Since yesterday, I'm getting a storage full alert message (not iCloud) on my iPhone 6s plus, iOS 9.2.1.

Overall, my apps installed would take at most 10GB.

Within Settings, the iPhone says it has 4.8 GB free. Inside of iTunes, it says 8.4 GB free.

Also from iTunes, the Documents and Data section seems to take a lot of space (55% to 60% aprox.).

Has anyone have a solution around this?

  • Welcome to Ask Different. Apps are only a fraction of the storage load on iOS. Storage full happens when temporary files are growing and there aren't enough "removable" assets to clear to make space. In general settings, Storage & iCloud Usage - what are your Available and Used figures. Are you looking for directions to use iTunes to measure things externally? support.apple.com/en-us/HT201656
    – bmike
    Mar 3 '16 at 14:53
  • Within Settings, the iPhone says it has 4.8 GB free. Inside of iTunes, it says 8.4 GB free. Also from iTunes, the Documents and Data section seems to take a lot of space (55% to 60% aprox.). Mar 3 '16 at 14:59

I'm also having the same issue like you are. I was using the Public Beta version 4 of iOS 9.3 and that suddenly happened, it threw 710MB of free space on my phone into an unknown black-hole. I forced installed the iOS 9.2.1 (13D20 version) onto my iPhone 6 last night, freeing 16 GB from the phone. However I've lost them all again today with only 2.2 GB of free space left. The documents and data cannot be seen in the storage settings on my iPhone 6 at all. You're not alone on this one.

  • I would encourage everyone that has a developer account or a beta seed to give Apple feedback - constructive, specific negative feedback about the situation on managing storage on iOS. The numbers don't add up, Apple hides the vast bulk of storage from end users in the settings app. It's one of the more user hostile designs I've seen from Apple.
    – bmike
    Mar 3 '16 at 16:56

It's getting hard to know what's happening since iTunes often shows more then 2 to 10 GB of difference on the "free space" number that iOS self reports.

The iOS system has four categories of data:

  • third party application data that is marked as "purgeable"
  • third party application data that is marked as "non-purgeable"
  • application cached data which is there for speed and will be cleared when you run low on space / regenerated when you launch that app again
  • Apple's own iCloud data

When I'm in a low space situation, here's what I do:

  • look for easy things I can delete - entire applications (podcasts or apps, video & movie downloads or turning off big users like iCloud photo stream. Things I don't need when I'm facing a recurring prompt and that will re-download overnight when I'm in WiFi range.
  • turn off iCloud backup (I think, but can't prove there's a bug there on iOS 9 leaking storage space)
  • put the device in AirPlane mode
  • power of the iOS device
  • restart the device

Then I re-examing the free space on iOS and compare with iTunes if I can. If you can get 2 GB of free space, things usually level off. Less than that, and every app you start can and will re-populate the caches and temporary space and you'll likely be back to "no space".

I would set a calendar reminder to turn on iCloud backups in 24 hours - but make sure it's not depending on iCloud sync so that you can check storage space before you toggle that back on. I typically make an iTunes backup before turning it on.

The next step for me when the device isn't managing things properly is to erase the device and not restore the backup - so archiving that backup is a nice safety net if I find in a week I didn't have everything transferred off the phone.

Archiving means first making a backup in iTunes and then control-clicking on the backup itself in preferences and choosing to Archive it. Things to consider are:

  • health data only is saved to an encrypted backup
  • transferring purchases helps you not lose apps or data in apps if they are removed from the store after you installed them or after you complete the backup
  • some account and WiFi passwords and certificates are not saved to unencrypted backups

The archive feature prevents newer backups from overwriting the archived backup. The downside is the backup takes up more space than one that gets cleaned up/changed the next time you back up to iTunes.

  • Sadly - there's not a good solution. Your documents might be years of iMessage conversations with attached video and photo images. It might be iCloud Documents, it might be iCloud Photo Library. Apple's design of the settings app for storage on iOS 9 is quite user-hostile IMO.
    – bmike
    Mar 3 '16 at 16:57
  • 1
    I don't think it's something to do with attachments or extra documents inside of apps. I believe it has to do with temporary files from iOS or they being retained in some way. Mar 3 '16 at 18:18
  • @FelipePeña If you're right, you'll eventually need to wipe and reinstall. If the temp files are backed up, you'll find that out too...
    – bmike
    Mar 3 '16 at 18:23
  • there has to be a reason why this is happening and why other users are also complaining about it. Maybe there's an iOS update in the works as we speak :D Mar 3 '16 at 18:28

Maybe there are many "Other" category storage. There are just too many things that require physical storage in iPhone. That's why Apple chose to lump a lot of things into the "Other" category. it's seems like your phone is filled with cached files and data. That can include: Documents & Data & Safari browsing data & Mail data & iTunes data, including files that have been streamed (which can be BIG).

So we can try to clean up cache files frequently. someone who have similar situation with you, You can also refer to this thread.

Have you checked your "Recently deleted" album? Maybe it takes up your storage. Since iOS 8, the pics and videos you deleted are not actually gone. If you want to make them disappeared you need to go to the "Recently deleted" album and delete them again. Otherwise you need to wait for 30 days they will be deleted automatically.

  • Also you can update your WhatsApp, WhatsApp for iOS update fixes a bug that consumes all of an iPhone's unused storage space.
    – Mark
    Mar 9 '16 at 5:33

Seems it was the app "WhatsApp", creating lots of cache files and stealing storage from the phone.

I just installed the update and the storage came back to normal.


Whatsapp is the issue.... Update and problem is gone

  • Yeah. It's an answer already. Thanks though! May 18 '16 at 20:17

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