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I'm trying to restore my iPhone from backup (because my kid did accidentally deleted an app with a lot of important data). The process could not be completed due to low disk space. I have freed some space and tried again, only to fail again.

Now there is again no disk space left. It seems like the "Restore from Backup..." option in iTunes extracts the backup somewhere on disk, but when it fails, it does not clean up after itself. How can I reclaim this space (on Mac)? How much free space is required to restore 32GB iPhone 4 from backup?

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up vote 3 down vote accepted

How much space do you have left on your drive? IIRC you can delete backups by going to iTunes - Preferences - Devices

Also, the backup files themselves are stored in: /Users/username/Library/Application Support/MobileSync/Backup

You should be safe to delete old ones you don't need anymore, only keeping the one with the newest modification time.

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I've already deleted older backups via 'Preferences > Devices', only to gain about 1GB. Deleting 'MobileSync/Backup' is what other online sources suggested - seems totally unsafe to me. Do you know where exactly iTunes unpacks the backup data before restore? – Palimondo May 6 '11 at 21:10
You're absolutely right, that would delete all of your backups. I never created an iPhone backup here so I can't verify this but the folder should contain several backup files (if you actually have multiple backups). But try the listing option of iTunes first. See if there are old ones you don't need, because you only want to restore from the newest one, right? – slhck May 6 '11 at 21:12
Originally it ate all my free space. I've located two folders with today's date in MobileSync/Backup with times corresponding to my restore attempts. I've also identified the yesterday's backup I'm trying to restore, so I feel safe to remove the failed ones. Fingers crossed. – Palimondo May 6 '11 at 21:28
Do you have an external disk that you could put the backups onto, just in case? Always have a backup of a backup when it's critical. Again, I'd suggest you to remove the unneeded backups from iTunes. Don't blame me if something goes wrong :P – slhck May 6 '11 at 21:36
OK, it worked fine. Also before attempting restore I've restarted my mac, which did free up some more disk space. I've also learned to delete largest offenders under ~/Library/Caches. I've measured them with Disk Inventory X. – Palimondo May 6 '11 at 23:54

iTunes creates a copy of the backup and uses that to do the restore. On a 16GB iPhone that is mostly full you can see the insanity of this on a small hard drive.

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Before poking around, I would restart your computer — this generally clears out temporary files.

If that fails, it’s most likely that iTunes keeps its working data in a temporary folder in /var/folders. Generally your user has access to one of the subfolders in there, and there, in the -Caches- and -Tmp- folders, you’ll find applications’ temporary storage.

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