iCloud storage explained

Cover image for: iCloud storage explained

Apple's iCloud explained: Backup, Drive, Photo Library and Music

iCloud is made of many different services, each of which can store data in different places. They're each configured separately, and have different implications for the amount of storage space you can use. We've prepared a table below to give you more insight into Apple's programs and storage plans.

iCloud Backup, iCloud Drive, iCloud Photo Library, iCloud Music Library
iCloud Backup, iCloud Drive, iCloud Photo Library, iCloud Music Library

iCloud backups iCloud Drive iCloud Photo Library iCloud Music Library (w/ Apple Music)
What for Automatically create secure backups of your device in the cloud Save your personal files in the cloud, similar to Amazon Cloud, Google Drive or Dropbox Save your pictures and videos, accessible on all your iOS and macOs devices. Access to your music across devices
Useful for Recovering your data if lost or deleted, switching phones Saving and protecting your day to day files Collecting and viewing all your photos All your music, anywhere, anytime
Where (iOS) SettingsiCloudBackupOn SettingsiCloudiCloud DriveOn SettingsPhotos & CameraiCloud Photo LibraryOn SettingsMusiciCloud Music LibraryOn
Where (macOS) In iTunes > Connect your device → BackupsiCloud System PreferencesiCloudiCloud Drive PhotosPreferencesiCloudiCloud Photo Library In iTunes → PreferencesGeneraliCloud Music LibraryOn
Pros & cons Data not included in your iCloud backup:
  • Apple Pay
  • Touch ID
  • iTunes & App Store content
  • Any imported videos & audio files
  • Data already in the cloud
    Access these files devices by turning on "Show on Home Screen". If you're using Mac, access by using Finder or icloud.com. If you're using a PC, access with an iCloud Drive or on icloud.com Use the images with Optimise for iPhone Storage to save space on iOS. This way images will not be stored at full resolution and you can always download them at full resolution if you want to. Add / favourite / deleted song or playlist will reflect changes across all devices.
    Storage Uses iCloud storage space Uses iCloud storage space Uses iCloud storage space No space needed with Apple Music
    Space Shared 5GB of free space usually not enough for a single device Shared 5GB adequate for small collections of files Shared 5GB covers a year or so of photos if no other data is put in iCloud Unlimited as long as you pay for a subscription to Apple Music
    • Individual subscription $9.99/ month
    • Premium Plus Plan (up to 6 people) – $14.99/ month

    How is iCloud storage space used?

    The table above explains how each of Apple's cloud services uses your iCloud storage allowance.

    You've never even considered buying more iCloud storage because you assumed you wouldn't be able to afford it? Take a look. You might be surprised to see that 50GB of iCloud space is only $0.99 a month. Apple's iCloud storage plans are currently as follows:

    • 50GB -- $0.99 / month
    • 200GB -- $2.99 / month
    • 2TB -- $9.99 / month

    To purchase from your iOS device, navigate to Settings[your name]iCloudStorageBuy more Storage. To purchase from your Mac, navigate to System PreferencesiCloudManageBuy more Storage. Apple provide further instructions on upgrading your iCloud storage.

    About the author

    Aidan Fitzpatrick founded Reincubate in 2008 after building the world's first iPhone data recovery tool, iPhone Backup Extractor. He's spoken at Google on entrepreneurship, and is a graduate of the Entrepreneurs' Organisation's Leadership Academy.

    Reincubate's CEO at Buckingham Palace

    Pictured above are members of Reincubate’s team meeting HM Queen Elizabeth Ⅱ at Buckingham Palace, after being awarded the UK’s highest business award for our work with Apple technology. Read our position on privacy, safety and security.

    How can we help?

    Our support team are here to help!

    Our office hours are Monday to Friday, 9 AM to 5 PM GMT. The time is currently 4:07 PM GMT.

    We aim to reply to all messages within one working day.

    Go to support section › Contact support ›
    Our awesome support team

    Comments (4)

    Bonjour, Vous avez fait l’impasse sur « flux de photos » qui, lui, n’impacte pas les 5 Goalloués gracieusement par Apple!...

    Merci, nous avons mis à jour l'article!

    What if I'm paying for 50 GB of monthly iCloud storage and only have a 32 GB iPad/64 GB iPhone? Does iCloud still allow me to access 50 GB worth of storage on a device that won't hold that much? For example, Google Drive allows you to hold a lot of data in the cloud, but allows you to individually download the files so they don't take a lot of space up on your device. Does iCloud allow the same? I've wondered this for a long time and still can't find the answer. Thanks!

    Hi Drking: yes, that's right. Files can be kept in iCloud and don't have to be on the iPad all at the same time.

    Would be nice if we could use IBE Pro to access / download the iCloud Photo Library. I realize the size might be an issue, but perhaps it could be browsable.

    Hey Zachary, thanks for your email. You sure can: check out the latest version; it can do that for you. 🙂

    Just a query. If i subscribe to apple music or itunes match, i know that my tracks will be available in icloud but do those tracks take up icloud space?

    Hey Kiran: they won't take up your iCloud storage. Neat, eh?

    Can we improve this article?

    We love hearing from users: why not drop us an email, leave a comment, or tweet @reincubate?

    © 2008 - 2020 Reincubate Ltd. All rights reserved. Registered in England and Wales #5189175, VAT GB151788978. Reincubate® is a registered trademark. Privacy & terms. We recommend 2FA. Built with in London.