I have an iPhone 6 and an iPad 4 mini linked to the same iCloud account, and have set synch settings in the usual way to backup photos and apps to the iCloud. I have storage plan of 50 GB, and currently using 37 GB from that. The app I use most the time on iPhone is Whatsapp.

The problem seems to be that iPhone local storage is running out, and I keep receiving warnings, even though the iCloud has plenty of space. I am not sure what to do to fix this. I checked all settings and tried to research it online, but still no answers. I suspected that the Whatsapp might be keeping the data locally (e.g. photos/videos), even though the iCloud has backed them up, but I am not sure.

Here are screen shots of the situation.

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The problem is the local storage on the phone. The middle picture showing device backups isn't a problem - you have plenty of space in the cloud.

If you can't figure out how to prune what's app - you can try their support and/or deleting the app and letting the storage stabilize over a day.

Once you know how much free space of the 16 GB is available without over half being taken by WhatsApp - you can then document that and re-download that one app.

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Things won't work well until you free up a GB of space and it looks like WhatsApp is the only possible solution to your current jam.

  • Many thanks. Do you think deleting Whatsapp will also result in deleting any files in Photos&Camera folders that might have come originally from that app? Also, do you have any particular advice on how to adjust Whatsapp settings or check what's happening? – user135626 Oct 18 '16 at 0:33

WhatsApp is the culprit in this situation.

Most of your WhatsApp data is not being stored in iCloud, as shown in your second screenshot, where WhatsApp is using 40.8 MB of data in iCloud versus 6.3 GB on your device.

WhatsApp does not delete data even when it's backed up to iCloud. Conversely, deleting chats from WhatsApp will remove them from the backup in iCloud. Backups of WhatsApp are only intended to save what's currently present in the app.

You can determine what chats are taking up the most space by opening WhatsApp, going to the Settings tab, tapping on Account, tapping on Storage Usage, and switching to the Size tab at the bottom. This will sort chats by size, largest at the top. Tapping on a chat will result in a list of usage by category - see screenshot below for an example. (Note I removed phone numbers/contact names and images.)

You can export chats, optionally including media, by opening a chat as normal, tapping on the contact name or group name at the top, then tapping Export Chat. It may take some time for it to create the chat archive. Once it does, a share sheet will appear and you can choose whether to email it, message it, or use other apps installed that can interact with .zip files (such as Dropbox).

Once you have exported it and saved it somewhere, it's then safe to delete the chat itself in WhatsApp. This will cause the chat and any attached media to be removed and you should see a reduction in the storage usage in the Settings app.

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  • Many thanks for this. Is there a way to just let iCloud backup the the photos and videos of Whatsapp? What I simply want is not to lose the images and videos. Or is there a way to save such photos and videos to the Photo folder on iPhone, so that it is backup anyway? – user135626 Oct 19 '16 at 12:31

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