What to do when there is not enough iCloud storage to backup your iPhone

By , Aug 28, 2013

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Apple gives you 5GB of free iCloud storage, which can quickly add up when you are syncing photos, videos, and documents, and even more so when you are sharing multiple devices with your iCloud account.

Those of you who sync their devices with iCloud have probably seen the following message: “Not Enough Storage: This iPhone cannot be backed up because there is not enough iCloud storage available. You can manage your storage in Settings.

If you find yourself overfilled with data and cannot backup to iCloud, we have a simple tutorial to help you reduce the size of your storage…

Every week, we post a basic how-to guide for those new to the iOS ecosystem. We know that many of our readers already know the basics of their iPhone, but we like to post these articles to help new users, and hopefully, new readers of our little website. If you already know how to manage your storage in iCloud, my feelings wont be hurt if you skip this post.

Backup and delete your photos to make space

One of the biggest data hogs on iOS is in the photos and videos section. At any given time, I might only have a dozen pictures in my photo library, but my one or two-minute videos will take up more than a gig of space before I’ve had a chance to publish them on YouTube and delete them from my iPhone. The best way to keep your storage low, not just for iCloud, but also for your iPhone in general, is to delete photos and videos that you’ve backed up somewhere first.

We recently wrote two handy tutorials that will help you do just that:

Delete Documents and Data to reduce the size of your iCloud backup

If your photos and videos are not the main culprits in taking up too much storage space in iCloud, there are a few other ways to make room.

The most obvious is to follow Apple’s prompt and manage your storage in Settings by deleting some of the Documents or data that you might not need.

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Step 1: Go to Settings > iCloud > Storage & Backup > Manage Storage

Step 2: Select an app under “Documents & Data” (the biggest data hog will be at the top with each subsequent size below).

Step 3: After selecting the app, tap the “Edit” tab in the upper right corner and then select the specific document to remove, or tap the “Delete All” tab.

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Step 4: Repeat as necessary until you are taking up less than 5GB of storage.

Specify what data should or should not be backed up

If there are entire apps that you don’t need to backup, you can do so by following Step 1 above, and then,

Step 2: Select the device you want to manage the backup for (“This iPhone,” for example).

Step 3: Under “Backup Options,” toggle apps off that you do not want to sync to iCloud.

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Check your other iOS devices

Keep in mind that if you share multiple devices under the same iCloud account, you will need to manage storage from those devices as well. If your device is only using 2.3GB of storage space, but you still receive the “Not Enough Storage” error message, you may need to manage the storage of other devices on your account. Check your iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch to see where the excess storage usage is happening.

Purchase more iCloud storage

Of course, you could always just increase the amount of storage space you have by purchasing more from Apple.

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Step 1: Go to Settings > iCloud > Storage & Backup

Step 2: Tap “Change Storage Plan”

Step 3: Select the plan that is right for you (10GB for $20/year, 20GB for $40/year, or 50GB for $100/year). Your iTunes account will be charged immediately and will renew automatically until you change or cancel your plan.

Now you know how to keep your iCloud storage space to a minimum. How much iCloud storage are you using? Which app is your biggest data hog?

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  • http://www.idownloadblog.com Sebastien

    Now I can send this link to my wife and my mom :)

    • mordechai eliyahu

      hahaha if only you guys had one for setting up the email account on the iphone ill send that over to my parents, grandma and my neighbors ect.. ….lol FML

  • Maxim∑

    Just clear spotify, you will save +1GB of memory :)

  • Patrick

    With my kid’s iPod/iPhone it’s the iMessage content that is the largest. Even though they delete the photos all the videos/pictures/memes they send/receive to their friends get backed up as well. With all that they never have enough space.

    • Jonathan

      Yeah… it’s a bug. If you jailbroke it, and used iFile or something, you could find the photos that went with the iMessages (even though the messages were long deleted) and you could delete them that way.

      • ✪ aidan harris ✪

        Is it possible to do without jailbreaking since my Messages take up 640 MB which although not ridiculously large can still be used to gain a bit of extra space considering I only have a 16 GB device…

      • Patrick

        Delete the threads right out of iMessage.. I know I have message threads that go back a year or more.. All that gets backed up

      • Jonathan

        Not that I know of. This just came to me, but those messages might be what’s taking up the “other” stuff in iTunes? I may be wrong. Try it though.

