iCloud stores a backup of our iOS devices, ensuring the safety and synchronization of our photos and videos. It also allows for the syncing of our macOS desktop between multiple Macs, with access available through an iPhone or iPad. However, these files do take up storage space. Luckily, Apple offers various storage options for iCloud. In our guide, we detail the different iCloud subscription plans and their corresponding prices, helping you choose the best option for your needs. We also provide instructions on how to upgrade or downgrade your iCloud storage.
In our article “Best cloud storage apps for iPhone,” we analyze the advantages and disadvantages of various competing cloud storage services.
The details and prices for the new iCloud tiers, which are now available in 6TB and 12TB sizes, have been updated.
Can you explain iCloud storage?
The iCloud service from Apple is not just a storage platform in the cloud, but also offers additional features.
Using sufficient storage on iCloud allows you to save your photos, videos, documents, Mac desktop, app data, and passwords in the cloud. A major advantage is that all of these items can be accessed on any device connected to your Apple ID and will stay updated.
iCloud is a useful tool for not only backing up files and photos but also for syncing them across all your devices. However, it should not be relied on solely as a backup solution. Storing items in iCloud and then deleting them from your devices may result in permanent loss if not done carefully. Apple does offer a 30-day grace period for items such as photos. To use iCloud for backing up your Mac, refer to the guides “How to use iCloud to back up your Mac” and “How to save space by moving photos from a Mac to iCloud” for various options.
Using iCloud to store items can free up storage on your devices by only keeping frequently accessed files on them. The rest of the files will be stored in the cloud. For instance, if you have iCloud Photos, your full-resolution photos will be stored in the cloud while your iPhone will only have smaller versions, allowing you to view all your photos on any of your devices without taking up excessive storage.
One of our favourite features of iCloud is simply the fact that it can be shared with other members of a family group. So rather than spouses paying for 200GB each, they can get 2TB and share it. Read about how to set up Family Sharing.
However, iCloud offers more than just one advantage. There are several security measures that are exclusive to iCloud users, such as:
iCloud Private Relay functions similarly to a VPN by concealing your IP address.
Conceal Your Email – allowing you to avoid disclosing your email address to every service you sign up for.
Personalized email address – you have the option to create a custom domain for your email.
The Home app allows you to watch footage from your security cameras at home with HomeKit Secure Video.
Apple states that all information saved in iCloud is safeguarded and encrypted, and requires two-factor authentication for added security.
Lockdown Mode – protects your data in the case of a hacker gaining access.
The iMessage Contact Key Verification (currently in beta) simplifies the process of determining the actual sender of an iMessage.
Additionally, iCloud.com provides the ability to view all of your iCloud data online. This includes web-based versions of Apple applications such as Pages and Numbers, as well as access to your Photos, Reminders, Notes, and Find My feature.
In September of 2023, Apple implemented interface changes to iCloud.com and introduced additional features for Photos and Mail. One of these features includes the ability to play Memories or Slideshows through the Photos app.
Options and prices for iCloud storage plans.
Prior to proceeding, it might be beneficial to address the available choices and their respective costs in the countries where the majority of our readers reside, such as the United States and United Kingdom.
Before September 2023, Apple provided five levels of storage options for iCloud. However, with the release of iOS 17 and other operating system updates in 2023, two new tiers for iCloud will be introduced: 6TB and 12TB.
The storage on iCloud is accessible on all of your devices – such as iPhones, iPads, and Macs. If you enable Family Sharing, you can also divide the iCloud storage among members of your family.
The storage capacity will include any files that are stored in the cloud, whether through applications or other means. It also includes backups of your iPad and iPhone in the cloud. However, it is not currently possible to back up your Mac’s settings to iCloud. But, as long as you can synchronize all documents created in Apple apps and access your Desktop and Documents folder, most of your necessary items on your Mac can also be accessed in the cloud.
At the moment, Apple offers the following options for iCloud storage subscriptions:
What is the price for iCloud storage?
Apple revealed on June 27, 2023 that the cost of plans in the United Kingdom would be going up. The new prices are as follows: £0.79 for 50GB, £2.49 for 200GB, and £6.99 for 2TB. Additionally, the prices increased in several other countries, including Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Poland, Bulgaria, Romania, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt, Tanzania, South Africa, Colombia, Peru, and Brazil.
The updated prices went into effect in early August (depending on when your subscription renews).
Previously, Apple provided a 1TB storage option for $9.99/£6.99 per month and a 2TB option for $19.99/£13.99 per month. However, in spring 2017, the 1TB option was discontinued and the price of the 2TB option was lowered.
In October 2022, Apple increased the prices of Apple Music, Apple TV+, and Apple One. However, the prices for iCloud remained unchanged during that time.
How to sign up for an iCloud storage subscription.
After selecting the appropriate iCloud Storage plan, proceed to Apple’s webpage to subscribe or upgrade.
You also have the option to enhance or improve from your iPhone, Mac, or other Apple device.
On an iPhone:
Select the “Apple ID” tab.
Tap on iCloud.
Click on “Manage Your Plan”.
You can also locate options to downgrade on this page.
