There is no doubt that the arrival of iCloud has made life a lot easier for many iPhone, iPad and iPod owners out there, allowing us to have our most important information synced in real-time across all our devices and, most importantly, live completely unplugged from any of our Macs or Windows PCs, not needing them to either set up of perform backups.
However, while this definitely solved an issue, it brought up another: iCloud accounts come with a free limited storage quote of “just” 5GB, which is enough for some core data, documents and such. Yet the moment you least expect, your iCloud backup (which also makes use of this limited storage space) is full and you don’t even know how it happened.
If you have faced this problem before, here are 5 tips that you can implement right now to help you regain space from your iCloud backup.
1. Check Your Photos
The first and easily the most important tip to preserve space on your iCloud backups is to keep an eye on your Camera Roll. Sometimes the amount of photos we keep on our iPhones can be surprising. If you add to that the fact that both the iPhone 4S and the iPhone 5 sport 8 megapixel cameras that can produce photos that are several MB in size, then you have the perfect recipe for filling up your iCloud backup.
Note: For those who don’t know, iCloud doesn’t store your photos indefinitely. It’s just a conduit for them to reach your computer, and hence only keeps a particular photo for 30 days. During that time it’s expected that they’ll sync to your Mac (iPhoto library), Windows PC (Pictures folder) or that you will copy them to a local album on your iOS device.
2. Disable HDR
While enabling HDR for your photos can dramatically increase their quality, each photo you take will create two copies, which means it will take you half the number of photos to fill up your iCloud backup. Disable HDR by opening your iPhone’s Camera app and taping on Options at the top of the screen.
3. Consider Alternative Storage Options for Your Photos
You might also want to consider simply not enabling iCloud backups for your photos (not even for the 30 days), especially if you have a computer where you can easily store them. On top of that, there are services like SkyDrive, Google+, Flickr and Dropbox where you can easily keep quite a bit of photos for free.
4. Be Careful With App Sizes
Another important factor that can take considerable space but that is oftentimes overlooked by users is the apps they download. Your average productivity app will usually be of less than 30 MB, so those don’t tend to be a problem. Download a few games however (3D ones especially), and you can easily be taking entire GB of your backup space without you even noticing. A perfect example of this is the popular game Infinity Blade II, which comes at a whooping 1.03 GB in size.
5. App Data is Tricky
Sometimes, downloading an app might not affect your iCloud backup space at all… until you start downloading content into it and it suddenly becomes enormous. Apps like these tend to be interactive art apps, magazine apps (like Apple’s Newstand), text book apps, manga readers and more, with issues of a manga or magazines taking easily 500 MB or more a piece. Video apps are also among the main culprits here (like Azul, shown below), so keep an eye on them as well.
There you go, five very simple and effective tips that will get you back in control of your iCloud backups, all without any extra expense and by just investing a bit of your time every now and then.