Force stop Vs. Disable on Android (Everything you need to know)

Your phone experiences a freeze during activities like gaming, movie-watching, or scrolling through social media. Despite attempting to interact with the screen through taps or swipes, the app suddenly halts unexpectedly.

When you navigate to the app settings on your Android device, you’ll encounter two choices: force stop and disable. Many users find themselves uncertain about the preferable option.

The multitude of apps running on your Android phone can lead to excessive alerts and resource utilization, including RAM and storage, resulting in device slowdowns. To address this issue, you can choose to either force stop or disable certain apps. The question then arises: which option is more suitable?

The answer lies in comprehending the individual meanings and differences between force stop and disable, and that’s precisely what this article aims to elucidate!

Force Stop on Android – What is it?

The Linux kernel serves as the foundation of Android, overseeing memory, processes, and various resources. Each time you initiate an app, a Linux process comes into play.

A process acts as a container for a program (app), instigated by the kernel to allocate system resources (memory and CPU time) among all active programs. Every process possesses its unique Process ID (PID), priority, address space, physical memory pages, and state information, such as running, sleeping, stopped, or zombied.

The kernel’s responsibility is to manage CPU time and memory allocation for each process. CPU time is allocated to active processes, while a sleeping process (e.g., awaiting network data) doesn’t receive CPU time.

This process management operates at a millisecond level, creating the illusion of smooth operation with multiple programs running concurrently.

Upon an app’s exit, the kernel undertakes resource cleanup (open files, RAM, etc.) and terminates the app’s process.

Each app experiences three states: running, paused, and stopped, reflecting the Android “Activity Lifecycle.” These states evolve as users navigate in and out of the app.

Android differs by not immediately terminating an app but ending the process in which the activity operates, releasing both the activity and the process. This action may free up RAM or result from user-induced force stopping via the Application Manager.

Following the transition to the paused state, an app might be either terminated by Android or persist in the background until the user reactivates it. However, issues may arise, causing the app to behave abnormally, requiring a restart. Force Stop terminates the app’s Linux process and clears any debris.

Force Stop is recommended for troubleshooting misbehaving programs because it not only terminates the current instance but also prevents the app from accessing any cache files, leading to the subsequent step: Clear Cache.

Disable on Android – What is it?

Disabling an app involves completely deactivating it on a mobile phone, making it appear as if the app has been entirely removed.

On an Android device, pre-installed apps, such as Google apps, can be disabled. Apps downloaded from the Google Play Store or other third-party websites cannot be disabled.

When you disable a pre-installed app on your Android phone, the app is partially removed. This means it won’t be visible in the app drawer but can still be found in the app manager.

This highlights the distinction between force stop and disable on an Android device.

For instance, if you wish to disable the Google Play Store on your Android phone, begin by opening the Settings app. Scroll down to “Apps” and click to open it.

Locate Google Play Store in the list, tap to open it, and you’ll find three options: Open, Disable, and Force Stop.

Tap on Disable, and a warning notice will appear. Confirm the action by tapping “Disable app,” and the Play Store will be disabled on your Android phone.

Upon checking your app drawer, you’ll notice the absence of the Google Play Store. Even if you search for the Play Store app on your Android phone, it won’t be found.

To view the Play Store app, navigate to Settings >> Apps, locate the Google Play Store app, and upon opening the app, you’ll find the option to turn it on.

By turning on the Play Store app, it will become active on your Android phone, and you’ll once again see it in the app drawer.

Force stop Vs. Disable on Android

What sets “disable” apart from “force stop”? Disabling completely shuts down an app on a mobile phone, causing it to vanish from the “Apps” menu. Conversely, force stop merely halts an app’s operation in the background.

A disabled app doesn’t receive updates, while a force-stopped app can still receive updates, despite being halted and unable to run in the background.

When you disable an app, it is entirely turned off, rendering it unusable. However, you can reactivate it if needed.

On the other hand, force stop prevents the app from running, but you can still access it in the app drawer and use it at your convenience. It’s worth noting that some system apps may restart even after being force-stopped.

When an app is disabled on your mobile phone, it becomes nonfunctional. It won’t run while you’re using your phone, and you won’t find it in the app drawer. It seems as though the app has been removed from your phone, only visible when you access the app manager.

Force stopping an app prevents it from running in the background. Despite this, the app remains visible in both the app drawer and the app manager. If you force stop an app, it won’t work until you manually open it in the app manager.

Disabling an app implies not using it at all on your phone. It won’t appear on the Home screen or in the app drawer, requiring you to turn it back on in the app settings to resume use.

In most instances, when you disable an app, all the app’s data is purged from the cache and memory. This often includes the removal of app updates, leaving only the original version on the phone, which may impair the app’s proper functioning.

