How to Back Up Your Mac to iCloud Drive [2024]

Jerome Peng
Last updated: Jan 15, 2024
Summary: Haven't backed up your Mac yet? It's time. Read on to learn how to back up your important files to iCloud and prevent data loss.

When it comes to backing up a Mac, two notable options are Time Machine and iCloud Drive. Time Machine is a local and hands-on backup method, while iCloud Drive operates over the Internet. Both methods can effectively back up your Mac; choose the one that aligns with your preferences.

Previously, we covered how to back up your Mac with Time Machine. Now, let's explore step-by-step instructions on how to back up your Mac to iCloud.

[Complete Guide] How to Back Up Your Mac to iCloud Drive

Why Should I Back Up My Mac to iCloud?

The most straightforward method to back up your Mac is through iCloud. It securely stores your files on Apple servers and synchronizes them across all your Apple devices that are signed in with the same Apple ID. By syncing your files to iCloud Drive, you gain the convenience of accessing them from any other Apple device at any time.

What Does iCloud Back Up?

Unlike Time Machine, which backs up all files, including system files, iCloud Drive can only back up some files. Below are the files it can back up:

  • Desktop and Documents Folders
  • Photos and videos
  • Contacts
  • Calendars
  • Mail
  • Reminders
  • Notes
  • Safari
  • Messages
  • Voice Memos
  • Some Application Data

How to Back Up Your Mac to iCloud Drive

Now that we've identified the files you can back up with iCloud Drive, let's explore how to do it.

Before you begin, we suggest updating macOS to the latest version to prevent any potential issues with iCloud.

Here's how to create a Mac backup using iCloud:

  1. Click the Apple icon > System Settings.
  2. Click your Apple ID > iCloud.
    Open iCloud on Mac
  3. If iCloud Drive is off, turn it on.
    Open iCloud Drive
  4. Click iCloud Drive, click Options, and check the box next to anything you want to store in iCloud Drive, such as your Desktop and Documents, Messages, or Mail, then click Done.
    Back up Your Data with iCloud
  5. Return to the iCloud page, then choose whether to back up Photos, Password & Keychain, Contracts, etc.
    Back up Mac with iCloud
  6. Your Mac will start backing up your files to iCloud. To manage your iCloud storage, click the Manage button above the storage bar.
    Manage iCloud Storage

Related: iCloud Storage Full? How to Clear iCloud Storage to Free Up Space

Bonus Tip: How to Clear Unwanted Files from Mac

Depending on the size of the files you are backing up, this may take some time. It's a good idea to delete unnecessary files from your Mac first.

BuhoCleaner is one of the best Mac cleaners. It is designed to help you clean up and free up space on your Mac with just a few clicks. From clearing cache and removing temporary files to uninstalling apps and deleting duplicate files, BuhoCleaner has them all covered.

DownloadFor macOS 10.10 and above
100,000+ Satisfied Users Worldwide

Here's how to use BuhoCleaner:

  1. Download, install, and launch BuhoCleaner.
  2. Click Scan to quickly clean up your Mac.
  3. Navigate to other cleaning and optimization features to further clean up your Mac.
    Quickly Clear Files on Mac with BuhoCleaner

Final Words

While it's easy to back up your Mac to iCloud, be aware that it comes with a 5 GB free storage limit. If you have a substantial amount of data to back up, you may need to subscribe to an iCloud plan to get more space.

Additionally, it's worth noting that iCloud tends to only partially back up your files. For a comprehensive and reliable backup solution, especially if you want to fully back up your Mac, Time Machine remains the best option.

Jerome is a passionate enthusiast of all things Apple. He is expertise in crafting tech-related articles, with a portfolio of more than 100 articles covering various Apple products like the iPhone, iPad, and Mac.