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Apple's iCloud products explained: Backup, Drive, Photo Library and Music

Catalin Nichita

by Catalin Nichita

One of our favourite redditors recently published a lovely guide to explain the iCloud, and with compliments to them, we're building on that to share a little more insight into Apple's programs and storage plans.

iCloud Backup, iCloud Drive, iCloud Photo Library, iCloud Music Library
iCloud Backup, iCloud Drive, iCloud Photo Library, iCloud Music Library

iCloud backups iCloud Drive iCloud Photo Library iCloud Music Library (w/ Apple Music)
What for Automatically create secure backups of your device in the cloud Save your personal files in the cloud, similar to Amazon Cloud, Google Drive or Dropbox Save your pictures and videos, accessible on all your iOS and macOs devices. Access to your music across devices
Useful for Recovering your data if lost or deleted, switching phones Saving and protecting your day to day files Collecting and viewing all your photos All your music, anywhere, anytime
Where (iOS) Settings > iCloud > Backup > On Settings > iCloud > iCloud Drive > On Settings > Photos & Camera > iCloud Photo Library > On Settings > Music > iCloud Music Library > On
Where (macOS) In iTunes > Connect your device > Backups > iCloud System Preferences > iCloud > iCloud Drive Photos > Preferences > iCloud > iCloud Photo Library In iTunes > Preferences > General > iCloud Music Library > On
Pros & cons Data not included in your iCloud backup:
  • Apple Pay
  • Touch ID
  • iTunes & App Store content
  • Any imported videos & audio files
  • Data already in the cloud
    Access these files devices by turning on "Show on Home Screen". If you're using Mac, access by using Finder or If you're using a PC, access with an iCloud Drive or on Use the images with Optimise for iPhone Storage to save space on iOS. This way images will not be stored at full resolution and you can always download them at full resolution if you want to. Add / favourite / deleted song or playlist will reflect changes across all devices.
    Storage Uses iCloud storage space Uses iCloud storage space Uses iCloud storage space No space needed with Apple Music
    Space Shared 5GB of free space usually not enough for a single device Shared 5GB adequate for small collections of files Shared 5GB covers a year or so of photos if no other data is put in iCloud Unlimited as long as you pay for a subscription to Apple Music.
    • Individual subscription $9.99/ month
    • Premium Plus Plan (up to 6 people) – $14.99/ month

    Running out of iCloud space?

    You've never even considered buying more iCloud storage because you assumed you wouldn't be able to afford it? Well, have a look. You might be surprised to see that 50GB of iCloud space is only $0.99 a month.

    Apple's iCloud storage plans as follows:

    • 50GB -- $0.99 / month
    • 200GB -- $2.99 / month
    • 1TB -- $9.99 / month

    To purchase from your iOS device, navigate to Settings > iCloud > Storage > Buy more Storage.

    To purchase from your Mac, navigate to System Preferences > iCloud > Manage > Buy more Storage.

    Have you considered local iTunes backups instead of iCloud backups?

    You can copy and save the data on your iPhone or iPad by backing up in iCloud or iTunes, and we explore the differences between iTunes and iCloud backups in more detail in our knowledge-base. Check it out, as we also talk about how to back up your iOS device.

    Here's how to recover your iTunes iOS backup data without iTunes -- or the iOS device itself.

    Using iPhone Backup Extractor to recover iCloud backup data

    Catalin Nichita

    by Catalin Nichita on , last updated

    We've helped over 3,000,000 people recover their lost iPhone data. Let us help you too.

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    iTunes support

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    iCloud and iTunes support

    Works with Windows and Mac

    Customer support

    5 iCloud devices


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