"Low disk space" error with third-party iPhone apps, fix

"Low disk space" error with third-party iPhone apps, fix

Ben Wilson
2 min read

If you're using an iPhone running software/firmware 1.1.2 or iPod Touch and have installed several third-party applications, you may begin receiving an error message that states "Warning: You are running out of disk space. Please delete some photos or videos," even though there is still significant storage space on the device.

Here's what's actually happening: the iPhone (or iPod Touch) places a low, artificial size limit on its /Applications directory, which is reached after installing a number of third-party apps. In order to get around this problem, you need to store your Applications in the Media directory, where much more space is allocated. To do so, follow this process: Warning: If you don't type these commands exactly, you may put your iPhone in a state where it repeatedly reboots, potentially forcing a restore or interaction via SSH (discussed at the end of these instructions):

  1. Make sure you have at least 500 MB of free space on your iPhone/iPod Touch (via the indicator on iTunes).
  2. Through Installer.app, download and install "Term-vt100," and "BSD Subsystem" located in the "System" category (if you don't have enough space to install Term-vt100, delete some applications temporarily).
  3. Launch Term-vt100 from your SpringBoard (home screen).
  4. Type the following commands exactly on your iPhone's keyboard, paying particular attention to spacing and capitalization, and press return after each:
    1. cd /
    2. cp -pr Applications /var/root
    3. mv Applications Applications.old
    4. ln -s private/var/root/Applications /Applications
  5. Your Applications should now be stored in the Media (/var/root) directory. You can check this by typing the commands:
    1. cd /
    2. ls -la
  6. Among the listed entries, you should see something like the following:
  7. rwxr-xr-x 1 root admin [...] Applications -> private/var/root/Applications
  8. This shows that your /Applications directory is symlinked to /private/var/root/Applications
  9. Now restart your iPhone or iPod Touch. If everything works normally, launch Term-vt100 again and enter the following commands to delete your old Applications folder:
    1. cd /
    2. rm -rf Applications.old
  10. If something goes wrong, and your iPhone/iPod Touch repeatedly reboots or there are no icons on the SpringBoard, do one of the following:
  11. SSH into your device (if you have OpenSSH installed -- see "Manually installing applications" on our Applications page for more information on how to SSH into your device) and re-enter this command: ln -s private/var/root/Applications /Applications
  12. Restore your iPhone/iPod Touch using iTunes and try again (third-party applications will be lost).

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