snapchat is all about pictures and video, that’s the kind of data it mostly stores, and you have an idea of how quickly Snapchat can eat up your data capacity.

But, Snapchat doesn’t store all files the same way, so we should go through the primary Snapchat mechanisms and talk about what each means for your phone.

#1 Stories

Stories are things you can browse on Snapchat, and as far as storage is concerned, they work in two ways.

If you create a story, the data is stored on your phone until you upload it to Snapchat.

Once you do, it’s on the Snapchat servers, essentially turning it into cloud storage.

On top of that, Snapchat doesn’t set a hard limit on how much you can upload.

But, and this is a big but, the data for the story can sit on your phone unless you delete it.

So, the stories you create can eat up phone storage and cloud storage.

On the other hand, you might browse stories.

By and large, those stories are not permanently downloaded to your phone, so they don’t eat up your native or expanded storage.

They’re only on the cloud.

#2 Snaps

Snaps are a bit different.

They are sent directly from one user to another.

So, when you create a snap, it uses up phone data.

Similarly, when you receive a snap, you have to download the data.

But, the big thing about Snapchat is that the snaps are temporary.

Once they expire, they are automatically deleted, so they stop eating up your data.

As long as you don’t have a ton of snaps active at a time, it’s not really an issue for data storage.

#3 Memories

The last issue is memories.

This is how you save things on Snapchat, so it’s not a temporary issue.

Memories eat up your data until and unless you delete them.

By default, memories are saved on your phone directly, and they can be backed up to Snapchat servers.

You can actually change these settings to keep them primarily in the cloud and save phone data if you need to.

How Much Data Does Snapchat Use?

Let’s revisit the original question.

Why does Snapchat take up so much storage?

It’s because it’s primarily a video platform.

High-definition pictures and videos are commonly shared on Snapchat, and that’s the kind of content that eats up the most storage.

On top of that, you can create your own snaps and receive them, allowing you to eat up data from both ends (assuming you ever save snaps at all).

Especially if you’re saving video snaps, it only takes minutes to eat up gigabytes of storage.

That can churn through your available storage deceptively quickly.

The exact amount of data used by Snapchat will depend on how you use it, but it’s definitely going to be measured in gigabytes.

And if you’re making and saving videos, it will get into the tens of gigabytes very quickly.


  • Theresa McDonough

    Tech entrepreneur and founder of Tech Medic, who has become a prominent advocate for the Right to Repair movement. She has testified before the US Federal Trade Commission and been featured on CBS Sunday Morning, helping influence change within the tech industry.

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