How to control what your iPhone backs up to iCloud

Are you getting ready for a new iPhone? Running out of iCloud storage space? Living with a slow internet connection? Worried about privacy? In any of these cases, you might want to exclude some apps from your iCloud backups. Doing so will save iCloud storage space, conserve bandwidth and make sure your data does not go to Apple’s servers, where it may or may not be vulnerable to decryption.

The good news is that it’s easy to exclude pretty much anything you like from your iCloud backups in iOS. Here’s how.

How to manage iCloud backups

To get started, open the Settings app and tap the Apple ID banner (the one with your name on it at the top of the main screen). Then tap iCloud, and then tap Manage Storage. Then, after waiting for a moment, tap Backups.

Find your iCloud backups in the Settings app.
Find your backups in the Settings app.
Photo: Cult of Mac

Here, you will see a list of the Apple devices you have backed up. This tells you how much space these backups take up on iCloud. You can view the details of all your devices from this screen, but you can only manage the backups of the iPhone or iPad you are currently using to look at these settings. Tap the name of this device, and you’ll see a list of the most storage-hungry apps.

To view all the apps backed up to iCloud — not just the top space hogs — tap Show All Apps.

Choose which apps back up to iCloud

Exclude apps from iCloud backups using this list.
Exclude apps in this list.
Photo: Cult of Mac

Then, it’s a matter of scrolling down the list and unchecking any apps that you don’t need or want to back up.

This is a great way to free up iCloud storage space. It’s easy to identify the apps that take up the most iCloud storage, because they show up first on the list. But you also might want to scan down the list to see if anything catches your attention.

For instance, you might spot backups from apps you long ago stopped using. You can safely switch off their backups, and the associated data will disappear from your iCloud backups.

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