This sounds a lot like a corrupt backup. The other has been growing, and I would say it has grown beyond the iPhones size and your only option is to restore the iPhone as new.
However, good news does exist. There is a program which can grab your contacts, messages, calendar, voicemails, and notes directly from the backup. Pictures look a litle harder.
If you download this program http://www.macroplant.com/iexplorer/
This program is also recommended on OSX daily and is one of the very few programs which will let you transfer music from your iPhone to your computer.
For your purposes here though, it is going to be the best solution.
You said " - space that stayed full despite deleting almost all data from the phone"
Did you MANUALLY delete the data from your phone, or did you go to
General > Reset > Erase all Content and Settings ??
Anyway - I've seen this problem with the "Other" file getting very large - up to 20 GB. It was VIDEOS stored on the phones hard drive - NOT in the Camera Roll, but by another third party app. Deleting the app (it was VLC) deleted all of the data associated with it - in this case many many videos that had been viewed on web sites.
That being said - It's easy to check on your phone to see which apps are using up the most space in your memory:
Go To: Settings > General > Usage
This page lists all of the apps that are on your phone,and shows you how much space each is using. It shows 10 apps, and at the bottom of the list is an option to "Show all Apps." In addition, they are listed in order of the amount of storage space they are using.
If you select each individual app by clicking on the ">" beside it, the next page shows the info for just that app, including the name, version, App size, and amount of storage space used by Documents and Data associated with it. You also have the option there to Delete the App.
You, however, will have to check the backup you created to see where all the data is. Ogen23 recommeded iexplorer to retrieve your contacts etc. But if you want to know where all the data was I personally like iBackupBot. Check it out at http://www.icopybot.com/itunes-backup-manager.htm
You can download it as a trial version. When using it you will see a nag screen asking you to Register the product, with the Option to "CANCEL" or "OK". Clicking CANCEL closes the nag screen and shows you the data you want to see.
Thanks to both Ogen23 and Dianes Logic for you advice. It got me on the right track. Using iBackupBot, I was able to inspect the files in the iPhone backup, and found all the "Other" files were SMS (text) message attachments. We send a lot of video attachments with the phone. Despite deleting all message history, iOS still retains the attachments. There's no way to delete them, and in our case we ended up with 30 GB of attachments which we could not access or delete (without jailbreaking the phone).
In Settings > General > Usage, it shows the total amount of storage space used, but the amount used by the apps listed does not add to anywhere near the total used.
The backup wasn't corrupted, but I couldn't restore the phone from it because it really was larger than the phone's total memory (32 GB). iBackupBot does not allow you to delete files from a backup, but it does let you export the file and edit it. In my case, I exported the largest SMS attachments, replaced them with an empty file (with the same filename), and imported the now empty files back into the backup. I was then able to restore from the backup.
I did a little research on the web, and found other people who have had the same problem (see this thread, for example). In short, there's an iOS bug that's been around for a while that leaks the memory of all the iMessage or SMS attachment you receive. Even if you delete these messages, it never deletes the attachments or frees that memory.
Actually, you CAN use iBackupBot to delete files.
In the case of SMS Attachments (I agree, this is a bug) , using iBackupBot:
1. Open the Media Folder (looks like a film strip)
2. Click on the Export icon
3. The Dialog box title "Export Media Files" appears, and lists the 5 file types that are in the Media Folder (Camera Roll, Multimedia Messages, Voice Memos, Voicemails, and Others)
4. Co-incidentally, the first four are checked by default, but Others is not. The SMS Attachments happen to be in the "Others" Folder !
5. Uncheck everything else, and Check Others.
6. Export the Files to a New Folder you have created for this purpose (I always put it on the Desktop for easy access later)
7. Now, open the Folder on the desktop, and delete files at will !
8. Close the Media Browser in iBackupBot.
9. Select the "Import files that exported before" icon in the Menu Bar.
10. Select your folder that you deleted the SMS from.
11. Now, you can restore your phone using the backup without all the SMS attachment in it.
I use iBackBot almost daily. Fabulous program. Although you already found a workaround, the next time you want to clean up the Other from your phone, you can refer to this.
Glad to have been of assistance.
Thanks again Diana. Your instructions will make it easier next time. The user interface and documentation of iBackupBot leave a lot to be desired, but I couldn't find any other apps that are able to accomplish the same thing. I would love it if they had a "remove from backup" option within iBackupBot, which didn't require you to export the file first. I think I'll go ahead and register it because they definitely saved me more than $20 worth of grief.
In my case, there were thousands of attachments I wanted to delete. Replacing each one with a blank file manually would have been time prohibitve, so I wrote a simple AppleScript to go through and replace each of the media files with a blank text document of the same name. I wish I had thought of just deleting the files (and leaving the associated ".info" files in place). Deleting the files should be easy enough to do manually, by sorting the folder contents by file type.
Hi Dianes Logic,
I m somewhat in a similar situation where Im trying to restore my iphone and the Itunes backup size has mysteriously increased to a size too big to restore to my iphone. I m trying to get rid of some large video files in my backup which were there in my camera roll at the time the backup was done. I do not have any attachments to get rid of and I ve never setup my email or mms on my phone. So i thought getting rid of a large video file would do the trick .
