iCloud Storage Full? Never Pay For iCloud Backup Again.

How To Backup Your iPhone Without Paying For iCloud Storage

On the last page, we learned all about iCloud Storage, iCloud Drive, iCloud Backup, iCloud Photo Library, and My Photo Stream. Right now, your iPhone won’t back up because your iCloud Storage is full. On this page, we’ll set up your iPhone so you never have to pay for iCloud Storage again.

1. Plug In Your iPhone To Your Computer And Transfer Your Photos

This step has to be number 1 because the last thing I want to happen is for anyone to lose their photos. Photos or our families and memorable events in our lives are very valuable to us. When I was at Apple, I saw people brought to tears when they realized they would never recover photos of their kids or loved ones. I mention this as a strong word of warning: Always back up your iPhone and computer.

Now that the somber warning is out of the way, the other reason to back up your photos before you begin is that My Photo Stream only works for photos you take after you turn it on. If you follow these steps and accidentally drop your iPhone in the loo, you don’t want to lose your photos.

2. Turn Off Photo Library As Part Of iCloud Backup

Head to Settings -> iCloud -> Storage -> Manage Storage -> This iPhone and tap the switch to the right of Photo Library. You’ll see a warning asks if you want to turn off Photo Library backups and delete the backup data from iCloud. When you tap Turn Off & Deletenothing is erased from your iPhone.

When we turn on My Photo Stream on your iPhone and computer, your photos will begin to upload to My Photo Stream (also part of iCloud) and your computer will automatically download them. It’s going to be OK: Tap Turn Off & Delete and watch as your iCloud Backup size shrinks to a manageable size.

3. Turn Off iCloud Photo Library

Go to Settings -> iCloud -> Photos and tap the switch to turn off iCloud Photo Library. You can still use My Photo Stream or iCloud Photo Sharing to synchronize your photos between devices without using any space in iCloud Storage.

If you’re a Mac user, you may need to turn off iCloud Photo Library on your Mac as well. Head to System Preferences -> iCloud -> Photos (Options…) and click the checkbox to turn off iCloud Photo Library.

4. Turn On My Photo Stream on your iPhone and iPad

Go to Settings -> iCloud -> Photos and tap the switch to turn on My Photo Stream. From now on, your photos will automatically upload to Photo Stream and download on your computer.

5. Turn On My Photo Stream on your Mac or PC

I’ll let Apple explain how to turn on My Photo Stream on your Mac or PC instead of explaining it here. Their support article has an excellent walkthrough and some other interesting information about My Photo Stream.

You’re Done! No More Problems with iCloud Storage.

OK, none of are going to get rich from the money we save from never paying for iCloud Storage again. What we have done is solve a problem that will only get more expensive with time. 4K video on the iPhone 6S is going to consume obscene amounts of storage and people are going to be buying iCloud Storage left and right. You don’t have to be one of those people.

Your iCloud storage never has to be full again. Even if you choose to continue paying for iCloud Storage for now, you’ve learned there’s a safe and simple way to stop. There’s a lot of misinformation about how iCloud works and we all make better decisions when we’re informed. Thanks for reading and I look forward to hearing from you!

All the best,
David P.

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About Author

I'm a former Apple employee and the founder of Payette Forward, and I'm here to help you with your iPhone.

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1 month ago

Is this info still accurate in 2020?


3 days ago
Reply to  Alan

did you hear back?

Helen McMahan
4 months ago

I have an 11 iPhone only because it was free when we moved and changed to bundle at and t. I only have an iPad, how do I download my photos to iCloud photo stream?

4 months ago

Thank you so much for the great article! I’ve been so frustrated with my iCloud storage being full from a previous phone & not knowing how to dump the storage & start fresh.

5 months ago

I can’t find any place where it is labeled photo stream

Denise Sawatzky
1 year ago

Did you find the answer to this question, Im afraid to lose the pictures already in icloud.

Marianna Virides
1 year ago

I cant get second page of yr post….the best bit!!!?

Dana Mc Daniel Clemeaux
1 year ago

I also found I didn’t have all the options you mentioned in the step by step directions in your article. I had to Google some stuff to figure out how to do the steps you recommended. In the end, my iCloud storage did not shrink. My phone is an iPhone 6S . Thank you in advance.

Dana Mc Daniel Clemeaux
1 year ago

I did not have the option to put a check mark to delete photos off my phone after backing them up to my Mac. How can I now delete the photos off my phone?

Muhammad Shafeeq Tahir
1 year ago

Excellent article. Thanks for the help.

May Thomas
1 year ago

This was helpful,I remove Facebook because that was eating up my space but it he beat goes on I am still running out of space.Evin after I add some more. I will follow yr direction and try to free up some space.

David Jay
1 year ago

5 October 2018 – Thanks, but this no longer works, or not for iPhone SE: I backed up my iPhone SE and also transferred all the photos to my PC, but it’s no longer possible to turn off Photo Library as part of iCloud Backup, and PhotoStream has been replaced by the All Photos album. Infuriating! I should be most grateful if you would post an updated version of ‘Never Pay for iCloud Backup Again’ – many thanks in advance – Don

Uyen Pham
1 year ago

do you need to pay for iCloud storage if you’re upgrading your phone to hight GB phone? for 64gb to 256gb. thank you.

Bridget Backus McBride
1 year ago

Any chance you could update these directions for iOS 12? I successfully used this article for my previous iPhone 4S and am in dire need of help again. I hate that Apple changes everything around even though it essentially does the same thing.

Michael G.
1 year ago

Thanks for this write up. Now that Messages are in iCloud, is it possible to update this to include detailed info on managing Messages in iCloud? I’ve never had an issue with my iCloud storage getting full, because I always disable photo library, but now it’s saying Messages is using 3 GB.. I’m sure it’s pics and videos but how can i easily free to this space (without having to use iCleaner) thanks!!

Autumn Morse
2 years ago

If I turn off Photo Library backups for iCloud will it delete the photos already backed up on my iCloud?

Alex Linnae
2 years ago

Wheres the next page? Ill explain why your iCloud storage is always full on the next page.

Elaine Scheer
2 years ago

Thank-you so much! I’ve been trying to figure out why I couldn’t back up my new iphone 8 & it’s because I had to delete the back-up of an old phone that was taking up space!

Toan Tianh
2 years ago

awesome articles, thank you so much!

Leah Harper
2 years ago

Thanks for this article!

I have 0 photos on my phone now but still cannot complete a phone back up. It says I don’t have enough storage for a back up, but have over 2GB of space!
I deleted a past back up to free space so it says I have never backed my phone up, but I also see a back up listed for 2GB, and when I click on it it says 0 bites. So confused!

Tim Hirt
2 years ago

My wife and I both went to settings on our iPhones and neither us can find a tab for icloud. We went user General and found iPhone store where is iCloud?

Theresa Wolmart
2 years ago

i don’t have icloud storage. but my phone is telling me i do. i am confused. i can’t find the manage storage place. i have a 6

William Orr
2 years ago

There is only one word to express my feelings of your posting…..THANK YOU

Peter Baker
2 years ago

Man, THANKS for this article. It’s really helpful.

Suzanne Jansen Yerton
2 years ago

HI! I just did this and my storage still says 49 GB of 50 GB used by Docs any clue on how to free up docs?

Kathy Kilgore
2 years ago

HUGE QUESTION…. why, did when I did my iCloud backup, did I lose. I mean LOSE all of my contacts and many pictures??? It took 4 hours bc I didn’t trust it. I feel like I was right. And now things are lost forever.. and it did not free up any space (on top of everything!!). What do I do??