Apple’s free cloud service
iCloud is a free cloud storage service that enables you to safely store your files online without worrying about space and manually transferring them across devices. Released by Apple back in 2011, this cloud computing service is available by default for Apple mobile devices. You get 5GB worth of storage for free and can upgrade its size with varying subscription plans—and you only need an Apple ID for this.
For general files
Similar to other cloud services, iCloud allows you to store data, such as photos, videos, files, and device backups. Any apps or iTunes purchases don’t consume iCloud storage space, so you need not worry about those. This software is built into every Apple device so you can easily use it from the moment you own your gadget. It keeps your device’s files automatically up-to-date and available wherever you may be.
This tool mainly has two parts: iCloud Photos and iCloud Drive. iCloud Photos is your online database for all images and videos you have, regardless of their file formats. You can search and share them using any of your devices—with Shared Albums letting you create folders for that. When on-hand, the files are always in their lightweight version to save space. You can retrieve their original full‑resolution versions by downloading them from the cloud.
iCloud Drive, on the other hand, works like Google Drive and lets you store documents of various types. While your method of accessing these will differ for each platform, iCloud Drive is nevertheless easy to open for any device. You can organize your files and folders by renaming and color-tagging them—these changes automatically updating for all devices. You can even store here the backup files for your gadgets.
Great for backups
This cloud service doesn’t just host multimedia and documents, however. It can also keep your apps’ data secure and updated. Default Apple apps like Mail, Calendar, Contacts, Reminders, and Safari will automatically have backups on your iCloud storage. This helps you safely store phone numbers, schedules, notes, and browser bookmarks away—and they will sync across your devices easily. Your messages will be saved, as well, for when you ever change devices.
iCloud allows you to easily move your data to new platforms and will save backups in case you lose your internet connection. However, you can also use it to quickly invite others in collaborating real-time with you. Simply send a private link to your Drive. Don’t worry as they will only be able to access the files you allow them to—your other data are safe. The service’s two-factor authentication helps keep your account secure.
At the start, you get 5GB of free storage, which is good for storing basic data like your contacts, calendars, and notes. However, you can also upgrade to three other options for a monthly subscription. 50GB is recommended for photos, videos, files, app data, and backups. 200GB is good for a family drive or if you happen to have lots of photos and videos. Meanwhile, 2TB can store a lifetime of data for a family of five.
Your personal storage box
Overall, iCloud is Apple’s official cloud service for a good reason. It makes your files easily accessible across all compatible devices with your Apple ID, and you can upgrade your free storage for more space. It even allows collaboration among users by a simple link invitation. However, compared to its competitors, it lacks more online productivity features—and while it can work on Windows, it doesn’t have the same reliability as when used on Apple platforms.