What You Need to Know About Apple iCloud

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Have you ever wanted to know exactly what everyone means every time someone says “iCloud”? Simply defined, iCloud is the name for all of the services Apple delivers through the cloud. That includes iCloud Drive, iCloud Photo Library, and all the information saved from your iOS device. iCloud provides all iPhone users a way to back up their iPhone and iPad in case it needs to be restored at any future point. So how does it all work?

What Is iCloud?

iCloud is the umbrella name Apple has given to its entire range of cloud-based services. It is also the place where all of your Apple information is stored online. Your data can be accessed on any Apple device, including iPhone, iPad, Apple TV, Mac and even Windows computers. You can also visit iCloud.com, log in and find a web-based resource for a good chunk of your iCloud data.

What Can iCloud Do?

Think about all of the people in your Contacts app. With iCloud, all of your contacts will sync automatically across your iOS and macOS devices. You only need to maintain one list of contacts, and if you delete or add a name, it syncs with the rest of your iOS devices. The same goes for your Calendar app. All of your events, birthdays, and holidays will sync across all of your Apple devices. This is also the case for Notes, Reminders, iWork and more. Even your iMessages are backed up to iCloud and can sync to all of your devices.

iCloud Drive, on the other hand, is something akin to Google Drive, Dropbox, etc. You can create folders, and drag and drop stuff into your iCloud Drive from elsewhere on your Mac. If you are familiar with any other cloud storage service, iCloud works in the exact same way. Like all those other services, changes you make in iCloud Drive are synced across all of your macOS and iOS devices. The “Files” app is your central hub for iCloud Drive and comes pre-installed on all iOS devices.

What Does iCloud Cost?

The good news is that Apple provides all of its customers with 5GB of free storage. That can be used for iCloud backup for your device, iMessages, photos, and iCloud Drive. While 5GB of storage can work for a number of iPhone customers, there is a strong chance you will need more. Purchasing more storage means you have more room to back up all of your apps, data, files, pictures and more. So what does iCloud cost if you need more storage?

  • For $0.99 a month, you will receive 50GB of storage.
  • For $2.99 a month, you receive 200GB of storage.
  • For $9.99 a month, you get 2TB of storage.
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For the most part, those rates are extremely competitive. For its part, Google Drive offers 15GB free with plans starting at $1.99 a month for 100GB, $2.99 a month for 200GB and so on. Dropbox matches iCloud with 2TB of storage at $9.99 per month while their free plan offers a meager 2GB of storage. With these examples, it’s easy to see iCloud as very competitive in the space.

Enabling iCloud Drive

The easiest way to set up iCloud Drive is during the initial setup of any new iOS or Mac device. Halfway through the setup process, iOS will ask if you want to use iCloud. If yes, it will then walk you through the steps. If you choose not to activate during setup, you can enable it later on through each device’s settings. Here is how to do that across any iCloud-enabled platform.

iOS or iPadOS

1. Start with Settings and User name. You will see your user name at the very top on your settings screen if you are on iOS 13 or later. Click on your name.

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2. Tap iCloud and turn it on.

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3. You can also see everything taking up your existing iCloud storage on this screen. Apps, photos, mail, contacts, iOS backups, etc.

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macOS

1. Start at the Apple menu (Apple logo at the very top left) and select “System Preferences -> Apple ID.”

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2. Select iCloud and sign in with your Apple ID if you have not already done so.

3. Enable iCloud Drive and then select what you want to sync.

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Windows

1. Download iCloud for Windows or download directly from the Microsoft Store.

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2. Locate the downloaded file and install it. Go to Start, open your Apps or Programs, locate and click iCloud for Windows.

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3. Log in with your Apple ID.

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4. Select iCloud Drive and click on Apply. As is the case on other platforms, you can also enable what to sync at this point.

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iCloud.com

1. Sign in to iCloud.com with your Apple ID.

2. You will see all of your folders from iCloud Drive as well as Notes, Reminders, Mail, Contacts and much more.

3. Most of these web apps offer similar. if not the same, functionality as their native app counterparts.

iCloud Family Sharing

Like other cloud services, Apple and iCloud also allow for Family Sharing. Not only does this allow you to share App Stores and an Apple Music subscription, but also available iCloud Drive storage. As a privacy-driven company, Apple also makes it a point to say that even as a family plan, all photos and documents are private and hidden from each family member.

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1. Enable Family Sharing on the iPhone by going to “Settings -> User name” and scroll down and tap on “Family Sharing.”

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2. At this screen, you have the option to add up to six people from your household. It’s worth noting that the main organizer can add family members. In that case, the “primary” user should be whoever is being charged for the iCloud Drive account.

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3. Inside this screen, you can also turn on Purchase Sharing, iCloud Storage, Apple Arcade, Apple News+ accounts, Location Sharing and more.

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Since its inception, iCloud has become an invaluable part of the iOS and macOS experience. Even if you are an Android user, you still can access iCloud from your handset. Do you use iCloud with your iOS device(s)?

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