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Guide To Clean-Up And Managing Memory On Your iDevice

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01-02-2013, 02:41 AM
Senior Member [Original Poster]
Joined: Nov 2009
Location: Germany
Posts: 8,719
Guide To Clean-Up And Managing Memory On Your iDevice

First, a DISCLAIMER: Use these tips at your own risk. I am doing the following things every once in a while and never bricked the iOS on my iDevice, but you need to follow my steps accurately to be successful. That means: do NOT delete things which look like they could be deleted when playing around with iExplorer.
I am also talking mainly about the iPhone, tho the tips can apply to iPods and iPads, too. But remember that I don't know anything about the system structure on these devices 'cause I don't own them.

O.k., due to insane popular demand from another thread ( ): hello and welcome to my Clean-Up Guide for your iDevice!

Because my first iDevice was a 3GS with only 16GB of memory, it was always full and I had to learn how to squeeze even the tiniest bit of memory out of my device. I collected experience as well as tips over the last 2 years and today, it's easy for me to keep my system nice and tidy. I am not an expert in Apple's technical stuff, all these tips are based on the things I found and learned before. When I am explaining some things, it's based on my own perception, experience and theories - meaning that some assumptions might not be entirely true, but should work nonetheless.

So, if you got used to all the stuff I wrote, you'll be able to clean up your iDevice in under 30 minutes. Doing this once a month or once every two month is enough - except you need to free up some space immediately for other usage. And since every user of an iDevice is different, one might be collecting just some few hundred MB while others collect gigabytes of trash. I can't tell or promise how much space you'll get free again, because it always depends on your personal usage.

Ready? Ok, here we go:

All iDevices have the problem that they come with a specific memory that unfortunately can't be extended by memory cards. Today, 32 GB - or even 64 GB of space can be considered to be small. The iOS, on the other hand (and in the same way as Windows does) is a fanatical data (trash) collector. I always suspected that the iOS seems to be subject to Alzheimers disease, because it loves to put everything unneccessary somewhere and forgets about it after that.

So, if you're really harcore, reset your device to factory settings after a backup and install only the things you REALLY REALLY need or play. It seems hard, I know... humans are hunters and collectors. And who really wants to sit down, restore that backup and sort for hours after the reset? Go through all settings again? Maybe lose some savegames? I assume: no-one.

1.: Back up your iDevice

Before doing anything else, create a new and complete iCloud or PC/Mac backup. In case something goes wrong, you'll be able to restore everything easily.

2.: Help! The "Others" invaded my iDevice!

Now that's the most important part: checking the "Other" files. Connect your iDevice to iTunes via PC or Mac and look how huge the "Other" section is. This is mostly the cause for loss of space and can take up from a few 100MB up to 8-9 GB! Maybe even more but that's the highest amount I've ever seen.

The "Other" files are junk files, like temp data, install packages that accidentally doesn't got deleted, messages and much more stuff, like bad meta data in your music library. Some of the "Other" stuff will also be the iOS itself, the saved preferences and who-knows-what-else. It can be everything. That's the reason why you can never get rid of the complete "Other" files.
The "Other" files should always be around 800MB - 1.5GB, maybe a few MB more or less. If "Others" is larger than 1.5 GB, there's a high chance that there is some trash in it. But this also depends on how much own temporary stuff you have stored, like mails and such.
With IExplorer, there are some methods to handle that sh!t. iExplorer is a free, powerful tool which you can get somewhere here:
Just watch out that you don't install all advertising trash that comes with it.

When installed, click on the "File Explorer" tab and your root system opens. Now click on ApplictionArchives. If you're now seeing data packages in the right window: these are trash. There are rare cases that there might be also yet unfinished downloads, don't delete these files if you want to finish the download at another point. Mark the files you want to delete and hammer on the delete key. Start iTunes now and check the "Others" file size.

If there's still stuff over 1.5 GB, things get a bit more complicated, because there might be bad music meta data. Here are solutions I found on the net and successfully tried myself.

Here is a step-by-step guide with additional explanations:

- turn of sync music in iTunes -
When you noticed that "other files" have taken up a lot of storage space on the iPhone, un-tick the "sync music" alternative in iTunes before un-connecting your iPhone.
- open iExplorer -
Make sure your iPhone is connected with the USB when you open iExplorer.
- go into iTunes Control folder and then the Music folder -
In iExplorers file browser go to the iTunes Control Folder and then the subfolder called Music. Under the Music folder you will likely see a lot of subfolders starting with "f".
- delete/remove all subfolders in Music -
Delete all the subfolders under the Music folder. They include the files that are hogging your iPhone memory under "other files".
- open iTunes and sync your iPhone -
With “music sync” still turned off in iTunes, sync your iPhone. This will remove all music files from your iPhone, but keep all other content. Don’t worry about this though, as in the next steps you will sync the music back onto your iPhone.
- unplug iPhone and reboot it -
Once the iPhone has finished syncing, unplug it and perform a reboot. The reboot is done by holding down the "power down" button at the top right at the same times as holding down the control button. Hold both of them until the iPhone has switched off and the Apple logo appears on the screen before releasing both buttons. This action will reboot your iPhone.
- reconnect your iPhone to iTunes and recheck "sync music" -
This will put your music back onto the iPhone. Once the sync is complete your iPhone should be all sorted again.
If you still see "other files" taking up too much memory on your iPhone you have likely done something wrong or left out subfolders in step 4. Maybe reboot it one more time.

3.: Backup yer stuff!

Save your videos or pics to your PC every two weeks and delete them from your device. Can free several hundreds of MB or even a few GB.

4.: "The Sneaky Collectors"

Apps like "Appshopper", "Tweetbot", Twitter", "Facebook", "Youtube", "Skype", "IMO", "WhatsApp", "Amazon", "Steam" and much others are data collectors. My "Appshopper has at the moment 75.5MB of collected trash - but the App itself is only 6.2MB large. It's almost scandalous how they secretly steal away your precious space. So, the rest is junk. You can check the original apps size and the amount of data they've collected under "General" -> "Usage", then click on "show all apps" and tap an app to see the original size and how much "documents and data" they stored. Uninstall apps like Appshopper, Twitter and others and re-install to get rid of the collected junk. DON'T TRY THAT with games, video players, graphic programs and music programs, cause this stuff are your savegames, pictures, vids, music, graphics or other saved stuff!
Here's an example how it looks like:

5.: Cookies and histories

Clear cookies and cache of your browser under the Safari tab. Can free quite some space.

6.: Getting rid of old memories

Clean up old mails and SMS stuff or back it up to PC and delete. Especially mails with attachments.

7.: The Artificial Mind

Make a list for games and apps in your note app. If you have a game not played for at least 1 month, write the name into it and delete the app - it's unlikely that you'll ever play it again with the huge amount of releases every month. But this way you can keep track and always check which games aren't finished yet.

All right, after doing all these steps, always switch your device off and leave it off for 5 minutes. That should kill the memory-resident stuff and your device can clean up itself a bit after in the following boot process. "Device-DeConfusing", so to speak. My theory.

If everything went nice, you should now have a tidy, cleaned up iDevice with more space and a less fractured system.

Thanks for reading. If you have any questions, don't hestitate and feel free to ask. I'll try to help as good as I can.
Oh, and I am really interested in your "before/after" experiences. Feel free to post the amount of free space before and after the clean-up.

Hi, you seemed to be lost on the Internets.
This is TouchArcade, where 2$ for a game is too much, 5$ is an outrage, and 10$ or more is putting sugar in their car tanks whilst killing puppies.

Last edited by Vovin; 01-02-2013 at 04:40 AM.