Managing Your iCloud Storage

Apple's free cloud-based online services (iCloud) comes with 5 GB of free storage. This storage can be used for storing iOS device backups, email, application data, iWork files, and much more. On the surface, 5 GB may sound like a lot, but in reality, it doesn't go very far. iOS backups alone can potentially swallow that up with ease.  Here's how to manage the iCloud space that you have.

When it comes to managing storage, there are really two approaches you can take:

  1. Reduce the amount of data you store
  2. Increase the amount of storage you have to use

In this post, we'll look at how to do both, specific to iCloud storage.

How to identify and reduce the amount of data you store

Before we can reduce the amount of data we store, we must first identify what it is that we're storing. Doing this with iCloud is easy, and you have several different options. First, we can find this information on any one of your iOS devices (iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch). To do this, go to Settings > iCloud > Storage & Backup.


This screen will give us a 30,000-foot overview of our storage limits and how much we're using. In my case, I have 15 GB of storage (Apple gives us 5 GB for free, and I pay for an extra 10 GB), and I'm currently using 6 GB of that. Although this doesn't give us much detail, it is a nice overview. For more detail, let's tap on "Manage Storage". 


This screen will give us more granular information on what information is being stored. In my case, I have two devices that I am backing up to iCloud (an iPhone 5s and an iPad with Retina). In addition, I'm also storing various iWork documents as well as other data related to apps on my devices. Taping on each of these sections/apps will give you even more information on the amount of space being used. If you scroll down on this screen, you will also see how much space is being used by email.  All of this is a great way to discover what you have and how much space is being used by each type of data.

You can also get this same information on your Mac by going to System Preferences > iCloud.

Now that you know what is being stored, you can use this as a chance to clean house. If you see a document (or documents) that you no longer need, you can highlight that document and choose to delete it from here. No need to switch over to the application to do this. You can remove iOS device backups from here as well.

How to increase the amount of storage you have with iCloud

For most people, managing your data can be time-consuming. There's no doubt about it... it's always easier to throw more resources at a problem instead of taking the time to clean things up a bit. If you fall into that category, and don't mind spending a little (seriously, a little) money, this may be the best option for you. 

As mentioned before, Apple gives all iCloud users 5 GB of storage for free. Additional storage will cost you. Here are the prices (current as of today): 

  • Additional 10 GB: $20/year
  • Additional 20 GB: $40/year
  • Additional 50 GB: $100/year

To add more storage, go back into the storage management tool as outlined above (either on your iOS device or on your Mac) and look for the  "Change Storage Plan" button/link. Just as easy as it is to increase storage, it's equally as easy to decrease your storage as needed. Just keep in mind that when you purchase additional storage, you pay for one year's worth, so use it up!

Posted on April 15, 2014 and filed under How To, iOS, iPad, iPhone, Mac, Opinion.