No matter how many iOS or macOS devices you own, Apple offers only 5 GB of free storage for iCloud users – a paltry amount considering what competitors offer. But there are ways you can avoid paying for more storage space, or at least limit how much you pay extra.
Here are easy-to-follow tips on how to put some of iCloud’s greatest data-consuming features on a diet and save money on iCloud storage.
Why do you need to manage iCloud storage?
Apple did iCloud storage a seemingly essential element for all its products, from Mac to iPad, iPhone and even Apple TV. There are four main elements of the service. They include:
- iCloud backup: Used for all iPad, iPhone, and iPod backups you’ve made without using iTunes.
- iCloud Drive: This is for all your documents and data from third-party applications on Macs and iOS devices that store data in the cloud. Apple’s iCloud document and data service was combined with iCloud Drive in 2022.
- iCloud Mail: Of course, this is a place to store all the emails and attachments you’ve ever received through your iCloud account.
- iCloud Photo Library: This is a place to store all the photos and videos you have ever taken.
This is an extensive list of items to squeeze into Apple’s ever-shrinking 5 GB free distribution. To get the most out of it, you may want to regularly check how much storage space you’re already using and take steps to migrate some of these storage tasks to non-Apple products and services.
How much does iCloud storage cost?
Apple offers four storage options: 5GB (free); 50GB (99 cents / month); 200GB ($ 2.99 / month); and 2TB ($ 9.99 / month).
If you use other services, such as Apple Music or Apple TV +, then you may find that it makes sense to subscribe to Apple One servicewhich can save a few dollars.
- Apple One’s individual plan includes 50 GB of storage, music, TV + and Arcade for $ 14.95 / month.
- The $ 19.95 family plan gives you 200 GB of storage, music, TV + and arcade games and allows you to share the plan with up to five others.
- The $ 29.95 Premier Plan gives you 2TB of storage. It also provides news, music, TV +, Arcade and Fitness +, and the services can be shared with up to five others.
How much storage space do you use?
It’s easy to know how much iCloud storage you’re using.
In iOS: Touch the top section (Apple ID). Settings. Then tap iCloud. You should see a chart describing how you use iCloud storage. Tap Storage management to get to a page listing each item storing data in your iCloud (it also tells you how much data each item uses there). You can also delete stored data for each application or service, but do not do so until you have backed up this information elsewhere.
In macOS: Access System Preferences> iCloud and select “Manage … ” option in the lower right corner of the window.
In both cases, you’ll see how much storage you use, what items you use (such as photos, documents, mail, or archiving), and where to enable and disable online storage for various Apple applications and services.
How to manage iCloud Backup
If you back up your iOS device (s) to iCloud, you’ll soon run into problems if you try to stay below the 5GB storage limit. To reduce the amount of iCloud storage consumed by iCloud archiving, you can back up your iOS devices to Mac or PC and delete existing backups that you may have created from iCloud.
You don’t really need to back up your iCloud devices, though is convenient; on older Macs and PCs, you can back up via iTunes instead. Just connect your device to your computer, launch iTunes (if it doesn’t start automatically), and click the device icon that appears to the left of the iTunes window next to the category menu.
After doing so, select Summary and then select This Computer, where you see Automatic Backup. You will need to check the Encrypt backup item (device name) to save the Health and HomeKit data, and you will need to create a password for this.
In the future, your iOS device (s) will be automatically backed up to your computer when connected, and you won’t need to store these backups in your frugal iCloud account. Once this is set up, you can remove older backups of iCloud devices.
On iOS: Tap Settings and navigate to iCloud> Storage Management and select Archiving. Here you can view your backups and select the ones you want to delete. When you touch the red Delete backup option, you will be asked if you are sure of the solution. Tip: Don’t forget to keep the latest backup.
On Mac: Open up System Preferences> iCloud and select “Manage … ” option. In the next window, select Backups and delete the ones you don’t need in the same way as in iOS.
How to put iCloud Drive on a diet
Both Macs and iOS devices use iCloud to store data from applications and important files.
The latest Macs can use iCloud to automatically sync and store content on both the desktop and the Downloads folder. Once these items are available there, you can access them from any other Apple device, as long as you’re signed in with the same Apple ID. You can also access these items online using a web browser.
This is a useful feature, but if you want to limit your data in iCloud, disable it on your Mac System Preferences> iCloud> iCloud Drive. Click there Settings button and then uncheck Desktop and documents folders. In the future, these items will not be stored in iCloud – although existing items will remain. To remove these older items from Desktop and Downloads from your iCloud device, you need to save them manually on your Mac:
- In the Finder, open iCloud Drive and find the Documents or Downloads folder.
- Open a new Finder window, select Go to> Home
- Now drag and drop iCloud Drive items to your home directory. The files will be downloaded and saved to your Mac. The process may take some time, depending on how much bandwidth and how much data you need to move.
- You can then delete the items from iCloud Drive.
Remember that these items will no longer be available on your other devices unless you move them to another service that syncs across all of your systems.
Save your files elsewhere
Both macOS and iOS devices support third-party online storage services, such as Box, Dropbox or Microsoft One device (which offers 1TB of free storage with an Office 365 subscription). Apple’s Files app for iOS also supports third-party services, including Box, Dropbox and OneDrive. Support makes it a hassle: install the appropriate storage app on your device, sign in, and you’ll have access to all the data you’ve stored in these services outside of iCloud using the Files app. You no longer need to save these files to iCloud. You can also use Dropbox and OneDrive to automatically save your photos and other images, further reducing your dependence on iCloud.
How about the data from the application?
Do you use any iCloud service? Consider relying only on basic services that you really need to sync between devices in real time, such as Contacts and Calendars. These useful services do not take up much storage space, but provide great convenience. You can control which Apple services save to iCloud in settings, just uncheck the ones you don’t need to disable them.
You can also consider alternatives. For example, Apple’s Notes app is becoming an increasingly powerful competitor to Evernote – but if you save just a few notes, you can use the latter’s free service to replace Notes with iCloud.
There are also many applications that store data in iCloud. To find out which ones do this on a Mac, go to System Preferences> iCloud> iCloud Drive; on an iOS device, you control them Settings> Apple ID> iCloud. Uncheck apps you don’t want to save iCloud data to the list you find. Since you may lose some functionality, do a little research on each application first.