Not enough storage

Just like everyone else, I get the notification that my iCloud is full and no backup can be made. iOS gives me the suggestion to upgrade my storage on my iCloud account. Because I only want to store my settings, phone numbers and other 'light' stuff, I see no reason to upgrade. I think a few gigabytes should be more than plenty to backup my device(s).

What is taking all the space on my iCloud?

First I checked on my Mac - OS X Mavericks

On OS X I have checked the following in 'System Preferences' -> 'iCloud':

  • Backup 4.44 GB
  • Documents 550.7 MB
  • Mail 5 MB

System Settings iCloud

Okay, my major storage exists of the type 'Backup'. I Guess these are the backups from my iPad and iPhone, but System prefs gives me no further clue. Lets look at my iPhone

I got out my iPhone - iOS 8.4

I go to 'Settings' -> 'iCloud':

  • iCloud Drive ON
  • Photos ON
    • iCloud Photo Library OFF
    • My Photo Stream OFF
    • iCloud Photo Sharing ON
  • Mail OFF
  • Contacts, Calendars, Reminders, Safari, Notes, Passbook ON
  • Backup, Keychain, Find My iPhone ON

iCloud settings

Then I go to 'Settings' -> 'iCloud' -> 'Storage':

  • Total storage 5.0 GB
  • Available 15.9 MB

iCloud Storage

I go to 'Settings' -> 'iCloud' -> 'Storage' -> 'Manage Storage':


An additional 5 GB of storage is required. To continue backing up this iPhone do one of the following:

  • Change your backup options
  • Delete some data
  • Buy more storage

Also, it gives me the following use of my data:


  • iPhone backup of 4.3 GB
  • iPad backup of 137.4 MB

Documents & Data:

  • Some documents with a total of 534.6 MB


Okay, so all my storage goes to 'Backups'. Lets select the iPhone backup (and here is where I get lost...)

'Settings' -> 'iCloud' -> 'Storage' -> 'Manage Storage' -> 'iPhone Backup':


Choose the data you want to back up. An additional 5.0GB is required to back up this iPhone

Next Backup Size 5.0 GB ⚠️

  • Photo Library 2.3 GB OFF
  • WhatsApp 550 MB OFF
  • Keynote 238 MB OFF

What is taking space?

There is no space requiring stuff to backup and still is it taking 5.0GB... What does my phone want to backup that takes 5.0 GB of space? Is there a way to visualise this? I only want to backup some settings and contacts, no major stuff...

How can I backup my stuff with the default 5 GB?

  • 1
    Why not back it up to iTunes? It wouldn't need any extra space in the cloud.
    – bret7600
    Commented Jul 1, 2015 at 20:43
  • @bret7600 Thats what I do know, but that is not the question. Commented Jul 1, 2015 at 20:45
  • Have you deleted your messages?
    – pjtnt11
    Commented Jul 1, 2015 at 21:47
  • 1st pic shows Photos backing up, but last pic doesn't - did something change, or is the issue in there somewhere? Sometimes rebooting or logging out of iCloud & back in will shake down old storage requirements.
    – Tetsujin
    Commented Jul 2, 2015 at 4:57
  • @pjtnt11, I've just deleted all my messages, but the backup size is still 5GB Commented Jul 2, 2015 at 5:46

4 Answers 4


What to do when you do not have enough storage because your backup size is too large:

  • Delete the current backup on your iCloud for that specific iOS device.
  • Your iCloud backup is now automatically turned off, so turn it back on.
  • A new backup is made and has a reasonable size.

Theoretically your phone could crash in the short while you do not have a backup, so you could run an iTunes backup first.


  • 2
    This is exactly what I did yesterday. Deleted my previous backup and started from zero. My Backup size is now 378.8 MB, around the size what I expected it to be. As it is the correct answer, you made and easy 200+ ;) Commented Jul 5, 2015 at 20:17
  • How does one an iTunes backup ?
    – gideon
    Commented Oct 21, 2017 at 6:55

The solution that worked for me tonight on an iPhone 7 running iOS 12.2 which was showing a "next backup size" of over 8 GB despite almost nothing on the phone being selected for inclusion in the iCloud backup was to change the "Keep Messages" duration at Settings > Messages from "Forever" to "1 Year".

(This was despite Messages set to not use iCloud at Settings > [My Name] > Messages, in the "APPS USING ICLOUD" section of that page.)

Doing this reduced the "next backup size" (as reported at Settings > [My Name] > Manage Storage > Backups > This iPhone > Backup Size to 3.6 GB, and allowed backup to iCloud (using my free 5 GB storage) to succeed.

I also noted that Messages didn't appear at all in the list of apps at Settings > [My Name] > Manage Storage > Backups > This iPhone > Show All Apps. Evidently, Messages data (including photos and videos sent and received?) is always included in iCloud backups?

  • 1
    This was exactly the problem for me. Changing my “Keep Messages” duration dramatically reduced my backup size. It seems like a UX flaw to not show those items in your calculated backup size.
    – Motoma
    Commented Mar 5, 2020 at 1:13
  • 1
    That's it, that's the one :D Commented Oct 17, 2022 at 19:58

My answer is based on My personal experience, so this may or may not be valid for you.

Based on the information provided by you, it reminded me of a similar situation I had face sometime back. iCloud not back's up the recent backup data but also saves the backup files backed up before, As in, If I created a backup today, and then I created a backup next week, it's going to keep both the data as I might want to go to the lower backed up version in case you want to restore from not the most recent version of the backup. It looks something like the image below.

That's what is clogging the space in your backup.

P.S: This Link will explain how to restore to the not so recent backup proving my point as well.

enter image description here


I was suffering from the same messages/issues as you? My iCloud back up contained all the apps that I have ever installed. I turned off the ones that had no importance to save and checked my storage, it showed that I had 4.5kb!

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