I am getting Out of variable memory error alert in iPhone 4S. I have tried resetting all settings. But this alert keeps on popping up with accept or cancel buttons. I was also not able to find anything from usage logs. There is also a badge in Setting icon but i am not able to find out from where this badge comes. Th version is 5.0.1. This alert comes frequently. Please Help.

  • 5
    The badge on "Settings" means there is an update for your iPhone. Go to Settings > General > Software Update and update your phone to iOS 5.1.1. And see if your problem still occurs (check your backup, too since your device might not be working well and need a restore). May 23, 2012 at 14:13
  • @LoïcWolff Ok, I will also try restoring from previous backup, will this erase any newly added data... May 23, 2012 at 15:40
  • 1
    Yes, restoring from a previous backup will erase some data (SMS, for instance). May 23, 2012 at 15:47
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    Also - if you can capture a screen shot of this error, please upload it somewhere and link in the question by editing it. Don't worry about embedding it - we can do that once you get the image hosted somewhere.
    – bmike
    May 23, 2012 at 16:36

1 Answer 1


To isolate the issue, you can place the device in Airplane Mode and perform a normal slide to shutdown.

When the device reboots, you will have a controlled platform to test. Third party apps will not run until you launch them and Apple's sync services will be prevented from downloading new data and potentially triggering a memory error.

You will quickly see if it's the OS that is complaining or some app in the background as you run things offline.

This is a fairly obscure error, so you'll want to check that there's some space on the filesystem when you restart the phone. Feel free to edit your question with more details if this alone doesn't resolve the issue for you.

I'd recommend making 500 MB of free space by deleting un-needed apps with no data to back up or deleting some songs if you have no apps to space. Some programs need more room to run, and you might even have several gigs free so it's some other cause that results in the dialog message. In that case, you'll have to pay attention and start things one by one to track down the process that is placing that error on your device.

Also - review the backup article below to be sure you understand what is backed up and what might be lost when you restore things. The over the air update isn't intended to erase anything, but if your device isn't working properly there's no guarantee you will have everything after an update.

  • 1
    Thank you for the detailed steps. I never knew this mode existed. But i get the same alert even in after reboot. I have 5+ GB free. It just pops up "out of variable memory"...two buttons for cancel and accept..and if not clicked it closes by itself in 3-4 seconds. I already performed a full settings reset. What do you suggest? should I erase all iPhone data and get to factory condition or will an update to latest version possibly fix this issue. There are no usage logs also, I am at loss to figure out the issue. Please suggest your ideas... May 23, 2012 at 15:37
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    If you don't mind doing a resotore - that would be best. You can try the Over the Air (OTA) method, but here's a summary of what to do if iTunes is needed to restore the device. support.apple.com/kb/TS1275
    – bmike
    May 23, 2012 at 16:11

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