Estimated iCloud backup size doesn’t add up
Ask iLounge offers readers the opportunity to get answers to their iPod-, iPhone-, iPad-, iTunes-, or Apple TV-related questions from a member of the iLounge editorial team. We'll answer several questions here each week, and of course, you can always get help with more immediate concerns from the iLounge Discussion Forums. Submit your questions for consideration using our Ask iLounge Submit Form. We reserve the right to edit questions for grammar, spelling, and length.
A: I saw your article last week about reducing iCloud storage. It’s helpful as I’m in the same boat of losing my 20GB of free storage and having to trim things down. My problem though is that when I go into my settings, my iCloud backups is well over 5GB by itself, yet when I look at the stuff that’s being backed up, it just doesn’t add up to that number—I’ve cleaned out most of my camera roll, and only have a couple of apps with more than 100MB of data in them. Even if I turn everything OFF on that list, my backup is still saying it’s 3.5GB. Any ideas how I can trim this down further? Also, what happens if I don’t get this cut down before I lose my extra 20GB?
A: The likely reason for this discrepancy is that your iCloud backup actually includes some data that can’t be excluded and therefore doesn’t appear on this list. If you go into your Settings app and check under General, Usage you should see a list of the storage being used by all of the apps on your iPhone, including those that don’t appear on the iCloud
Unfortunately, this doesn’t tell the whole story either, as the listing here shows what’s actually on your device, much of which doesn’t get included in your iCloud backups at all. Your actual applications aren’t backed up to iCloud as they can be re-downloaded from the App Store; only your application data gets backed up. The same applies to your Music and Videos for much the same reasons. Photos & Camera here will also likely show a larger number as it includes your Photo Stream and any photos that have been synced on through iTunes—neither of which are backed up to iCloud either.
One section that does get backed up to iCloud and can grow particularly large, however, is your Messages data. While normal text messages don’t take up a lot of space, if you’ve been using iMessage to share photos and videos with your friends, this can add up quickly—particularly as iMessage sends and receives photos and videos in full resolution, and these remain in your Messages database unless you specifically delete them.
This database is backed up to iCloud, and factors into the sizes you see in your iCloud backup summary. There is no way to exclude this data, so if it’s become huge, your only option—other than paying for more iCloud storage space or switching to iTunes backups—is to clear our some of your old Messages conversations. The good news, however, is that there are a number of third-party tools you can use to archive your messages on your computer before removing them from your iPhone. eCamm’s PhoneView (Mac) and CopyTrans Contacts (Windows) are a couple of options worth checking out if you want to save your old messages offline.
- Will removing a credit card from Safari also remove it from Apple Pay?
- Can I mute Handoff calls coming into my Mac from my iPhone?
- How do I keep my iPhone calls from ringing on my Mac?
- Why doesn’t Traffic show up on my Today Notifications Screen?
- Why doesn’t my iPhone reconnect to Wi-Fi after I turn it on?
- Why can’t I see the iPad-style landscape view on my iPhone 6 Plus?
- Spotify penalizing artists who release Apple Music exclusives
- Apple releases new round of iOS 10 and tvOS 10 betas
- Report: 2017 iPhone to eliminate home button
- Apple to add payment technology to iPhone for transit passes, Apple Pay in Japan
- Apple releases iOS 9.3.5 ‘security update’
- Report: Apple developing its own Snapchat-style social video editing iOS app
- Apple announces Apple Music Festival lineup including Alicia Keys, Britney Spears + more
- Universal calls an end to exclusives amid criticisms that Apple Music is hurting the industry
- Apple reveals some of its upcoming AI advancements for the iPhone
- Apple Music’s royalty rates complicate Spotify’s contract negotiations
- Western Digital My Cloud (OS 3)
- Distil Union Stanley Stand
- Philips Sonicare FlexCare Platinum Connected Bluetooth Toothbrush
- Audeze EL-8 Titanium Over-Ear Headphones
- Defined Corp Dome Stand for Apple Watch and iPhone
- Speck StyleFolio Pencil for 9.7” iPad Pro
- Audeze Sine On-Ear Headphone
- First Alert Onelink Wi-Fi Smoke + Carbon Monoxide Alarm
- Logitech Create 9.7” iPad Pro Keyboard Case
- iDevices Outdoor Switch Power Outlet
- Inside the betas: iOS 10 Photos gets Advanced Computer Vision
- Inside the betas: iOS 10 Music app delivers ‘clarity and simplicity’
- Inside the betas: iOS 10 Maps gets a major redesign
- Inside the betas: iOS 10 shakes up the user experience
- Inside the betas: watchOS 3 promises a real speed boost
- Inside the betas: A sneak peek at what’s new in tvOS 10
- Filling the Gap: A look at third-party HomeKit apps
- Instant Expert: Secrets & Features of tvOS 9.2
- Instant Expert: Secrets & Features of iOS 9.3
- Opinion: Why Apple needs a dedicated HomeKit app