Does an iCloud Backup include photos?

Shreyas Patil SEO
Shreyas PatilUpdated :
Does an iCloud Backup include photos?

In today's digital age, our smartphones have become the repository of cherished memories, especially in the form of photos and videos. Losing these precious moments can be devastating, which is why it's essential to have a reliable backup solution.

iCloud, Apple's cloud storage service, offers users a seamless way to safeguard their data, including photos. But does an iCloud backup truly include photos? Let's explore the intricacies of iCloud backup and its photo-related features.

What is iCloud Backup?

iCloud Backup is a service provided by Apple that automatically and securely backs up the data on your iOS devices. This cloud-based backup system ensures that your essential data remains safe, even if your device gets lost, damaged, or replaced. By enabling iCloud Backup, you can easily restore your data on a new or restored device, making it a convenient feature for Apple users.

How Does iCloud Backup Work?

When iCloud Backup is enabled, your iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch will automatically back up data to your iCloud account once it is connected to Wi-Fi, plugged in, and locked. The process runs in the background, ensuring your data is continuously protected without any intervention needed from the user.

iCloud Backup Settings and Options

Before diving into whether iCloud Backup includes photos, it's essential to understand the various settings and options available for this feature. To enable iCloud Backup, follow these steps:

  • Open Settings on your iOS device.
  • Tap on your Apple ID name at the top.
  • Go to iCloud.
  • Tap iCloud Backup.
  • Toggle the switch to enable iCloud Backup.

You can also initiate a manual backup by selecting Back Up Now in the same settings menu.

What Does an iCloud Backup Include?

An iCloud Backup includes various types of data, ensuring that your device can be fully restored. Here's what it typically includes:

Photos and Videos

iCloud Backup does include photos and videos stored on your device. However, there are some essential points to consider. iCloud Backup does not include photos that are already backed up to iCloud Photo Library, which is a separate feature.

Contacts and Calendar Events

All your contacts and calendar events will be backed up, making it easy to restore your important appointments and connections.

Messages and iMessages

iCloud Backup includes your iMessages and text messages, allowing you to retrieve your message history on a new device.

App Data and Settings

The data and settings of your apps are included in the backup, ensuring a seamless experience when setting up a new device.

Purchases and App Store Content

Any apps, music, movies, or books purchased through the App Store or iTunes Store are part of the backup.

How to Enable iCloud Backup for Photos?

To ensure that your photos are backed up to iCloud, you must have the iCloud Photo Library feature enabled. Follow these steps to set it up:

  • Open Settings on your iOS device.
  • Tap on your Apple ID name at the top.
  • Go to iCloud.
  • Tap on Photos.
  • Toggle the switch for iCloud Photo Library to enable it.

Once this feature is enabled, all your photos and videos will automatically be backed up to iCloud. It is important to note that this storage will be counted against your iCloud storage quota.

Does iCloud Backup include all photos?

Yes and no. While iCloud Backup does include photos, it only backs up the photos that are not part of your iCloud Photo Library. In other words, photos that have already been synced to iCloud Photo Library are not duplicated in iCloud Backup. This approach is designed to optimize storage usage and prevent redundancy.

iCloud Photo Library vs. iCloud Backup

It's important to differentiate between iCloud Photo Library and iCloud Backup. iCloud Photo Library is primarily focused on syncing and organizing your photos and videos across all your Apple devices. On the other hand, iCloud Backup is an overall data backup system, encompassing various types of data from your device.

Managing iCloud Storage for Photo Backup

Since photos and videos can consume a significant amount of storage, managing your iCloud storage is crucial. If you're running low on iCloud storage, consider these options:

  • Purchase additional iCloud storage from Apple.
  • Optimize iPhone Storage: This feature allows your device to store full-resolution photos and videos in iCloud while keeping smaller versions on your device to save space.
  • Manually delete unwanted photos and videos from your device.

How to Access and Restore Photos from an iCloud Backup?

If you ever need to restore your photos from an iCloud Backup, follow these steps:

  • Erase your device and set it up as new or restore from a backup.
  • During the setup process, choose Restore from iCloud Backup.
  • Select the relevant backup that contains the photos you want to restore.

Common Issues with iCloud Photo Backup

While iCloud Photo Backup is generally reliable, some users may encounter issues. Here are a few common ones and how to address them:

Insufficient iCloud Storage

If you run out of iCloud storage, you'll need to either purchase more storage or optimize your existing storage usage.

Slow Backup Process

A slow backup may be due to a weak Wi-Fi connection or an unusually large backup size. Ensure you have a stable internet connection and consider deleting unnecessary data from your device.

Failed Backup Restores

If a restore process fails, make sure your device's software is up to date, and try again. If the problem persists, contact Apple Support for assistance.

