How to free up iCloud space

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Valery Aloyants
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How to clear or free iCloud storage space. Apple doesn't offer us much in the way of free iCloud storage, backups and app data can quickly consume hundreds of gigabytes. If your iCloud is full, here are some ways to free up or clear iCloud storage space.

How to free up iCloud space

If you delete something from your iCloud storage and don't have a local backup, that data will disappear forever. Double check to make sure you don't remove the only copy of a file. You have 30 days to restore files that you have deleted from your iCloud storage, after which they cannot be recovered.

If you have chosen to permanently remove a file, it will disappear immediately with no possibility of recovery. We are not responsible for any data that you permanently lose by following the instructions below.

Determine what is consuming your iCloud space

Before you can start "cleaning up", you need to know why all your iCloud space has run out. You can see the iCloud storage usage breakdown in several ways.

  1. If you are using an iPhone or iPad, open Settings> Your name> iCloud.
  2. On a Mac, select Apple menu> System Preferences> Apple ID> iCloud.
  3. If you only have access to a web browser, go to, sign in and select Account settings.

Using this simple breakdown, you can quickly know what is consuming all of your iCloud space.

Turn off app backups

Some applications make backups of their data and then store those backups on the iCloud drive. This is obviously a good thing, but some apps may be running too many backups or having excessively large ones. You can manually delete app backups on an iPhone or iPad:

  1. apri Settings> Your Name> iCloud> Manage Storage.
  2. Select Backup.
  3. Select the device you want to manage.
  4. Disable any apps you don't want to back up.

By default, you'll only see the five apps with the largest backups, but if you select Show all apps you can disable any application from being part of your iCloud backup. This is useful if larger app backups are indeed crucial. Many smaller app backups can add up quickly, and you probably don't need to back up all the apps on your device.

Manage and delete backups

ICloud device backups are likely to be the biggest space eaters in your iCloud drive. Especially if you own multiple Apple devices or have old devices with backups still lying around for no reason!

  1. apri Settings > Your name > iCloud > Manage space of Archiving.
  2. Select Backup.
  3. Select the device you want to manage.
  4. Select Delete backup, Than we Deactivate and delete.

This option has a double effect. It removes the backup from your iCloud storage, but also prevents creating new backups for that device. If you have a device that you still use but don't need to back up, this is the way to go.

Delete iMessage attachments and voice memos

Some Apple applications can take up a large chunk of iCloud storage after a while due to the accumulation of many small files. Apple iMessage is a major culprit here and some users have huge chat history logs.

Text messages take up a negligible amount of space, so if you just want to save space it's not worth deleting. What can take up a lot of space in iMessage are multimedia elements like photos. Fortunately, it's easy to quickly view and delete image attachments, allowing you to delete the ones you no longer want.

  1. Open theapp Messages on your iPhone or iPad.
  2. Open the conversation in question.
  3. Select the contact name.
  4. Select theInformation icon.
  5. Select See more.
  6. Tap the Select button.
  7. Choose all the photos you want to delete, then use the Delete button to remove them.

It is worth mentioning that you can set iMessage to automatically delete messages and their attachments after a certain time. If you look in Settings > Messages > Message history > Keep messages you can choose to keep messages for only 30 days or a year, rather than indefinitely.

Delete iCloud photos

If you've chosen to use iCloud's Photos feature, all the photos and videos you take with, for example, your iPhone are uploaded and stored in iCloud. This is a great way to save local storage on your device as full-quality versions of your media files are downloaded to iCloud and only downloaded when you try to view or edit them.

Deleting a photo on your local device will also delete it in iCloud Photos and any other devices connected with your Apple ID, with iCloud Photos turned on. This is the easiest way to free up iCloud space, just delete unwanted photos and videos on your local Apple device. You can also go to and select and delete videos and photos in the Photos section.

Apple provides a 30-day safety net when you delete photos or videos. You will find the items you deleted in the Recently Deleted section of Photos. You can recover the ones you accidentally deleted here, but you can also permanently delete them before the 30-day window from this screen as well. 

Delete folders and files to free up iCloud space

This is the simplest advice, but yes, if you delete folders and files from the iCloud drive, you will have more space available. While it's simple in practice, many users probably have no idea how to permanently delete things from iCloud.

The easiest way to do this is from a browser:

  1. Go up in the browser that you prefer.
  2. Log in using your Apple ID credentials.
  3. Select iCloud Drive.
  4. Select the folder or file you now most want, then select the Delete icon.

If you want to delete files or folders using your iPhone or iPad:

  1. Open theapp File.
  2. Select Shop by Department.
  3. Under Locations, select iCloud Drive.
  4. Delete files and folders as you normally would.

How to Backup iPhone to iCloud

Buy more storage 

If you are very careful and only store very select types of data, you can only manage them with the 5GB of free iCloud storage you get with your Apple ID. However, we strongly recommend that you subscribe to a larger space.

Using the Family Sharing feature, you can share 200GB or 2TB plans with all members of your Family Sharing group. They all have separate private accounts, but the available storage space is dynamically shared between users. 

Usually, we wouldn't suggest spending money on a problem as the best solution, but Apple's storage plans are exceptionally cheap and definitely worth more than the hassle of micromanaging your iCloud space.

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