  • Greg

    Or you can stop backing up photos and videos with iCloud as that tends to be the storage killer. I recommend AT&T’s storage locker for photos and videos as you can get 50GB of storage for free! Another great service is bitcasa. The just rev’d their app and it works great for photo/video backup and sharing.

    • ✪ aidan harris ✪

      I would do that if Photostreams weren’t so damn good!

    • Adam Bowman

      How can you get 50GB for free? I just checked out the app and it says you get only 5GB for free.

      Is there something I’m missing?

      Thanks for your help.

  • smtp25

    Its pretty crap that you get only 5GB per person instead of 5GB per device. If 5GB is enough for 1 device then surely if you have an iPad and iPhone you should get 10GB

    • ✪ aidan harris ✪

      I had to buy extra space to accommodate both my iPhone and iPad so I bought 10 extra gigabytes so I now have 15 gigabytes…

  • Falk M.

    I use iTunes, WiFi Sync is convenient enough and I don’t have to worry about such bullcrap nor do I have to pay for extra storage, especially as Apple isn’t very generous after I paid hundreds of bucks for the device I want to backup.

  • chumawumba

    I have 55 GB. I only use 11 GB though lol.

  • https://twitter.com/MrElectrifyer MrElectrifyer

    I use PkgBackup to backup to my 50 GB Box account, OR backup to a local directory on my iPhone and extract to my surface pro (via iFunBox)…

    • ✪ aidan harris ✪

      Pkgbackup is great for backing up jailbreak tweaks but not so good for other things in my opinion. It’s UI for one thing is woeful! If it had a UI overhaul then maybe I would consider using it again. It needs things like FTP support and other networking services for it to be really useful as well since I do not have much Dropbox space and would rather set it to automatically backup to my PC over ftp, scp, etc…

      • https://twitter.com/MrElectrifyer MrElectrifyer

        I use it to backup everything iCloud backs up, plus my tweaks. Personally, haven’t had any issues with its UI. Regarding adding FTP support, I see how that would be a useful feature (but have no need for it). Why not send the dev an email requesting for it?

        What I like most about it is that in case I want to uninstall an app that got corrupted by an update (happens quite often, I read app reviews claiming the update broke the app), I don’t have to worry about having to reconfigure that particular app; I can easily restore its configuration from Box/Dropbox/Local Storage via PkgBackup. Doesn’t rely on the app supporting it (unlike iCloud).

        If I were relying on iCloud in that situation, I’d have to restore my entire iPhone just for that particular app OR configure it manually again. Unless the app has support for storing configuration in iCloud; not sure when/if all my 170 apps will support such feature…

  • Sanil Chitrakar

    Forget icloud and start using cloud storage app called copy. You get 15 gb for new user, then you can get 5 gb each time you invite someone to use copy. I have already made 70 gb of free cloud storage. :)

  • Daniel

    I use Dropbox cause it lets you bring your photos, docs, and videos anywhere and share them easily. Great backup solution for me.

  • Giel Konink

    whatsapp was mine it uses 500 mb

  • Ricky

    Make an how to clean format macnook that comes with mountain lion

  • Elle

    IMy ipad is in hang.. What will i do.. I click but no use.. HELP HELP HELP

  • Elle

    I keep.. clicking but no use.. I deleted the pictures but no use..

  • Nayeli Lopez

    I bought an extra 20GB (25GB total) for iCloud and am not even half way, why am I still not having “enough storage space” if I only have 12GB used

  • HubertCumberdale99

    Super simplistic answers – how about all of us who make ALL these changes but who do not see ANY change in the amount of data held in iCloud?

    I have reduced EVERYTHING to zero on EVERY device.

    I get the feeling Apple wants me to pay for the extra storage and is making a reduction in data complicated so that I give up in frustration.

    This has been an unresolved issue for 6 months now…

    • natimi

      On windows 7, go to Start > All Programs > iCloud
      Wait few seconds. Press manage > Backups.
      Delete old files. Have Fun!

      • HubertCumberdale99

        Windows 7? C’mon… Windows is for poor people! :)

  • http://laurenceeckert.weebly.com/ Laurence Eckert

    Does iCloud cut into email? Like if I get a lot of emails does it take away from my storage?

  • Fernando Beltran

    Use PogoPlug instead. It offers unlimited cloud storage and is cheaper than iCloud