The key difficulty in using iCloud to access and sync all of our most valuable data across a range of devices, is the issue of iCloud storage limitations.
You may have several devices, an iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch, MacBook Pro and PC that you want to share and sync data between.
The number of devices you have is likely to affect how much storage you will need.
Apple only gives us 5GB of free storage, which as we have discovered, doesn’t go a terribly long way when we’re backing up health tracking apps, photos, videos, music, calendars, documents and more using a combination of iCloud and iCloud Drive (both of which use space in the free 5GB of storage).
If you are struggling to cope with only 5GB of free storage, then there are a range of alternative options you might want to consider, but before you do that, you might want to quickly check that the things you are backing up to iCloud storage are essential.
Check What I’m Backing Up to iCloud Storage
This will need to be actioned separately on each of your devices, but don’t lose heart. Once you’ve done it once, you shouldn’t need to do it again.
On your device go to Settings>iCloud and switch off anything you don’t think is essential (unless you want to pay for more storage).
We’d recommend you keep Photos, Contacts, Calendars and Reminders on.
Here’s an easy to follow video showing you how you can use this process to free up some iCloud storage on your various devices:
While iCloud Drive does share the same storage options as your iCloud account, it is designed to work specifically with documents, so is an excellent storage system.
If you want to check what is being backed up to iCloud Drive you can go in via the same route as for iCloud above…only when you reach the iCloud page, under Storage, you will see iCloud Drive – click on that and you will see all the files and documents which are being synced to iCloud Drive.
To save on storage you don’t need, you can switch some of these off.
If you want to find out more about iCloud Drive and all its excellent capabilities especially with respect to its integration with iWork files, click here to visit our iCloud Drive page.
Pay for More iCloud Storage
As we have already mentioned, you will get the free 5GB automatically by Apple, but if the easiest option for you is to buy more storage (and if the cost isn’t a concern we would certainly recommend this as the most user-friendly option) all you have to do is go to Settings on one of your devices, select iCloud>Storage>Change Storage Plan.
From here you will see the range of storage plan options, select the one for you and select “Buy” on the top right hand side. Enter your Apple ID and password and complete the purchase.
Then you will be able to back up as much as you need to iCloud storage, and need not worry about what will be kept safe in the unhappy circumstance that your device may be lost, damaged or stolen.
What Free Options Do I Have?
If you want to consider using alternative free storage options, there are a number of possibilities, but be warned…the more of these you utilise, the more complicated it gets remembering where everything you want to access is stored.
If you want to avoid paying for additional storage, you will need to be a little bit crafty in how you utilise the free space offered by a variety of different cloud based storage systems.
But on the whole, you will probably have to learn to be more ruthless in what is essential, and what isn’t, which we have found particularly tough in the iCloud Login office.
We’ll run you through our favourite non-iCloud storage options which we use alongside iCloud to maximise our iCloud storage capacity.
The first 2GB of storage is free in Dropbox, and is best utilised for files that can be stored easily within a set folder.
The Dropbox folder can be downloaded to your laptop, so you can drag files into it easily, and they will be backed up and synced with your Dropbox account provided you are connected to the internet.
Dropbox is a really excellent option for backing up files and folders.
The design is really simple and clean, and it’s very easy to set up, but you will want to have some kind of system for keeping track of what documents are backed up where, as it can be a little confusing when using multiple storage options.
One thing about Dropbox is that it’s possibly less well set up for working collaboratively with others, so if you want to store files that will be shared with co-workers and colleagues you might want to try Google Drive for those.
The best thing about Google Drive is how much free storage it offers. You get 15GB of free storage space, which in comparison to Dropbox’s 2GB and Apple’s 5GB seems particularly generous.
The only downside to that is if, like me, you have an incredibly ridiculous amount of emails in your Gmail account and aren’t too good at keeping on top of your email management, those free 15GB are shared with your Gmail or Googlemail account.
So having a tonne of old emails clogging up your 15GB of free storage is going to reduce your capacity.
If you want to learn how better to manage your Gmail account, there’s this really great book we found called Teach Yourself Gmail in 10 Minutes which will help you get to grips with improving your Gmail management. This can significantly improve your free storage options, so is highly recommended.
In the iCloud Login office, we regularly share documents via Google Drive because it really is incredibly easy to use, and very reliable.
GoogleDrive allows you to access various useful office tools, so is really fantastic for collaborative working.
For a comprehensive unbiased review of iCloud Drive, Google Drive, Dropbox and One Drive, check out this article by Trusted Reviews.