On a Mac:
Adjust your computer’s settings by opening either System Settings or System Preferences, depending on which version of macOS you are using.
Select your Apple ID section.
Click on iCloud.
Tap the Manage option next to Account Storage.
Select the option to Change Storage Plan.
How to get free upgrades for your iCloud storage.
Starting in May 2018, Apple began providing a free trial month for their service. This allows users to test it out before committing to a paid subscription. This is especially useful if you need time to organize your data backup but are not interested in paying for iCloud storage. The free trial offers up to 2TB of storage for a month, but make sure to cancel before the trial period ends to avoid any charges.
Unfortunately, this complimentary offer is only accessible to individuals who are not currently paying for any iCloud storage. If you are already subscribed to a storage plan, you will not be able to benefit from the free month if you upgrade to the next tier. However, you do have the option to pay for one month and then switch back to the more affordable subscription (just remember to remove any excess data from iCloud).
If you are still unwilling to pay for Apple’s storage services, check out our top alternatives to iCloud.
Which subscription plan for iCloud should you choose?
Which storage option is most suitable for you? Paying $9.99/£6.99 a month for 2TB of storage may not be necessary if you only use it for iPhone backups. Consider factors such as receiving iCloud storage full notifications, using iCloud Drive for document storage, utilizing other services like Google Drive or Dropbox, having iCloud Photo Library active, and utilizing iCloud Drive Desktop and Documents for document syncing across multiple Macs.
These are crucial factors to consider when deciding on iCloud storage options, however, there are other aspects to consider as well. We will discuss them in detail below.
To learn how to use iCloud, check out this guide.
How to utilize iCloud.
In 2021, Apple introduced additions to iCloud under the name iCloud+, which include enhanced privacy and security options like iCloud Private Relay and Hide My Email.
If you only have one iOS device and do not capture a lot of photos or videos, the complimentary storage level should suffice. Additionally, those who primarily rely on a different cloud storage platform (such as Dropbox or Google Drive) for storing documents, photos, and videos can also utilize the free iCloud storage tier.
If you choose the free option, be sure to turn off iCloud synchronization in any frequently used apps to prevent unnecessary storage consumption.
If you have multiple iOS devices, you may need to increase your storage to 50GB for optimal backup. The standard iOS backup can range from 1-5GB or even more, depending on the amount of content on your device. This is especially important for individuals who frequently take photos and videos on their iOS devices and want a reliable backup. Although the option is still accessible for those on the free tier, they may not be able to store many files before reaching full capacity.
The Apple One Individual Plan offers 50GB of iCloud Storage for $16.95/£16.95 per month. Additional information on the Apple One plans can be found in a separate article.
The 200GB plan is ideal for individuals who own multiple iOS devices and a Mac. It offers enough storage space for backing up each device, as well as a sizable iCloud Photo Library and other online documents. This plan provides the convenience of using iCloud without the concern of running out of storage.
It is also advised for individuals who wish to utilize iCloud Drive as their main cloud storage solution.
For a monthly fee of $22.95/£22.95, you can access 200GB of iCloud Storage through the Apple One Family Plan.
The 2TB storage choice is perfect for individuals who have multiple users on one account, like families with many devices that need to be backed up. It is also ideal for those who own a variety of iOS devices and Macs and frequently switch between them. This option offers plenty of space for iOS backups, a large iCloud Photo Library, documents, and other app data.
For those who desire to utilize iCloud without any space concerns and have the means to do so, 2TB is the perfect solution.
The Apple One Premier Plan offers 2TB of iCloud Storage for a monthly cost of $32.95/£32.95.
As of September 2023, there are two additional options for iCloud Storage, meant for individuals who require more than 2TB of storage. For instance, individuals who frequently capture photos and videos on their iPhones, such as photographers and videographers, may find the standard 2TB insufficient.
The option with a storage capacity of 6TB is priced at $29.99 or £26.99.
If 6 terabytes is insufficient, there is a 12 terabyte alternative available for $59.99 or £54.99, which happens to be cheaper than the 10 terabyte Google Drive option.
How to change your iCloud storage plan from canceling it, upgrading it, or downgrading it.
If you have chosen to upgrade from the free tier of iCloud storage, or if you have purchased the 2TB tier and found it to be excessive, changing your tier is a simple process.
Access the Settings application on an iPhone or iPad and select your name located at the top of the primary display.
On the upper part of the screen, you can view the amount of iCloud storage you are currently utilizing.
Click on Manage Storage for Your Account. This section provides additional details on how your device storage is being utilized. If you are also sharing storage with other members of your family, it will show how much they are using.
If you require additional storage or believe you may need less, select Change Storage Plan. (You may also select Manage Your Plan from the previous screen.)
Assuming you are not already subscribed to the highest tier, you will have the choice to either upgrade or downgrade.
Select the option to downgrade by tapping on it.
Please input your Apple ID and select the Manage option.
On the following page, you will be presented with different choices to choose from. Select the one that suits your needs. Your storage subscription will be automatically renewed and the new level will become effective.
To cancel any subscriptions on your iPhone, follow these steps: How to stop subscriptions on an iPhone.