You want a little information? How about a LOT?
I know this is a really long post, so I tried to do my best to bold the main ideas and summarize them towards the end to help those scanning posts and don't really want to read my whole "guide". After previewing it before posting, I realize now that I just made it end up looking like a Zebra, LOL! Oh well, I tried...
Good advice about the photos and movies -- that's very true, your Camera Roll can take up a substantial amount of space, considering each photo can be from, say 500KB for really simple photos, especially ones that are mostly one color and saved as PNG format... on up into the 3-5MB range! Of course, it all depends on how complex the photo is, what format it is saved in, etc... but looking through mine, the average size of a photo tends to be about 2MB. I don't know what the limit is, or if there is one (I know PhotoStream can only hold up to 1,000 before it starts dumping off "oldest, first to go"). Doing the simple math, that means if you have 500 photos on your Camera Roll, at an average size of 2MB each-- that's 1GB of space being taken up by your photos alone! They should already be stored in your PhotoStream, so you can most likely move these off, as mentioned, on a regular basis, yet still have access to them on an on-demand basis via PhotoStream. The exception is video. PhotoStream isn't VideoStream... it makes sense that it only stores your Photos and not your Videos as well. Just be aware of that.
My general rule is this:
If the app is free, and it employs some kind of downloaded or cached content, I set it to OFF. Examples of this would be programs like... an app called Wi-Fi Finder which downloads an offline database of wireless hotspots. The program is free, and the database is constantly updated, and is downloaded on first install anyways, so I have no reason to include this in the backup, because if I lost it somehow... all I have to do is reinstall the app and it'll download the DB again. Another example is ePocrates (great medical app), which does the same thing, downoads its internal DB dynamically and is free. Uncheck.
Another type of program in this class would be RSS readers that cache a ton of RSS feed content... pages/images, etc. Most are pay, but iTunes in the Cloud has taken care of that, so that can probably be safely unchecked.
Next biggest offender for me? Kindle. I have a ton of eBooks, and it's sitting at around 1GB, on its own! This, of course includes other eBook readers like iBooks. As long as you're backing them up somehow, you should be fine to uncheck these, since they can take up a huge chunk.
Third would be apps that you can store files in, internally. Examples here would be GoodReader, Camera+ (photos stored in its LightBox), any voice recorders like the built in one, iTalk is one of my favorites, Dragon Dictation... these store your audio recordings. I found in one of them that somehow in my sleep I had hit record and I had like an 8 or 10 hour recording of me sleeping! I discovered it by accident, but wow... no wonder that app was taking up so much space! Move your recordings that you don't need OFF of the device, just the same as you should with photos and videos.
In fact, if you have it set up properly (or fully, I should say)... your flow should go like this, immediately--
Camera-> Camera Roll-> PhotoStream->Your Computer (via the iCloud control panel thing) and saved to your local computer as a permanent archive.
In doing that, you almost have triple redundancy, since your photos would be stored locally in the Camera Roll, in iCloud on the internet, and also on your desktop or laptop hard drive.
Next in line, let's just face it -- some apps/games themselves are just HUGE. Games are notorious for absolutely decimating your storage space. It goes without saying that you should delete any apps or games especially that you don't use or play anymore. Make sure you have the IPA at least somewhere for absolute security. Whenever I delete something, I go into my "Mobile Applications" folder and find what I'm gonna delete, then ZIP or RAR it and move it to a Backups folder. It will likely stay in iTunes regardless (I'm not positive about that though, that's why I take the backup measure). Failing that, iTunes in the Cloud should give it back to you in the future (if you have full confidence in it). I don't have full confidence in ANYTHING, because I'm jaded, having worked with so many servers and devices that have IRREPLACABLE data... you learn very quickly that there's no such thing as "too much redundancy" i.e. "too many backups").
Finally, go through your settings app and look for any options that define cache sizes, or allow you to flush caches (for instance... Safari or any other web browser will most certainly keep a cache that can possibly take up a good amount of space on your device). Be sure to flush any caches that aren't of vital importance on a regular basis, if not just to free space and keep your device a little cleaner.
