Digital Communication


Digital Communication

What is iCloud? – IONOS


ICloud comes preinstalled on every Apple device and offers 5 GB of free storage. It can be used to automatically backup data and sync it with other Apple devices.

How does iCloud work?

If you have a Mac, iPhone or other Apple device, you already use the pre-installed iCloud service automatically. This is a backup in the Cloud launched by Apple in 2012. In the Apple Cloud, you can save different data individually, sync them to other Apple devices and, for example, create a Mac backup.

iCloud uses various Apple services, the data of which is automatically backed up and synchronized at regular intervals. These include:

  • Photos and videos
  • Emails
  • Passwords and logins
  • Contacts
  • Calendar entries
  • Notes
  • Memories
  • Messages
  • Bookmarks from Safari Browser vFiles
  • Music, videos, and eBooks from iTunes or iBooks
  • App Store App Purchases

Once the sync is complete, you can not only access the data from all your other Apple devices, but also share it. For this purpose, iCloud offers the possibility collaborate on documents from services such as Pages, Numbers or Keynote.

Prerequisites for iCloud

To be able to use iCloud as an Apple user, there is only one prerequisite: you needan Apple ID. It is typically created once when an Apple device is first set up and valid for all other devices. If you haven’t yet set the ID, you can also do so quickly and easily from the iCloud website.

To do this, open in your browser and click “Create your Apple ID”. In the dialog box that appears, enter your data, email address and desired password, then specify individual security questions. You can then sign in to iCloud using your new Apple ID and set your preferences to choose which apps to connect to iCloud.

But you can still use iCloud without a Mac or iPhone. This works regardless of computer type, either through the iCloud web app or the “iCloud for Windows” app, which allows you to use Apple’s cloud services on a Windows PC. However, this requires that you have already set up iCloud on an Apple device. In another article we explain how to use iCloud for Windows 10.

How is iCloud configured?

You can specify the data you want to store and sync in iCloud in the settings and change it at any time. If you have a Mac for example, follow these steps:

  • Open System Settings from the Apple menu.
  • In the window that opens, click “Apple ID” and log in if necessary.
  • Click “iCloud” to create or customize your settings.

In the user interface, on the right, you can see all available iCloud services. You can activate or deactivate them on a case-by-case basis by clicking on the corresponding box and checking or removing the check from a box. Changes made to iCloud will then be visible on all other Apple devices that you are signed in with your Apple ID.

Screenshot of the iCloud UI on a Mac
iCloud offers 5 GB of free storage and custom storage options.

Additionally, you can individually specify which data to store on which device. For example, if you only want to save your contacts to your Mac and iPhone, not your iPad, uncheck the box next to Contacts in that device’s iCloud settings.

For an iPhone, you’ll find the iCloud options in Settings under the “Apple ID” item. Again, you can specify which services are connected to the cloud storage.

In addition to data from various Apple services, no other data from security functions such as facial recognition and object recognition is stored in iCloud according to Apple. This sensitive information is only processed locally on your Apple device and is not uploaded to the Cloud.

Is your data secure in iCloud?

Apple stores your data in secure data centers and encrypts it with at least 128-bit AES encryption during transmission. Particularly sensitive data, such as the iCloud Keychain you use to manage your usernames and passwords, is treated with end-to-end encryption.

However, this secure encryption is not systematic. To do this, you must first enable two-factor authentication (2FA) of your Apple ID. Apple could, however, and in theory, access and share data that is not 2FA encrypted with third parties. But there is no need to worry as a private user, because Apple offers a reliable security standard with iCloud.

If you want to store your data in better security conditions than in a Cloud, turn to MyDefender from IONOS to benefit from optimal protection.

How much storage does iCloud offer?

When you sign in to iCloud, you automatically enjoy 5 GB of available storage space. When your iCloud storage is full, no more data is uploaded to iCloud. You can fix this problem by freeing up space and deleting photos in iCloud.

If you want to expand your storage space, you can sign up for a paid subscription to iCloud+. This function is available in different packages:

  • 50 GB of storage for 0.99 euros per month.
  • 200 GB of storage for 2.99 euros per month.
  • 2 TB of storage for 9.99 euros per month.

The three Premium subscriptions can be shared with up to five people.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of iCloud?

With iCloud, Apple users automatically and securely back up and sync their data. This allows them to access and share them quickly and easily from different Apple devices. THE data is always up to date, because manual synchronization between different devices is not necessary. In addition, Apple’s internal Cloud saves you from installing additional software for data backup.

One of the downsides of iCloud is that its services require a lot of storage space. Photos and videos in particular result in a available storage space quickly exhausted. There is a monthly fee to provide additional storage space. Additionally, you must always be connected to the Internet to access iCloud.

Is iCloud essential?

As an Apple user, you don’t rely on iCloud and you can use different cloud storage to backup your data. You can sign out of iCloud at any time. All stored data is deleted from your device, but remains in the Cloud. This will allow you to continue accessing your data through the web app or another device that you are always logged in on.

If you’ve decided against storing your data in iCloud, you can turn it off. However, it is not possible to do this independently of your Apple ID: if you log out with your Apple ID to deactivate iCloud, the service will be reactivated the next time you log in. Therefore, it is not possible to deactivate only individual features with a signed-in Apple ID.

To do this, simply remove the checkmarks next to each app in the UI. If you have changed your Apple ID or want to move to another iCloud solution, you need to delete the iCloud account.

iCloud Alternatives for Apple Users

The most popular iCloud alternatives are:

  • Microsoft OneDrive
  • HiDrive online storage
  • Google Drive
  • pCloud
  • Your Secure Cloud

They differ firstly in terms of the volume of data storage offered free of charge. With Google Drive, this is no less than 15 GB compared to the 5 GB offered by iCloud, this volume can also be extended for additional costs. It is not difficult to find an alternative to iCloud. Consult the Cloud storage comparison to find out which solution is best for you.

If you do not want to expose your data to security problems under any circumstances and protect them against improper access by third parties, the HiDrive online storage solution from IONOS offers you a particularly secure alternative.

All price indications in the text have been updated as of January 2023.

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