How To Clear Up iCloud Storage

Clear up your iCloud storage today!
15 minutes

If you know the difference between internal and iCloud storage, and have determined you are having an issue with your iCloud storage versus your iPhone's internal storage, then the next step is to fix your iCloud storage issue. This can be a bit overwhelming, especially if you have a lot of data in iCloud, or aren't sure where to start.

Clearing up your iCloud storage does come with a couple of extra complications you don't see when freeing up your iPhone's internal storage, but the process is fairly similar. In this guide, I will cover how to clear up iCloud storage, what options are available or best for making that process as easy as possible, and what to do to prevent full or close to capacity iCloud storage in the future.

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How To Clear iCloud Storage

To begin, check your iCloud storage. This should be the very first step so that you can make a plan on how to move forward. What works based on your iCloud storage usage, plan, and goals? To check your iCloud storage do the following:

  1. Open the settings app.
  2. Click on your name up top.
  3. Select "iCloud."
  4. See what is taking up the bulk of your iCloud storage. Generally, there are two or three data types that make up the majority of the data being stored.

As pictured, you can see the culprits for my data issue are pictures and backups. This makes sense because both pictures and backups are large data types. The larger the data type, the easier the issue is to resolve.

Now that you know what two or three main data types are causing a problem, focus on those. However, before deleting anything we need to check all the product's settings.

The reason for this is that if you have an app using iCloud or have your photo library turned on and syncing to the cloud, data deleted from the product will delete from iCloud, and all your products that also have these same settings and are connected to wifi. That is the point of iCloud, syncing, backing up, and continuity. To prevent deleting data you don't want to delete do the following:

  1. Scroll through the "Apps using iCloud." Any apps in this list will be deleted everywhere.
  2. Ask yourself if there are any apps or app data that you do not want in iCloud. If there is, turn that feature off but clicking the toggle to the right of that app under "Apps Using iCloud."
  3. You will be asked if you want to download the data from that app to the iPhone. It is crucial that you download that app date to prevent data loss. Unless, of course, this is data you no longer have use for.

Be mindful of what is and isn't syncing to iCloud as you move forward to make deletions. If you don't want something to delete "everywhere" and it is syncing to iCloud versus being backed up, do not delete it. Instead, try the steps above to stop the syncing process and download the data to your iPhone. After data has been safely downloaded to the product, you can delete what remains in iCloud from

How To Clear iCloud Storage

Let's delete stuff! Before just digging in and deleting things, ask yourself how you want to go about deleting your unwanted data and what you want to delete. The main methods to deleting data:

  1. Delete via the product. When iCloud is turned on and wifi is connected, the data deletes from everywhere, so this is a simple process and the one I would recommend.
  2. Delete data via This method will also delete data from everywhere as long as it's turned on for that app or data type and connected to wifi.

Once you have decided what method will work best for you, it's time to get started. Start deleting the biggest data types first. Don't put work into clearing up much smaller data types right now, because they will take too much time to make a substantial dent. Work your way from the biggest storage hog to the lowest.

To delete the data via the product:

  1. Open the settings app.
  2. Click your name up top.
  3. Click "iCloud."
  4. Click "Manage Storage."

Once you know what data is where, you can open the app and delete unwanted data, or you can delete all of an app's data in the manage storage section by clicking the app and clicking "delete data" or "disable and delete." I would recommend only doing this if you are okay with this app having complete data loss.

How To Clear iCloud Storage

Remember I mentioned there are a few extra complications with clearing iCloud storage versus internal? Generally, those extra complications are related to photos or other important, priceless data types. Here are a few tips and things you should know as you make space in the iCloud:

  • Music, videos, pictures, and apps are the bigger data types you will have on any Apple product. Start with those. Start with anything disposable to you first. Apps you never use. Screenshots you don't remember why you took in the first place.
  • If you are deleting photos, consider making a backup of those photos to a PC or Mac first. If you have optimize photo library on, this step will not work.
  • If you are deleting photos, remember that photos go to the recently deleted album for 30 days. The photos will still be taking up space on the iPhone while in the recently deleted album.
  • If optimize photo library is on, deleting photos will make a smaller dent. This is because photos take up a small percentage of the space they would normally take up.

If the storage culprit is the photo library, but you have optimization turned on, you may need to do things a little differently:

  1. Delete any unwanted photos.
  2. Delete those photos from the recently deleted folder.
  3. Delete any other big data types you do not want like videos, apps, voice memos, or music.
  4. Go to and download the photos to a computer, flash drive, or another external drive.
  5. Once the photos are confirmed to be safe on that drive or computer, delete them from the iCloud and/or consider turning off the iCloud photo library and manually backup the iPhone using iTunes and a computer, or import them to a Mac or PC.
How To Clear iCloud Storage

Once you have made the necessary deletions, you should be good to go!

However, you may decide that the amount of data you were willing to delete did not make enough space for you to continue backing up and syncing your data to iCloud. At this point, I would recommend upgrading your iCloud storage plan, Alternatively, you can start backing up to a Mac or PC using iTunes and stop syncing data to iCloud.

Note: if data is syncing to iCloud and you don't turn that syncing feature off, it will not backup to a computer via iTunes. You have to stop syncing those features first, by turning off the toggle to the right of that particular app under "Apps Using iCloud" and download the app data when prompted first.

Next: Fix issues with "other" storage on a Mac!

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10 minutes

During many years of working in the tech industry, one of the biggest problems I dealt with was the dreaded and confusing: storage.