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

Dealing with App Freezes on Your Android: Force Stop vs. Disable Explained

Your smartphone freezes in the midst of your favorite game, a movie, or while scrolling through your social media feed. Tapping or swiping on the screen yields no response, and the app abruptly freezes.

In the app settings on your Android device, you encounter two options: force stop and disable. The dilemma arises as many users are uncertain about which option is the most effective.

The plethora of apps operating on your Android phone can trigger excessive alerts and overuse of resources like RAM and storage, slowing down your device. To address this issue, you can opt to force stop or disable some apps. However, the question remains: which is the better and more suitable option?

The answer lies in comprehending the individual meanings of force stop and disable, along with their differences. Let’s delve into the details.

Force Stop on Android – What Does It Mean?

At the core of Android lies the Linux kernel, governing memory, processes, and various resources. When you launch an app, a Linux process is initiated.

A process serves as a container for a program (app), and the kernel manages it to distribute system resources like memory and CPU time among all running programs. Each process has its unique PID (Process ID), priority, address space, physical memory pages, and state information: running, sleeping, stopped, or zombied.

The kernel’s responsibility includes scheduling CPU time and memory for the process. Processes are allocated CPU time based on their status—running, sleeping, or waiting for specific events.

Android never immediately terminates an app; instead, it concludes the process in which the activity is running, killing both the activity and the process. This could be done to free up RAM or upon a user-initiated force stop via the Application Manager.

Force Stop becomes necessary when an app misbehaves, ceasing to respond to events or becoming trapped in a loop. This function destroys the app’s Linux process and cleans up any residual debris.

When transitioning to the paused state, an app may either be destroyed by Android or linger in the background until the user reopens it. If issues persist, employing Force Stop ensures the app is terminated, offering a fresh start.

Force Stop is recommended when troubleshooting a misbehaving app 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?

Understanding Android App Management: Force Stop vs. Disable

When dealing with Android app management, it’s crucial to discern between “disable” and “force stop,” as these actions have distinct implications on your mobile phone’s functionality.

Disable: Disabling an app essentially means shutting it off entirely on your mobile phone, making it appear as if the app no longer exists. This action is limited to pre-installed apps on an Android device, such as Google apps. Apps downloaded from the Google Play Store or other third-party websites cannot be disabled.

Upon disabling a pre-installed app, it is partially removed from your phone. Although the app won’t be visible in the app drawer, you can find it in the app manager. This sets it apart from force stop, where the app remains accessible in both the app drawer and the app manager.

For instance, if you decide to disable the Google Play Store, navigate to the settings app, select “apps,” locate Google Play Store, tap “disable,” and confirm. The Play Store will no longer appear in the app drawer, and searching for it on your phone will yield no results. You can only access it through Settings >> Apps.

Force Stop: In contrast, force stop halts an app from running in the background on your mobile phone. Unlike disable, force stop does not remove the app from the Home screen or the app drawer.

When you force stop an app, it ceases running in the background, but you can still find and open it in both the app drawer and the app manager. It’s essential to note that some system apps may restart even if force-stopped.

Key Differences:

  • Updates: A disabled app won’t receive updates, whereas a force-stopped app can still receive updates despite not running in the background.
  • App Functionality: When an app is disabled, it won’t work at all on your phone until re-enabled. On the other hand, force-stopped apps remain accessible for use from the app drawer or app manager.
  • Visibility: A disabled app won’t show up on the Home screen or in the app drawer. In contrast, a force-stopped app remains visible in both locations.


  • Disabling an app typically removes all of its data from the cache and memory, including updates, leaving only the original version on the phone.
  • Force stopping an app immediately stops ongoing processes but doesn’t impact its visibility on the Home screen or in the app drawer.

Understanding these distinctions empowers users to effectively manage their Android apps based on their preferences and usage patterns.

Clear Cache on Android – What is it?

Cache files are used by applications to store temporary files, pre-processed files, or local copies of files downloaded from the internet. Each app has its own working directory.

Here’s the idea. If an app downloads files or data from the internet, downloading the same assets repeatedly would be a waste of bandwidth and time. Instead, any Internet files can be downloaded once and then cached. The app can periodically check for valid temporary copies and refresh the cache if necessary.

