How to Free Up Space on iCloud

With only 5GB of free space that users get with their iCloud accounts, that storage can fill up fast. Here’s how to free up space on iCloud so that you don’t run out of room.

iCloud is Apple’s own cloud storage service that it offers with its products, and while it’s not a traditional service like Dropbox or Google Drive, iCloud allows users to save certain app data and photos to iCloud so that they can be accessed on any Apple device.

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Photos alone can fill up your free allotment of storage fairly quickly, and while you can buy more space for iCloud, it’s not the best value around, so a lot users tend to stick with the free 5GB.

The only problem with that is the storage space tends to fill up quicker, and if you have a lot of pictures that you store in iCloud Photo Library, 5GB goes by really quickly. However, there are a few things that you can do in order to free up space on your iCloud account in order to make room for more photos that you inevitably need to store in the cloud.

Without further ado, here’s how to free up space on iCloud.

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Delete Old iCloud Backups

Perhaps the one thing that takes up the most space in iCloud are backups. Depending on how much stuff you need to back up, iCloud backups can take up a couple of gigabytes of space.

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An iCloud backup is a backup of your iPhone or iPad that gets saved in the cloud. It’s a bit different than an iTunes backup, as not everything is backed up, but mostly just your important data and photos.

To delete an iCloud backup, go into Settings and navigate to iCloud > Storage > Manage Storage. Under the Backups section, you should see a backup for your iPhone (if you’ve ever backed up to iCloud before).

If you have a backup of an older device you no longer have, it’s a good idea to delete it by tapping on it, scrolling down to the bottom, and selecting Delete Backup.

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If you really want to save space on iCloud, delete all of your iCloud backups and just back up to your computer with iTunes.

Disable iCloud Photo Library

You may not know it, but it’s possible that iCloud Photo Library is enabled on your iOS device by default, even if you don’t want it to be. iCloud Photo Library is a great way for any photos you take on your iPhone to be automatically uploaded to your other Apple devices through iCloud. These photos are then automatically stored in your iCloud account.

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This is a useful feature, but not one that everyone will want to use. You can disable iCloud Photo Library by going into Settings and navigating to iCloud > Photos. From there, turn off iCloud Photo Library at the top by tapping on the toggle switch to the right until it turns gray.

If you don’t want to turn it off and would rather still use iCloud Photo Library, you can at least save some space by selecting Optimize iPhone Storage below that.

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Delete Unwanted Files

Most iOS apps come with the ability to sync data across different Apple devices so that you can start back where you left off from another device. This works when you have the same app on your iPhone and iPad.

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However, if you only use an app on one device, that app still might back up data to iCloud with the hope that it’s used on another device. The good news is that you can delete certain files that are backed up to iCloud. Simply just go into Settings and navigate to¬†iCloud > Storage > Manage Storage. In the Documents & Data section, you’ll see a list of apps that have data in iCloud. For example, Checkmark 2 has data in my iCloud account, but I only use it on my iPhone, so I could delete this by tapping on it, selecting Edit and then Delete All.

Be aware, though, that these files also act as backups, so if I would ever restore my iPhone to factory settings, all of my reminders in Checkmark 2 would be gone, whereas I could restore them later since the data was in iCloud.