iPad Memory Capacity – Explaining Missing Gigabytes (GB) & “Other” Stored Content

A short time ago I posted directions for how to see which apps are taking up the most memory on your iPad. While checking this information, you may have noticed the reported capacity of your iPad is less than the memory size (GB) of the model you purchased. So where are those missing gigabytes?

Computers are binary and use a base 2 system of measurement.
Our more common decimal system is base 10.
From a consumer standpoint 1000KB=1MB and 1000MB=1GB.
However, it’s actually 1024KB=1MB and 1024MB=1GB.

Your iPad is actually computing the real amount of memory using binary, not the common decimal quantity. The difference between how the binary and decimal systems calculate a gigabyte (GB) explains the discrepancy in the capacity of your iOS device. So my 32 GB iPad shows just 29 GB of capacity. Nothing is “missing” so no need to be concerned about the difference.

You may also have noticed a category called Other when checking the contents of your iPad. We can understand the memory taken up by music, photos, videos, books and apps. Just what is this Other  content category?  Other is contacts, calendar events, notes, email stored locally, as well as data created and stored on the iPad by apps. The system software (iOS) also requires a small part of the available storage capacity. The general range for most folks is between 1% and 5% of your capacity. I’m on the high side but I’m satisfied with my number given how I use my iPad. I’ve cleaned up my content considerably since this measurement and my Other category did drop a bit.

If the Other category keeps growing for some unexplained reason or you suspect it is larger than it should be, try restarting or resetting your iPad. First make sure you have a recent backup. Then visit this post for directions on how to restart or reset your iPad. Now sync your iPad. You may see a drop in the memory consumed by the Other category.

About Andy Brovey

Dr. Andy Brovey, The Portable Prof, teaches about digital tools through his work, websites and social media. In 2007, Apple Inc. recognized his work and named him an Apple Distinguished Educator. He started this iPad Academy website shortly after the first iPad went on sale. On his Freelance Teaching site you'll find the resources you need to teach like a smart entrepreneur.