“Force stopping an app” entails an immediate cessation of its activities on your phone or tablet. However, force stop does not remove the app from the Home screen or the app drawer.

Clear Cache on Android – What is it?

Applications utilize cache files to store temporary, pre-processed, or locally downloaded copies of files from the internet, each maintaining its distinct working directory.

The concept is simple: when an app downloads files or data from the internet, repeatedly downloading the same assets is inefficient in terms of bandwidth and time. Instead, these internet files can be downloaded once and then stored in the cache. Periodically, the app can check for valid temporary copies, refreshing the cache when necessary.

Similarly, if a program needs to process a file, such as decoding or decrypting data, it can perform these actions once and store the results in the cache. The app can then periodically check the file’s validity, updating the cache as needed.

Since Android may erase temporary files when storage is limited, apps should not depend on their presence. In such cases, the app can simply re-download the data or reprocess the files, generating fresh ones in its cache.

In contrast, the app data directory allows apps to store files permanently. Unlike the cache directory, this is intended for app-owned files. Given that Android can delete cache files without notifying the app, users can safely delete them using the “Clear Cache” button.

Clearing the cache is a helpful troubleshooting step for problematic apps, forcing them to recreate temporary files and start afresh. This often resolves issues arising from temporary or cached files.

To access the “Clear Cache” button, tap on “Storage” or “Storage & Cache,” depending on the Android version and OEM skin. Clearing the cache not only resolves app-related problems but also frees up storage space, making it beneficial when internal storage is running low.


For user-installed software, opting for force stop is preferable over disabling. Disabling is not recommended for frequently used apps. While you may uninstall unnecessary bloatware (pre-installed software), it’s advisable not to do so for essential system apps.

Instead of choosing to disable an app on a mobile phone, it is more advisable to force stop it, as disabling is a step closer to complete removal from the phone. When an app is disabled, it ceases to receive updates from the Play Store.


When is it okay to force stop an app?

“When attempting to forcefully terminate an application, the confirmation prompt typically includes a cautionary message such as, ‘If you force stop an app, it may misbehave.’ This irony arises because the act of force-stopping an app is usually initiated due to its misbehavior, with the operating system failing to address the issue.

Under normal circumstances, a well-functioning app seamlessly transitions between activities as you use it. Once you close the app after usage, the operating system removes it from memory, considering it unnecessary.

Certain apps, like weather or WhatsApp, can remain active in the background, resurfacing when prompted. However, if an issue arises, the app may exhibit various erratic behaviors such as lagging, freezing, mid-use crashes, constant restarts, failure to open, or a combination of these unpredictable actions.

In such scenarios, force-stopping a misbehaving app becomes a useful solution, as it terminates all ongoing processes associated with that app. This action prevents the app from accessing its cache files, rendering it unable to interact with the resources on your device and bringing it to a halt.”

Will I lose data if I force stop an app?

“If encountering issues with an app, resorting to force-stopping often resolves the problem. However, exercising caution before pressing the button is advisable. In situations where you’re engaged in essential tasks, hitting Force Stop may result in the loss of any unsaved data within the program.

Consider a scenario where you’re playing a game, and the app crashes. Opting for the Force Stop button to terminate the program might lead to the loss of game progress made just before shutting down, as it couldn’t be saved to the app directory or cache files.

A prudent alternative is to exercise patience. Instances of excessive RAM utilization, especially common when playing graphics-intensive games on a mid-range phone, can cause temporary device stalling. Waiting a few minutes can often unfreeze the device without compromising your progress, providing a simple and effective solution.”

Can I force stop all apps at once on Android?

“Some apps on the Play Store enable you to terminate and force stop multiple apps simultaneously.

While these apps are an option, it is advisable to manually review the list of apps in your phone’s settings and selectively force stop only those you are certain you don’t need. This approach is preferable to downloading “app killers” from the Play Store.

How do I disable an app that cannot be disabled?

You can verify whether the option to deactivate an app is accessible or if it has been disabled by the manufacturer. Alternatively, the option to deactivate may be absent.

If you find yourself needing to deactivate an app, especially a system app that cannot be deactivated conventionally, rooting your device might be necessary. However, this action comes with potential risks, such as voiding your phone’s warranty and potentially rendering the device nonfunctional.

Is disabling an app the same as uninstalling it?

Disabling an app on Android differs from completely removing it.

To disable an app, you need to remove it from both the app drawer and the home screen. However, the software still resides in the phone’s memory, occupying space. To reactivate it, simply enable it through your phone’s app settings.

On the other hand, when an app is uninstalled, it is entirely removed from your smartphone, freeing up the occupied space. To use the app again, you need to reinstall it.

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