Running out of room on my phone

iOS & iPadOS

I have a 16GB iPHONE 5C and an old 32GB iPOD Touch 4G. I keep all the music on my iPOD and even so usually have 7 or 8 gig free on the iPOD.

I store no music on my phone, yet I keep running out of room. I go to manage storage and look through the list of apps. I delete some games; I delete Facebook which is enormous for some reason, and even twitter is now up to 78MB. Each time I look, apps seem to get larger.

A fewweeks later, I'm out of space again.

For a few apps, I've deleted them and re-installed them from the app store, and for a few more I've painstakingly gone to the app and deleted its data.

Though I am not as happy with Talkback, one thing I've found on Android is that it's easy to delete all of an app's data and cache. On my $49 Kindle I can even move all the data from all apps to the cloud with one click. But I can't find a way to quickly shrink the size of all the apps on my phone.

Online guides suggest I delete all my photos and videos. I have; there were only three photos on the phone and no videos. I've deleted a few voice memos but they were small. And deleting each little piece of data is so painstaking! In Windows, I can select a folder, or a group of files and simply zap them or move them to an external drive. But I don't want to consume content in Windows.

I originally selected a 16GB phone over one with more storage because I had DropBox, OneDrive, Google Drive and iCloud. I figured I had enough cloud storage that I'd have plenty of room for data. My employer gives me an entire terabyte of storage with OneDrive!

But I don't seem to have a way of simply using that storage to hold the data for all my apps. So I'm constantly removing apps and trying to find quick ways to remove data from apps I want to keep, for example Kindle, Read2Go, Learning Ally and BARD. Wish I could plug the phone in to my computer and fix the problem. But iTunes is not that accessible. Wish the phone acted like an ordinary flash drive.

I find no way to batch delete data across apps or even within an app. I find no way to get most apps to simply pull data from cloud storage when I need it.

I used to listen to more podcasts and audio books on my phone, but that's yet more data I'll have to find a way to remove so I use my phone less and less for entertainment, which is sad, because it seems like the data management interface is at fault.

On my iPOD, even if I listen to podcasts, books and play games, since it won't go beyond iOS 6.3, it never runs out of room. Something weird happened when I got the phone; my storage was halved, deliberately, but the need for local storage doubled.

It seems like there should be easier ways to handle this; any thoughts?



Submitted by sockhopsinger on Thursday, September 8, 2016

Apps will continue to get bigger and bigger as time goes on. Partially, it is to keep adding more and more gadgets to them to make them more enticing to people. I'm also convinced that it is also partially to "encourage" people to upgrade to larger and larger phones with more and more storage. That's my thinking. To support my theories, note that the new iPhone's smallest size will be 32GB of space. Sorry if that's not an answer, but the best explanation I can come up with. Also, if you have Apple Music, space can disappear in a biiiiiig hurry.

Submitted by Fatima.Hamoud10 on Thursday, September 8, 2016

Try deleting stuff that is not important to you in usage settings. You might also want to delete any old text messages, emails and recent calls that you don't need. Hope this helps.

Submitted by Dawn on Thursday, September 8, 2016

I'd try deleting your unplayed episodes from your podcast feed. I had this same issue with my iPad mini 4. Luckily I knew what the issue was. My bigest downfall was & still is audiobooks & magazines from BARD. I'd try deleting the books & magazines from the app as soon as you r done with them. Also try deleting your browser data. I wish the iPad had a slot for SD. cards & thimb drive slots!

I may have a solution for you. I read about it in a USA. Today article. It's not easy but its doable if you've got technical know-how. You can buy a USB. drive for the iPad. If you downboad the companion app then the drive can be used. Be aware however, that the article said these are pricey! I really hope this helps you. And I'm sorry that I can't be of anymore help. I can sympathize with you big-time because I'm really used to having a boat-load of external storage.

Submitted by treky fan on Thursday, September 8, 2016

Hi, have you tryied clearing your browsing history and other files that are stored in safari? If you haven't, do the following. Double tap on settings. Swipe until you find safari and double tap. Once there, look for the option that says clear history and website data. Double tap and double tap again on the button that says clear history and website data when prompted by voiceover. Hope this helps.

Submitted by david s on Friday, September 9, 2016


First, you can’t compare your iPod with your iPhone. I suspect you have more apps on the iPhone since it has a newer OS. So the iPhone probably gets used more often than the iPod.

