Want CNET to notify you of price drops and the latest stories?

PhoneClean 2.0 reclaims storage space on your iOS device

The newly updated utility is now available for both Windows and Mac, and it offers more granular control over what gets cleaned.

Rick Broida Senior Editor
Rick Broida is the author of numerous books and thousands of reviews, features and blog posts. He writes CNET's popular Cheapskate blog and co-hosts Protocol 1: A Travelers Podcast (about the TV show Travelers). He lives in Michigan, where he previously owned two escape rooms (chronicled in the ebook "I Was a Middle-Aged Zombie").
Rick Broida
3 min read
Screenshot by Rick Broida/CNET

Feeling the storage crunch on your iPhone, iPod Touch, or iPad? A free utility may be able to help.

Last summer, CNET's Matthew Elliott took iMobie's PhoneClean for a test drive. The utility provides a "digital colonic" (Matt's words), cleansing any iOS device of useless and unnecessary files that might be consuming valuable space.

However, Matt wasn't willing to subject his iPhone 4S to PhoneClean's mysterious ministrations, only his iPad.


As the braver, dumber, blogger, I decided to let the newly updated PhoneClean 2.0 do its thing on my iPhone 4S. And you know what? It works, though don't expect miracles -- at best you might reclaim around a gigabyte of space.

Of course, if your device has only 16GB or even 8GB of storage, that might be a big deal. And regardless of how much storage you have, if you're running out of it, any extra space you can free up is welcome indeed.

PhoneClean scours internal memory in search of temp files, cached and offline files, cookies, script files, and "other" junk, which can get left behind by failed iTunes syncs. In version 2.0 (which has a redesigned UI and is also available for Mac), the program lets you review each and every item it finds and decide whether or not you want to delete it.

Here's what PhoneClean found on my iPhone 4S.
Here's what PhoneClean found on my iPhone 4S. Screenshot by Rick Broida/CNET

After a scan lasting several minutes (the developer reports that this version is actually slower because it scans deeper into iOS), PhoneClean reported it could free up around 840MB of space on my iPhone 4S. Most of this was found in "Cache and Off-line Files," which gave me pause. So I clicked the Detail button for that category, revealing a lengthy list of pretty much every app installed on my phone.

Looking over that list, I got to wondering: Why was Jetpack Joyride retaining 43.56MB of files? And what was Flixster doing with 22.97MB? Facebook alone was sucking up 74MB. There didn't seem to be any harm in letting PhoneClean, well, clean apps like these. However, I disabled the Cookie and Script Files category (which amounted to all of 254K), because I didn't want to risk the hassle of having to sign back into apps like Groupon and Netflix.

Still, iMobie makes this promise: "To create free space on your iPhone, PhoneClean will not endanger your Apps (data & progress), music, movies, photos or other useful content." And because I'd just synced my iPhone with iTunes (that is, I'd backed it up), I gritted my teeth and clicked Clean Up.

The process took longer than I expected -- about 10 minutes. Afterward I checked various important apps; everything seemed normal. The Kindle app returned to where I left off in my book, Facebook behaved normally, and Flixster seemed no worse for the wear. RunKeeper still had all my activities. Dropbox seemed to have lost track of its tally of uploaded camera photos (showing hundreds left to be uploaded instead of just the latest dozen or so), but after a few minutes it corrected itself.

So in the end, I encountered no problems to speak of. (Your mileage may vary, of course.) If I had, I could easily restore my backup. So I'd say if you're strapped for storage on your iDevice, PhoneClean is definitely worth a try. And you can't beat the price: It's free!