Reclaiming iMessage Storage in iOS 7 on iPhone 4

After upgrading to iOS 7, I saw what appeared to be the answer to the question: “What the hell is ‘Other’ storage and how can I get it back?!” In the Settings > General > Usage screen, iOS 7 reported that iMessage storage was consuming 1GB of space on my already small iPhone 4 (8GB). Thing is, I had just cleared every conversation in the messaging app, so the OS was clearly holding onto something it shouldn’t.

After loads of searching, I stumbled upon a thread on MacRumors that described my scenario exactly, and consequently, gave specific directions to remedy it.

Apparently there was a bug between 6.0 an 6.1 that caused attachments to not get deleted when conversations were. It hit me too, I had 900MB left over down from 3GB after clearing all my convo history. If you want to clear all this out without losing any other data, back up your phone to iTunes and use something like iBackupBot or similar to delete everything in HomeDomain/Library/SMS and MediaDomain/Library/SMS in your backup and then erase and restore your phone with this edited backup (make sure you make a copy of the backup before you do this in case something fails with the backup editor).”

User Stratus Fear should be credited for this one, as they provided the solution to the issue on June 25th, several months before the public release of iOS 7.

The procedure:

1. Make a backup of your iPhone via iTunes 2. Snag a trial copy of iBackupBot
3. Open iBackupBot and create a duplicate of the most recent backup (this is only a CYA measure)
4. Navigate to the System Files > MediaDomain > Library > SMS > Attachments directory and delete all contents
5. Navigate to the System Files > HomeDomain > Library > SMS > Attachments directory and remove all contents from here, as well
6. Connect your iPhone to computer and restore your phone from Backup
7. Make a new backup that’s now free of garbage
8. Done!

This process took no more than 20 minutes from initial backup to restore and successfully reclaimed over 1GB (nearly 16% of its capacity!) of space on my iPhone 4. My oldest files in the Attachments directory were from September 2012, which might be an indication of when the bug arrived. In any case, this is no longer an issue. Screenshots below are for reference. 

Thanks, Stratus Fear!