| iPhone - Internal Storage vs. iCloud Storage
These days, I don't just support PCs and Macs, I'm asked to help out with phones, tablets, even TV streaming devices! One of the most popular devices I help people with is the iPhone, and one of the biggest questions is about storage, both on the phone and in the cloud. There's a lot of confusion about iPhone storage, so I hope this article helps.
- When you first buy your phone, you are asked to choose which phone you want based on different features - size of screen, speed of processor, and internal storage.
ship with between 16 and 256 GB (gigabytes) of internal storage. Older phones shipped with as little as 8 GB.
The amount of storage a phone has is fixed - you cannot upgrade it or add to it.
Apple charges a lot for this type of storage - the bigger your phone's capacity, the more expensive the phone is at purchase. Since you can't add more,
you need to make the decision upfront
So, what is all of that storage space used for? A certain amount is used by the Apple software that runs your phone. And some of it is used by apps - the more apps you have the more space they take up.
But by far the most storage space is used by your actual data - music, videos, and especially photos. On average you can assume every 200 photos on your iPhone is taking up 1 GB of your storage space. If you have 256 GB, that's no problem. But if you have an older phone with only 8GB of space, you are in trouble with as few as 200 pictures!
I sometimes see iPhone owners who can't take any more pictures, or can't upgrade the operating system on their phone, because it's
out of internal storage
. Until they remove quite a few pictures, videos, and apps from their phone they are stuck. If you are in that situation, you will have to make some tough choices. Although it's nice to keep all your pictures in one portable place, the most logical solution is to
back your pictures onto your computer
and delete them from your phone, freeing up space. However, sometimes people tell me that they have "bought more storage", and yet, they still have a problem. That brings me to my next topic . . .
iCloud Storage - This is storage that is "in the cloud" - space available for you to use on Apple servers somewhere, that you access via the internet. Apple gives every Apple user 5GB of iCloud storage for free. The idea is for you to back up your files and settings in the cloud, so that your Apple devices will all sync.
The free storage Apple includes is really not enough to make iCloud useful, but the first level of purchased storage is usually a very good purchase.
Apple charges $.99 a month for 50GB of iCloud storage
. For most people that's sufficient to automatically keep your phone backed up. That phone back up gives you the peace of mind to know that if you lose or damage your phone, you can
restore it to exactly where it was
when you first turn on the replacement. Calling and texting records, apps, settings, photos and videos will all come back if you choose to restore your phone from the iCloud back-up - totally worth it!
You can also use paid storage to enable
iCloud Photo Storage and "optimize space"
, so that the pictures on your actual phone are just smaller copies of what's stored in the cloud. Since many people like to have access to all their photos, all of the time, this can be a good solution to the limited internal storage space on a lot of iPhones! Yet another solution is the Google Photos App, which I use to access all my pictures. But that's a topic for another day!