My default iCloud backup is almost full at 4 out of 5 GB, and I strongly suspect it's not the photos (I don't take that many) but a few giant videos in the Camera Roll:

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Is there any way to disable backing up videos only to iCloud? I can only find a way to turn the entire camera roll backup on or off, which I don't want. I definitely want the photos to be backed up to iCloud, just not giant oversize videos.

Yes, I can copy the videos off and delete them from my phone, but I still want the videos on the phone, I just don't want them backed up to iCloud at all.

  • Are you aware that 1000 photos or 30 days of photos that go to photo stream are hosted for free? Once you've set that up, you can safely turn off iCloud backup. Should your phone get lost/erased, you'd only lose a picture that didn't have time to be sent to the stream. You do need a computer to regularly save the photos in this scenario, but this works well for many people to avoid paying for >5GB of iCloud storage.
    – bmike
    Jul 11, 2012 at 18:03
  • that's confusing -- why can I turn off Camera Roll then, and why am I getting nagged about storage space if all photos are backed up to iCloud for free, even with iCloud turned off? I don't understand. Jul 11, 2012 at 18:10
  • Two things are not even vaguely clear in iCloud's documentation to me. Your backup space includes several backup snapshots in time and AFAIK they count to quota. So, just turning off backup going forward doesn't purge the past usage until the old backups expire. This isn't documented anywhere I've seen, just what I've observed in use. I should experiment and see if deleting all backups for a device reclaims all the space in this situation....
    – bmike
    Jul 11, 2012 at 18:15
  • It looks like my information is out of date - I'll get an answer in a bit once I verify things...
    – bmike
    Jul 11, 2012 at 18:37

2 Answers 2


No - there is no easy way to just tell iCloud to omit part of the camera roll. I suppose a jailbreak could theoretically work in this functionality but I'm not up on what is possible in that realm.

Two workarounds seem practical today:

  1. Manage those videos in another app (Vimeo/iMovie seem clunky and undesirable for this but perhaps something like DropBox would work if you didn't mind the extra steps of migrating and then deleting video assets from the roll).
  2. Give up iCloud backup of the camera roll contents and depend on iCloud Photo Stream for eventual backup to a computer.

I've seen the second option work for people once they were acquainted with how the archival process works on a computer pulling from Photo Stream. Since iCloud backup is usually a half day behind in backing up, the stream is generally faster at getting a still photo off your device than the backup mechanism.

If you are OK with a computer regularly importing the photos from the stream before the 1000 image / 30 day limit starts deleting them from the stream, you could turn off the Camera Roll from your iPhone's backup options:

delete an app's data from iCloud on iOS - confirmation dialog

Selecting Turn Off & Delete will reclaim your space in a minute or so. Just be sure your current camera roll has been totally imported before selecting the red delete option.

Since videos do not go to the photo stream, you will need to transfer them off your device to make a backup copy of them going forward when needed.


Now you can use Microsoft's OneDrive (formerly SkyDrive) and Google Photos for media backup instead. Both offer 15 GB of free storage each.

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