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Your iPhone running out of storage could be caused by being occupied by System Data, a category that could potentially use up all available capacity. Here's how to reclaim space when things are too bloated to function.
Storage capacity is a big concern for mobile device users, and available space on iPhone, iPad, and even Mac is a big issue for everyone. While users with large storage capacities have less of an issue with this than most, those saving money with more modest storage may have a harder time.
Control what apps are on your device by offloading or deleting them, keeping saved videos and other files, using cloud storage capacity, and other methods that are commonly used to reduce storage usage.
Sure, deleting files and clearing the app cache can help, but it won't fix the occasional system data issue. Sometimes system data can grow to enormous sizes and there is little you can do to fix it.
Here's what you can do to get back to more useful free storage.
What is system data on iPhone?
When you check the storage usage on your iPhone, you'll find that iOS conveniently sorts your data usage into several categories, including apps, photos, media, iOS, and system data.
They are all self-explanatory, and photos and media consist of images, videos, and other typical media files. Apps refers to apps downloaded from the App Store and the data caches for each of them, while iOS refers to the storage consumed by the operating system itself.
How to Check Storage Usage on iOS
- Open Settings.
- Click General, then iPhone Storage.
- The top panel graphically shows which storage is being used.
- The list of applications below shows storage usage by individual applications. Tap each to see the app size and associated file usage, as well as options to offload the app and delete data.
- At the bottom of the list are lists for iOS and system data.
System data and what the Settings app calls “Other system data” includes many files not included in other categories.
The definition in iOS is that system data “includes caches, logs, and other resources currently in use by the system.” It is not specified what this data is, but it may consist of various logs, temporary data stores, and other items that are not strictly considered part of any of the applications listed.
Then some elements are used by iOS, but do not belong to a specific application. For example, downloading various Siri voices or installing fonts may expand this section, but they are not defined as being used by only one application or by the operating system itself.
Why is system data taking up all of my iPhone's memory?
This data also “fluctuates based on system needs.” This means that temporary data can be written to storage as system data and deleted when it is no longer needed by iOS.
However, the problem is that you can't see what the data types used in this category consist of, and you can't delete them.
Generally speaking, “Other System Data” can be several gigabytes in size at first, and depending on how you use your iPhone, it can grow and shrink by several gigabytes over time.
The bloat problem occurs if this resizing of other system data continues on an upward trajectory. Over time, some users may notice that their iPhone's system data takes up a lot of space, perhaps tens of gigabytes.
In the case of one AppleInsider contributor, the amount of other system data increased to almost 85 gigabytes, which took up almost all the remaining available storage and caused problems with the device.
It is not known exactly why this is happening, but it is likely because one or more caches or logs are constantly being added over time, but most importantly, not being removed at the rate necessary to write. Left too long, it can be all-consuming.
Because it's impossible to see what caused this, directly or selectively remove problematic system data items, users may be left with very few options available.
How to cut down on usage System Data
There are several things you can do to reduce the amount of system data you use, and they vary in the severity of what you need to do with your iPhone and its data. This guide will start with the least intensive option.
Remember that they are meant to be taken after other reasonable measures, such as deleting unwanted videos or other files to free up space.
Also, don't forget to backup your iPhone before proceeding. The last thing you want to do is delete valuable data when you try to recover space.
Safari and messages
The first way is to try to reduce cache usage with a select number of Apple-produced apps. This may include the Safari and Messages caches, which can sometimes occupy the System Data category.
For messages, this can be as simple as opening Settings, then tapping Messages, scrolling down to Message History, and changing the Keep Messages duration from “Forever” to a lower value , for example, one year or 30 days.
Clearing the Safari cache is a little more complicated, but still useful.
How to clear the cache Safari on iOS
- Open Settings.
- Tap Safari.
- Scroll down and click Clear website history and data.
- In the warning popup, click Clear history and data to confirm.
Caches for each app
If a particular app is causing the problem, you can try uninstalling it if you know which app is wasting a lot of space. For example, apps that use a lot of videos could potentially use this caching, but without the need to clear the caches later.
There is no guarantee that this will remove the problematic cache capacity you want to remove, but it should still reduce its active usage. Before a complete removal, it is recommended to try to unload the application, namely, to remove the application, but keep the documents and data associated with it.
How to offload or delete apps on iOS
- Open Settings.
- Press General.
- Tap iPhone Storage.
- Scroll and tap the relevant app.
- Press Upload Application, then Upload Application to confirm.
- You can also click Remove App and then Remove App to confirm.
Restore from a backup
The nuclear option is to restore an iPhone from a backup. This entails backing up all the data on the iPhone, resetting the iPhone to factory settings, and then restoring from the backup.
While you will get all your user data back and continue using the apps, you may experience two-factor authentication app-related issues and other related issues after setting up your device.
In the case of the AppleInsider editor, restoring from a backup did solve the problem, so it's worth taking the time to do so if you can.
How-to-do back up your iPhone and restore from the backup.
- To back up your data, connect your iPhone to your Mac or PC and open either Finder or iTunes< /strong>.
- Select iPhone, then click the General tab.
- Select “Back up all data from iPhone to this Mac”.
- Check “Encrypt local backup” to save account passwords and any health data. .
- Choose Back up now and wait for it to complete.
- Turn off iPhone.
- Open Settings and select General and then Transfer or reset iPhone.
- Click Remove all content and settings. Click Continue and follow the instructions to complete.
- After cleaning, connect iPhone back to Mac or PC, open Finder or iTunes and select iPhone. strong>.
- In the General section, click Restore Backup.
- Select the most recent backup you just created and click Restore. Follow the instructions on the screen.