EP132: The iCloud Show

Today I am going to simplify the mysterious Apple iCloud for you and help you de-clutter, de-stress and take control over your photos and backup strategy on your Apple devices.

Episode Summary: Today’s episode 132 is going to be iCloud 101 and the goal of today’s episode is to simplify what Apple iCloud is and what it does, cover topics you may be too embarrassed to ask or did not realized existed and to help you on your way to organize and backup your iDevices.

I want you to feel in control of your digital data and because we are moving to a mobile world, you must have a system to manage your iDevices.

If you are an Android user, my apologies as today is Apple only.

Today will start off with: An overview of what Apple iCloud is What is backed up and where is it stored? How does iCloud Photos really work? What is iCloud Drive and how can it help you in your overall backup strategy?

Episode 132: The iCloud Show:

One of the questions I get asked the most: How do I free up space on iPhones and iPads?

Questions for you to ponder: Do you frequently get error message popups inviting you to purchase more iCloud storage and not sure what to do?

Do you know what gets backed up to iCloud and how to manage and access your backups?

If you delete a photo from your iPad, will it also delete from your iPhone or Mac? What about text messages and Notes and Contacts, do they all get backed up?

Do you know when the last time your iOS devices were backed up and are your old devices taking up space on your iCloud storage?

Did you know you could back up 2TB of any type of files for less than $10/month and access all of your content right from your iPhone?

Are you confused about iCloud backups or Photos or iCloud Drive? You are not alone,

Plan: Once you understand iCloud and how to work your iDevices into your main backup system for all of your computer and business data, you can have peace of mind and mastery over your digital world.

This is where the de-stress and de-clutter come into play. I think a lot of people would like to have a good system in place for backing up their iDevices, computers and photos, but it is either too confusing or they don’t know where to begin so they keep putting it off.

Reality: You never know when your hard drive will fail or you may break your phone or computer or get it stolen so you have to get a handle on your backups before it’s too late. I will help you.

Hard Drive Storage vs. iCloud Storage: The hard drive on your iPhone or iPad is unrelated to your iCloud storage limit. Buying more iCloud space will not free up room on your iPhone unless you remove data from your iPhone and archive it in your iCloud storage.

If your phone hard drive is at full capacity of storage (all 32GB is being used) and you cannot take more photos or videos, buying more iCloud storage will not fix your full hard drive problem by itself.

You need to delete or offload files from your iPhone hard drive in order to be able to add more photos and videos.

I know this gets confusing when you see the popup offering you more iCloud storage, but it’s a little misleading.

What is iCloud?

iCloud is simply the proprietary name for Apple’s system of storage and backup for files and devices and services that lives on the internet so it can be accessed from anywhere.

Apple iCloud is where all of your iDevices get backed up and photos and data gets stored and it’s how you recover data if your iPhone gets broken or stolen.

Your Apple ID & Password let you into your little private storage locker in the Apple iCloud.

You’ve likely heard of Dropbox and Google Drive, well iCloud is Apple’s version of a similar product. In addition to backup and storage, iCloud also has a suite of services that include Mail, Calendar, Contacts, Reminders, Notes, Photos, Pages, Numbers, Keynote, iCloud Drive and everyone’s favorite, Find My iPhone that you can use on any of your devices and the documents and data all get saved into your iCloud account freeing up hard drive space and allowing you to access the information from anywhere. All pretty handy.

The ‘Cloud’ is a mystery word for many, but it’s pretty simple. When you hear The Cloud or cloud computing, all that means is that information is stored on the internet accessible from anywhere.

The opposite of this for those who are still confused by the concept of the cloud is think of a typical external hard drive tethered to your computer with a USB cable. If you unplug the hard drive and take your computer down to local coffee shop to work, can you access the information on the external hard drive that is sitting on your desk at home? Unless it is a network drive, probably not.

Apple Ecosystem iCloud is also indirectly one of the main reasons we love Apple products and keep buying more. Apple has created an entire family or ecosystem of devices including the iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, computers, Apple Home & TV and they all seamlessly communicate and work with each other using iCloud. We have come to take it for granted, but it’s pretty magical and important if you step back and think about just how effortlessly Apple products work with each other so long as you are signed in with your Apple iCloud ID & Password, which is nearly as important as our social security number today.

Continuity & Handoff: You can be viewing something in Safari on your iPhone and then jump on your Mac and pick up right where you left off or maybe you were listening to a podcast or watching a YouTube on one device and want to finish on your iPad, it all just kind of works now, right? Or if you want to transfer the video you just made for Instagram from your Mac to iPhone simply zap it over using AirDrop. It almost doesn’t matter what device you are on in the Apple world now and that is largely in part to iCloud.

What gets backed up in iCloud and how do you manage it all?

All of your app data, apple watch backups, call history, settings on your iDevice, Home screen and app layout, all iMessages, Photos & Videos, Purchase History, Ringtones, Contacts, Calendars, Bookmarks, Mail, Notes, Health Data and iCloud Drive Files.

Pretty much everything on your iPhone and iPad gets backed up so if you upgrade your phone, as long as you have iCloud backup on, you can switch phones without losing anything. Is your iPhone backup turned on? Did you turn it off because you ran out of space on your phone? Did you know you can delete old backups? Did you know that you may have your old iPhone or iPad backups on your phone taking up space and you can delete the old backups?

Setup: Your Apple ID & Password is all you need to set up iCloud and you can manage iCloud settings on each of your idevices, and on your Mac computers.

Manage Storage: I suggest going into iCloud on your iPhone General Settings and on your Mac in System Preferences and explore and be sure to go to Manage Storage so you can see what is taking up all the space on your devices and delete things you no longer need like old backups or unwanted apps.

iCloud in Chrome or Safari: iCloud.com only works on a desktop or laptop web browser like Chrome or Safari or on Windows.

