I have an iphone 4s and I got an error message saying it can't do a backup because I have more than 5 GB to backup (more details listed on my question here). When i go into the detail i see that the Camera role was taking up 5.1 GB itself so thats why it can't do any more backups.

I got suggestions on this answer to download files onto computer and then delete them off my phone.

The issue is that i just went and deleted all of my videos (which must have been over 1 GB) but when i go to the iCloud settings page it still shows the Camera Roll as having 5.1 GB.

Is there anything that i need to do to have it realize that i just freed up a lot of space?

  • Sorry about the other answer. Should have thought about it a little more. I can't help but wonder, if somehow, someway, what it says for the camera roll is at least somewhat accurate. Maybe you could plug it in to iTunes, and see what it says. How many pictures/videos do you have on there now? (Settings > General > About) Jun 12, 2012 at 12:36
  • @leora, can you try the answer I provided? and provide the bounty if it solved your issue?
    – lensovet
    Sep 7, 2012 at 1:56

4 Answers 4


Your answer lies deep in the settings app on your iPhone.

Go to iCloud - Storage & Backup - Manage Storage - your device

Backup settings allow you to save space in iCloud by excluding app data in the next back up. You can toggle on more and more buckets of data until the estimate is low enough to allow the next backup attempt to succeed.

When you turn off data under iOS 7 where it says Backup Options: Choose the data you want to back up. - this does delete the backup copy of that data, so consider paying for more space (or cleaning up elsewhere) if you cannot afford to lose that backup copy.

Assuming you have data you are willing to risk losing or is backed up to iTunes on a computer, then you can clean enough space and add things back slowly (triggering another backup after each addition) once a small minimal backup has been completed successfully.

iCloud storage settings - Backup Options screen

Furthermore, if you go to the above screen and turn off Camera Roll backup, it will prompt you to delete these files from the iCloud server backup, freeing the space immediately (just because you delete the videos on the device, they take up backup space on iCloud until you purge the backup by category or delete it entirely and start over).

Your iCloud space has to remain full of files that were backed up and now deleted on the device for it to function. After a few days of backups, the old backups expire and no longer take space but in your case you might want to purge them intentionally rather than wait for it to happen programatically.

  • Does turning the slider off and on again temporarily leave you with no backup if you haven't backed the photos up on a computer somewhere? Feb 25, 2014 at 1:20
  • Yes, turning off the slider prompts you with "Do you want to turn off Camera Roll backups and delete the backup data from iCloud?" in the case for tapping Camera Roll. I edited my answer for grammar and hopefully make that more clear. Thanks for the comment.
    – bmike
    Feb 25, 2014 at 1:36

Delete all excess photos/videos you don't want or are already downloaded elsewhere (iPhoto or something similar perhaps). In iCloud turn camera roll toggle off and on and it's instantly the actual size.


In my personal experience, the usages shown on iCloud details page lag for some reason. Just try doing a manual backup from the main iCloud settings pane and see if it succeeds. If it still fails, then you should probably import your Camera Roll in its entirety to your computer and then sync the photos back – they'll end up getting downscaled when being synced back and will take up less space as a result.

  • I had expected there to be a lag like you mention, but in several days of testing, it is surprisingly immediate when I delete classes of data or change backups. I've found the size calculation in iCloud to be instantaneous and correct so far.
    – bmike
    Sep 9, 2012 at 15:38

I had this problem in June. I went to a local "genius bar" and they were super helpful. It was quite the process but I walked out with lots of room in my iCloud and the problem was resolved.

  • 3
    Do come back and report the process or at least the details of what was changed. As it stands, this is a me too - go to the genius bar and more of a comment than an answer.
    – bmike
    Nov 17, 2012 at 16:12

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