How to clear iCloud storage? [Ultimate guide]

Right, I tell you how it is! I love Apple products… OK? So probably you can call me an «Apple fan boy». My friends know about that, so every time there is problem with iPhone or MAC, they bring it to me. Great, innit? Not long ago one of them asked to help with an iPhone, which had an annoying message pop up «Not Enough Storage. This iPhone cannot be backed up because there is not enough iCloud storage available…». The message would create some kind of discomfort rather than problems. I’m sure most of you got yourself into similar situation, but not many people know how to solve the issue and what exactly had taken all 5Gb of iCloud storage. Today I will explain the reason and show you how to clear iCloud storage… Let’s begin!

As you probably know, every Apple ID comes with 5Gb of free iCloud storage. This space is given to you by Apple to store your private information (contacts, notes, photos, etc.) and also backups. It may seem that 5Gb of storage is quite a lot, but don’t be fooled. It’s barely enough for an average user. According to sad statistic, most iPhone users don’t know how to set the device the right way (guide is coming soon). Thus all of them get to the point when iCloud gets overfilled. In order to make it clear for you, let me quickly explain what is going on and what iPhone settings should be adjusted, so you always have enough iCloud storage (and you don’t need to spend any extra money). Today you’ll learn how to manage iCloud like a Pro.

Where did 5Gb of my iCloud storage go?

First of all… Synchronization! Do you know what «iCloud Synchronization» means? In few words, it means that some information (chosen by you) will be automatically copied and stored on Apple cloud server. By having this ability you can easily restore this information on other Apple devices by connecting them to the same iCloud.

OK. It’s obvious that some information from your iPhone is copied to iCloud. Have a look at the screenshot below and tell me what kind of information will take up the most of cloud space? You’re right! Of course it will be photos, taken by you on iPhone camera. But not only this… There also backup copies of your iPhone that automatically get to iCloud when you sleep.

Delete stuff off icloud

Probably you DO have all your photos copied to iCloud… It’s one of those moments when I usually ask «Do you really need that happening?». Just think for a moment and decide for yourself. I personally switched OFF this option. I don’t synchronize any of my pictures with other devices, neither I need an extra copy of them in iCloud. If I really need to save some pics, I do it deliberately manually via AirDrop.

If your photos are not synced to iCloud, but the space is still clogged, there is a possible explanation to it as well. Are your aware that your iPhone can automatically create a backup and send it to iCloud? When iPhone is connected to power supply and is within WiFi network, it automatically creates a backup copy (should be allowed in iPhone settings). It happens on a regular basis, but you don’t even know about that.

So, iPhone Backup is the second possible reason of overfilled iCloud. To check which of your devices make a backup to iCloud go to Settings – [Your Name], then scroll the page and click on a device, linked to your account. On the «Device info» page you’ll see if iCloud Backup option was activated.

How to clear iCloud StorageNo space left in iCloud

At this point you should have a question: «What kind of information may be included in a backup that it takes so much space?». You’re right again! The answer is – iPhone iCloud Backup may also include Photos from your iPhone.

All of the above should mean the following: if you didn’t bother setting your iPhone the right way, it’s very possible that photos are being transferred to iCloud TWO times. First time via synchronization, second time as a part of backup copy. This is the most common scenario when users have no space left in iCloud.

I hope this info didn’t create mess in your head… Any way, if you really want to keep photos in iCloud, you’d better decide what option to choose – photos via synchronization or photos inside of a backup (I would choose the first option).

How to clear iCloud storage?

As we just learned, the main «danger» to iCloud are photos, as they take too much space and possibly being copied to iCloud two times. Now, let’s actually see if I was right. To see what exactly took most of the space go to Settings — [Your Name] — iCloud — Manage Storage.

Manage iCloud like Pro

Right at this point you should clearly realize what’s going on. Have a look at first few lines of “iCloud consumers”… I bet they are Photos or Backups, or both. In order to clear up some space we need to delete some stuff from iCloud?