I followed what you said till step 8(except that I selected 'Camera Roll') but then when I 'Select the "Import files that exported before" on the menu bar' I am only able to select a .info file for some reson and not a media folder as you said. Is there something Im doing wrong .
Also could you please advise me if Im in the right direction as all I want to achieve is to be able to restore from an older backup which I m not able to do as itunes gives me the error ' there is not enough space on your iphone'. So I thought removing a 1.7 gb video file from the backup would help.
It sounds like you're on the right track. You're correct that iBackupBot will only import ".info" files. iBackupBot will create the ".info" file for you for each of the files you export, but apparently it doesn't do so if you use "Export Media Files". These instructions should work:
1. In iBackupBot, select "Browse and Export Media Files"
2. Select "Camera Roll", find the video file you want to delete, and remember its Path
3. Close the Media Browser window, and return to the main iBackupBot window
4. Select your backup in this window, and scroll down to the video file you want to delete. If you sort the files by Path, it should be easy to find the one you're looking for
5. Check the box next to the file path, to select this file
6. Select "Export" from the iBackupBot menu (note, this is different than "Browse and Export Media Files")
7. Select "Export Only Checked Files" and also "Export with Backup Information, for Import to Another Backup". This tells iBackupBot to create the ".info" file for you.
8. In the Finder, open the folder where you exported the file. You should see both the video file, and also another file with the same name, but which ends in ".info"
9. Delete the video file, leave the ".info" file in place
10. In iBackupBot, select "Import", and select the ".info" file
If it works, the video file should be removed from your backup, and you should now be able to restore without it.
Thanks for the reply crimsonium123
I was able to replace the 1.7gb file with your instructions with another 100mb file(i could not just delete the file as it said it could not find the path when i tried to import it back selecting the .info file)so i just put the 100 mb file in the folder that the 1.7gb file was and renamed it and then imported it.Then I tried to restore the iphone directly through ibackupbot and got the error (-36)(same error I was getting before making any changes to the backup).The phone acted just like it does with itunes saying 'restore in progress' for 5 seconds and then reebooting itself. Could not find any info on the error so i just made the changes to the original backup and tried to restore through itunes and still got the not enough space error.I replaced about 5gb with these 5 files of 100mb each which should have freed up 4.5gb but still got the error..
I seem to be able to edit the backup but still failing at the last restore step for some reason.
thanks again for your help.
sorry - I didn't get around to reading your message - but crimsoniums reply was correct . My apologies for getting those instructions wrong. That works for SOME files - but crimsoniums method is a better solution.
THAT being said - if you navigate to your Backup folder, select the Backup that has the offending file in it, and then "Sort by Size" - you should have no problem finding the offending file.
This very thing happened to me once. I have a file that was over 5 GB. So - what I did was create another folder in the MobileSync directory (named it "5 GB file from Oct 20 Backup") and drug that sucker into it. Just in case it IS something I want to hang on to.
So now it was no longer in the Backup. I restored my phone using the Backup MINUS THAT BIG FILE. It worked. You could give it a shot. A work of caution. I ALWAYS create 2 backups before performing such tasks. I also change the names of the Backup Files for easier reference at a later date. (Dianes iPhone - Feb 12 - 8 AM).
And thanks, crimsonium, for handling that!
I am having this same problem with my wife's iPhone 5. We had to have it replaced due to a cracked screen so I ran one final backup before heading to the Apple store. Once we got the new phone and tried to restore the backup, it kept telling us the backup is too large to be restored.
I've downloaded iBackupBot and found the same problem... her phone had accumulated over 15 GB of SMS attachment files!
Where I'm having trouble, though, is actually getting them off of the backup. I can't seem to get it to work how it has been explained here.
If I export the files to a folder, then delete the original files but keep the .info files to import back into iBackupBot, then the application doesn't let me import it back because it says the original file does not exist.
So I tried exporting the files and keeping them in the folder whilst importing the .info files back into iBackupBot. The import went fine, but it seems as though the original files still exist in the backup, unedited.
crimsonium123, what was the Applescript you used to fix your problem? This is the only thing I have not yet tried from this thread because I have never done it before so I don't know how.
We have thousands of pictures and video of our 10 month old daughter on this backup that we are dying to get back onto my wife's iPhone. However, these 15 GB of SMS attachment files are keeping this from happening! I envy any more advice on how to remedy this situation.
You can use the process you described, but instead of just deleting the original files, you need to delete them and replace them with a smaller file. An easy, manual process by which to do this is to use an empty text file. Open Text Edit, then save a blank document. Copy (duplicate) this blank file, and move it to the folder with your exported backups. Delete one of the original backup files, and give the text document the same filename. Repeat this for each original file. When you're done, you should be able to import all the files back into you backup, except they'll all now be small, empty files.
The AppleScript I wrote does this process automatically (replaces each file with an empty text document). I had to write the script because I didn't want to spend hours replacing thousands of files one by one.