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All iCloud users get 5 GB of free storage space for Backups, Documents, and Mail.

So… exactly what is getting backed up?

What Is Getting Backed Up To The iCloud?

iOS devices only – Backups of your iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch.

The iCloud is not designed to provide a full backup for your Mac.

iCloud will backup your device over Wi-Fi every day. Backups only take place while a device is turned on, locked, and connected to a power source.

iCloud Backup

iCloud will backup:

  • Purchased music, movies, TV shows, apps, and books
  • Photos and videos in your Camera Roll
  • Device settings
  • App data
  • Home screen and app organization
  • iMessage, text (SMS), and MMS messages
  • Ringtones
  • Visual Voicemail

iCloud Backups exclude the following:

  • Music, movies, and TV shows not purchased from the iTunes Store.
  • Podcasts and audio books.
  • Photos that were originally synced from your computer.

Photostream is not a backup. It is merely a rolling gallery of the last 1,000 photos you have taken that is stored in the iCloud and synced between devices and your Mac.

More  information on backups and backup restrictions for the United States and other countries can be found in this Apple Support Document.

If you intend to use the iCloud for device backup, I recommend you read this document.

Are Documents Saved On The iCloud?

The iCloud does not backup the contents of the Documents folder on your Mac.

iCloud only stores documents that you save or drag and drop to the iCloud.

Compatible document types include iWork (Pages, Numbers & Keynote), Microsoft Office (Word, Express & Powerpoint), Text Edit (Plain or Rich Text Format) or Preview (PDF and several image formats).

Apple Macs With Documents In The iCloud

Is Mail Saved To The iCloud?

Your iCloud email account stores iCloud email and attachments.

If you use a mail client, like Apple Mail or Outlook, only email and attachments that are in an iCloud account will be backed up. Email from other accounts or email that is “On Your Mac” will not be stored on the iCloud server.

Macs Showing iCloud Email

If Something Goes Wrong Will I Lose My Data?

The iCloud is not designed to provide the kind of Mac backup that is needed to restore a user account.

An iCloud backup can be used to restore a device, but remember two things:

  1. To be backed up, your device needs to turned on, locked, and connected to a power source.
  2. The initial backup can take a long time. Subsequent backups over Wi-Fi are not as fast as backing up to a Mac.

If you’re not absolutely certain you can work within these parameters, I’d backup your device to a Mac.

To fully backup your Mac, use Time Machine, and an external hard drive.

What Mac Backup Drive Should I Buy?

I reccomend the G-Technology 1TB G-DRIVE Mobile USB-C External Hard Drive.

To know what size drive to buy, don’t look at the size of the drive that came with the Mac, look at how much space you are actually using on your Mac and then buy a drive roughly double the size.

Click below to buy the drive on Amazon. Please note that as an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. Purchases made from this link provide income that keeps this blog going.

GDrive USB-C 1TB

In future posts we’ll look at finding out how much iCloud space you use, and what to do if you exceed the 5 GB limit for free storage.

That’s it.

If you have questions, please use the Comments section below.

Need Mac, iPhone or iPad help, support, service or repair call No Problem Mac at 310-621-5679.

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