Hopefully, you have made your mind by now whether you want to keep photos in iCloud or not. I’ll try to make it simple for you. So below are few options which you can follow simultaneously or choose only one of them. It all depends on what you want, and if it solves your problem.

OPTION 1 Disable photos synchronization to iCloud. To do that see the first screenshot in this article.

If you do so, the photos will NOT be immediately removed from iCloud, but stay there for 30 more days. If you’re looking for quick result, you’ll have to delete them manually at More details about that below…

OPTION 2 Disable photos from getting to a Backup. To do that follow the simple guide:

STEP 1 Go to Settings — [Your Name] — iCloud — Manage Storage. Tap on «Backup» (see previous screenshot), and then click on the name of your device.

Backup in iCloud

​STEP 2 Turn Off «Photo Library» option at «CHOOSE DATA TO BACK UP» field. You can also turn off any apps, which you think shouldn’t be backed up to iCloud.

Clearing up iCloud storage

STEP 3 Scroll this page to the bottom and then click on «Delete Backup».

Yes, we do have to delete the previous backup copy since it took all space of your iCloud. Don’t worry we are about to create a new backup, that won’t include photos from your iPhone. Now do this:

STEP 1 Go to Settings — [Your Name] — iCloud — iCloud Backup

How to create iCloud Backup

STEP 2 At the next page click on «Back up Now»… wait until the process is finished.

Back up on iPhone to iCloud

Do you understand what we have just done? No? OK… We’ve deleted a backup copy, which had photos inside (thus taking a lot of space), and then created a new backup in iCloud, which takes much less space.

It’s also possible that you photos take more than 5Gb on iPhone’s internal storage. In this case you either have to follow both options i described above, or purchase additional iCloud gigabytes (see guide below). Don’t forget to copy photos from iPhone to a computer from time to time.

How to Upgrade iCloud Storage?

If you love making photos and do this a lot on your iPhone, there is big chance you won’t be able to squeeze them into free 5Gb. In this case you will need to upgrade your iCloud storage. It’s very simple to do and won’t cost you much. Prices start from 0.99$ for 50Gb of storage.

To upgrade iCloud Storage go to: Settings – [Your Name] – iCloud – Manage Storage – Change Storage Plan.

upgrade icloud storage

Don’t forget to enter your bank card details to your Apple ID account before proceeding to upgrade storage.

How to see photos stored in iCloud?

In this article we talk about iCloud virtual storage. You can manage iCloud by using either iPhone or a personal computer. To get access to information stored in iCloud, go to website and login using your Apple ID account. From iCloud Launchpad interface you can get access to photos, mail, contacts, notes, etc. Launch photo app and clean up some space by deleting unnecessary pictures. This is the only way to get an immediate result if your photos were synchronized to iCloud.

icloud photos

I don’t see the point to carry on here… My 4 year old son can figure out what to do next.

Disable iCloud Drive

If you’re still fighting with iCloud Storage and have no luck to free some space, try one more thing… Disable iCloud Drive. This option had appeared in iOS not long ago, so many people still don’t know what it does. iCloud Drive lets your phone to sync and keep data from third party apps in iCloud. That means if you activate this option, all WhatsApp and Viber messages including attachments will be copied to iCloud Drive. Imagine how many nude photos and prank videos sent to you by friends will appear in your iCloud. Do you need that?

To disable iCloud Drive go to Settings – Apple ID – iCloud. Alternatively you can disable just some apps from sending data to cloud storage. To do that go to Settings – Apple ID – iCloud – Manage Storage – iCloud Drive.

Disable iCloud Drive

These are probably no other ways to clear iCloud storage. By following steps in this guide, you should realize what has taken so much space. Decide if you still need this in your storage and then either delete or start paying 1$ every month. As an alternative you can donate one dollar on my PayPal account… then I would know that I helped somebody today.

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