For most of my life, I never imagined I’d ever HAVE eight gigabytes of flash-based storage on a phone I carried around in my pocket, much less consider that ridiculously HUGE amount of memory paltry and insufficient. My how quickly things can change! This is the relative allocation of memory space on my iPhone this evening after a recent sync, showing space used by music, photos, videos, applications, and “other” stuff:
Does anyone have a recommendation for how much free space to leave available on an iPhone or other smart phone? The rule of thumb I’ve always heard for “regular” computer hard drives is ten percent of the total storage capacity. Computers need space for scratch disks and other purposes, I’ve learned, and leaving enough free memory space is critical for the computer to operate at its top potential speed. I don’t know if the same goes for iPhones and other smart phones, however. They ARE computers, after all, but flash-based free memory rules may be different than those for spinning hard disks.
I couldn’t readily find an article on the official Apple iPhone support site which addressed this. iPhoneHacks makes the same 10 percent rule of thumb suggestion, but does not support or back up the recommendation with rationale or cited experts. The first and only commenter on CNET’s iPhone Atlas blog post “Reminder: Keep some free space on your iPhone” from August 2007 questions the logic and necessity of keeping 10 percent of the iPhone’s memory free, writing:
I also think that if leaving some free space was so critical to normal iPhone operation that Apple would have made it clear to the user (via the manual and software prompts) that they should do so. Heck, if it was so critical, why wouldn’t they just have left a section of the disk reserved for things like cache, separate from the space that the user uses for videos, music, and photos? In fact, they may have done this — we don’t know. It just seems odd that they would not do one or the other of these things, since with the iPod we don’t have to worry about leaving a certain percentage of the disk empty, and they would know that people would want to fit as much in their limited storage space as they possibly could.
In short, I’m not convinced that the commonly accepted practices for OS X computers apply to the iPhone. You probably shouldn’t fill it absolutely full, but do we have any actual input from Apple or hard proof that a certain amount of space needs to be left empty?
I also question the idea that 10 percent of an iPhone’s memory should be left free. The overall memory of my iPhone is 8 GB, but as you can see in the above graphic iTunes shows just over 7 GB to be available. Where is the missing gigabyte? I’m thinking scratch disk space is included in that space.
I have had instances where my iPhone acted sluggishly or did weird things, but in every case a quick restart seemed to do the trick and return performance speeds back to “normal.”
Do you have insights or experiences to share relative to this question of free space left available on an iPhone or other smart phone?
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