Fixing Facebook Mobile or Other Preinstalled Apps on Your Smartphone

Once in a while, Facebook mobile gets fouled up on my smartphone and stops working correctly. I've had it happen both when I had an iPhone and now that I have an Android LG G3.

The symptoms vary, but usually the problem involves repeated crashing when trying to do a specific task. Today, my symptom was that I was unable to post a comment on an existing post. The app would either crash, or it would fail to post and switch back to the home screen.

The Facebook app stores a database on your phone that keeps track of all of your settings and also caches information from pages and profiles you've visited to speed up access. Once in a while, this database becomes corrupt, and that is usually to cause of odd behavior. Sometimes this is triggered after an update to the app, but other times is just happens from use. Regardless, it can be very frustrating.

Most often, the solution is to delete/remove the app from your phone and reinstall it. When you delete a smartphone app, the operating system knows to delete all of the associated files that go with the app. When you reinstall it, the app should create new, clean database and preference files. However, in some cases, residual files are left behind, which can prevent the reinstall from helping to solve the problem.

On an Android phone, this can be more complicated because Facebook is pre-installed. Because pre-installed apps are stores in flash ROM, they cannot be deleted. However, you can uninstall the current version, leaving the phone with the older version that came pre-installed on the device. 

Here are the steps to make sure that Facebook (or other pre-installed apps) are fully purged from an Android phone. I had to use this procedure today to get Facebook working and it was successful:

  1. Open your Settings and find the applications. It may be labeled slightly differently on different phones. Click on the offending app.
  2. On the App Info screen, you will not see an option to uninstall the app. Instead, you will see a button that says Uninstall Updates. If you click that, you will revert back to the original version that was on your phone.
  3. In the Storage section of the App Info screen, click the button that says "Clear data." That should delete all the database files.
  4. Go back to your home screen or the applications screen and launch the original, pre-installed version of the app. Because the old version may not understand any newer preference or database files, the app will force the system to remove the old files. With Facebook, I actually log in and make sure it's working.
  5. Reinstall the update.

Let me know if these instructions work for you.

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