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Ask the iTunes Guy: When is it better to store apps and music in the cloud?

Kirk McElhearn | Sept. 22, 2014
Recent news is dominated by the iPhone 6 and iOS 8, but not everything in the Apple universe revolves around its latest releases. I have three burning questions in this week's column that may interest iTunes users regardless of which devices they use. I look at a question about deleting all the apps in an iTunes library, discuss setting up iTunes Match and then deleting all your locally stored music, and look at a way to catch up on old episodes of podcasts.

Recent news is dominated by the iPhone 6 and iOS 8, but not everything in the Apple universe revolves around its latest releases. I have three burning questions in this week's column that may interest iTunes users regardless of which devices they use. I look at a question about deleting all the apps in an iTunes library, discuss setting up iTunes Match and then deleting all your locally stored music, and look at a way to catch up on old episodes of podcasts.

Should I delete all my apps?

Q: I'm considering deleting all the apps from my iTunes library and removing the huge Mobile Applications folder in my iTunes Media folder. That folder and its contents take up a whopping 22 GB and I can't see the point of having it around. If I want to add an app that I've already purchased, I search for it on the App Store or go to the Purchased tab. I never sync apps through iTunes and I only update apps in iTunes occasionally. As the iTunes Guy, what do you think?

After receiving this question, I checked my Mobile Applications folder — that's where iTunes stores iOS apps — and, at 24 GB, found it was even larger than yours. But there's no way I'm going to delete it.

The main factor to consider here is your Internet bandwidth. I have a pokey 2 Mbps connection (plus a faster satellite connection, but which has a monthly quota), so while you may be able to re-download apps quickly, I can't. If you have so much bandwidth that it's not an issue, then, by all means, save the disk space (especially if you're using a Mac with low-capacity SSD).

If your Internet speed is moderate but not outstanding, you should also consider the number of devices you use. I have four iOS devices: an iPhone 5s (soon to be replaced by an iPhone 6), an iPad Air, an iPad mini, and an iPod touch. Downloading one copy of an app in iTunes allows me to sync it to all four devices. Downloading it to all these devices takes time. Most people don't have four iOS devices, but even if you have two, you may want to think carefully about how much time you can save by having apps in iTunes and then syncing.

Finally, there's the out-of-sight-out-of-mind principle. It's easy to obtain apps and delete them from your device because you need the extra space or their features don't currently interest you. If you interact with the App Store only on your iOS device, you might forget these apps entirely. Keep them in iTunes and you have the option to browse and update everything you've ever purchased. An app's particularly beneficial update may compel you to give it a second look.

 

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