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Reclaim storage space on your iOS device with PhoneClean

Submit your iPhone or iPad to a cleansing with this free Windows app and you can keep your apps and media content while freeing up valuable disk space.

It was with great skepticism that I approached PhoneClean. I received an e-mail from the developer, iMobie, claiming that this free Windows app would magically allow me to reclaim storage space on my iPhone and iPad without jailbreaking and without deleting any apps or photos, videos, music, or other media content. As iMobie explained it, PhoneClean works its magic by removing long-term caches, cookies, and temporary and junk files generated by many apps or the result of failed iTunes syncs.

It sounded too good to be true.

However, since I have the smallest capacity iPhone 4S and iPad 2 and install many apps each week in an attempt to bring you, dear reader, reports on how to use the latest and greatest and most helpful apps, I am always up against the limit. Thus, I submitted my iPad to the mercy of PhoneClean.

Screenshot by Matt Elliott/CNET

PhoneClean is available only for Windows, so Mac users looking to give it a whirl will need to find a friend's PC. I sync my iPad with iTunes on a MacBook Pro, but I was able to use PhoneClean on a Windows 7 laptop I have in house for another assignment without needing to sign into iTunes. (You need iTunes installed, however.) After connecting my iPad and launching PhoneClean, I was presented with a simple three-step process: connect, scan, clean.

Screenshot by Matt Elliott/CNET

PhoneClean recognized my iPad and how much free disk space remained: only 668MB. Before clicking the big blue Start Scan button, you may wonder about the check box below for "I'd like to keep off-line files." If you check this box, you might as well not use PhoneClean, at least in my experience. These offline files are apparently what PhoneClean seeks to eradicate. I checked the box and after scanning my iPad, PhoneClean reported a cleaning would save me exactly zero bytes. (I scanned my iPhone with the box checked, and it found two files from the Huffington Post app that would save me a whopping 49KB.) With the box unchecked on my iPad, I would save 357MB. Granted, that's not a ton of disk space, but it's more than half of the remaining space I have left, so I hit the Clean button.

Screenshot by Matt Elliott/CNET

Since its digital colonic, my iPad appears to be operating normally. My iPhone is too valuable to me to submit it to a PhoneClean cleaning, but if my iPad doesn't sprout horns this week or exhibit other odd behaviors, I might give it a go on my iPhone the next time I see this message:

Screenshot by Matt Elliott/CNET

Have you tried PhoneClean? If so, please report any problems with the app below in the comments. PhoneClean success stories, too, are welcomed.

Before we part, allow me one last word of advice: it's never a bad idea to back up your iOS device before letting a largely unknown application such as PhoneClean get its hooks into it.