Backups of iPhone and iPad devices eat up a lot of space iCloud account.  This article looks at how to remove old iOS backups from iCloud and squeeze backups down so they fit into the 5GB of free space.

Deleting old backups from iCloud is a great way to free up space in your online storage. Apple only gives you 5GB of free iCloud space, and this can be quickly eaten up by online iOS backups. In this feature, we look at how to check for old iCloud backups, and how to delete them from iCloud. We'll also look at how to reduce the size of your vital backups so they can all fit into the free 5GB of space.

Delete old iCloud backups: check your iCloud backups

How to check iCloud backups in iOS

The first step is to check your iCloud account to see what devices are being backed up. You can do this from any iOS device. Follow these steps to check your iCloud backup:

  1. Tap Settings > iCloud.
  2. Scroll down and tap on Storage & Backup.
  3. Tap on Manage Storage.

Now check the area under Backups and you will see a list of all devices being backed up. If you look to the right of each device, you'll see how much space it is taking up (to the right of Backups is the total amount of space used by iCloud backup). Decide which backups are important to you and if any can be removed entirely.

Read: How to back up an iPhone

Delete old iCloud backups: remove unwanted devices from iCloud backup

How to delete iCloud backups in iOS

If you decide to remove the device from iCloud backup, then you can quickly get rid of it from the same menu screen. Here are the steps to remove an iCloud backup from iOS:

  1. Tap Settings > iCloud > Storage & Backup > Manage Storage.
  2. Tap on the device that you want to remove from iCloud backup.
  3. Tap Delete Backup.
  4. Tap Turn Off & Delete.

The iOS device's display will show deleting while it removes the account. Now the Manage storage screen will show the list of devices still being backed up. Note that there is no way to restore a deleted backup, but if you decide you want the backup you can switch to that original device, and turn iCloud backup on (tap on Settings > iCloud Storage & Backup and set the switch next to iCloud Backup to On.)

How to delete photos from your iPhone

Reduce the size of iCloud backups so they fit into 5GB of free space

How to remove parts of iCloud backups in iOS

If you have a device Backup that is eating up space, then you can reduce it to fit inside the free 5GB of space from Apple. Sometimes you find that one device (typically the one you use most often) is taking up more space in iCloud backup than the others. The larger backup is often the device you use the most (and so want to keep a backup).

In this instance, you can remove elements from the backup, which reduces the overall size of the storage space used, but still affords you some protection.

Follow these steps to reduce the size of an iCloud backup:

  1. Tap on Settings > iCloud > Storage & Backup > Manage Storage.
  2. Look at the list under Backups for the device taking up the most space, and tap on it.
  3. Scroll down to view the area under Backup Options. This area contains all the items backed up.
  4. Tap a switch next to an unwanted element (such as Camera Roll) to set it to Off.
  5. Tap Turn Off & Delete.

The elements contained in that backup are deleted, but the other parts of the backup are still working. Removing the Camera Roll from iCloud Backups is a great way to reduce the amount of space taken up on iCloud Storage.

It’s worth knowing that you can back up photographs from an iOS device to another service, such as Dropbox or Google Drive. These services offer free online storage area and automatic camera upload. If you're struggling to keep all your devices into Apple's 5GB online iCloud storage, then switching off Camera Roll and using a different service for photographs can fix the problem.