What Is Apple’s iCloud and What Does It Back Up?

ICloud storage section displayed on iPhone

iCloud is Apple’s generic term for each cloud sync feature. Basically, everything that is backed up or synchronized with Apple’s servers is considered part of iCloud. Wondering what it is exactly? Let’s break it down.

What is iCloud?

iCloud is Apple’s name for all of its cloud-based services. It spans iCloud messaging, calendars, Find My iPhone, iCloud Photos and Apple Music Library (not to mention device backups).

Visit iCloud.com on your device and sign in with your Apple account to see all your data synced to the cloud in one place.

ICloud website

The purpose of iCloud is to securely store important data and information on Apple’s remote servers (as opposed to your iPhone or iPad). In this way, all your information is saved in a secure location and synchronized between all your devices.

Backing up your information in the cloud has two advantages. If you ever lose your Apple device, your information (from contacts to photos) will be saved to iCloud. You can then access iCloud.com to recover this data or log in with your Apple ID to automatically restore all this data to your new Apple device.

The second advantage is seamless and almost invisible. It may be something you already take for granted. It is iCloud which synchronizes your Notes and Calendar appointments between your iPhone, iPad and Mac. It does this for many Apple apps and even third-party apps that you have connected to iCloud.

Now that we have a clear understanding of iCloud, let’s take a look at what it backs up.

What does iCloud backup?

Here is all that iCloud can save and synchronize with its servers from your iPhone, iPad or Mac:

Contacts: If you use your iCloud account as your default address book account, it will sync all of your contacts with iCloud servers.
Calendar: All calendar appointments made using your iCloud account will be saved to iCloud servers.
Notes: All notes and attachments in Apple Notes across all your devices are synced and saved to iCloud. You can also access it from iCloud.com.
IWork applications: All the data you have in the Pages, Keynote and Numbers app will be downloaded and stored in iCloud, which means all your documents are safe even if you lose your iPhone or iPad.
Pictures: If you’ve enabled the iCloud Photos feature in Settings> Photos, all of the photos in your camera roll will be downloaded and saved to iCloud (if you have enough storage space). You can download these photos from iCloud.com.
The music: If you’ve enabled Apple Music Library, your local music collection will be synced and downloaded to iCloud servers, and will be available on all devices.
iCloud Drive: All files and folders stored in iCloud Drive are automatically synchronized with iCloud servers. Even if you lose your iPhone or iPad, these files will be safe (just make sure the files are not saved in the On my iPhone or On my iPad section in the Files application).
Application data: If this option is enabled, Apple saves the application data for the application in question. When you restore your iPhone or iPad from an iCloud backup, the app and the app data will be restored.
Device and device settings: If you have ICloud backup enabled (Settings> Profile> iCloud> iCloud Backup), all essential data from your device such as linked accounts, home screen configuration, device settings, iMessage, etc. will be uploaded to iCloud. All of this data can be downloaded again when you restore your iPhone or iPad using iCloud.
Purchase history: iCloud also keeps a count of all your purchases on the App Store and the iTunes Store so you can come back at any time and download an app, a book, a movie, music or TV shows again.
Apple Watch backups: If iCloud backup is enabled for your iPhone, it will also automatically back up your Apple Watch.
Messages: iCloud backs up the content of the Messages application, including iMessage, SMS and MMS messages.
Visual voicemail password: iCloud backs up the visual voicemail password that you can restore after inserting the same SIM card that was used during the backup process.
Voice Memos: All records from Voice Memos app can also be saved to iCloud.
Bookmarks: All bookmarks in Safari are saved to iCloud and synchronized across all your devices.
Health data: Apple now also securely backs up all health data on your iPhone. This means that even if you lose an iPhone, you won’t lose years of health tracking data like workouts and body measurements.

That’s all iCloud can save, but the specific configuration of your iCloud account will be different. To see everything your iCloud account is backing up, open the “Settings” application on your iPhone or iPad, select your profile at the top of the list, then go to the “iCloud” section.

iCloud Manage Storage on iPhone

Here, scroll down to see all of the enabled features (like ICloud Photos and iCloud Backup for devices). You can also enable or disable the backup of application data for specific applications from here.

ICloud applications on iPhone

If you’re running out of iCloud storage, go to the “Manage Storage” section in iCloud. Here you can switch to a monthly plan with more storage. You can buy 50 GB for $ 0.99 / month, 200 GB for $ 2.99 / month and 2 TB for $ 9.99 / month.

You can also try these tips for free up iCloud storage space.

RELATED: How to free up iCloud storage

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