I have my iCloud backups stripped down to only CONTACTS and NOTES and about 150MB of apps, yet the backup is 5.22 GB.
How do I make my iPhone backup smaller?!
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I created an account just to answer this question. I ran into this issue myself months ago and was unable to find an answer. The short of it is, Apple is backing up things even if you have them disabled. In my case, Messages was completely disabled from iCloud backup. In fact, almost everything was but my initial backups kept saying 4.4GB or so. I looked at my storage and noticed the closest to that were my Messages. So as a test I deleted a top conversation that was over 1GB and when I recalculated my iCloud backups, sure enough it dropped by a gig.
So great job to Apple backing up something I explicitly disabled. Thankfully I resolved this issue on my own doing testing. I hope this helps others.
To figure out what exactly gets backed up (or what iOS wants to backup):
This gives you a list of all things iOS wants to backup, including their size. It also gives you the option to enable/disable which application data gets backed up.
As seen from the photos, your large backup was 5.22 GB which is a significant amount. I see you have disabled some options, so the backup sie is now 188.4 MB.
Now you have two options:
If you want to keep your old backup you need to buy more storage to backup again. To buy more storage click the Upgrade button.
To free up space you can delete your old large backups. On the iCloud storage screen, go to Manage Storage and then Backups. Here you can delete Backups for a specific device.
To fix the large backup issue:
Delete all backups, log out of iCloud, log back in and do a fresh backup. That always works.
You can purchase more storage for just one month and back up your phone to be sure it works ok. If your iphone backup runs to completion then you can check the actual size of the backup. If it is indeed too large to copy to you lower icloud storage, you can try making room or keep your extra storage. If you can fix your problem then be sure to lower your storage option. This way will cost you 99 cents I believe.
Like Matthew Greenwell I found that the majority of my backup was actually taken up by my messages. Even though messages was disabled under "Apps Using iCloud" this was still happening and my backup size was ~4.8GB. The fix for me was to actually enable "Messages" under "Apps Using iCloud", then promptly disable it again. Next I had to go into "Manage Storage" select "Messages" and then click "Delete & Disable." This tricked iCloud into recognizing the actual size of my backup which is now down around 180MB!
Seems like this is a bug in the iCloud management code. Anyway, hope this helps someone else.
I had the same problem. In my case my photo library was the one that was taking up space. In apps that are using iCloud I turned off the Photos app but that wasn't enough. Here is what I did to solve it. The way I went about it, you need an iOS device, it might also work on an iPad but I haven't tried it. On your iPhone phone :) go to
Your backup is too large, because Apple includes your iMessages. I realize, there's a toggle switch for disabling Message backup, but that has never worked; I wish they'd fix that. Its all part of the design; most people end up saddling themselves with a monthly subscription upgrade to iCloud storage; nice job Apple. It's highly annoying, going through phone, deleting, disabling everything from backups, only to find, nothing changed; Obviously by design since it's been like this since Sept 2016.
I had this similar problem and finally resolved it by:
At this point, my iCloud storage did not get any smaller, but it now showed a huge bar for Messages (in green) and a small bar for Backups (in blue). Overall, my iCloud usage was unchanged.
Went to Settings -> -> iCloud -> Messages and clicked on 'Disable and Delete' which merely downloads the entirety of your messages to your phone.
Go through the messages and eliminate photos, etc. Typically, I deleted the cruft photos and saved the others, then used google photos app to upload them and deleted them locally.
Went to Settings -> -> iCloud -> Messages and turned that back on.
At this point, I have the same size Backups (in blue) bar and a much smaller Messages (in green) bar.
The first time I ran into this problem, I was at 4.8 GiB and the process brought me down below 1 GiB. I have since made it a habit to bring up the top messages about once per week and remove photos that no longer serve their purpose. I watch as my iCloud storage fills, and when it is getting close to 4 GiB, I merely do steps 2 and 4 above and it shrinks down in a matter of moments.
NOTE: once I added an iPad to my account, I need to do step 2 on both devices, then do step 4 on both devices.
SAVE BACKUP SOMEWHERE ELSE:
Besides most these solid suggestions (turning off data you don't want to back up etc) another thing you can do to free up iCloud space is to save your backup somewhere else instead. You can choose to backup to your Mac computer instead. I did this and then I also copied it (you have to COPY, don't just move it) to my Google Drive in case something happens to my Mac.(Google Drive is cheaper than iCloud and something I already had before going full Mac)
Just connect your device to your Mac with a usb cable, then in the Finder you can change the setting and set it to "back up to this Mac" manually. After you have backed it up, just delete the other backup from your device (in the device iCloud-backup-settings delete and disable backup)
Just remember to backup every now and then depending on often your data changes.