iCloud: Everything you need to know (2024)

iCloud is Apple's cloud-based storage solution to manage and sync your personal, app, phone, and other data across the company's devices and platforms. Like Google Drive on Android and OneDrive on Windows, Apple has a tight iCloud integration on iPhone, iPad, and Mac. If you are new to iCloud, continue reading to learn everything about the default cloud service on iPhone.

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What is iCloud?

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Source: Apple

iCloud is a cloud service from Apple. It stores and syncs your photos, videos, messages, contacts, passwords, reminders, health data, journal entries, and more across all the relevant devices. You can also use the iCloud platform to back up and restore your iPhone, iPad, or Mac.

iCloud is built into every Apple device. You can find iCloud options in the Settings menu. When you create a new Apple account, you are eligible for 5GB of free iCloud space. If it isn't sufficient for you, explore one of the iCloud+ or Apple One plans to increase storage space.

When you sign in to any Apple device using your account details, choose the apps you want to use with iCloud and select the iCloud features you want to turn on or off.

iCloud availability

Apart from Apple devices, iCloud also has an app for Windows. You can also access it on any web browser at iCloud.com. iCloud integrates well with the default Windows apps like File Explorer and Microsoft Photos. Apple also offers the iCloud-powered Passwords app on Windows. Apple doesn't provide the iCloud app and related services on Android.

iCloud features

Before we dive into iCloud subscription plans, let's look at the top iCloud features.

Media backup

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iCloud: Everything you need to know (4)

Seamless media backup is one of the top reasons for using iCloud on an iPhone. When you activate iCloud Photos, it syncs the entire media library on the cloud platform.

You can also activate and set up Shared Library to invite and collaborate with others on your vacation or birthday pictures. All participants have equal permission to tweak content in the Shared Library. You can access your iCloud photos on iPad, Mac, Windows (via Photos or File Explorer), the web, and Apple TV. iCloud also syncs your Hidden album on other devices.

Device backup

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iCloud: Everything you need to know (6)

iCloud offers a full device backup on the company's devices. You can back up your personal data, first-party apps, and third-party apps on iCloud. You can check and manage the backup size from the Settings menu. The practice makes restoring device data on your new iPhone or iPad easy.

Passwords and Keychain

You can securely store your passwords, login information, and other details over iCloud Keychain. Use AutoFill to sign in seamlessly to your favorite apps and websites. iCloud Keychain also supports two-factor authentication codes, detects compromised passwords, and warns you to change the login details.

App data backup

Most third-party apps on iPhones and iPads use iCloud to sync data. WhatsApp, for example, uses iCloud to back up your chats, media, and other info. When you switch to another iPhone, you can restore the same from iCloud in no time.

Real-time collaboration

You can share files, folders, spreadsheets, presentations, notes, reminder lists, and more with other team members and collaborate in real time. The option is available in iCloud Drive on iPhone and other productivity apps and lets you control privacy permissions like view, share, or edit.

iCloud+ pricing

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Source: Apple

iCloud comes with 5GB of free space. When you activate iCloud photos and WhatsApp backup and start saving your important files, you'll quickly reach the 5GB limit. Purchase one of the iCloud+ plans to expand storage and unlock more features.

  • $1 per month: 50GB
  • $3 per month: 200GB
  • $10 per month: 2TB
  • $30 per month: 6TB
  • $60 per month: 12TB

Each paid plan activates family sharing for your account. This means you can share an iCloud+ plan with up to five family members.

Apple One plans

The Cupertino-based company also offers an Apple One subscription that bundles six Apple services, such as Apple Music, Apple TV+, Apple Arcade, iCloud+, Apple Fitness+, and Apple News+, under a single plan. Let's check their pricing and offering in detail.

  • Individual Plan ($20 per month): Access to Apple Music, Apple TV+, Apple Arcade, and 50GB of iCloud+ space.
  • Family Plan ($26 per month): Includes the same services as above but increases iCloud storage to 200GB and allows family sharing.
  • Premier Plan ($38 per month): In addition to the services mentioned above, it offers Apple News+, Apple Fitness+, and 2TB iCloud storage with family sharing.

If you already use other Apple services, opting for Apple One makes sense. These Apple One bundles offer discounts of up to 43%. Besides, these are monthly plans, and you can cancel them anytime.

iCloud+ features

Your active iCloud+ or Apple One subscription comes with other perks, too. Let's glance over them quickly.

iCloud Private Relay

iCloud Private Relay is turned on by default for iCloud+ subscribers. It reroutes your internet traffic via Apple's services and prevents websites from building your profile based on IP address, location, and other details. It works in the Safari browser only.

Hide My Email

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iCloud: Everything you need to know (11)

With Hide My Email, you no longer need to share your primary email ID when you sign up for an unknown app or web service. You can generate unique email addresses and automatically forward incoming messages to your main inbox. You can manage your random email addresses by going to Settings > Account > iCloud > Hide My Email.

Custom Email Domain

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Custom Email Domain lets you personalize your iCloud email address with a custom domain. You can use your existing domain or purchase one through Cloudflare.

HomeKit Secure Video

If you use a HomeKit-compatible security camera, you can store, analyze, and view encrypted video from your home security cameras.

Should you use iCloud?

The answer is yes. Even if you don't use any iCloud+ features and first-party apps, a seamless backup and restore solution via iCloud is worth upgrading to one of the paid plans. It isn't a picture-perfect solution, though. Apple needs to improve sync speeds and offer an Android app, and the web version still leaves much to desire.

If you have a below-average experience with iCloud and are looking for alternatives, check out Google Drive and OneDrive. Glance over our comparison to learn the differences between the two popular cloud storage solutions.

iCloud: Everything you need to know (2024)

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