Solved: “Other” Eating Up Gigabytes of iPad Storage

In preparation for next week’s MVP summit I wanted to fill my iPad with movies for in-flight entertainment when I noticed that a large part of my iPad’s storage capacity was taken up by stuff from some unexplained “other” category. Here is my account of what I did to get rid of it and reclaim the lost gigabytes.

When I looked at my iPad’s storage capacity graph in iTunes I saw this:

Nearly 8 GB taken up by “other”. That smelled like someone not doing his homework. While I understand that apps need (temporary and permanent) storage capacity for things like a browser cache, downloaded files, sent messages and similar things, 8 GB is way too much for that kind of stuff.

When I searched the web looking for a way to reduce the size of “other”, I was astonished by the number of people with exactly the same problem (here, for example). None of them seemed to have a solution, though. The usual tips (closing apps, restarting, restoring the device from a backup) certainly did not seem to help.

Obviously the growth of the “other” category is a combination of bugs in various applications (including Apple’s) not cleaning up their temporary files and a lack of the corresponding cleanup functionality in the operating system.

Many people would think that there is no way out since iOS is a closed system. But there are cool things you can do even if you have not jailbroken your iPad. One of those is to download iExplorer (available for Windows and OS X), a very useful little application that is basically a file browser for your iOS device. When I looked around the folders on my iPad I noticed many large files in “Purchases”:

I remembered that I had deleted several TV show episodes to make room for new ones, and these deleted files seemed to have fled to the Purchases folder. Having synchronized everything to my PC earlier I mercilessly deleted every single file in “Purchases”. When I checked in iTunes, the formerly lost space was reclaimed:

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14 Responses to Solved: “Other” Eating Up Gigabytes of iPad Storage

  1. rifat September 18, 2012 at 16:08 #

    can i use iExplorer for my jailbroken iPad 3

    • Helge September 20, 2012 at 13:13 #

      Yes, I would guess so.

      • shai September 20, 2012 at 15:25 #

        Hi

        found nothing there ;-(
        do you know the file system path to that location?

        Thanks

  2. Ronnie November 3, 2012 at 16:40 #

    Hi,

    Got iExporer which should space free whereas iTunes showed it as “Other” and “overcapacity”
    A restore fixed it.

  3. Hughhh November 30, 2012 at 23:53 #

    Thanks, I’m downloading iExplorer now. Hopefully this will work for my iPod Touch 4G.

    One note — iExplorer requires .NET framework 4.0 which is a 48 MB pain since I previously only had 3.5 installed.

    Thanks again :)

    Cheers,
    -Hugh

  4. Emma February 6, 2013 at 23:38 #

    This did not work for me. Any other suggestions?

  5. Gabi February 16, 2013 at 04:25 #

    The purchased stuff that shows in iExplorer doesnt show up on my iTunes. Where should i find it and how do i delete it?

  6. AA101 March 1, 2013 at 06:03 #

    If I have 20GB of Other after a large sync of my photos, where can I delete the temp files of photos while retaining my actual photos so that I can clear up Other capacity?

  7. Charles June 23, 2013 at 12:31 #

    I note the discussion has gone quiet is this because there is not a solution?

    I have over 20 G of “other” and tried the fixes but nothing works

    Any more ideas ?

  8. gabor July 3, 2013 at 14:20 #

    i had 2 full hd keynotes in Media>Downloads taking up 13GBs (2×6.59gb). Even after i deleted them they stayed on my iphone…BTW you can sort the folders by size, so you can see what uses up space at once .

  9. Garry November 8, 2013 at 17:06 #

    I had the same issue on my iPad 4. It went from 4GB free to almost full overnight. Using iExplore I found a 3.5GB m4v file in the CloudAssets directory. This was the remnants of a film I had been watching. For some reason the OS refused to delete the file after the video finished and left me with virtually no space. After trying the restore fixes, none of which worked, I deleted the file with iExplorer. i disconnected and reconnected the iPad and hey presto, back to 4GB free.

  10. Alek January 16, 2014 at 01:42 #

    Thank you so much Garry! I had the exact same issue, I had transferred a digital copy of a movie to my computer and iTunes must’ve put it on my iPod when I synced it.

  11. john February 3, 2014 at 21:41 #

    Hey can I use iExplorer for my jailbroken ipad 4

  12. Sam Ramji March 8, 2014 at 16:56 #

    This worked perfectly – I reclaimed over 6 GB of wasted space. Standard iPad2, not jailbroken.

    Thank you!

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