What to do when there is not enough iCloud storage to backup your iPhone

not enough storage iPhone cannot be backed up

Apple gives you 5GB of free iCloud storage, which can quickly add up when you are syncing photos, videos, and documents, and even more so when you are sharing multiple devices with your iCloud account.

Those of you who sync their devices with iCloud have probably seen the following message: “Not Enough Storage: This iPhone cannot be backed up because there is not enough iCloud storage available. You can manage your storage in Settings.

If you find yourself overfilled with data and cannot backup to iCloud, we have a simple tutorial to help you reduce the size of your storage.

Backup and delete your photos to make space

One of the biggest data hogs on iOS is in the photos and videos section. By default, your iPhone or iPad is set to automatically back up your photos and videos to iCloud, and it can quickly become a problem.

At any given time, I might only have a dozen pictures in my photo library, but my one or two-minute videos will take up more than a gig of space before I’ve had a chance to publish them on YouTube and delete them from my iPhone. The best way to keep your storage low, not just for iCloud, but also for your iPhone in general, is to delete photos and videos that you’ve backed up somewhere first.

We recently wrote two handy tutorials that will help you do just that:

  • Best ways to backup your iPhone photos
  • How to save storage space by removing photos from your iPhone
  • How to delete photos from iPhone or iPad

Delete Documents and Data to reduce the size of your iCloud backup

If your photos and videos are not the main culprits in taking up too much storage space in iCloud, there are a few other ways to make room.

The most obvious is to follow Apple’s prompt and manage your storage in Settings by deleting some of the Documents or data that you might not need.

iOS Manage iCloud Storage

Step 1: Go to Settings > iCloud > Storage > Manage Storage.

Step 2: Select an app under Documents & Data (the biggest data hog will be at the top with each subsequent size below).

Step 3: After selecting the app, tap the Edit tab in the upper right corner and then select the specific document to remove, or tap the Delete All tab.

Delete app documents data ios

Step 4: Repeat as necessary until you are taking up less than 5GB of storage.

Related tutorial: Deleting documents and data stored in iCloud

Specify what data should or should not be backed up

If there are entire apps that you don’t need to backup, you can do so by following:

Step 1: Go to Settings > iCloud > Storage > Manage Storage.

Step 2: Select the device you want to manage the backup for (“This iPhone,” for example).

Step 3: Under the Choose Data to Back Up heading, toggle apps off that you do not want to sync to iCloud. As previously noted, Photo Library usually is the biggest culprit. In the example below, I have chosen to turn off iCloud backups for the Netflix app. Tap on Turn Off & Delete to confirm.

Related tutorial: Manually select what apps can be backed up in iCloud

Check your other iOS devices

Keep in mind that if you share multiple devices under the same iCloud account, you will need to manage storage from those devices as well. If your device is only using 2.3GB of storage space, but you still receive the “Not Enough Storage” error message, you may need to manage the storage of other devices on your account. Check your iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch to see where the excess storage usage is happening.

Related tutorial: How to delete your iPhone or iPad backups from iCloud

Purchase more iCloud storage

Of course, you could always just increase the amount of storage space you have by purchasing more from Apple.

Step 1: Go to Settings > iCloud > Storage.

Step 2: Tap “Buy More Storage.”

upgrade icloud storage

Step 3: Select the plan that is right for you (50GB for $0.99/month, 200GB for $2.99/month, 1TB for $9.99/month, or 2TB for $19.99/month). Your iTunes account will be charged immediately and will renew automatically until you change or cancel your plan.

Note that this storage will be shared among all your devices logged into the same iCloud account. For example, if you have an iPhone and an iPad logged in the same iCloud account, both devices will be able to enjoy this new plan you upgraded to.

Now you know how to keep your iCloud storage space to a minimum. How much iCloud storage are you using? Which app is your biggest data hog?

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