Saving documents and photos to the cloud is a major way to protect your critical assets in case of theft, loss, or natural disaster. For Apple customers, iCloud is bound to be a favorite choice because it is designed to work seamlessly across all your devices.
With the iCloud service enabled, you get backup and syncing of and between devices for files, photos, calendars, contacts, notes, reminders, photos, email, and preferences. All iCloud accounts get 5GB of online storage space for free, but if you are going to depend on iCloud for backup and syncing, you will require way more than 5GB. Apple is happy to oblige with various subscription levels to help you target the right amount of storage for your needs.
Looking for another cloud? We’ve got a list of the best cloud storage services for you to check out.
Apple offers four monthly iCloud subscription levels to choose from to tie together your iPhones, iPads, Macs, and even some Windows computers.
- Free: 5GB of storage
- $0.99 per month for 50GB of storage
- $2.99 per month for 200GB of storage
- $9.99 per month for 2TB of storage
For those amounts, you can store anything you have parked or synced in iCloud Drive, plus app data, photos and videos, mobile device backups, iCloud Music Library audio, and data from contacts, calendar, mail, notes, and reminders stored in iCloud.
Customers on a Family Sharing plan who purchase the $2.99 or $9.99 per month plans can share space with up to five added family members, with each person having a separate and private account and storage.
When choosing an iCloud storage plan, think about why you need it and your intended use. If you’re using it in addition to other cloud services like Google Drive, Google Photos, or Dropbox, you may not need to spring for as much storage space. On the other hand, if you find you’re running out of space for device backups or you’re using iCloud’s Desktop and Documents feature to sync devices, you may need more.
Free: If your life is not awash in Apple devices, or you already use Google services or Dropbox, the free version of the service may be all you need. While you may have to perform device backups directly to your Mac as opposed to iCloud, that shouldn’t be a problem.
50GB plan ($12 per year): This is the best plan for very casual users or those who employ additional backup strategies. Generally, you will want to have it hold your iPhone and iPad backups in the cloud — instead of your Mac — and store a moderate number of documents, images, or video.
200GB plan ($36 per year): This is the best plan for heavy users and those with families or friends to share storage space with. If you have multiple devices and want to keep them all backed up, use iCloud Drive regularly, or have been building a substantial iCloud Photo Library, 200GB is a good bet for you. It supports the family sharing feature for a total of six people on one account, each with their own private storage and login.
2TB plan ($120 per year): This plan is for extreme power users, professional backup for files, photos, and videos, and family sharing. If you have multiple iPhone, iPad, and Mac devices or have a family with multiple devices, you use multiple iCloud services like iCloud Photo Library, Music Library, or iCloud Drive, and you intend to back-up many devices to the cloud, consider the more expensive 2TB plan.
iCloud+ on the horizon
If you’re already a paying iCloud subscriber, this fall, your subscription will get an automatic free boost with iCloud+, a new version of the service that will be available with the release of iOS 15. Apple announced iCloud+ and its new privacy-focused features, including Private Relay, Hide My Email, and HomeKit Secure Video at WWDC 2021. The upgrade features internet encryption, faux email address creation, and enhanced support for home security cameras.
Bit of an Apple head and like to use everything Apple has to offer? Apple has also launched the all-inclusive Apple One service that delivers all cloud benefits under one roof. Apple One bundles up to six Apple services under one subscription, including Apple Music, Apple TV+, Apple Arcade, Apple News+, Apple Fitness+, and iCloud storage.
There are several levels to Apple One, and you get an increased amount of iCloud storage with each, so depending on what you use, there might be a financial tradeoff. If you don’t use any of Apple’s ancillary subscription services, then stick to buying iCloud storage on its own. However, if you find yourself using Apple’s other services, this will allow you to save money.
- Apple One Individual Plan ($14.95 per month): This option offers up to 50GB of iCloud storage for a single individual alongside access to Apple Music, Apple TV+, and Apple Arcade.
- Apple One Family Plan ($19.95 per month): If you have friends and family who are planning to buy iCloud storage, the Family Plan is a great option. Not only do you get 200GB of storage, but you’ll also get access to all the other Apple services you might already use, like Music, Apple TV+, and Apple Arcade, sharable with five additional people.
- Apple One Premier Plan ($29.95 per month): This option offers 2TB of iCloud storage and access to Apple Music, Apple TV+, Apple Arcade, Apple News+, and Apple Fitness+ to share with five additional people.
The Premier Plan — available only in the U.S., U.K., Australia, and Canada — works nicely if you need 2TB of space in addition to all available Apple services, including the upcoming Apple Fitness+, which is not bundled into other plans. If you split the payment among five people, it’s a fairly economical option.
Apple One works across Apple devices, including iPhone and iPod touch with iOS 14 or later, iPad with iPadOS 14 or later, Apple TV with TvOS 14 or later, and Mac with MacOS Big Sur 11.1 or later. If you subscribe through another device, you can get Apple One with earlier MacOS versions as well. Apple Fitness+, included with the Premier plan, requires the Apple Watch Series 3 or later. Even if you sign up for Apple One, you can still purchase additional iCloud storage.