So I know that's a lot that I covered, I'll do a quick summary of it for those who are too lazy to read...
- Regularly move photos/movies/audio recordings off of the device to your computer to backup
- Uncheck any free programs that download offline databases, etc which take up a lot of space
- Beware of eBook readers, especially if you have a ton of eBooks! Kindle, iBooks, Nook, etc!
- Delete any apps or games that you no longer use or play, especially games!
- Make sure you're not storing a lot of files in any app's internal storage area
- Clear out any cached/old data that's no longer necessary or reduce their size in the settings if possible
Hope that helps! Just FYI, I'm using 3.5GB of my 5GB. My top five offenders in space consumption?
- Kindle/eBooks in it @ 925MB!
- My photos/camera roll @ 275MB!
- Wi-Fi Finder (which downloads and stores an offline database) @ 100MB.
- iBooks @ 85MB
- My RSS reader @ 75MB
That's not to say that these are set to ON, my rules allow for me to cut some of these off to conserve space, possibly all of them if I took further measures, but I'll do that when I get closer to the borderline... you know... some of you... elbow deep within the borderline... then I'll reconsider.
And for those who don't know how to individually choose what is backed up, if it hasn't been mentioned yet, you get to it by going into Settings->iCloud->Storage & Backup (very bottom, don't hit delete!)->Manage Storage->iPhone. An alternative way is to go Settings->General->Usage-> Manage Storage (under the iCloud section)
Here it will tell you when your latest backup was, what the size of the backup was, what size your NEXT backup will be, and then below that.. you have all of your programs listed with an ON/OFF toggle to whether they are to be included in the backup or not. Make sure you hit "Show All Apps", or you're only going to see the top 5 or so "worst offenders". It's still of value to go through the list and uncheck any programs that you really could do without, especially if they are taking up a decent amount of space. Like for me, the IKEA catalog app. If I lost that... I probably wouldn't even recognize it was missing in the first place, and I surely wouldn't lose sleep over that free app that displays their digital catalog.
The other unchecked ones are apps I should have just deleted instead, rather than just cut off the backup and spared my iPhone some space as well, LOL... maybe I'll put that in my reminders.
Finally (no, this time is for real, haha), in a related point... if you're trying to clear off some space on your actual DEVICE rather than in iCloud, for those who don't know this... again, go to Settings->General->Usage then give it a second to scan all of your apps if you have a lot, and it will show you a listing of all of your installed apps, along with how much space they are taking up on your device. You'll also get a summary of how much free space is left, and how much space is taken up. The app list is naturally in descending order, so apps that are taking up the most space are higher up in the list. Likely for most people, MUSIC is going to be #1 in the list. Please do not screw around here, as you can actually delete MUSIC and I mean your entire music collection on the device in one go, right here. Again, below Music... Kindle is the top bad boy, then a couple of relax/sleep apps with a lot of audio data are top... then "Dictionary" from reference.com (the blue icon one) and right below that, "Dictionary" again (Merriam-Webster, the red icon one -- what?! I like to keep educating myself! Plus the new built-in one really kinda sucks... Shhh! I didn't say that...), Monopoly (got that one free yesterday or so...) and the notorious "Wi-Fi Finder"... which is about to go, I think. I about have them memorized and don't travel much.
(Tip #1: You can actually do this without an extra app; just go into the "Maps" app (the one that comes stock) and just type in the word "Wifi" (verbatim, no dash) in the search. It will show you all nearby Wi-Fi hotspots! Same functionality, just has to use your cellular data a tiny bit.)
(Tip #2: If you tap on any of the apps in the listing above, it will tell you/differentiate between how much of that space reported is used by the CORE APP, and how much is used by DATA STORED by that app.)
Awesome tip #3 (REMOVED) - "The text that you have entered is too long. Please shorten it to 10,000 characters long." Haha! Only me... :o
So that means I'm done (whether I want to be or not)! Applause, right?! Hope that at least sparks some ideas!