I’m sure you’ve experienced this before: You attempt to install the most recent iOS update, switch to a new iPhone, capture pictures or videos, or simply download that popular app everyone is raving about, but your iPhone notifies you that there is no more storage space available.
You have removed all unnecessary apps from your iPhone, but there is still insufficient storage space. To address this issue, you navigate to Settings, select General, then iPhone Storage. However, you discover that a significant portion of the storage is categorized as Other (now named System Data in iOS 15). This may be confusing and unclear, and there is no universal solution. Nonetheless, this guide aims to assist you in managing this problem.
The newest iPhone models are the iPhone SE (released in March 2022), iPhone 15, iPhone 15 Plus, iPhone 15 Pro, and iPhone 15 Pro Max (set to release in September 2023).
The most recent version of iOS is iOS 17, which was released in September 2023.
The most recent beta version of iOS is not available.
How to access your iPhone’s storage capacity.
To view the amount of storage being used by your apps and data on your iPhone, go to the Settings app, choose General, and then select iPhone Storage. A bar graph will display your overall iPhone storage and the types of data using it. Below that, you’ll find a list of your phone’s apps and their respective storage usage for the app and its data.
Your iPhone may require a few seconds to display the graph since it needs to scan and analyze its storage. Even after the chart appears, it is recommended to wait a few more seconds for it to stabilize. This is because the app list and storage sizes can still change while your phone finishes its analysis.
What is the meaning of System Data (or Other storage) on an iPhone?
The storage menu on your iPhone will show different categories such as Apps, Media, Photos, and Mail. You may also see a category called Other/System Data, which can sometimes be quite large. This is usually between 5GB to 20GB, but if it exceeds 20GB, it may be out of control. You can view this category by scrolling to the bottom of the app list and selecting iOS, which contains necessary system files and is typically around 10GB, and System Data, which includes files that are not apps or downloads and are collected by iOS. To check how much space System Data is using, tap on it.
The Other/System Data category is big and varied because it’s a real catch-all category. It’s comprised of system caches, logs, Siri voices (if you’ve downloaded more than one), updates, and so much more. One of the biggest culprits for Other/System Data growing out of hand is streaming lots of music and video. When you download video or music from the iTunes Store, TV app, or Music app, it’s indexed as Media. But streams have caches used to ensure smooth playback, and those are categorized as Other/System Data.
The caches on Safari can become quite sizable over time. Additionally, if you frequently send messages with multimedia content, those caches can also take up a significant amount of storage space. While your iPhone is designed to handle these caches and prevent your storage from reaching capacity, it is not always effective in doing so.
In separate articles, we explain the steps for removing Other storage and System Data on a Mac.
How to decrease the amount of Other/System Data on an iPhone.
It is not possible to completely eliminate Other/System Data, but it may be possible to decrease its size in some cases.
To start, let’s attempt to delete your Safari caches. Navigate to Settings > Safari and select Clear History and Website Data. If you have numerous Safari tabs open on your iPhone, it may be helpful to close the majority of them as well.
Consider adjusting your Message settings to save fewer past messages. Access Settings, select Messages, and locate the Message History option. The default setting is to Keep Messages forever, but you can opt for shorter time frames such as 1 year or 30 days to limit the amount of data stored in the Messages app. Keep in mind that making this change will result in the deletion of older messages, so be sure to back them up if necessary.
To conclude, return to the iPhone Storage section and view the list of apps. While most apps store data under the Apps category, there may be some that have caches classified as Other/System Data. For example, if the Podcasts app is occupying a significant amount of storage, it is likely due to cached data. Removing and reinstalling the app may reduce the amount of data under the Other/System Data category.
Reset your iPhone to its original state by backing up your data.
To reduce the size of the Other/System Data storage on your iPhone, you can manually delete caches. However, to significantly minimize its size, it is recommended to back up your device and reset it. This process may take some time, and the most efficient approach is to use a Mac or PC.
For Mac computers using macOS 10.15 Catalina or newer:
Begin by plugging in your iPhone to your Mac using the included USB-C-to-Lightning cable.
When prompted on your iPhone, click on “Trust” and enter your passcode.
Select your iPhone in the Finder sidebar on your Mac under the Locations section.
Select the General section.
Choose the option to back up all of your iPhone’s data to this Mac.
To secure your backup information and add a password, select the option “Encrypt local backup.”
Press the option to Backup Now.
You have the option to link your iPhone to your computer without the use of wires by enabling syncing via Wi-Fi.
running Windows 7 or later,
If you are using a Mac with macOS version 10.14 Mojave or an older version, or a PC with Windows 7 or a newer version,
If you have a PC or a Mac running macOS 10.14 or earlier, you can utilize iTunes to create a backup of your phone. Once your iPhone is connected to your computer, click on the small phone icon in the top left corner and select your iPhone. Under the Backups tab, choose “This Computer” and enable the “Encrypt local backup” option to secure your backup with a password. Finally, click on the “Back up now” button.
Reset and restore
After completing the backup, remove your iPhone and navigate to Settings > General > Reset. Choose the option to Erase All Content and Settings. This will restore your iPhone to its original state. When it restarts and enters the initial setup, reconnect it to your computer with iTunes open. Follow the on-screen prompts to restore your device.
This method is the most time-consuming and complicated way to decrease the amount of storage used for Other/System Data, but it is also the most effective. It is not possible to reduce it any further than it will be after performing a reset and restore.