Your iPhone is halfway through uploading all your precious vacation photos (or shall I say, Covid-19 staycation pics) to iCloud when the moment you’ve been dreading happens: the “iCloud Storage Full” message. Don’t smash that “Upgrade Storage” button just yet, however. We’re here to walk you through what to do when your iCloud storage is full.
#1 Tidy Up Your Device
#2 Know When to Back Up
#3 Download and Delete Files
#4 Don’t Forget iCloud Drive
Still Need More Space?
Be Like Oprah—iCloud Accounts for Everyone and Everything
Buy an Upgraded Apple iCloud Storage Plan
Sell Your Old Device to GadgetGone
Every iCloud user gets free 5GB of space that can be used to store videos, photos, and other important data. However, if you’re a regular iCloud user, you likely realized very quickly that 5GB of space isn’t nearly enough, especially because those precious gigs are per account and not per device.
Storage space is shared between all devices that use the same iCloud details. If you’re a diehard Apple fan with several devices (like an iPhone, MacBook, and iPad) or if iCloud details are shared among family members, all that available space becomes unavailable real fast. Hitting the limit and getting an ‘iCloud Storage Full’ message is not a question of if, but when.
So, what should you do when that ‘iCloud Storage Full’ warning feels like it’s just around the corner? Apple will ask you to consider one of its iCloud storage plans. While that is certainly a possibility, it is not your only option. While iCloud storage plans can help you store more data, you can also end up spending quite a bit of money in the long run if you aren’t careful. We recommend doing a bit of spring cleaning on both iCloud and your device first, cutting down on any data that’s just living there rent-free. Luckily, we’re here to show you how to free up space on iCloud.
Let’s get started.
Before you consider buying one of the upgraded Apple iCloud storage plans, take some time to go all Marie Kondo on your iPhone, iPad, or Mac and get rid of anything that no longer sparks joy. We’re talking your bottomless stash of selfies, that game you haven’t played in over six months, and all the texts from your ex that you still haven’t quite gotten over.
Doing a deep dive into what is taking up so much space in the first place and deleting anything that no longer serves you or your device not only gives you more room and helps you save money, but it also makes everything else easier to find.
The average person has 640 photos and up to 90 apps stored on their phone. That’s a lot of stuff taking up space that you might never actually look at again. Zero in on any duplicate photos, unnecessary screenshots, or anything else that you don’t actually need and send it to the trash bin. And don’t forget to empty out your Recently Deleted album!
Plus, nevermind all the images or videos sitting on other devices connected to the same account, or the old texts lurking in your Messages app never to be read again. Messages often contain images, memes, gifs, or videos that—while entertaining—can end up taking up a ton of precious space. Consider deleting either individual texts or entire conversations to free up valuable GBs.
The same goes for other apps. All those attachments in your Mail can suck up a bunch of space, as can conversations that you no longer need. Use the search function to track down any email threads that aren’t relevant anymore, and don’t forget to delete emails with especially sizable attachments. Or, for a “go hard or go home” approach, get rid of any and all emails with attachments regardless of their size.
Automatic backups can be great when it comes to saving time and energy. But, they’re often the number one suspect when your iCloud storage is almost full.
Here’s how to manage automatic system backups on a Mac:
|1.||Go to System Preferences > iCloud > Manage|
|2.||Click on Backups on the left-hand side, then select any versions that you do not need and delete them. The process will take a few seconds.|
You can also delete both system backups and individual app backups from your iOS device. Here’s how:
|1.||For automatic system backups, go to Settings > your Apple ID > iCloud > Manage Storage > Backups.|
|2.||From here, you can delete any backups you would like, manage the data you wish to include or exclude from iCloud backups, or turn off automatic backups altogether.|
|3.||For automatic updates for individual apps, the process is almost identical. Go to Settings > your Apple ID > iCloud.|
|4.||Under Manage Storage you’ll notice the Apps Using iCloud section. Simply toggle the button to grey to turn off automatic iCloud backups for that app, or green to turn them on.|
This might not seem like the most obvious solution to some, but a good way to get rid of that pesky “iCloud Storage Almost Full” message is to download files that you still need and upload them elsewhere, such as to an external hard drive or another cloud service. With up to 15GB of free space, Google Drive is an excellent supplement to iCloud.
There are also plenty of other providers that offer free space, and most allow for auto synchronization so you will not have to worry about manual backups. This feature can be used for all kinds of data including videos, images, contacts, and more.
Once copied over, delete those files from iCloud. Just be sure to disable automatic photo backups so they don’t go taking up all your iCloud space again.
iCloud Drive can be a bit like the Island of Misfit Toys. Lots of unneeded things can wind up there if you don’t stay on top of it. Stay vigilant and delete as much as you can to keep your space clear.
Although it’s possible to get rid of things on your iOS device (Files app > Browse > iCloud Drive on iOS 11 and up or in the iCloud Drive app with older iOS versions), it’s much easier to say goodbye to a bunch of files at once by using your Mac. Just open Finder and delete anything unnecessary.
Consider having multiple iCloud accounts—one for each device. This will offer you more space, but it can make your job difficult if you have to work on the same file across multiple devices.
We hate to tell you this, but if you think knowing how to free up space on iCloud is all there is to it, you’re wrong. Depending on how you use your devices, 5GB of storage might never be enough. In that case, no amount of deleting can save you or your pocketbook.
If that sounds like you, rest easy in knowing that Apple offers iCloud storage plans with up to 2TB of space. The cheapest paid plan (50GB) costs just $0.99 per month, and a reasonable 200GB of space will run you only $2.99 per month. Still not enough? Their most expensive and spacious plan costs $9.99 per month.
Did you spring-clean your device only to find that you’re still only a handful of photos away from a “Storage Full” pop-up? It might be time for a new device altogether. Rather than tossing it in your junk drawer or using Apple’s trade-in program, think about selling your used device (we’re talking iPhones, iPads, MacBooks, Apple Watches, and more) to GadgetGone.
Simply choose your device, provide the required information, get an instant quote, ship your device, and receive your payment. Then, take all that cash, get yourself a shiny new iPhone with bountiful free space, and treat yourself to an upgraded iCloud storage plan.
Whatever you do, just be sure to use all that available space responsibly and avoid keeping files that you do not need. With any luck, you’ll never have to Google “how to free up space on iCloud” again.