Why my iPhone backup size is too large: GT explains

Why my iPhone backup size is too large: GT explains

Apple’s iPhone takes a backup of the phone and stores it on iCloud, the company’s proprietary cloud service that uses Google servers. Each iPhone user gets 5 GB of free iCloud space, which is used for backups, file storage, and more. While this space should be enough for most users, many complain that they often run out of space because the backup size of their iPhone is too large.

This could be a problem for users with 5 GB of free storage space, and most of it is almost full. In addition, it will make the iPhone take longer to back up and restore one of the old ones. Here are some possible explanations and solutions to this strange problem.

Let’s start.

How to check iCloud storage and backup

Open Settings> (Your name)> iCloud. This is where you will see a visual breakdown of storage in a graph.

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Tap Manage storage. You can change your storage plan. You’ll also see the Backups option and a more granular list of the apps iCloud takes a backup of and their respective sizes.

Tap the Edit Storage Plan option to check prices in your original currency. Tap Backups to view details such as the last time stamp and the size of the backup. In addition, it displays a provisional detail of the next backup size.

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You will notice that iCloud takes a backup of all kinds of data from different apps like contacts, calendars, images, videos, documents, your carrier app, etc. Do you need to make a backup of everything on your iPhone? Probably not.

What should be part of your iPhone backup

Browse each app in the backup settings and reconsider if you really want to make a backup of that app. Often this is not necessary as the application itself saves all the data in the cloud. An example could be Facebook, which only requires an email ID and password to access anything associated with your account. You do not need to make a backup of this. Games you no longer play or apps that are not important enough can also be disabled. A little prioritization should do the trick. You can always come back and activate the backup for an application that you consider important.

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Go back to backups, as shown above, and disable apps that you don’t need to be backed up under the “ Choose which data to back up ” heading. Tap Show all apps to see all the apps installed on your iPhone. Now check if the backup of your iPhone is still too large.

Back up media files separately

Videos and images are two things that can take up the most storage on any device. In the section above, the screenshot of a backup shows that WhatsApp takes up more than 1.29 GB of space on my iPhone. This is because I get a lot of images and videos – like everyone else. There could be other apps like this on your iPhone, which would cause a large backup size.

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I suggest you use an app like Google Photos, which is platform independent and will back up all photos and videos, albeit at a slightly lower resolution. It’s not so bad. You can always upgrade your Google Drive plan to back up these files at full resolution. There are also other cloud-based services for storing media files. This should help dramatically reduce the size of the iCloud backup.

Another example could be the iMessage attachments. Long wires or large attachments may be responsible. You can check if these large files don’t increase the size of iCloud backup.

ICloud vs. iCloud Photos

There are two ways to back up your photos to iCloud, and at any time, only one is used by Apple. We have seen how you can back up your photos to iCloud using the traditional backup option. This will back up everything with what’s in the Photos app.

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Another option is iCloud Photos. It is a synchronization service that will make a backup of all the photos when you connect to a Wi-Fi service. You can access and recover these photos at any time. However, when you use the backup service, the photos are backed up every 24 hours. You will need to completely restore your iPhone to recover photos from the Backups setting.

Tap Photos under Settings and activate iCloud Photos here. There are other useful parameters here which are quite self explanatory. I recommend iCloud Photos as it will not only significantly reduce the backup size of your iPhone, but will also enable syncing and some additional options. Note that synchronization will allow you to access these photos and videos on all connected devices, which is an added advantage.

If you include documents in the iPhone backup

Documents such as PDF files, spreadsheets and presentations can also take up a lot of space. They are certainly important and must be activated in the backups. However, you don’t need to back them up if you’re using Google Drive or Office 365. The former allows unlimited storage for these files, even in the free plan.

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The latter will require a subscription and should be used on Apple’s office productivity applications, if you already have one. Sure, transferring from the Apple ecosystem won’t be easy, but I would recommend these two following Apple every day. Some good reasons are cross-platform compatibility, cost (free in case of Drive) and ease of use.

Delete the old backup and try again

Apple’s ecosystem is fairly closed, so there aren’t many troubleshooting options available, except this one. Go back to the Backups section under Manage storage as shown above and select your device. You can see the number of backups here.

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Press the button Delete backup in red font and confirm. This should delete any particular backup. Restart your phone once and let it take a new backup. Check how much space it takes and if it is too large for your iCloud account.

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You can do a manual backup under Settings> Your name> iPhone> iCloud Backup. Tap Back up now.

In the cloud

There are a lot of things iCloud takes as backup like iPhone settings, health data, app data and settings, ringtones, home screen folders and app layout, etc. Most of them don’t need a lot of space. Often, multimedia files and documents are the culprits, and it’s always a good idea to start investigating from there. I hope the issue has been resolved and that you have successfully made an appropriate iCloud backup of your iPhone before the next iOS update.


Click the link below to find out how to recover accidentally deleted files from iCloud Drive. We’ve all been there. I pressed the Delete button quickly.

Last updated on May 7, 2020

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