How to manage iCloud Storage & Backup Settings

If you keep getting a “Not Enough Storage” warning on your iPad, or iPhone, then you need to manage your iCloud settings. This tutorial shows you how to manage your iCloud storage to stay under the 5GB limit.

If you have both an iPad and an iPhone, and have turned on iCloud backup on both devices, then chances are you’ve seen this message: “This iPad cannot be backed up because there is not enough iCloud storage available. You can manage your storage in settings”.

Apple has a 5GB limit for iCloud backup, but it is shared across all devices using your Apple ID. So if you buy both an iPhone and iPad, you’ve suddenly got only 2.5GB per device. Add a third iOS device and you’re really out of luck.

What do I do when the iPad gives me a “Not Enough Storage” message is a question we get from a lot of Macworld readers. Here, we show you how to manage your iCloud backup settings so you can stick within the 5GB limit but still back up your devices.

Want to step away? Take a look at our list of the best iCloud alternatives.

Not Enough Storage

See also: iCloud backup tricks for the iPhone and iPad

How to manage iCloud Storage & Backup settings

If you want to manage your iCloud settings so you don’t see the iCloud storage alerts follow these steps:

  1. Tap on Settings > General > Storage & iCloud Backup.
  2. Look at Total Storage under the iCloud heading – this should say 5GB.
  3. Check the Available Storage, this will be the amount that is available on your account. Keep a note of this as you’ll need to get your device under this limit later on.
  4. Tap on Manage Storage.

You should now see the Manage Storage window.

Manage Documents & Data storage in iOS

First take a look at the Documents & Data storage options. Here you should see all the apps using iCloud. These are taking up space on iCloud with the Documents in the Cloud feature (this enables you to access the same documents on both iPad and iPhone).

Some of these you might not need, our iMovie is taking up 56.9MB of data, and we don’t use it. Here is how to remove documents and data from apps

  1. Tap the name of the app in Manage Storage
  2. Tap Edit
  3. Tap Delete All and Delete All again

Note that this removes all of the files you have created in the app, so you should use it with caution. You should only use this if you don’t really use an app at all. If you want to delete files from an app individually open the App and manage the files from within it.

How to adjust Backup Options

If you’ve deleted files from iCloud and you still don’t have enough space for your backup, you probably need to Manage the backup.

Open Storage and tap on the device you want to manage under Backups.  This will display the Info window for that device. It should look like this:

If you look to the right Next Backup Size, you should see how much space your device and its apps will take up on iCloud.

Fortunately we can turn off the items listed so they don’t backup. Follow these steps to free up some space:

  1. Look under each app under Backup Options to see how much space, in MB or GB it is taking up.
  2. Identify apps that use a lot of storage, and toggle the switch next to the App to Off.
  3. A Turn Off & Delete window appears. Tap Delete (don’t worry, this doesn’t delete the app or any of its data from your iPad, it simply deletes any backup data on iCloud).
  4. Tap Manage Storage
  5. Check that iCloud Backup is set to On. If not tap On and OK
  6. Tap Back Up Now

You now find that you can backup both of your devices, although not all of the content on both of them. If you are unwilling to remove items from your backup to fit in the 5GB limit, you should tap on Buy More Storage and get more storage space from Apple. We think it’s a bit cheeky of Apple to ask you to pay for more storage because you’ve bought more than one device from them, but that’s an argument for another day.

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