How to selectively back up app data to iCloud in order to save storage space

How to selectively back up app data to iCloud in order to save storage space

If you use iCloud in order to back up your iPhone or iPad, you're probably already aware that you only get 5GB per iCloud account for free. Depending on how many devices you have linked to your account, this may not be a lot at all. Unless you pay for additional storage, you may find your devices unable to back up after your storage is filled.

Choosing which app data you want to back up can save tremendous amounts of space in some cases. Follow along and we'll show you how to turn off backups for storage hungry apps.

  1. Launch the Settings app from the Home screen of your iPhone or iPad.
  2. Now tap on iCloud.
  3. Scroll down and tap on Storage & Backup.
  4. Now tap on Manage Storage under the Storage section.
  5. Here you'll see all the devices that are currently backing up to your iCloud account. Tap on the device that says This iPhone or This iPad underneath its name. You can't alter other devices remotely, you'll have to do each from the actual device.
  6. Under the Backup Options section, you'll see a list of apps and how much data they are storing in iCloud. You can toggle some of these to Off in order to save storage space.

Keep in mind if you turn off app data, it doesn't mean that app will not return to your device during a restore, it just means the app data will not return. Typically the camera roll and document-centric apps are the most storage hungry. If you decide to turn these off, just make sure you're okay with losing the data within them in the event of a restore. We'd suggest saving any documents or photos to your computer frequently to free up storage space.

Allyson Kazmucha

Editor for iMore, Potter pundit, and the ninja in your iOS

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There are 10 comments. Add yours.

wormeyman says:

I turned off the camera roll and use dropbox for my photos backup, since i already pay for dropbox i didn't see the need to pay for another cloud backup service.

Tre says:

Just download iCloud for your computer and it'll automatically download your photostream to your local harddrive so you don't have to worry about having your entire camera roll backed up in the cloud. That way you'll always have 1000 of your most recent photos in the cloud for easy access and no more than that taking up space.

west3man says:

That last part is tricky. Backing up photos to a pc isn't that hard since the pc sees the device as USB storage but other documents are not so easy - especially if you use iCloud backup, because the device wants to backup to one or the other, not both.

asuperstarr says:

I discover this feature by mistake. I didn't realize how many of my apps were downloading to the cloud.

K Sec says:

I wish i am allowed to select only Photos are backed up. Since video are taking most of the space and it stop me from backing up to iCloud.

kataran says:

thanks for this great tip

LivieS says:

Thanks for the tips, but I'll stick with iTunes, requires no extra pay for storage space. Besides, the backup is stored safely on the computer - the data can be accesed with iPhone backup extractor if needed.

Keri Smith says:

my ipad says not enough storage and to use settings for storage but the ipad won't let me open anything

PubRickRan says:

Has anyone had any luck backing up app data to icloud from one ios device and then syncing another ios device to icloud to get the same app data? For example, I have an app called simple habits, and I want to be able to have the info I input on another ios device. I have made sure that my iCloud backup has included documents and data, and made sure that the app is turned on in iCloud backups. Can anyone shed light on this?

Kaitokomauri says:

There's a slight trouble. While you can selectively back up apps and app data, you can't selectively restore. So apart from saving storage space on your iCloud account, the feature defies its purpose. I'd look into this method of selective backup and restore of iPhone apps if it is not only the storage space that you need to save: http://www.copytrans.net/support/how-to-install-selected-apps-app-settin...