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iOS tips: What to do when you run out of storage on your iPhone or iPad

Running out of space on your iPhone or iPad? Here are tips and tricks to help your free up precious gigabytes.

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Topic: iPhone
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When you buy a new iPhone or iPad, the storage feels like it might be close to limitless. But start adding apps, content, and throw in a few photos and videos, and it quickly begins to feel small and poky.

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Cloud storage is your best friend

Whether that be iCloud, Dropbox, Box, Google Drive, OneDrive or whatever else takes your fancy, every megabyte you can move to the cloud is a megabyte saved.

Wireless external storage
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Wireless external storage

Imagine a USB flash drive that you can wirelessly connect to and access the data on it?

You're thinking of SanDisk's Connect Wireless Stick. This is a flash drive -- with capacities ranging from 16GB to 256GB -- that has built-in Wi-Fi connectivity and battery, allowing you to access the data when you're out and about.

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Stream, don't store

If you have the bandwidth to handle streaming music, video, and the like, then this is another great way to save on storage. The flipside is that if you don't have unlimited internet access, streaming over broadband or cellular can get expensive.

Head over to Settings > iTunes & App Stores and disable Automatic Downloads for the various media options.

You have to choose -- spend money on bandwidth or on storage. It's your choice.

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Get your photos under control

A simple way to free up a lot of storage space is to put your photos on iCloud. If you have a lot of photos then you'll have to pay for more than the free 5GB of iCloud storage everyone gets, but it's cheaper than buying a new iPhone or iPad (50GB of iCloud storage is $0.99).

Go to Settings > Photos and enable iCloud Photo Library. While you're there, enabling Optimize iPhone Storage can also help free up storage.

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Use external storage

Did you know that you can extend your iPhone or iPad storage without having to resort to a screwdriver? The simplest option is an external flash drive, such as the Naztech Xtra Drive Mini which allows you to turn the Lightning port on you iPhone or iPad into a microSD card slot, allowing you to offload photos, videos and other documents onto cheap microSD cards.

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Tame your video

Unless you're Steven Spielberg, you don't need to be recording high-quality video.

Go to Settings > Camera, tap the Record Video option and switch to 1080p/30fps or even 720p.

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Rely on stock apps

Get used to using Mail, Calendar, Safari and such. These are already on your device, and deleting them doesn't free up much in the way of storage space so you might as well make use of them. Anything else you download is just going to consume precious megabytes.

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Delete unnecessary apps

Get rid of any apps that you don't use. If there's something you only use occasionally then remember that you can always redownload it from the Apple App Store.

To delete an app, press and hold on the icon on the Home screen until an X appears above the icons, then tap it to delete the app.

iOS 11 has the ability to save you space by automatically deleting unused apps when you're low on storage while keeping any data they contain safe. To enable this feature go to Settings > General > iPhone Storage and enable Offload Unused Apps.

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Audit your storage

Go to Settings > General > iPhone Storage to see what's eating your storage. You might find some real surprises here (for example, innocuous things such as stored iMessage messages can eat up a crazy amount of space).

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