Another example is if the programme wants to process a file, possibly decode or decrypt data. Rather than decoding or decrypting each time the programme launches, the app can do it once and keep the result in the cache. If the programme needs to refresh its cache, it could check the file’s validity.

Because Android can erase temporary files when a device’s storage is limited, the app shouldn’t rely on them being present. It merely re-downloads the data or processes the files again, creating fresh ones in its cache.

The app data directory allows apps to store files permanently. Unlike the cache directory, this is for app-owned files. Since Android can delete cache files without telling the app, users can safely delete them using the “Clear Cache” button!

This can assist fix problematic apps by forcing them to recreate their temporary files, giving them a fresh start. This usually fixes the issue if the problem was with a temporary or cached file.

Tap on “Storage” or “Storage & Cache”, depending on Android version and OEM skin, to find the Clear Cache button.

Clearing the cache also frees up storage space. If you are low on internal storage, deleting all cached data can assist.


When is it okay to force stop an app?

Attempting to force stop an app often prompts a confirmation message cautioning, “If you force stop an app, it may misbehave.” Ironically, the need to force stop arises precisely because the app is already misbehaving, and the operating system has yet to intervene effectively.

Under normal circumstances, well-functioning apps smoothly transition from one activity to the next as users engage with them. Once the user closes the app, the operating system efficiently removes it from memory, recognizing it’s no longer needed.

However, certain apps, such as weather or messaging apps like WhatsApp, may continue running in the background and reappear when prompted. Yet, when issues arise, these apps can exhibit problematic behavior like lagging, freezing, crashing, constant restarts, failure to open, or a combination of unpredictable actions.

In such scenarios, force-stopping a misbehaving app proves useful. This action terminates all current processes associated with the app, preventing it from accessing its cache files. With the app unable to interact with device resources, it ceases to exhibit erratic behavior, providing a temporary solution to the misbehavior.

Will I lose data if I force stop an app?

While force-stopping a misbehaving app can often resolve problems, it’s crucial to exercise caution before hitting that button. Consideration is necessary, especially if you’re engaged in essential tasks, as force-stopping may lead to the loss of any unsaved data in the program.

For instance, imagine you’re immersed in a game, and the app suddenly crashes. Opting for the Force Stop button to address the issue might result in the loss of recent game progress. This occurs because the progress couldn’t be saved to the app directory or cache files before closing the program.

A simple alternative to avoid this potential loss is patience. Waiting for a brief period can be an effective strategy. Excessive RAM usage, especially in scenarios like playing a graphics-intensive game on a mid-range phone, may cause the device to stall. Waiting for a few minutes can often unfreeze the device without the risk of losing progress, providing a straightforward solution without resorting to force-stopping.

Can I force stop all apps at once on Android?

While there are apps on the Play Store designed to terminate and force stop multiple apps simultaneously, it is advisable to exercise caution. Instead of resorting to these third-party “app killers,” consider reviewing the list of apps in your phone’s settings. Opt for force stopping only those apps that you are certain you do not need. This approach is preferable to relying on external applications from the Play Store, ensuring a more controlled and personalized management of your device’s apps.

How do I disable an app that cannot be disabled?

To determine whether the option to disable an app is accessible or grayed out, you can inspect your device’s settings. However, it’s important to note that the disable option may not be available for certain apps.

In instances where you need to disable an app, especially a system app that lacks the disable option, resorting to rooting your device might be necessary. It’s crucial to acknowledge the potential risks associated with this action, including the possibility of voiding your phone’s warranty and rendering it unusable. Proceeding with rooting requires careful consideration of these potential consequences.

Is disabling an app the same as uninstalling it?

Distinguishing Between Disabling and Removing Apps on Android

Disabling an app on Android varies from completely removing it.

To disable an app, you 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 in your phone’s app settings.

On the other hand, uninstalling an app results in its complete removal from your smartphone, freeing up the occupied space. To use the app again, you must reinstall it.

Conclusion: Navigating App Management on Android

In the case of user-installed software, you should use force stop rather than disabling. Disabling is not suggested for apps that are so often used. Despite the fact that you may uninstall unwanted bloatware (pre-installed software), don’t do it for essential system apps.

Rather than disabling an app on a mobile phone, it is best to force it to stop it, as disabling it is a step closer to removing the app from the phone entirely. In the event that an app is disabled, it will no longer get updates from the Play Store.

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