Connect your iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch to your computer, open iTunes, and you’ll see a large amount of space used by “Other” storage. iTunes won’t let you delete any of this “Other” data to free up space.
Other storage is just other types of data that iTunes can’t display and manage for you. You can free up this space by leaving iTunes behind and managing the storage directly on your device.
View Your Other Storage
To view how much space is used by Other storage, connect your device to your Windows PC or Mac using its included cable and open iTunes. Click the name of the device in iTunes and look at the bottom of the window.
Wait for iTunes to scan your device’s storage, and then mouse over to the orange part of the bar. iTunes will display just how much space is used by Other storage.
What is Other Storage?
iTunes shows several different categories of data on the bar at the top of its window. These include Apps, Music, Movies, TV Shows, Podcasts, Books, and Photos. Click one of these categories to see exactly what’s using space and manage the data. For example, click Apps to see the apps on your device and how much space they each use. You can remove apps from here to free up space.
“Other” storage simply includes everything that doesn’t fit into iTunes’ pre-existing categories. This includes each app’s downloaded data, your Safari browser cache, the Mail app’s cache, downloaded emails and attachments, pages for Safari’s reading list, notes, voice memos, backup files, and possibly even files left over from jailbreaking your device.
iTunes doesn’t understand what this “Other” data is. It won’t help you remove it to free up space — or even show you exactly what bits of Other data are on your device.
Free Up Other Storage
You can purchase paid applications that will help you clean up your Other storage, but this at isn’t really necessary. The same tips for freeing up space on your iPhone or iPad will help you free up your Other storage.
Open the Settings app, tap General, and tap Usage see how much space each app is using. Locate apps using a large amount of Documents & Data space. iOS doesn’t let you clear the Documents & Data from here — you can either open the app and look for a setting that clears its offline cache or uninstall the app and reinstall it to free up this space.
Safari’s browsing data can use quite a bit of space, too. Tap Safari on the Usage screen and use the options here to clean up Safari’s cache files, reading list, and history. These all appear as “Other” storage in iTunes.
You may also want to delete your email account from your device and re-add it. This will erase the messages and attachments from your local email cache, but they’ll still be available online. Head to Settings > Mail, Contacts, Calendars, tap an account, and tap Delete Account to delete it. Re-add the account from here afterward.
Message threads in the Messages app can also use up space — especially if they contain large video, audio, or photo files. Voice memos in the Voice Memos app use up space, too. These types of data are part of your Other storage, so you can free up some of that Other space by deleting such data from your device.
Back Up and Restore Your iPhone or iPad
Sometimes the Other storage category can contain corrupted files you can’t easily get rid of. If nothing you do helps free up enough storage, you can erase everything on your device and start over from scratch.
Use iTunes to create a backup of your device, restore the device to the latest version of iOS, and then restore the backup your created. This should free most of the space used by Other storage, as iTunes shouldn’t add such corrupted and unnecessary files to the back up it creates. Just click Back Up Now, Restore iPad/iPhone/iPod, and then restore Backup in iTunes.
You can also erase all the data on your device and restore from an iCloud backup without using iTunes. Open the Settings app, tap General, tap Reset, and tap Erase All Content and Settings.
In a worst-case scenario, restoring your device from the backup may restore the Other storage you were trying to erase. In this case, you may want to erase your device’s data and not restore a backup afterward, simply setting up your device from scratch. Data stored online — such as your email — will be unaffected, so you can get most of your critical data back after doing this.
On a jailbroken iPhone or iPad, you can access the device’s file system directly and attempt to remove specific files using up space. On a typical iPhone or iPad, you don’t have access to the device’s file system — you can only remove files the operating system allows you to or erase everything.
Image Credit: Kei Sasaki on Flickr