Apple’s iCloud service has been around for quite some time and managed to get numerous new features and improvements over the years. However, this created confusion for iOS users who are having a hard time understanding iCloud tools and features. The result of this problem are messages like “This iPhone hasn’t been backed up in weeks” and “Not Enough Storage”. This means that you are over your iCloud storage limit and that you must be asking yourself how to free up iCloud storage space.
The good news is that you don’t have to pay any extra money, and actually you shouldn’t. There are a couple of easy ways to reduce your iCloud footprint, without sacrificing features and tools. But first, we need to make sure you understand different iCloud features and how they affect your cloud storage.
Every iOS user with Apple ID has 5GB (gigabytes) of the total amount storage. Apple also offers three additional plans to increase your storage up to 50GB, 200GB, and 1TB (1000 gigabytes). Even though the monthly fees aren’t really that expensive, there’s no need to pay or upgrade unless you really need to.
Different iOS cloud-related features are automatically uploading files and data until you reach your storage limit. Once that happens, your phone will stop backing up to iCloud until you delete some data or purchase additional space.
What is also important that you won’t receive 5GB of free storage per device since you receive 5GB per one Apple ID. This means that you if have an iPhone and iPad, both of these devices will store data into your account.
Backing up your phone is essential, and you should make sure to back up your phone regularly no matter which platform you use. The same goes for your computer.
Apple has built-in the backup solution to every iPhone, iPad, and iPod. This way, if something unfortunate happens, you easily download your data and continue working as you would.
iCloud Backups count against your storage limit.
This is probably the newest iCloud feature, designed to synchronize files between your Mac and iOS devices. It works similarly to Dropbox and Google Drive but is not as transparent since it’s deeply integrated into different applications and services. In addition, this way you can sync user preferences across different devices.
iCloud Drive counts against your storage limit. User preference files aren’t really that big and shouldn’t concern you, but files that you store within some apps can be large in size.
iCloud Photo Library
This feature automatically uploads photos and videos, so they can be in sync between different devices. This how you can capture an image on your phone, so it shows on your Mac in a few moments.
Interestingly enough, this feature saves and uploads your images in the cloud, the same way as the iCloud backup does. However, with backups, these are single files so you can’t only save your photos for example.
Photos and videos in iCloud Photo Library count against your available cloud storage.
My Photo Stream
This is what most users are confused about. My Photo Stream is a cloud service that uploads your photos and videos and sends them to all your devices. However, the most important difference is that these photos do not count against your available storage space.
There are also other differences. Using My Photo Stream, you can only store up to 1000 photos, or the last 30 days of images. It stores web-optimized versions of your photos, which may degrade quality. On the other hand, iCloud Photo Library stores all your full-resolution photos (and videos too) and uses your storage allotment.
Ways to Free Up iCloud Storage Space
The first thing to do is to see your iCloud usage. This can be done in the Settings app, then tapping on iCloud and selecting Storage & Backup. This is where you can see your total storage space, as well as how much of it is available.
If you tap Manage Storage, you can see a detailed report. The report is divided into two sections: Backups and Documents & Data.
Since you have to backup your phone’s contents, it’s wise to continue using iCloud for this. However, to use less space for backups, look at the apps in the list under Next Backup Size. This is where you can disable apps you don’t need to be backed up.
Applications that automatically sync their data don’t need to be backed up, such as Twitter, Facebook, Pocket, Evernote, and others. You can also disable Camera Roll backups if you decide to upload and save your images and video to some other cloud solution.
Back Up Your Photos Elsewhere
Photos and videos are what takes a large amount of space, and this is one of the most effective ways to free up iCloud storage space.
First, you need to disable Photo Stream from the iCloud Settings. Tap on the Photos option on the iCloud Settings panel, and disable this service. You can also disable Camera Roll as well, which should make smaller backup files.
Now you need to choose a service to back up your photos and videos. Some of the best-known are Google Photos, Dropbox, and Flickr. All of these services offer free plans that are more than enough for average photo/video libraries. Google Photos offers unlimited space and comes with amazing editing tools.
If you don’t want to use another cloud service, you can save and back up photos the traditional way, using iTunes. This is also a good way to free up iCloud storage space.
Delete Documents and Data
In the iCloud’s Manage Storage panel, you can see the “Documents & Data” section. This is where all your documents, game saves, and settings are stored. I am sure you will see a lot of applications in this list that you don’t even use anymore.
Choose an app under Documents & Data on the Manage Storage panel to see the detailed report. Swipe to the left to delete an item from your iCloud. Just make sure that you really want the file deleted since there’s no recover it in the future.
We hope you’ve found a solution on how to free up iCloud storage space. As you can see, it only takes a couple of minutes to learn what different parts of iCloud are doing. This can save you a lot of trouble.
Just remember that one minute of 4K video on the iPhone 6s takes close to 400MB, which I am sure will make many people pay for additional iCloud storage. You don’t have to be one of them.
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