How to Reduce the Size of Your iCloud Backup

iCloud LogoApple provides every iCloud user 5GB of free storage space, which can be used to backup an iPhone or iPad. As you accumulate data on your device, it is possible the total size of the iCloud backup can exceed the 5GB storage limit. The chances of reaching the 5GB storage limit increase if you are backing up multiple iOS devices to iCloud.


When the storage limit is reached, you will receive a notification on your device indicating the iCloud storage is full. At this point, no additional backups to iCloud can be performed.

Once you reach iCloud’s storage limit, there are basically three options to backup your device:

  1. Turn off iCloud backup and backup to your computer using iTunes
  2. Pay for additional iCloud storage
  3. Remove some data from the device to reduce the amount of data being backed up to iCloud.



Check If You Are Using iCloud Backup

If you are not sure if iCloud backup is enabled on your device, open the Settings app, select iCloud, then select Backup.

iCloud Backup


If the iCloud Backup slider is set to the on position, then your device will backup to iCloud. To stop your device from backing up to iCloud, set the slider to the off position. Turning off iCloud Backup will mean the data on your device is no longer automatically backed up. To backup your data, you will need to connect your device to your computer and back it up using iTunes.

Enable iCloud Backup


Additionally,  at the bottom of the window, you will find the date the last iCloud backup was performed.



Optimize iCloud Backup by Deleting Unnecessary Data

To manage your iCloud storage, open the Settings app, select iCloud, then select Storage.

iCloud Storage


The total iCloud storage capacity and the amount of available iCloud storage will be displayed. Tap Manage Storage to see what information is being backed up to iCloud.

Available iCloud Storage


The Manage Storage window displays a list of all the devices that have backups stored in iCloud.

iCloud Storage Usage


If you happen to see an old device listed that you no longer use, you can save some space by completely deleting that backup. To delete a backup from the list, tap on the device’s name and select Delete Backup in the window that appears.

Delete iCloud Backup


To change what data is backed up for the device you are currently using, tap the name of the device in the list of backups. A screen will appear displaying the size of the backup along with the date the last backup was performed and the size of the next backup. There is also a list of apps that have data included in the iCloud backup. The apps are ordered based on the amount of iCloud storage space used for the app data. Apps using the most iCloud storage space are listed near the top.

Manage iCloud Storage


To stop an app from backing up to iCloud, simply set the slider for that app to the off position. Upon doing so, your device ask if you really want to stop the iCloud backup and delete all the app data from iCloud.

Delete iCloud Backup Data


Deleting the data from iCloud should not remove it from your device. The data associated with that app is deleted from iCloud, and with the slider in the off position, the app data will not be included in future iCloud backups.


Go through the list of apps and turn off the slider for those apps you don’t want included in the iCloud backup. Just remember, if an app is not backed up and something happens to your device, you will not be able to recover that data. So be sure you really don’t need to backup an app before removing it from the iCloud backup.



Save Photos to Your Computer

Perhaps you have a large amount of storage being used for the Camera Roll, but don’t want to completely stop backing up your photos to iCloud. You can copy the photos from your device to your computer, then delete some of the photos from the device. Deleting the photos from the device will reduce the amount of space required for the iCloud backup.



Additional Storage Options

If you just can’t seem to part with any of those photos on your device and still want to use iCloud to backup all your data, there is always the option to purchase additional iCloud storage space from Apple. To see the pricing for additional storage plans, open the Settings app, select iCloud, select Storage, then tap Buy More Storage. You can purchase additional storage directly from your device.