The extremely high system storage is making my phone unusable. What do I do?

None of my apps have any storage more than 3.44 GB. When I connect to iTunes it shows like 30 something GB available. It is annoying to have because I’m not able to download any apps either. I have an iPhone 6s running iOS 11.3.1.

  • iOS version? iPhone model? What do you mean by "unstable?" What exactly is happening?
    – Allan
    Commented Jan 14, 2019 at 21:30
  • @paramn20 Log in with the same account you used to ask the question to be able to edit your question directly and respond to comments and answers on your question. If you no longer have access to the original account, use the contact form to merge your accounts.
    – grg
    Commented Jan 14, 2019 at 21:58

5 Answers 5


I would back up the phone and then erase all content and settings and re-measure it with no user apps or data or things installed - just the blank OS.

If you just want to poke at things before erasing, I would put the device in airplane mode then do the power off ( slide to power off in screen - controller shut down of iOS). Then start the device and open the storage viewing app. Ideally you connected to power and let the spotlight index rebuild for 15 minutes on power and in airplane mode (so no new data arrives on device)

Then if it's still too high (or you're just curious how much thinner you can make it), restore the device from iTunes (perhaps in restore mode).

Something is really off with that large an amount. I expect 3 GB of system space on older iOS versions and older devices:

Not the whopping 50 GB you post in your image. Either there are backup snapshots or something else really taking up space. If you only have 64 GB of space, I could see the device barely operating if it's reserved that much space. Even a larger storage device could be in trouble, so back up and then clean all your apps / settings and consider a restore for good measure.


I have had the same issue on Iphone SE. And additionally I was not able to log in to ICloud.

I fixed the issue by restoring the system image of the Ios using Itunes.


  1. Launch Itunes and back up the phone.

  2. Press the Power and Home buttons and hold them until the phone is switched off.

  3. Release the Power button and keep holding the Home button till the phone enters the restore mode

enter image description here

  1. In Itunes on this screen press "Restore" enter image description here

  2. At this point Itunes will download the image of your current Ios if it is not downloaded.

  3. Next select "Restore and Update"

enter image description here This will flash the system image onto your phone.

After the process is finished you will get a fresh version of the ios with plenty of free storage(58Gb in my case)

  1. Go to Itunes and restore your data from the backup

What I just did on my iPhone 7 Plus 32GB version 12.3.1

  1. Phone ON, unlocked, and on the home screen, plugged into PC with iTunes up (don't need to sync)
  2. Press and hold Power + Volume Down until the iPhone is off (Still plugged into PC with iTunes up)
  3. Power back on, let it come all the way up.

I just went from 14.9GB of System to 7.86GB. I tried http://osxdaily.com/2018/07/02/reduce-ios-system-storage-iphone-ipad/ but that didn't work. So I did the steps above on the home screen.

Hope it helps someone.


Your image above shows only 3.6 GB free. You should try to get rid of some apps from your phone to free up more space. You could try the App PhoneClean I used it and it freed up a few GB on my iPhone. You must have access to a Mac since the App funs on MacOS. Then you connect your iPhone to your computer via cable and run the app. The directions are given in the link above.


I bet much of your "system storage" is actually chats, photos and videos from social media apps such as WhatsApp. They have been incorrectly recognized as system files. I learned this the hard way. My iphone indicated that all my apps and photos only took up less than 1GB but the system file was more than 13GB! I tried deleting WhatsApp and it did free up more than 7GB of storage! I thought I had a backup but the backup was old, and I lost the past year's chats as a result. If you want to free up the phone, you would have to either backup your iphone or look into your social media apps and save/back up your chats, then delete and reinstall your apps. If you don't want to be bothered with saving your chats, just delete and reinstall your social media apps.

  • This question is about system data. Not app data.
    – itsafire
    Commented Aug 20, 2022 at 10:43

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