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Monday, July 1, 2013

Memory Allocation on iPhone

I received this question from a faithful reader:

I use an iPhone 4S for my company phone. I get tons of voicemails everyday and soon it will say I've used all of my memory. So now, everyday, I delete all of my voicemails and clear them from the "deleted messages." So my question is, does the iPhone have only a set amount of memory to hold voicemails? Or is it shared through everything? I only have 300 pictures on this phone so I'm confused as to why 20 voicemails take all of my memory.

I did not know the answer to this one, so I was very happy to do some research and see what I could find. After reading through lots of different discussions it was still unclear to me why you might be having this problem. I did learn a few things:

1.  It doesn't seem that the iPhone has an allocation system like you may be used to on your computer. There is basically one pot of memory for all of the things that are on your phone. What your phone does have is a way of showing you what is taking up the memory. This is not an allocation, but just a reflection of what is there. To see it plug your phone into your computer and go to iTunes. Click on your phone which should be listed on the left side of the screen.

2. As was stated in my earlier blog post there are ways to delete and clear out most of the items that take up memory on your phone. See this post for more information.

3. Pictures can take up different amounts of memory depending on what resolution they are saved at. If you go to Settings - Photos and Camera at the bottom of the screen you will see that there is an on off switch for "Keep Normal Photo" The pictures on the phone are HDR (High Dynamic Range) and so you have a choice to save the normal image as well as the HDR image. Depending on which iPhone you have the pictures can take up different amounts of memory. The newer the phone, the larger the picture files.

4. The one thing that you have no control over is "Other". This mysterious category includes things like the operating system itself and other secret items that make it work. If  the Other category gets higher than 1 Gig it may mean that you have some corruption in your OS. The articles that I read recommended that you do a hard reset on your phone which will start the phone out fresh and should correct the problem. If you do this make sure that you have downloaded all of your pictures and music to iTunes and iPhoto or whatever photo program you use. That way you can put them back on your phone if you want them to be there. Here are the steps
  • Back up all of the items on your iPhone or iPad to iTunes or iPhoto. All of your apps and purchases are already kept in a record in iTunes so you can download them again easily. 
  • Hold down the On/Off Button (on the top of the iPhone) and the Home Button (on the front bottom of the iPhone with the square on it) for a long time until the phone completely goes blank. 
  • Wait for a minute or so and then hold the on off button for a long time. Your phone should start up. It may be back to the way it was in the very beginning in which case you will have to download the items you still want on your phone. 
  • Check your memory categories by following the directions above to see if it has resolved the problems with the amount of space Other was taking.

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