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How to Free Up Storage Space in iCloud

How to Free Up Storage Space in iCloud

Do you ever get notifications saying “Your iCloud Storage is full”? In this article, you’ll learn how to get rid of that notification and you’ll learn how to free up storage space in iCloud.

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iCloud Storage

iCloud Storage is one of the most misused and misunderstood features of the iPhone. Most people don’t understand what iCloud is trying to do and how to fix it. It can be quite frustrating, and most of us just click ignore or cancel and wait for the notification “Your iCloud storage is full” to pop up in a few days.

It’s time to finally conquer the iCloud problem for good! I’m going to show you how in this article. First, let’s understand what iCloud is. iCloud is Apple’s online storage service that allows you to save files on their online servers.


Instead of saving files or information directly on your computer, phone, or storage device, you are storing it on Apple’s servers so you can access the files from anywhere at any time. Every Apple user gets 5GB of iCloud storage space for free. You can pay to upgrade your storage to 50GB, 200GB, or 1TB by paying a monthly fee, but for most of you, this is unnecessary.

iCloud Backup is a feature on iPhones, iPads, and iPods that backs up your entire device to iCloud, just in case something unfortunate happens. You should definitely use the iCloud backup. This saves all your contact info, apps you’ve downloaded, and other data that is useful when you need a new phone.

Now let’s get to the reason you’re here. This next feature of iCloud is the reason you’re getting notifications saying “Your iCloud storage is full” or “Failed to backup iPhone, there isn’t enough storage.” The culprit is your photos.

differences between iCloud Photo Library and My Photo Stream

First, we need to understand the distinct differences between the iCloud Photo Library and My Photo Stream. iCloud Photo Library permanently uploads and stores your photos and videos on iCloud. My Photo Stream uploads your photos to iCloud so they’re automatically downloaded on devices with My Photo Stream turned on. It only works over Wi-Fi and doesn’t fill up your iCloud Storage space. It’s easiest to think of it like this.


If you take a photo on your iPhone and you have My Photo Stream turned on, that same photo will also get downloaded to your iPad and Macbook (if you have those devices and have My Photo Stream turned on). That photo gets saved to your other devices storage, not on iCloud. Please note that My Photo Stream only transfers photos. Videos do not transfer to other devices. You’ll need to manually transfer those to your computer using Airdrop or by plugging in your device to iTunes.

Free up Storage Space in iCloud

Let’s go into iCloud on an iPhone. Open your settings app on your iPhone and click on your Apple ID info at the top of the screen. On the next screen click iCloud.

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Notice how the bar at the top of my screen is full and most of it is taken up by photos. Before we change any settings, please plug your phone into a computer and transfer all your photos to your computer as a backup.


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After you’ve done that you can go back into iCloud settings. Back in iCloud settings click on Photos under Apps Using iCloud.

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On this screen make sure that iCloud Photo Library is turned off. This feature saves ALL your photos to iCloud. If you don’t pay for extra iCloud storage this will fill up your free storage very quickly.


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My Photo Stream can remain on. Like I said earlier, this feature does NOT save photos to iCloud. It downloads your photos to all your connected devices. The other two features can remain off as well. If you’ve backed up all your photos and videos to your computer as I suggested, you can continue through any pop-ups that may come up. Your photos will be safe. After changing those settings your iCloud storage may still be full.

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Free up Storage

Let me show you how to free up that storage. You may need to sign in to iCloud online to see what Photos were previously saved to your account. On a computer, sign in to using the same apple login you use for your iPhone iCloud. Once signed in, you’ll be able to click on Photos to view photos saved to your iCloud.


You can go through and click on Photos and download them to your computer, or delete them. After you’ve cleaned out your Photos on you should see your iCloud storage returns to normal.

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Now that you’ve finally conquered iCloud Share this article with your friends. Chances are if they have an iPhone, they have battled the iCloud storage issues too!


Remember these key points. iCloud Photo Library Off, My Photo Stream On. All the other iCloud settings are up to you. Reminders, notes, contacts, and all those other settings don’t take up much storage space so you should be able to leave all those on. If you start to see certain apps taking up a lot of iCloud space in the storage bar you can always turn those apps off in the iCloud settings.


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