Using iCloud to sync data between your computers and devices means your data is uploaded to your account--which means you have a backup of your data there. By turning on the iCloud backup features, you can not just back up data there, but also create multiple backups and restore backed-up data over the Internet.
All iCloud users get 5 GB of storage for free. You can upgrade to additional storage for an annual fee.
Programs That Backup to iCloud
The following programs have iCloud backup features built in. For most of them, you just need to turn on the backup feature to have their contents uploaded to iCloud.
- Mac OS apps: Safari (for bookmarks), Mail, Address Book, iCal, iPhoto
- Windows apps: Safari (for bookmarks), Outlook 2007 or later
- Pages, Keynote, and Numbers 1.5 or higher
- iPhoto '11 or newer
- Aperture 3.2.3 or higher
- iOS apps: Mail, Contacts, Calendars, Reminders, Safari (for bookmarks), Notes, Photos, Pages, Keynote, and Numbers
Checking Your iCloud Storage
To find out how much of your 5 GB iCloud backup space you're using and how much you have left:
- On Mac and Windows: Open the iCloud Preferences (Mac) or Control Panel (Windows). The bar across the bottom shows how much is used and how much is available.
- On iOS: Tap the Settings app and then tap iCloud. Tap Storage & Backup. Look for the Storage menu.
Managing iCloud Backups
You can see the individual backups in your iCloud account, and delete some of them if you'd like. To do that, follow the steps you use to check your iCloud storage. On that screen, click Manage or Manage Storage.
You'll see full system backups and a list of the apps you use that back up to iCloud. For full system backups, you can select a backup and then click Delete (on desktops) or tap Delete Backup (on iOS). Only do that if you're sure you want to get rid of it; this is only advised if you have a newer backup and want to save space.
For each app you're backing up, click or tap the app to see what documents are being backed up to your iCloud account. To delete a file, swipe across the file and tap the Delete button (iOS), or click on it and then click the Delete button (Mac/Windows).
Restoring iOS Devices from iCloud Backup
This article, from About.com's iPad site, explains how to restore your iPad from an iCloud backup. While it's specific to iPad, the process for the iPhone and iPod touch is essentially the same.
Upgrading iCloud Storage
If you want or need to add more storage to your iCloud account, simply access your iCloud software and select an upgrade.
- On Mac and Windows: Open the iCloud System Preference (Mac) or Control Panel (Windows). Click on Manage and then Buy More Storage. Click on the upgrade you want and then click Next. Enter your Apple ID password and click Buy to upgrade.
- On iOS: Tap Settings, then iCloud, then Storage & Backup. Tap Buy More Storage, tap one of the options, and tap Buy.
Upgrades to your iCloud storage are charged annually via your iTunes account.