What Is iCloud Backup and What Does iCloud Back Up?

Cassie Xie
Last updated: Nov 15, 2023
Summary: This post introduces what iCloud Backup is, what iCloud backs up, how to back up an iPhone or iPad with iCloud, how to view or delete iCloud backups, and more.

iCloud provides two device backup methods: sync and backup. This post mainly introduces iCloud Backup. Continue reading below.

iCloud backup

What Is iCloud Backup?

iCloud Backup is a backup service offered by Apple. You can use it to back up the information on your iPhone or iPad that isn’t already synced to iCloud. After you turn on iCloud Backup, it will take periodic snapshots of your device data. In case your device is replaced, damaged, or lost, you have a copy of your data and can restore your device to a previous state from the iCloud backups. It will bring back the backed-up data and settings to your device.

What Does iCloud Backup? Does iCloud Back Up Everything?

When your device is plugged in, locked, and connected to Wi-Fi, the iCloud Backup service will automatically back up the data on your device to iCloud. It backs up most of the data and settings, but not everything.

iCloud Backup includes the following data:

  • Device settings, home screen layout, app configurations, accounts, documents, health data, and other personalized preferences.
  • App data that is generated by apps installed on your iPhone or iPad.
  • If you don’t turn on iCloud Photos, iCloud Backup may include photos and videos from Camera Roll on your device.
  • If you don’t use Messages in iCloud, your messages will be included in iCloud Backup.
  • Any purchased ringtones and visual voicemail password.

iCloud Backup doesn’t include the following data:

  • Data that is already automatically synced to iCloud like Contacts, Calendars, Notes, photos, and videos.
  • Face ID or Touch ID information.
  • Apple Pay information and settings.
  • Apps, movies, TV shows, and music.
  • Data that is stored in iCloud Drive.
  • You can select which apps and data get backed up to iCloud. iCloud Backup doesn’t include data from third-party apps that don’t use iCloud for backup.

Is Apple iCloud Backup Free?

Yes, there is a free iCloud storage plan. When you sign in to your iPhone, iPad, or Mac with your Apple ID or create an iCloud account for the first time, you will get 5GB of free iCloud storage. You can easily turn on iCloud Backup on your device to back up your data and settings. However, if the backup data exceeds 5GB, you may need to buy additional iCloud storage.

How to Back Up iPhone/iPad with iCloud Backup

You can turn on iCloud Backup on your iPhone/iPad to back up your device automatically or manually.

  1. Tap Settings > Your Name > iCloud > iCloud Backup on your iPhone or iPad.
  2. Make sure that the “Back Up This Device” option is turned on.
  3. Then iCloud Backup will automatically back up your device when your device is connected to a power source, connected to Wi-Fi, and the device’s screen is locked. Optionally, if you want to manually back up your iPhone with iCloud, you can click the “Back Up Now” option.
When you back up your device for the first time, it may take one hour or more. After that, the daily backup may only take a few minutes.

How to View or Delete iCloud Backups

To view iCloud backups on your iPhone or iPad, you can tap Settings > Your Name > iCloud > Manage Storage > Backups.

If you want to delete some old iCloud backups to clear iCloud storage space, you can select a backup from the list to delete it. It only deletes data from the iCloud storage but not your device.

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Bottom Line

This post mainly introduces iCloud Backup, what data are included in iCloud backups, how to back up iPhone/iPad with iCloud Backup, how to view or delete old iCloud backups, etc. Hope it helps.

Cassie has been writing about technology for her entire career life - over 5 years. She enjoys diving into how Apple products work and then breaking it down in a way anyone can understand.