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Which iCloud+ or Apple One subscription is right for you?

Saving documents and photos to the cloud is the best way to preserve your critical assets in case of theft, loss, or natural disaster. For Apple customers, iCloud is a favorite choice because it is designed to work seamlessly across all your devices.

With the iCloud service enabled, you get backup and syncing of and between devices for files, photos, calendars, contacts, notes, reminders, photos, email, and preferences. All iCloud accounts get 5GB of online storage space for free, but if you depend on iCloud for backup and syncing, you will need way more than 5GB. Apple is happy to oblige with various subscription levels to help you target the right amount of storage for your needs.

While iCloud has a well-deserved good reputation, it’s not the only game in town. Check out our list of the best cloud storage services.

iCloud storage subscriptions

iCloud storage options.
Apple

Apple offers four monthly iCloud subscription levels to choose from to tie together your iPhones, iPads, Macs, and even some Windows computers.

  • Free: 5GB of storage
  • $0.99 per month for 50GB of storage
  • $2.99 per month for 200GB of storage
  • $9.99 per month for 2TB of storage

For those amounts, you can store anything you have parked or synced in iCloud Drive, plus app data, photos and videos, mobile device backups, iCloud Music Library audio, and data from contacts, calendar, mail, notes, and reminders stored in iCloud. Customers on a Family Sharing plan who purchase the $2.99 or $9.99 per month plans can share space with up to five added family members, with each person having a separate and private account and storage.

Which plan should you buy?

Photos backups in iCloud.
Apple

When choosing an iCloud storage plan, think about why you need it and your intended use. If you’re using it in addition to other cloud services like Google Drive, Google Photos, or Dropbox, you may not need to spring for as much storage space. On the other hand, if you find you’re running out of space for device backups or you’re using iCloud’s Desktop and Documents feature to sync devices, you may need more.

Free: If your life is not awash in Apple devices, or you already use Google services or Dropbox, the free version of the service may be all you need. While you may have to perform device backups directly to your Mac as opposed to iCloud, that shouldn’t be a problem.

50GB plan ($12 per year): This is the best plan for very casual users or those who employ additional backup strategies. Generally, you will want to have it hold your iPhone and iPad backups in the cloud — instead of your Mac — and store a moderate number of documents, images, or video.

200GB plan ($36 per year): This is the best plan for heavy users and those with families or friends to share storage space with. If you have multiple devices and want to keep them all backed up, use iCloud Drive regularly, or have been building a substantial iCloud Photo Library, 200GB is a good bet for you. It supports the family sharing feature for a total of six people on one account, each with their own private storage and log in.

2TB plan ($120 per year): This plan is for extreme power users, professional backup for files, photos, and videos, and family sharing. If you have multiple iPhone, iPad, and Mac devices or have a family with multiple devices, you use multiple iCloud services like iCloud Photo Library, Music Library, or iCloud Drive, and you intend to back up many devices to the cloud, consider the more expensive 2TB plan.

The new iCloud+

For those who were already paying iCloud subscribers, those subscriptions got an automatic free boost with iCloud+, a new version of the service released with iOS 15. It includes privacy-focused features like Private Relay, Hide My Email, and HomeKit Secure Video. The upgrade offers internet encryption, faux email address creation, and enhanced support for home security cameras.

Apple One storage plan

Apple Fitness Plus on Apple One.
Apple

Apple also recently launched the all-inclusive Apple One service that delivers all cloud benefits under one roof. Apple One bundles up to six Apple services into one subscription, including Apple Music, Apple TV+, Apple Arcade, Apple News+, Apple Fitness+, and iCloud storage.

There are several levels to Apple One, and you get an increased amount of iCloud storage with each, so depending on what you use, there might be a financial tradeoff. If you don’t use any of Apple’s ancillary subscription services, then stick to buying iCloud storage on its own. However, if you use Apple’s other services, this could save you money.

  • Apple One Individual Plan ($14.95 per month): This option offers up to 50GB of iCloud storage for a single individual alongside access to Apple Music, Apple TV+, and Apple Arcade.
  • Apple One Family Plan ($19.95 per month): If you have friends and family who are planning to buy iCloud storage, the Family Plan is a great option. Not only do you get 200GB of storage, but you’ll also get access to all the other Apple services you might already use, like Music, Apple TV+, and Apple Arcade, sharable with five additional people.
  • Apple One Premier Plan ($29.95 per month): This option offers 2TB of iCloud storage and access to Apple Music, Apple TV+, Apple Arcade, Apple News+, and Apple Fitness+ to share with five additional people.

The Premier Plan — available only in the U.S., U.K., Australia, and Canada — works nicely if you need 2TB of space in addition to all available Apple services, including Apple Fitness+, which is not bundled into other plans.

Apple One works across Apple devices, including iPhone and iPod touch with iOS 14 or later, iPad with iPadOS 14 or later, Apple TV with TvOS 14 or later, and Mac with MacOS Big Sur 11.1 or later. If you subscribe through another device, you can get Apple One with earlier MacOS versions as well. Apple Fitness+, included with the Premier plan, requires the Apple Watch Series 3 or later. Even if you sign up for Apple One, you can still purchase additional iCloud storage.

Upgrade or downgrade your iCloud storage

Ready to add additional iCloud storage? Of course, Apple makes this extremely easy to do right from your phone or iPad. To purchase additional iCloud storage on your iPhone or iPad, go to Settings > Apple ID > iCloud, Then tap on Manage Storage > Change Storage Plan and choose the option you want. Then tap Buy, type in your Apple ID password, and tap OK.

To remove storage from your iCloud account, you follow the same sequence as above, except when you get to the Change Storage Plan you instead tap Downgrade Options, choose the plan you want, and then tap Done > Downgrade.

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Jackie Dove
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Jackie is an obsessive, insomniac tech writer and editor in northern California. A wildlife advocate, cat fan, and photo app…
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