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How to Recover Storage Claimed by “Other” on the iPhone

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The Problem
It is a known common issue when you plug your iPhone into iTunes and notice an unusually large chunk of space occupied by “Other” and there is just no easy way to get get around reclaiming it. Some users on the Internet have even reported to have up to 27GB taken away by this beast. This is definitely one issue which Apple needs to address, or at least refrain from using such a vague label – what the hell is “Other”?

What Is It?
The stuff that is labeled as “Other” is obviously something that does not belong to any of the following categories: Audio, Video, Photos, Apps, and Books. That being said, “Other” mostly consists of system files and any application data contained by the native apps. This can include your iOS system files, browser cache, email cache, downloaded files, Google Maps cache, notes, reminders, etc. Note the emphasis on native apps, which means data such as game saves or downloaded maps on your GPS app do not fall into the “Other” category.

The most common solution to reclaiming this space is by doing a full system restore, meaning you need to restore your iPhone’s iOS without restoring from a previous backup. This is indeed the safest solution that is guaranteed to work if all else fails, but the price is to lose all your saved data on your phone that cannot be recovered through syncing with iTunes. I have compiled a list of things you can do to reclaim this space before you really need to go down the road of doing a full restore.

How to Reclaim “Other” Storage

  1. Delete your browser cache (i.e. history, cookies, and data): This can be done in Settings -> Safari. If you have never done it before, chances are your space taken up by “Other” is due to the piled up cache stored by your browser ever since the phone was activated.
  2. Delete your email account and re-add: There is no easy way to clear your email cache other than deleting your account. In terms of accessing your iPhone’s local files directly through means like SSH, I have yet to find where these caches are stored. This should clear any of the recent attachments you have downloaded (like PDFs and images).
  3. Go to /var/mobile/Media/ApplicationArchives using SSH (requires jailbroken iPhone) or DiskAid and delete everything. This folder contains partially downloaded apps which never completed nor removed and were probably interrupted at some point in the middle of downloading.
  4. If the above steps fail, do a full system restore :(.

I will continue to to update the above list if I find anything new. As an end note, this post is written in reference to an iPhone 4S running iOS 5.1.


10 comments

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  1. lame_iphone

    Precisely, that is the rounded up explanation one reads in most of the other forums as well. Other constitutes of system files, internal app data, cache and temporary downloaded files. That would be okay until couple of gigabytes. Just like other users, the largest storage consuming app is 800 MB on my iPhone 4S and my iPad 2 has less than 10 third party apps installed. My iPhone has over 4G and iPad 2 has over 6G. I realized I can’t blame the iPad Other going up to 6G to those rather less complicated and data intensive apps or cache intensive operations.

    The truth is, that’s the shadow left behind by the videos I deleted. I deleted 6G of videos in batch from iPad and I could see the Videos space used being replaced by Other immediately on iTunes. It has stayed that way for over 5 months now. And it makes me think, its the deleted videos worth 5G of data that I am unable to reclaim on iOS. We foolishly try to clean up petty storage space used by harmless apps that accounts for only probably less than a gig in most of the cases.

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  2. Amber

    Can you please give the step by step instructions for DiskAid as I just downloaded the app and not sure how to delete: /var/mobile/Media/ApplicationArchives

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  3. Zach

    I have 10Gb of space filled due to this other date on my 16Gb iphone i need to get rid of this because i have no space for anything can someone please help me…….

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  4. Alfredo

    Bro you are the best thanks your help resolved my problem, apple need resolve this problem. this is a big bug in the IOS, is the same went you go to the badroom and you cant make poo. I think you know my point lol. thanks again and see u. :)

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    • Joe

      With Apple being extremely vague on this (or upfront ignoring the issue for years), just proves they want ignoramuses to upgrade to higher storage phones… Add to that the stupid button on iPhones going bad after 13 months for millions of people… And you have a company that is not as nice or cool as we once thought it was… “We don’t create junk”…

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  5. catlin

    I jailbroke my iPod a year ago and uninstalled it a few months ago i have alot of ‘other’ storage about 3 GB. I have deleted all notes , emails, internet cache and cookies and reminders etc that your supposed to do and i don’t know what else to do… please help me because its annoying me now!! :-) Thanks Guys

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  6. thecleverclogs

    You my friend are a lifesaver. You just helped me reclaim over 1 Gb on my IP4S.
    Thanks a ton.

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  7. Paul Mathai

    the method of application archive worked for me as i diconnected my iphone while in sync and real racing 3 was not completed.
    it can be done using ifunbox using the classic method in general storage u will find it.
    Thanks a lot for the help.

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  8. Rudy

    I downloaded an app called icleaner (99 cents) which works well for reclaiming lost space due to the “other”. I downloaded it from the app store and it’s very simple to use.

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  9. Jenny

    trying all your methods as this is over have of my phone and i empty it what about your icloud mail account did u remove that too?

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