iCloud and Its Storage Limits



Nik Fletcher:

Much as Apple is offering free versions of iWork with a new iOS device, it’s time to stop tying backups to a storage quota and simply say: “We’ve got this. Your iOS device – no matter how much you’ve got on it – will be backed up”. iCloud Backup likely started people automatically backing up their devices for the first time – a great achievement in and of itself. It’s time to make these backups invisible, “just” a part of the service and reflect Apple’s multi-device ecosystem.

Agreed. Instead of free downloads to the iOS iWork apps, I’d much rather get a free boost in iCloud storage when I buy a new iOS device. Or at least a free boost for 24 months (the “average” upgrade cycle for iPhone owners).

Apple sells 64GB iPhones and 128GB iPads. If you own one or both of these, and fill them up with photos and documents, you literally cannot buy enough storage to back up even one of them in full — iCloud’s largest tier of storage maxes out at 50GB.

Automatic nightly backups of our iOS devices is one of iCloud’s greatest features. And restoring from an iCloud backup is a piece of cake (albeit, a piece of cake that takes a few hours to eat).

One of the awesome things about buying a new device is how you can just log in with your iCloud ID and watch your new device restore itself to the same state as your previous one. All your apps download and then place themselves in the same spots you left them with their data all there; your photos, music, movies, background wallpapers, all just set themselves back in place.

iCloud restores just work. But only if you’ve got a recent iCloud backup.

The free 5GB of storage that everyone gets has become too small many, especially those of us who own more than one iOS device. Apple’s best customers — those who own multiple iOS devices, who use iCloud email, take lots of photos, and buy and use apps that use iCloud storage and sync — are the ones being boxed in, and even penalized, by iCloud’s storage limits.

Many iOS users will elect to cease backing up their devices rather than pay $40/year to upgrade to the next plan. And of those who do pay to upgrade, some can’t buy a big enough plan even if they want to.

iCloud is one of the paramount services to a great iOS experience, allowing us to keep apps and photos in sync, perform automatic backups, easily set up our new devices, and more. Yet all “magic” of iCloud is at risk from something as silly as a measly storage limit.