Every week, a lot of users ask what “Other” is on iPhone. There's only one reason why users would be concerned about an obscurely-named tag: because it eats up a lot of storage space on your iPhone (or iPad, iPod touch).
“Other” data often runs into several hundred MBs (and in some cases some GBs). On a 16GB device, that can be really bad. And even if you're using a 32GB variant, if “Other” occupies a few GBs, that's worrisome. We'll get around to removing the “Other” but for those that really want to understand what it is, here's some primer.
There's a lot of data on your iPhone. If you go about categorizing them, it can be summed up into a few. That's what iTunes does when it shows you the visualization.
There's media data (which is usually the most voluminous). This includes Audio, Video, Photos.
Then there's apps. The app data is usually the size of all the apps (and not the data they store.)
And then there's “Other”.
What is “Other” on iPhone?
If media and apps are already accounted for, what's left is the other data. This means every other little data that is on your iPhone: Messages, Calendar, Mail, Maps, photo meta-data or cache or edits, data stored by apps as “Documents & Data” etc. The list is long, and we're not quite sure what more fits in but almost every data that's native to iPhone (excluding media) and stored on the iPhone by the apps is inside “Other”.
Most notably, a large percentage of this data comes from attachments. Your iMessage threads (or MMSs) have a lot of media. A similar thing happens with your Mail app. All this adds up and occupies a lot of space (categorized as “Other”.)
But most of the time, the “Other” data should only be a few MBs (think of double-digits). When it hits more, it means it's time to clean up.
“Other” on iPhone Can be Problem
If you have a lot of apps, and a lot of media (photos, videos), having a lot of storage space lost to this other data can be a problem. Your iPhone will routinely run out of space, it might slow down drastically and any copy/transfer/sync process would take too long to complete.
Also, a lot of “Other” can prevent you from using your camera smoothly. Besides affecting the general performance of the iPhone, it will also end up affecting camera's ability to store photos you click. Pretty soon, your iPhone will tell you there's no space left.
Removing “Other” data on iPhone
Removing this data is a rewarding experience but it can sometimes eat up a lot of your time and can take a few trials. Most importantly, there are many things you'll need to try to remove this data.
Check out: How to Remove “Other” data from iPhone
Also note that if you've got a lot of cache (Safari, Messages, Mail) etc., it would mean that you'll have to reset them to clear this data. iOS 8 aims to solve the data pile up through Messages by clearing out media shared via iMessages routinely. Nevertheless, the data pile-up is slightly inevitable and only solvable through routine clearing up.
Be sure to check out our other post on how to remove the other, uncategorized data from your iPhone. Here's some basic tips.
#1. Clear out Message threads occasionally
#2. Reset your Mail frequently (delete account and re-add)
#3. Clear history and cache on Safari regularly
#4. Take a backup and do a complete restore of your iPhone (this usually works like a charm in clearing much of “Other” data.)