What Hap­pens When You Force Stop An App on Your Phone

Olanrewaju Sodiq

Ever wondered what will tinkering with your smartphone will result to? You might wonder if that will make your device perform better. What if it ends up breaking and slowing down things? Instead of simply saying "Do it or Don't do it" to users, we like to explain in detail what actually happens - the effect, the impact, and the invisible background action. So we shall expand on what happens when you force stop an app on your Android or iPhone.

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Force stopping an app on iOS devices is quite easy; swipe-up the app in the iOS App Switcher. For Android devices, you'd have to launch the app's info page (Settings > Apps & notifications > App info > select App) and tap the Force Stop option. Alternatively, you can use the Task Switcher feature of your Android phone.

What happens when you force stop app

Force Stop App on iOS

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Force Stop App on Android

You know how to force stop an app, but what exactly does it mean to force stop an app? And what happens afterward? Does it have any negative effect on the app's performance? Does it affect your smartphone? Is it safe to force stop an app? And when exactly should you do so? We answer all these and more in the sections below.

What Does It Mean to Force Stop an App

Most folks believe that all apps are terminated entirely when you close them on your phone the regular way, i.e., removing them from the app switcher. But that's not always the case. For example, an application running some unfinished processes (e.g. a pending/ongoing download) can stay active in the background for a couple of minutes or seconds after closing it. The app will eventually be closed, but not until it completes the ongoing processes and prepares itself for shutdown.

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On the other hand, some applications (like music player, health monitoring apps, instant messengers, etc.) may continue to actively run in the background—constantly updating their content and sending notifications— even after you close them. No matter how many times you terminate them, they stay running in the background.

Force Stopping an app will completely (and immediately) end all foreground and background processes related to that particular app.

Is It Safe to Force Stop an Application

Well, this depends on why or when you're force stopping the app. But for the most part, it is entirely safe to force stop an app. More details below.

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Ideally, it is recommended that you force stop an app only when it is malfunctioning—if the app keeps crashing or some of its features don't work. Force Stopping an errant app has a good chance of resolving issues causing it to malfunction.

Conversely, it's somewhat unsafe to force stop an app, either it's working correctly or not. This is because you might lose unsaved data. We expand on this in the next section

Do You Lose App Data When You Force Stop an App

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Force stopping an app will not delete data that has been saved to your device. However, unsaved data may be removed—this depends on the ongoing (foreground and background) processes within the app. Say you're writing in a note-taking app that doesn't auto-save your texts, force closing the app will delete the unsaved text you composed.

Likewise, if an app is uploading data to a web server or downloading data to your device in the background, force stopping the app will halt the process and might cause data corruption.

Does Force Stop Free up Space

When you force stop an app, previously-saved app data or cache data are unaffected. Therefore, force stopping an app doesn't have any storage-saving effects. Only the memory (RAM) occupied/used by the app will be offloaded and made available for other apps. Consequently, this might boost your phone's speed and performance.

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If you're looking to free up space on your Android or iOS device, force stopping apps is the wrong line of action. Refer to the articles linked below for some useful storage-saving tips.

Does It Affect App Performance

There are several ways in which force stopping an app could affect its performance and other apps. As earlier mentioned, force stopping an errant app might help restore its performance to normalcy. The app might perform better and even faster when you relaunch it, and seldom slower.

Likewise, when you force stop an application (particularly CPU and RAM-intensive apps), and it stays closed, other apps might perform better and faster. This is because force stopping the app releases more memory for other apps to utilize.

Does Force Stop Save Battery

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Depending on the app's status, force stopping it may or may not yield any battery-saving effect. For example, if an app is inactive or suspended/minimized in the background and is using zero CPU power, it is consuming next to no battery power. Therefore, force-stopping the app might not save your device's battery.

To check how much battery juice an app is consuming, follow the steps below.

For iOS

Navigate to Settings > Battery. At the bottom of the page, you should see a list of apps and their respective battery usage (in %) in the last 24 hours.

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For Android

Step 1: Go to Settings and select Battery.

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Step 2: Tap the three-dotted icon at the top-right corner of the Battery menu page and select Battery usage.

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You should see the app consuming your device's battery as well the portion (in %) they've used since the last time you charged your phone.

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Force stopping a battery-hogging app will save power only if the app stays closed. The app will resume battery consumption as soon as you relaunch it. Again, unless an app uses a great deal of your device's power (especially in the background), force stopping it won't save battery life.

How to Undo a Force Stop

Once an app has been force-stopped, the action cannot be reversed. The app stays closed until you manually launch it again. And that's basically the only way to undo a force stop—reopening the app.

Force Stop Demystified

At this juncture, we hope you've learned a thing or two about force stopping apps on your smartphone. As we've established above, it is recommended to force stop an app only when it is malfunctioning. If you need to save battery power (particularly on Android), closing an app the regular way would suffice. Force stopping apps yield little or next to no battery-saving result. Drop a comment below if you have any related questions that we didn't cover in this post.

Next up: Do you want to factory reset your phone? Read the article linked below to find out what happens when you format your Android or iPhone smartphone.


The above article may contain affiliate links which help support Guiding Tech. However, it does not affect our editorial integrity. The content remains unbiased and authentic.

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Sodiq has written thousands of tutorials, guides, and explainers over the past 3 years to help people solve problems relating to Android, iOS, and Windows devices. He also enjoys reviewing consumer tech products (smartphones, smart home devices, etc.) and previously worked with GearBest in that capacity.