Dear Lifehacker, Can you tell me why in iTunes, under my iPhone summary, there is 1.1GB used by 'other'? I can understand app, music, photos but don't know what the 'other' option is and why it is using my precious 1.1GB of space. Can I do anything about that? I have only 16GB so I want to use it for something useful! Thanks, Space Challenged
The answer to this is twofold: part of that space is taken up by iOS, the operating system running on your iPhone. While your phone has 16GB of memory in purely physical terms, it still needs an operating system to actually do anything. That takes up space, and there's no way of reclaiming it.
However, that's not the only data in 'other' — it often contains save files and temporary files created by apps, and some of that isn't needed long-term. Sometimes you can reclaim this space by doing a sync with iTunes; in other cases, you may have to go through a full backup and restore process. (Remember, if you're doing a restore, make sure you do a backup first to make sure you don't lose data.)
In our screenshot, you can see other taking up 0.77GB, so you probably do have a little space to regain following this method. It's not guaranteed, but it's worth a try.
Note this isn't invariably the case with mobile phones: many Android models have storage on SD cards which is quite separate from the on-board memory where the OS resides. But for the iPhone — a device which doesn't let you alter or upgrade the storage in any way — the onboard memory is always going to be partially consumed by iOS, and that will comprise a bigger percentage on smaller-capacity phones. We've offered tips in the past on how to make the most of the space available on your iDevice, and those might be a good place to start if you're running low.
Got your own question you want to put to Lifehacker? Send an email to [email protected], and include 'Ask Lifehacker' in the subject line.