How to avoid paying Apple for extra iCloud storage (2022)

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(Video) How to Free Up iCloud Storage (& Never Worry About It Again)

Apple offers just 5GB of free storage to iCloud users, far less than many need. Here's a rundown on what you can do to put your iCloud storage needs on a diet and what other options are available.

How to avoid paying Apple for extra iCloud storage (2)
Table of Contents
  • Why do you need to manage iCloud storage?
  • How much does iCloud storage cost?
  • How much storage are you using?
  • How to manage iCloud Backup
  • How to put iCloud Drive on a diet
  • Save your Files elsewhere
  • What about app data?
  • How to manage iCloud Mail
  • How to manage iCloud Photos
  • Don’t use iCloud Photo Library

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(Video) How to upgrade and manage your iCloud storage on iPhone or iPad | Apple Support

No matter how many iOS or macOS devices you own, Apple offers just 5GB of free storage to iCloud users – a paltry amount given what rivals offer. But there are ways you can avoid paying for more storage space, or at least limit how much extra you pay.

Here are easy-to-follow tips on how to put some of the biggest iCloud data-consuming features on a diet and save money on iCloud storage.

How to avoid paying Apple for extra iCloud storage (3) Apple

Why do you need to manage iCloud storage?

Apple has made iCloud storage a seemingly essential element for all its products, from Macs to iPads, iPhones and even Apple TV. There are four principal elements to the service. These include:

  • iCloud Backup:It’s used for all the iPad, iPhone and iPod backups you’ve made without using iTunes.
  • iCloud Drive: This is for all your documents and data from third-party apps on Macs and iOS devices that store data in the cloud. Apple's iCloud Documents and Data service was combined with iCloud Drive in 2022.
  • iCloud Mail:Naturally, this is storage for all the emails and attachments you’ve ever received through your iCloud account.
  • iCloud Photo Library:This is storage for all the pictures and videos you’ve ever taken.

That’s an extensive list of items to squeeze inside Apple’s ever-so-tiny 5GB free allocation. To get the most out of it, you may want to regularly check how much storage you’re already using and take steps to migrate some of those 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 it makes sense to subscribe to the Apple One service, which may save a few bucks.

  • The individual Apple One plan includes 50GB of storage, Music, TV+ and Arcade for $14.95/month.
  • The $19.95 Family plan gives you 200GB of storage, Music, TV+, and Arcade and lets you share the plan with up to five others.
  • The $29.95 Premier plan provides you with 2TB of storage. It also provides News, Music, TV+, Arcade, and Fitness+ and services can be shared with up to five others.

How much storage are you using?

It’s easy to figure out how much iCloud storage you are using.

In iOS: Tap the top (Apple ID) section in Settings. Then tap iCloud. You should see a chart detailing how you are using iCloud storage. Tap Manage Storage to reach a page listing every 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 app or service, but don’t do so until you have first backed up that information elsewhere.

How to avoid paying Apple for extra iCloud storage (4) Apple

In macOS: Access System Preferences>iCloudand choose the "Manage..."option at the bottom right of the window.

(Video) How to avoid paying for extra iCloud storage Lecture 12

How to avoid paying Apple for extra iCloud storage (5) Apple

In both cases you’ll see how much storage you’re using, what items are using it (for example, Photos, Docs, Mail or Backup), and where to enable and disable online storage for various applications and Apple services.

How to manage iCloud Backup

If you back up iOS device(s) to iCloud, you'll soon hit problems if you try to stay under the 5GB storage limit. To reduce the amount of iCloud storage consumed by iCloud backups, you can back up your iOS device(s) to a Mac or PC and delete existing backups you may have created from iCloud.

You don’t actually have to back your devices up to iCloud, though it isconvenient; 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 launch automatically) and click the Device icon that appears to the left of the iTunes window beside the category menu.

How to avoid paying Apple for extra iCloud storage (6) Apple

Once you’ve done that, select Summary and then choose This Computer where you see Automatically Backup. You’ll need to check the Encrypt (device name) backup item in order to keep Health and HomeKit data, and will need to create a password for this.

In the future, your iOS device(s) will automatically be backed up to your computer when it is connected, and you won’t need to store those backups on your frugal iCloud account. Once that’s set up, you can remove older device backups from iCloud.

On iOS:Tap Settings and navigate to iCloud>Manage Storage and choose Backup. Here you can review your backups and select those you wish to delete. When you tap the red Delete Backupoption, you’ll be asked if you are certain of the decision. Advice: Be sure to keep the most recent backup.

On a Mac:Open System Preferences>iCloudand choose the "Manage..."option. In the next pane, choose Backups and delete those you don’t need in the same way as on iOS.

How to put iCloud Drive on a diet

Both Macs and iOS devices use iCloud to store app data and important files.

Recent Macs can use iCloud to automatically sync and store contents of both the Desktop and the Downloads folder. Once these items are made available there, you can access them from any other Apple device, so long as you are logged in using the same Apple ID. You can also access those items online using a web browser.