A couple of things you can do.
Like your closet, your device has a finite amount of space. When you run out of closet space, you look for things you haven’t worn or no longer wear and get rid of them. If you look at your iPhone, do you still use all those apps? My suggestion is to restore your phone to factory and download the apps you’ve used recently. You’ll be surprised that you don’t actually use all the apps that was installed.

Another thing you can do is purchase a flash drive with a lightning connection. The prices on these have dropped so if you look around Amazon, you can get one for about 40 USD. Or, give yourself an early Christmas gift and purchase an iPhone 7. This time, get the middle of the road 128GB model instead of the entry model of 32GB.

Good luck!

Submitted by Deborah Armstrong on Tuesday, September 20, 2016

I have seen the flash drives for phones. I have friends who own them. They work better for sighted people, because they only transfer videos and photos. If you cable your phone to a computer, it appears like a camera to the computer and you can move photos and videos out of your camera roll on to the computer. Without iTunes, that's it. The flash drive behaves just like a computer connection.
If anyone knows of a flash drive that will move the data contained within apps and the apps themselves, that would be wonderful. For example, when I travel I have more mapping and hotel apps. So it would be great to move all that off the phone until I take another trip.
I do appreciate the suggestion to clear the cache and remove unwanted apps. I managed to free up 2GB and update to iOS 10 and have just a bit under 2GB left. Mail, even though it's an iMAP account takes up a lot of room if you haven't read it in a while as well. Seems like some attachments download to the phone -- on my old iPOD I see that's not true (this when I look under manage storage.)
The reality that I don't use all those apps all the time is certainly true. We all have to stop being pap hoarders! I guess my problem is that when I want an app I don't want to have to go searching the app store for it again.

Submitted by AnonyMouse on Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Hello Debra,

As like you I have seen this happening over and over. No matter what I seem to do. I have done everything that I could do. The Storage page is becoming more less reliable except for obvious things. I have cleared out all photos, text, videos, podcast, and much much more. Then one day I tried something and by golly after doing this trick. I landed up with like 8G free space without having to delete any apps and all those other obvious things that I have done.

It is rather a pain but certainly worth trying.

First backup your device and everything to the iCloud. Now head on over to Settings -> General -> Reset. Now select the Erase all Content and Settings. When the device comes back up. Yes, you will need to do the setup all over again. When you get to the Restore from the iCloud. Go ahead and do this. After a few minutes everything is back up and running and nothing has changed. Now head over to the Settings -> Storage and see how much you have now.

Sadly, it will gradually start to shrink again and some point you may have to do this trick again. Perhaps there is a better solution but everytime I do this I am just amazed of the free space that I have and I had done nothing different. Maybe some expert can explain why that this is but I am guessing it has to do with the Apple logs that it stores on your device that builds up and send to Apple. It is just a theory and it is actually something else but again if there is a better way. I would love to know about it.


Submitted by Paul Martin on Tuesday, September 20, 2016

This might help a bit: When I was on Dice World more, it would take upwards of 300 MB for it's own data. I'm level 19 on there now, so there's quite a bit of win and loss records to say the least. I however can't fathem why this is stored locally all the time when it's not accessed often. To verify this, I uninstalled it to reinstate later. It looked much smaller afterwords, but I then watched as my wifi network traffic meter reported many packets going to the fancy phone while doing a few roles. Come to find out, this was clearly to expand the local database of Dice World according to storage section of settings. It looked exactly as it did an hour ago before I uninstalled the game, right down to the 300 MB "documents and data" section.

Submitted by Deborah Armstrong on Thursday, November 10, 2016

I really appreciate people pitching in to comment on this. I am still looking for that magic flash drive or other external storage that will stash all the apps and their data, removing it from my phone until it's needed again. If anyone knows of such a product, let me know. I still suspect that the external storage advertised for the phone will only hold videos and photos and possibly voice memos; no data contained within third-party apps.
Looking through the data on my phone, I realize the only things that matter are my contacts and my locations in Blindsquare. I could reset my phone to factory settings, restore just those and be happy. But I'm wondering what the easiest way to do this is. I have apps that will save my contacts to a csv file (as described in a guide I entered a few months ago) and I'll probably have to use them to make sure my contacts don't get lost. Not sure what to do about the BlindSquare data I've personalized.
So does anyone have suggestions on how they did a factory reset and retained some of their data? Restoring an iCloud backup is a good idea, but it will just bring back all the apps I use infrequently.