You can not access iCloud.com using Safari on your iPhone or iPad. On your Mac, I want you to open up Chrome or Safari browser and type in iCloud.com and sign in using your Apple ID and password. This is where all of your iCloud information is stored and it’s a good exercise for some of you to go and look around and try to make the connection between what is on all of your devices and what is stored in iCloud.

If you use iCloud Mail or Calendar, it will all be here as well as Pages, Numbers & Keynote and much more. The name of the game of mastering your digital and backup world is knowing where everything is and how it is all syncing with each other.

Your Homework: Manage Settings On your iPhone & iPad go into settings>click on your name up top and look at this first page.

Look at the devices on the bottom. Are they all current? Any old ones you can delete?

Click on each one and make sure iCloud Backup is on. Look when the last iCloud backup was and it should be within the last 24 hours if everything is working correctly.

If you are on iPhone or iPad, click on iCloud and then Manage Storage.

Look for big backups or anything out of place. If you have multiple backups, you can delete one. Explore and learn how it all works. Peace of mind. On your Mac you will find all of the settings in System Preferences under iCloud.

How does iCloud Photos really work?

I use Adobe Lightroom to manage my photos, but I do take a lot of photos and videos with my phone so I have to understand how it works.

You control the Photo settings on your iPhone or iPad in Settings>Photos and on your Mac you have some controls in the Photos app and in System Preferences in iCloud.

iPhone Photos Settings: iCloud Photo Library should be turned on and I use Optimize iPhone Storage to save hard drive space on iPhone and I find the quality uploaded is still pretty good.

I also turn on Upload to Photo Stream so the photos I take on iPhone show up on my iPad and Mac if I used Photos.

Every photo and video you take is accessible on all devices and gets backed up instantly to iCloud.

Warning: If you delete photos from your iPhone to free up space, the photos will also be deleted from iCloud and from your iPad.

Clean up is a good thing: I highly encourage you to delete as many screenshots and photos you took from inside your pocket by accident, but if you want to preserve and backup your photos forever and also maybe free up some space on your iPhone hard drive, you need to have a backup system in place for your photos.

Archive & Backup Photos on your Computer: If you want to really backup your iDevice photos, you should get them off your iDevices and back them up with your Master Photo Library that will likely be on your main computer or on an external drive or you can also back it up to the cloud. Use Image Capture on Mac to download photos from iPhone or iPad to computer.

iCloud Drive & Files App

Look for the app on your phone with blue folder icon labeled Files. This was introduced in 2017 with iOS 11. This app contains all of the files you store in iCloud Drive, which you can view in the Finder Sidebar on your Mac or by going to iCloud.com in a web browser.

A cool feature about the Files app on your iDevices is that you can also access all of your other storage apps like Google Drive, Dropbox and even Adobe Creative Cloud Library files. Pretty awesome really.

Storage Pricing for iCloud Drive 5GB included 50 GB for $.99/month 2 TB for $9.99/month

Files stored in iCloud Drive do not take up space on your iDevices hard drive so you can offload all of your photos and videos and store them in your iCloud Drive.

You still have access to them and get the space back on your phone or iPad. And, have a cloud backup of all your data, so if any of your hard drives fail, your data is safe.

Did you know iCloud was a viable backup option for all of your files including photos, video, music, photoshop files, doesn’t matter. Any file under 50GB in size you can store in your iCloud Drive and it will all be accessible right inside that Files Folder on you iPhone and iPad or on your Mac in iCloud Drive.

On your Mac, you can turn on Desktop & Documents backup so anything you put on either your Desktop or Documents folder automatically backs up to the cloud and does not take up space on your computer. All pretty cool stuff.

Backup 2TB of anything you want in the cloud accessible on any device for $10/month. Not too shabby.

Summary Recap:

Think of iCloud as a big Apple cloud in the internet sky and you have your own little room for all of your Apple products and services and as long as you sign in with your Apple ID & Password, all of your tools can communicate with each other and you can access the iCloud from anywhere on any of your devices and because your data is in the cloud, you really do not have to worry about things like fire or hurricanes or faulty hard drives when it comes to protecting your data. You just have to develop a consistent practice and habit of maintaining your backup system.

What is backed up to the iCloud? By default, when you turn on iCloud backup on your iPhone and iPad it should automatically backup every 24 hours pretty much everything you have on your phone that you would want to transfer to a new phone if you ever lost or damaged your phone. Be sure to go into settings & manage storage periodically for housekeeping cleanup and to make sure everything is working.

For Photos: We all take tons of mobile photos and videos, but I think many of you may have a mess on your hands and your iPhone Camera Roll might have 1,000s of photos and you really do not know what to do with them. Just remember, when you delete from your iPhone or Photos, in most cases when you have Photo Library on, it will delete photos on all devices.

Advice: Spend a few hours and delete the junky photos and then do a big download to your computer and organize with maybe your main photo library that you may have with your travel pictures or wherever.
You can plug in your phone to your computer with a USB cable and use Image Capture on a Mac to quickly download everything from Phone to computer.

You can always store the photos in iCloud Drive.

iCloud Drive is the Apple version of Dropbox and Google Drive and it works pretty well. Backup your precious data and content in the iCloud for under $10/month and you can access anything and share all of your stuff right from your iPhone and no longer need to be a slave to the stack of hard drives on your desk.

Traveling for a conference? Put your Keynote in iCloud Drive and do your presentation right from your iPhone. Piece of cake.

Apple Support Links: What is iCloud? Photo Library Help iCloud Drive iCloud Storage Pricing by Country

Questions, Comments, Feedback?: Please email me anytime at mike@mikemurphy.co

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