This is a useful feature, but if you want to limit your iCloud data, you disable this on your Mac in System Preferences>iCloud>iCloud Drive. There, you click the Options button and then untick the Desktop & Documentsfolders. In the future, these items will not be stored in iCloud – though existing items will remain. To remove those older Desktop and Downloads items from iCloud drive, you must manually save them to your Mac:

(Video) ✅ How To Cancel iCloud Storage Plan 🔴

  • In Finder, open iCloud Driveand locate the Documents or Downloads folder.
  • Open a new Finder window, choose Go>Home
  • Now drag and drop items from iCloud Drive to your Home directory. The files will be downloaded to and saved on your Mac. The process may take a while, depending on how much bandwidth and how much data you need to shift.
  • You can then delete the items from iCloud Drive.

Don’t forget, these items will no longer be available across your other devices unless you move them to another service that syncs across all your systems.

Save your Files elsewhere

macOS and iOS devices both support third-party online storage services such as Box, Dropbox or Microsoft One Drive (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. The support makes it seamless: install the relevant storage app on your device, log-in, and you’ll be able to access any data you have stored in those non-iCloud services using the Files app. You no longer need to save those files in iCloud. You can also use Dropbox and OneDrive to automatically save your photos and other images, further reducing your reliance on iCloud.

How to avoid paying Apple for extra iCloud storage (7) Apple

What about app data?

Do you use every iCloud service? Think about only relying on essential services that you really need to sync between devices in real time, things like Contacts and Calendars, for example. These useful services don’t consume much storage but do provide a great deal of convenience. You can control which Apple services save to iCloud in settings, just untick those you don’t need to disable them.

You can also consider alternatives. For example, Apple’s Notes application is becoming an increasingly capable competitor to Evernote – but if you only keep a few notes, you can use the latter’s free service to replace Notes in iCloud.

How to avoid paying Apple for extra iCloud storage (8) Apple

There are also numerous apps that save data in iCloud. To find out which ones do so on a Mac, go to System Preferences>iCloud>iCloud Drive; on an iOS device, you control these in Settings>Apple ID>iCloud. Uncheck the apps you don’t want saving data in iCloud in the list you find. Since you may lose some functionality, do a little research on a per-app basis first.

  • MacOS
  • Smartphones
  • iOS
  • Cloud Management
  • Cloud Storage
  • Apple

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(Video) Stop Paying for iCloud Photo Storage and Do THIS Instead

FAQs

How do I stop paying for more iCloud storage? ›

How to Cancel Your iCloud Storage Plan from an iPhone
  1. Open the Settings menu.
  2. Select the button with your name on it.
  3. Select the iCloud button.
  4. Tap Manage Storage or iCloud Storage.
  5. Select the Change Storage Plan button.
  6. Tap to open the Downgrade Options menu.
  7. Typ in your Apple ID password.
  8. Choose the Free Plan.
26 Aug 2022

Do I need to pay for extra iCloud storage? ›

Your iPhone comes with 5GB of iCloud storage for free, but you can buy up to 2TB. The 50GB iCloud storage plan is generally enough for one person and costs $1 per month.

What happens if you stop paying for extra iCloud storage? ›

If you stop paying for iCloud, any new photos or videos will not be uploaded or backed up to the iCloud. You also won't be able to use your iCloud email address, and iCloud-enabled apps will no longer be updated across your iOS devices that use the same iCloud ID.

Will I lose my photos if I cancel iCloud? ›

If you turn off the iCloud Photo Library, it will remove photos from your iPhone that weren't taken on that device. If you want to turn off iCloud Photo Library but keep your Camera Roll as it is, here's how to ensure current iCloud images aren't removed during the process.

Can I buy iCloud storage annually? ›

Answer: A: No longer. Annual iCloud storage plans - https://support.apple.com/HT201058 - "We introduced monthly storage plans and pricing on September 16, 2015.

Do I get 50GB every month on iCloud? ›

The individual Apple One plan includes 50GB of storage, Music, TV+ and Arcade for $14.95/month. The $19.95 Family plan gives you 200GB of storage, Music, TV+, and Arcade and lets you share the plan with up to five others.

Can I buy iCloud storage for one month only? ›

All replies. Yes. Yes, you just have to remove your content and downgrade before the beginning of the next month. Why do you need more than the free 5GB of space just to backup your iPhone?

Why is iPhone storage full when I have iCloud? ›

Backups of your devices are often the culprits behind a full iCloud storage space. It's entirely possible you had your old iPhone set to upload backups to the cloud automatically, and then never removed those files.

How much does 50GB of iCloud storage cost? ›

iCloud pricing options

The current plans include: Free: 5GB of storage per iCloud account (not per device) $0.99/month: 50GB of storage (single user) $2.99/month: 200GB of storage (family use)

Is upgrading iCloud storage worth it? ›

Whether you opt to stick with the free 5GB or you upgrade to a plan with more storage, iCloud is an incredibly useful way to protect your most valuable information from getting lost. It's also a great way to access that data from any of your Apple products.