Alternative Photo Backup Solutions

While iCloud is an excellent option for Apple users, there are alternative cloud-based photo backup solutions available for those who prefer different platforms:

Alternative Photo Backup Solutions

Google Photos

Google Photos offers free storage for high-quality photos and videos and can be accessed from both Android and iOS devices.


Microsoft's OneDrive provides seamless photo and video backup, and it's accessible across various devices and platforms.


Dropbox offers file syncing and storage, making it a viable option for backing up photos and other data.

Pros and Cons of Using iCloud for Photo Backup

As with any service, there are both advantages and disadvantages to using iCloud for photo backup:


  • Seamless integration with Apple devices.
  • Easy setup and automatic backup.
  • Part of the broader iCloud ecosystem.


  • Limited free storage (5GB).
  • Photos may count against your iCloud storage quota.
  • May not be ideal for users with non-Apple devices.

Quick Tip to ensure your videos never go missing

Videos are precious memories and all of us never want to lose them to hard disk crashes or missing drives. PicBackMan is the easiest and simplest way to keep your videos safely backed up in one or more online accounts. 

Download PicBackMan

Simply download PicBackMan (it's free!) , register your account, connect to your online store and tell PicBackMan where your videos are - PicBackMan does the rest, automatically. It bulk uploads all videos and keeps looking for new ones and uploads those too. You don't have to ever touch it.

Tips for Efficiently Using iCloud Backup for Photos

To make the most of iCloud Backup for your photos, consider the following tips:

  • Regularly review and manage your photo library to avoid unnecessary storage usage.
  • Optimize your iCloud storage settings to suit your needs and budget.
  • Ensure your device is regularly connected to Wi-Fi and plugged in to enable automatic backups.


In conclusion, an iCloud Backup does include photos; however, it only includes photos that are not part of your iCloud Photo Library. By enabling iCloud Photo Library, you can seamlessly sync and store your photos across all your Apple devices without duplication in iCloud Backup. This ensures you have a reliable and accessible backup of your cherished memories.

Remember to manage your iCloud storage efficiently and consider alternative backup solutions if you have diverse device preferences. By understanding the intricacies of iCloud Photo Backup, you can confidently safeguard your valuable photo collection.

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

1. Does iCloud Backup Contain Everything?

iCloud Backup includes various types of data from your iOS device, such as photos, videos, app data, contacts, messages, and settings. However, it does not include data stored in iCloud Drive, Apple Music, or your iTunes purchases. Additionally, some apps may not be backed up if the developers have chosen not to allow their data to be included in iCloud Backup.

2. What is the difference between iCloud Backup and iCloud Photos?

iCloud Backup is a comprehensive data backup system that saves a copy of your entire device's data to iCloud, including photos. On the other hand, iCloud Photos (also known as iCloud Photo Library) is a feature focused specifically on syncing and storing your photos and videos across all your Apple devices. iCloud Photos ensures that your entire photo library is available on all your devices while optimizing storage usage.

3. Is It Safe to Delete Photos from iPhone After iCloud Backup?

Yes, it is safe to delete photos from your iPhone after enabling iCloud Backup and iCloud Photos. Once your photos are backed up to iCloud, you can free up space on your device by removing the local copies of the photos. However, make sure you have verified that the photos are safely backed up in iCloud before deleting them from your device.

4. How Do I Keep Photos on iCloud but Delete Them from My Phone?

To keep photos on iCloud while deleting them from your iPhone, you can follow these steps:

  • Ensure that iCloud Photo Library is enabled on your device.
  • Open the Photos app on your iPhone.
  • Select the photos you want to remove.
  • Tap the Trash icon to delete the selected photos.
  • The photos will be moved to the Recently Deleted album.
  • To permanently delete them, go to the Recently Deleted album and tap Delete All.

Remember that deleting photos from the Recently Deleted album will also remove them from iCloud Photos.

5. How Do I Delete Photos from iCloud but Not My iPhone?

To delete photos from iCloud without removing them from your iPhone, you can use a computer and follow these steps:

  • Go to and sign in with your Apple ID.
  • Click on Photos to access your iCloud Photo Library.
  • Select the photos you want to delete from iCloud.
  • Click the Trash icon to delete the selected photos.

Deleting photos from iCloud will not affect the photos stored on your iPhone, as long as iCloud Photo Library is enabled on your device.

6. Can I Store Photos in iCloud and Not on My Phone?

Yes, you can store photos in iCloud and not keep them on your iPhone by enabling Optimize iPhone Storage. With this feature enabled, your device will store full-resolution photos and videos in iCloud, while keeping smaller versions on your iPhone to save space. You can access the full-resolution versions from iCloud whenever you want to view or download them.

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