iCloud backs up our iOS devices, keeps all our photos and videos safe and now even syncs our macOS desktop between Macs. But all those files have to take up space, right? Thankfully, Apple has a number of storage options available for iCloud, and in our guide to iCloud subscriptions and pricing we explain which is the right one for you, along with how to upgrade or downgrade your iCloud storage.
iCloud storage plan options and pricing
Before we go any further, we should probably first discuss the options available, and the corresponding prices for those of us in the UK. Currently, Apple offers five different tiers of storage for iCloud, which is shared between all your devices, including iPhones, iPads and Macs. Your storage space will account for any files that you store in the cloud, via apps or otherwise, and the cloud backups of all your devices too.
Apple currently has the following iCloud storage subscriptions available:
- 5GB storage: Free
- 50GB storage: £0.79/$0.99 a month
- 200GB storage: £2.49/$2.99 a month
- 2TB storage: £6.99/$9.99 a month
Apple used to offer 1TB for £6.99 for 2TB for £13.99 a month, but in spring 2017 it removed the 1TB offering and reduced the price of 2TB.
How to upgrade your iCloud storage for free
Since May 2018 Apple has been offering the first month for free so you could trial the service for a month before deciding whether you need it or not. This is particularly handy if you needed a little time to sort out a backup of your data but weren't really keen on paying for iCloud storage, as it will basically give you up to 2TB of storage for a month - you'll just need to remember to cancel the service before you are due to pay anything.
However, this free offer is only available to those who aren't paying for any iCloud storage currently. If you already pay for storage, you can't take advantage of the free month if you update to the next tier.
If you still don't want to pay Apple for storage, have a look at our Best alternatives to iCloud.
Which iCloud subscription should you buy?
Now you know the different storage options available to you, which is the best for you? There’s no point in paying £6.99 a month for 2TB of storage if you only use it to back up your iPhone, after all. You should consider factors like whether you’re already getting iCloud storage full notifications, whether you use iCloud Drive to store your documents or whether you primarily use another service like Google Drive or Dropbox, if you are using iCloud Photo Library, and whether you’re using iCloud Drive Desktop and Documents to sync documents between multiple Macs.
The above are all very important factors when considering iCloud storage options, but there’s more to it to than that. We break it down below. For a guide to using iCloud read: How to use iCloud.
If you’ve only got a single iOS device that you use and you don’t take many photos or videos, the free storage tier should be enough for you. The free iCloud storage tier can also be used by those that primarily use another cloud storage service (like Dropbox or Google Drive) for storing documents, photos and videos.
If you do opt for the free tier, make sure you disable iCloud syncing in any apps that you frequently use to avoid filling up the storage unnecessarily.
Those of you that own more than one iOS device will probably have to bump up the storage option to 50GB, as a standard iOS backup can be anywhere from 1-5GB or even more, depending on how much is stored on your device. It’s also better for those that like to take photos and videos on their iOS devices and want to keep a secure backup of them – the option is still available for those on the free tier, although they wouldn’t be able to store many before the storage becomes full.
The 200GB plan is the standard option for those that have multiple iOS devices and a Mac, as it allows for enough room to store the backups of each device, along with space for a fairly substantial iCloud Photo Library and other documents to be stored online. It’ll give you the freedom to use iCloud as you see fit, without too much of a worry about filling up the storage.
It’s also recommended for those looking to use iCloud Drive as their primary cloud storage service.
The 2TB storage option should only really be used by pro-level Apple users and those that share an account between multiple users (such as families, with a plethora of devices to keep backed up) – but you probably didn’t need us to tell you that, right? The 2TB option is ideal for those that have a collection of iOS devices and Macs, and switches between them regularly. It’ll provide more than enough space for iOS backups, an iCloud Photo Library spanning thousands of photos and videos, documents and other app data.
If you want the freedom to use iCloud as you desire without any worry about space, and if money is no option, 2TB is ideal.
If you have decided to make the plunge and upgrade from the free tier of iCloud storage, of if you've bought the 2TB tier and realised it’s more than you need, it's easy to change your tier - read our tutorial here: How to upgrade or downgrade your iCloud storage