What will happen if I downgrade my iCloud storage? ›

According to this Apple iCloud Support page: If you downgrade your storage plan and your content exceeds the storage you have available, new photos and videos won't upload to iCloud Photo Library and your devices will stop backing up to iCloud.

Is Google Drive or iCloud better? ›

iCloud is the more secure platform, although Google Drive has made several necessary steps forward recently. Both platforms enable you to use multi-factor authentication, which we highly recommend. Almost all data stored on iCloud's servers is encrypted both in transit and at rest to 128-bit AES standard.

Do I have to use iCloud on my iPhone? ›

Despite Apple's best wishes, you don't need to use iCloud on your iPhone, iPad, or Mac. Although most people are happy to use the service, some prefer to keep their data stored locally, away from Apple's servers.

Is iCloud a monthly fee? ›

If it says iCloud, then you're on the free plan. To upgrade to a paid subscription, tap Manage Storage, then select Change Storage Plan. Choose one of the available three plans—50GB for 99 cents a month, 200GB for $2.99 a month, or 2TB for $9.99 a month—then select Upgrade to iCloud+ to activate the new plan.

What is the difference between iCloud and iCloud Drive? ›

iCloud has the ability to backup online wirelessly while iCloud Drive is part of iCloud where you can put files. iCloud is Apple's online storage and just provides 5 GB of free space. The only benefit with iCloud is the ability to automatically backup the device wirelessly.

Is there an alternative to iCloud? ›

There are more than 100 alternatives to iCloud for a variety of platforms, including Android, iPhone, Mac, Windows and Online / Web-based. The best alternative is Nextcloud, which is both free and Open Source. Other great apps like iCloud are Dropbox, Google Drive, Syncthing and MEGA.

What happens if you downgrade iCloud? ›

If you downgrade your storage plan and your content exceeds the storage you have available, new photos and videos won't upload to iCloud Photo Library and your devices will stop backing up to iCloud.

Will I lose anything if I delete my iCloud backup? ›

Deleting iCloud backup is not as bad as it sounds. Here are the main points you should know about: It will erase the data you previously backed up to iCloud. So, in case you need to set up your iPhone from scratch, you will not be able to recover data from iCloud.

How do I change my iCloud storage on my iPhone? ›

Choose which apps to back up on your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch
  1. Go to Settings > [your name] > iCloud.
  2. Tap Manage Account Storage or tap Manage Storage, then tap Backups.
  3. Tap the name of the device that you're using.
  4. Turn off any apps that you don't want to back up.
  5. Choose Turn Off & Delete.
12 Sept 2022

Can I buy iCloud storage for one month only? ›

All replies. Yes. Yes, you just have to remove your content and downgrade before the beginning of the next month. Why do you need more than the free 5GB of space just to backup your iPhone?

Do I get 50GB every month on iCloud? ›

The individual Apple One plan includes 50GB of storage, Music, TV+ and Arcade for $14.95/month. The $19.95 Family plan gives you 200GB of storage, Music, TV+, and Arcade and lets you share the plan with up to five others.

What happen if iCloud is full? ›

If you run out of iCloud storage, your device won't back up to iCloud, new photos and videos won't upload to iCloud Photos, and iCloud Drive, other iCloud apps, and messages won't stay up to date across your devices. And you also won't be able to send or receive emails with your iCloud email address.

Is Google Drive or iCloud better? ›

iCloud is the more secure platform, although Google Drive has made several necessary steps forward recently. Both platforms enable you to use multi-factor authentication, which we highly recommend. Almost all data stored on iCloud's servers is encrypted both in transit and at rest to 128-bit AES standard.

Why is my iCloud backup taking up so much storage? ›

Backups of your devices are often the culprits behind a full iCloud storage space. It's entirely possible you had your old iPhone set to upload backups to the cloud automatically, and then never removed those files.

What gets backed up in iCloud? ›

Here's what iCloud Backup includes
  • App data.
  • Apple Watch backups1
  • Device settings.
  • Home screen and app organization.
  • iMessage, text (SMS), and MMS messages2
  • Photos and videos on your iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch2
  • Purchase history from Apple services, like your music, movies, TV shows, apps, and books3
  • Ringtones.
4 Feb 2021

Why do I have 2 backups on my iPhone? ›

When the iPhone is backed up, iPhone software looks for any different files in your iPhone's File Sharing section. When it finds different data, it backs that data up separately, which can cause there to be multiple backups.

What's the difference between iCloud storage and iPhone storage? ›

iCloud storage is space that is being used on Apple's servers for backups, iCloud photos, syncing files, etc. It has nothing to do with device storage which is the storage capacity on the device.

How much is 200GB iCloud? ›

The 200GB storage plan for $2.99 per month is a better choice for families and power users. You'll have a generous amount of space for a few dollars per month, which is still a great deal for cloud storage. Another major benefit of this iCloud plan is that it supports Apple's Family Sharing feature.

Is 200 GB enough for iCloud storage? ›

If you have multiple Apple devices and want to keep them all backed up, use iCloud Drive regularly, or have been building a substantial iCloud Photo Library, you'll likely need the 200GB plan for your iCloud storage needs.

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