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A Problem with the Nokia N97

July 17, 2009

Nokia N97 - Low memory error - techstatic.net I’ve had the Nokia N97 for a few weeks now and am getting used to the small niggles and problems that were observed during the initial setup of the device along with some minor awkwardness scrolling the menus due to being left-handed. One of the biggest, if not THE biggest problem with Nokia’s flagship(!) handset is the way storage has been implemented and used on the handset.

The N97 has multiple drives of these the main areas intended for user access are:

C: drive which could be considered the system drive, traditionally applications would be installed here as it is always available to the phone/system and is supposed to be the fastest in handsets with just a central storage and a memory card;

E: drive, the large 32GB storage provided for your videos, music and other files;

F:, if you have a memory card inserted into the card slot, it will appear as the F: drive and can be used as additional storage for photos from the camera and any other applications that let you select this drive.

How Drives Are Handled
In my experience from previous S60 handsets with a main storage and card storage, the main storage (C: drive) would be substantial in size. This would make it ideal for storing emails, messages, and installing applications. The memory card wasn’t suitable for such things as it would cause applications to slow down, probably due to the access speeds via the card reader and the speed of the card itself. Additionally, when the phone is connected to a Windows PC via USB, the card drive is mounted and anything on it becomes inaccessible from the phone itself, not a problem as everything of importance was installed on the C: drive.

With the N97, the miniscule size of the C: drive at 73MB makes (with around 40-50MB free from new) it impractical for installing anything other than the most important applications and maybe a theme. After setting up most of my applications to the Mass Memory (E: drive) and only using C: for the essential apps, messages and a theme from PiZero, with other apps installed to E:, I have 10.1MB left. Since installing the C: drive optimisation update, something has eaten up around 8MB, possibly the Web browser’s cache.

Use PC Suite Mode
So what can you do? To start with, when connecting the phone to the PC to transfer files, stick to PC Suite mode. In Mass Storage mode, the drives are mounted and Mass Storage (E:) and the Memory Card (F:) become unavailable to the phone. As space saving on C: becomes almost an essential ‘house-keeping’ task, inevitably, you may have installed applications to the Mass Storage and maybe even moved your messages there. During connection to the PC this drive becomes unavailable in PC Suite mode and so your apps and message store is unavailable. If your theme was installed there, the phone will default to one of the default themes. If you receive a message whilst the phone is connected in this way, it may be saved to the C: drive, splitting your message store. So, stick to PC Suite mode.

Move and remove non-essential items
Additionally, clear out the cache of the Web browser and if you have Google Maps installed, the downloaded mapping data maybe taking up valuable space, clear this go to Options > Tools > Reset Google Maps.

To keep things clear, ensure in the camera settings that you are using Mass Memory or Memory Card to store the pictures you take. If you haven’t moved your message store over to Mass Memory, ensure you delete unnecessary messages and installation files you have have transferred over the the phone. If you wish to move your message store go to: Messages > Options > Settings > Other > Memory in use. If after moving your messages to the E: drive, and you connect the phone in PC Suite Mode, you may be able to switch the phone to Offline/Flight mode to ensure you do not receive any messages whilst the E: drive is unavailable. Once you have finished working in PC Suite, return the phone back to an online profile to receive any messages queued up by the network. This cannot be used when carrying out a software update however as you require an online profile such as General.

Check with all other applications that you use to see if they have an option to change the drive they use for any storage.

Hopefully in future, Nokia will create a larger primary partition/drive for applications and other files that won’t become unavailable when connected to the PC and so will ensure there are no running problems due to limited space on the primary drive. Until then, N97 users and those using handsets with a similar setup, will ahve to watch what they install, where they install and where their apps save data. There should also be an option to clear out the temp folder on the C: drive safely, I didn’t advise clearing out the temp folder in case something important gets saved there by an application whilst in use, but is always an option.

Incidentally, the image you see at the top about the limited space on drive C:, that only appeared as I was writing this article and I’d never seen it before, so it was worth a picture!

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