iCloud automagically backs up all of the data on your iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad. So, if you ever lose, replace, update, or simply restore your device, you can easily get back to right where you left off. Unfortunately, iCloud backup is so automagical that it can quickly fill up the 5GB Apple gives you for free, preventing future backups or forcing you to buy additional -- non free - storage.
Sure, you can go through and delete iCloud emails with hefty attachments, or be frugal about just how many -- and how large --documents you keep in the cloud, but you can also control just exactly what gets backed up, removing anything that's not urgent or important to you, and you can also manually delete old backups from devices you no longer have, or you simply don't need anymore. And that can instantly free up considerable, valuable space for the stuff you do care about.
Old backups, especially if they're for devices you've since lost, given away, sold, upgraded, or otherwise don't have anymore, can be a huge waste of your iCloud space. Likewise, even backups of the devices you do use, if they're several months old, might not be worth keeping around any more. Since all the iPhones, iPods, and iPads you've ever connected to your iCloud account share the same 5GB storage pool, cleaning out what you no longer need can give you back a lot of breathing room. It's easy to do, if tricky to find.
That’s it, that backup has now been removed and your iCloud account should show a nicer, healthier balance.
Once you've deleted all the old backups you don't need any more, the next thing to check is what's being backed up now, and whether or not all of it needs to be backed up. For example, backing up the Camera Roll can use up a large amount of your iCloud storage. Since Photo Stream captures all the photo data anyway, and isn't counted against your total storage usage, turning off Camera Roll backup can save you considerable space. You will LOSE backups of videos, but those same videos can chew through your free iCloud data allotment anyway. Again, it's easy to see and control what gets backed up to iCloud, once you know where to look.
The Camera Roll above is 35GB. That could cost you quite a bit in iCloud storage fees. Turning it off, you save a ton of space. Just remember, while Photo Stream will keep your still photos safe, your videos won't get backed up so you'll have to take care of those yourself.
If you previously bought more iCloud storage space, and now, after having cleaned out your iClouds, you decide you don't any more, you can make sure you don't get billed again next time your payment comes due. iCloud billing is on a yearly cycle, so chance are you'll still get the extra storage you paid for for a while, but you won't get charged again.
The downgrade will take effect at your next billing cycle (one year after you bought the additional storage).
If you still need help with any other iCloud feature, head on over to our iCloud Forum and ask away! And if you have any of your own tips on saving space in iCloud, leave it in the comments below!
Ally Kazmucha and Chris Oldroyd contributed sections to this articles.