I currently backup my iPhone and iPad to iTunes. I’m considering switching the backups to iCloud, but I am not ready to purchase one of the additional storage plans.

If my 32 GB iPhone has 3 GB of free space, does the backup to iCloud only backup settings, phone data, etc. which would require far less space? Most of the space used on my phone is my music collection; surely it doesn’t backup all of the music as well, right?

What is the typical size of an iOS backup stored to iCloud?

  • 1
    You are looking at about 100-150 MB and of course this varies depending on what kind and how many apps you have installed. Of course you can always selectively turn off various app data from being backed up to control the overall size.
    – user10355
    Apr 21, 2012 at 6:18

3 Answers 3


If you use iCloud Photo Library, then your photos won’t be uploaded to iCloud for backup. The same goes if you use iTunes Match and MUSIC: you music won’t need to be uploaded to iCloud for backup.

If you don’t use those services then yes, your iCloud backup will contain your photos and music. Otherwise you wouldn’t be able to restore your device the way it was.

And yet, even though I’m an iTunes Match and iCloud Photo Library user, my fairly barebones iPad takes up 1 GB of storage for backup.

My iPhone has a few more apps, (2 pages’ worth). However under iCloudStorage, only one app stores over 200 MB (Runkeeper) with everything else taking under 50 MB. The vast majority takes up mere kilobytes. I don’t backup my Health data because this seems to be causing issues. Somehow my iPhone’s backup takes up 2.2 GB.

As far as data consumption, I believe iCloud performs differential backups, because while the initial backup takes a significant amount of time, subsequent backups seem to complete much more quickly.


I recently did an iPhone 6 to iPhone 6s restore at an Apple store. The clerk there said the 29GBs of storage used on the device is only 1GB on the Apple iCloud backup servers. She could also see many previous iCloud backups that were also 1GB. Most of my data is recorded audio which has to be re-Added to the iPhone's music Library via iTunes or a 3rd party app. The iCloud backups are encrypted with Apple's keys on their servers and during transmission to Apple servers. The backup is decrypted by Apple (without having to know the device passcode) for law enforcement access with proper court orders.


Here is a list of things that iCloud stores in your iOS Backup:

  • Purchased music, TV shows, apps, and books
  • Photos and video in the Camera Roll
  • Device settings
  • App data
  • Home screen and app organization
  • Messages (iMessage, SMS, and MMS)
  • Ringtones

iCloud does not back up the songs that you have NOT purchased from iTunes. iTunes purchases should not reflect in the size of your backup. iCloud stores your purchase history and then re-downloads the files at restore.

Depending on the amount of data stored in your apps, I would estimate that the file size would be roughly 1Gb-2Gb. Of course that all depends on the number of applications, photos and videos you have.

  • 1
    Media is not stored in your backup (music, videos, etc.)
    – user10355
    Apr 21, 2012 at 6:16
  • apple.com/icloud/features/apps-books-backup.html It backs up your camera roll. Any media purchases can be downloaded again, as it shows in your purchased list. This wasn't the case before iCloud. You were forced to back all purchases up locally and reinstall. Apr 21, 2012 at 23:40

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