Apple ads new don't-purge, don't-back-up file store in iOS 5

Apple has announced that, as part of iOS 5.0.1 beta 1, they've added something that should eliminate the problems iOS 5.0 had with purging data -- everything from Instapaper pages to flight charts.

It introduces a new way for developers to specify files that should remain on device, even in low storage situations.

Previously, developers who wanted to keep data cached on the iPhone or iPad but not have it backed up to iTunes -- because it would create a long delay for their users -- put them into temporary storage. With iCloud and iOS 5, however, Apple became much more aggressive about purging data from that temporary storage, leading to users starting apps only to find them empty and their stuff gone. This was especially vexing when on an airplane or otherwise off the data network and the content couldn't just be re-downloaded.

While Apple doesn't always seem to realize the ramifications of their changes, in this case at least they're addressing it quickly. Hopefully this gives the best of both worlds -- persistent, non-critical storage that's there when you want it but doesn't slow down or eat up storage for your backups.

Source: Apple Developer News (opens in new tab)

Rene Ritchie

Rene Ritchie is one of the most respected Apple analysts in the business, reaching a combined audience of over 40 million readers a month. His YouTube channel, Vector, has over 90 thousand subscribers and 14 million views and his podcasts, including Debug, have been downloaded over 20 million times. He also regularly co-hosts MacBreak Weekly for the TWiT network and co-hosted CES Live! and Talk Mobile. Based in Montreal, Rene is a former director of product marketing, web developer, and graphic designer. He's authored several books and appeared on numerous television and radio segments to discuss Apple and the technology industry. When not working, he likes to cook, grapple, and spend time with his friends and family.

  • This was the most irritating thing about ios5 -- seein "Cleaning..." under and icon in springboard and knowing all your downloaded materials were gone. How Apple did not see the real-world ramifications of this decision to users is puzzling. At least they are taking the issue seriously and are looking to correct it in the first available release.
  • I've noticed this with the game Crossfingers- my progress seems to disappear between sessions. Pretty annoying.
  • Is this why lots of apps reload completely far more often now instead of coming back from suspended state?
  • No, if apps are doing that it means you are running low on memory and/or are running too many apps in the background.
    The issue here is when you go to run an app and find all the data is gone. This normally doesn't happen unless the device gets low on storage space. "Low" can be several hundred megabytes.
    I find this mainly happens when installing updates to apps that take up a lot of space since the way that works, is the app is downloaded and then unzipped. So if an app is listed as 250 MB in size in the App Store, it's likely to really be about 400 MB in size unziped and require around 750 MB of free space to install. So if you have 1 GB free and try to update a 250 GB app, it's very likely to trigger the "cleaning" process.
  • Is this why lots of apps reload completely far more often now instead of coming back from suspended state?