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macrumors 68040
Original poster
Oct 3, 2009
I have a 16 GB iPhone 4S running iOS 7.1.2 (I don't want to upgrade to iOS 9 under any circumstances).

I have the following things on the iPhone:
  • 6 GB of music
  • 750 MB of photos
  • 2.4 GB of apps
  • 100 MB of documents and data
  • Nothing else that I use other than iOS itself
Try to guess how much free space I have left.
You guessed wrong, I only have 400 MB of free space, and here's why:

Screen Shot 2016-02-09 at 7.56.02 pm.png

What the hell is "Other?" I can't believe that iOS takes up almost 4 GB. So what's in there? I remember this used to be much less, more like a few hundred MB. It can't be documents stored by apps because that has its own section.

What do I have to delete to get rid of it? This problem is all over the internet but people are just guessing. Some say it's Safari cache, but seriously, could that be all cache? Some say it's Mail attachments, but I checked and I don't have attachments downloaded to the phone. Some say it's Messages conversations, but that's just text. I deleted my messages and it didn't change anything (other than the fact that I no longer have my messages).

Others say you should backup and restore, but I'm afraid that will upgrade me to iOS 9. Will it? I don't ever want to risk that option because there's no way of going back.


macrumors member
Oct 28, 2015
Houston, TX
Well, when I had my 4s I ran iOS 9 and loved it. iOS 7 is one of the worst you can run on that particular phone. I say make sure you have your keychain and iCloud setup correctly and do a restore. No need for backups these days as iCloud takes care of all the info. Music and apps will be re-downloadable from your account, if you choose to have them physically on your phone, and photos should be properly backed up to the SSD or HDD on your computer.


macrumors 6502a
Oct 4, 2008
It's impossible to tell unless your phone is jailbroken and you've installed OpenSSH, in which case it should be a trivial to log in and run `du -hs` on the root filesystem and go from there.

FWIW, my iPhone 4S is at 4.50GB (running iOS 7.1.2). My iPad 2 is at 3.96GB (also running iOS 7.1.2). Oddly enough, the iPad was sitting at around 4.7GB up until recently. I don't know what changed but it suddenly decided to free up close to 800MB of space. I hadn't uninstalled or removed anything. "Other" just decided to randomly shrink one day and that was that.

I'm guessing most of it has to do with various application caches and logging cruft that gets built up over time. I know Safari craps out almost every 30 minutes on my iPad 2, and I'm sure it's saving crash logs every time that happens, which in turn takes up disk space, and is probably recorded under "Other".

It's kinda nice knowing that your devices will slowly be rendered useless by the OS taking up space you can't free without reformatting the entire thing and upgrading to the latest iOS version in the process. It always boggles my mind that people will continually tell you that you "don't have to upgrade if you don't want to", when Apple makes that impossible in the long run.



macrumors 6502
May 14, 2015
Oh my iPod touch and iPhone 4s did this to me. It turns out the "other" was all my music. Only way to fix it is to restore.


macrumors 6502a
Oct 29, 2012
Backup your device using iCloud.
Settings>General>Reset>Erase All Content and Settings.
Restore backup during setup. You'll remain on 7.1.2.
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