What happens when I go Over My iCloud Storage Limit?

Shreyas Patil
Shreyas PatilUpdated :
What happens when I go Over My iCloud Storage Limit?

Going over your iCloud storage limit can have some consequences, but there are also ways to resolve the issue. This comprehensive guide will walk you through everything you need to know about exceeding your iCloud storage capacity.

Understanding iCloud Storage Limits

Apple provides free iCloud storage starting at 5GB. This base amount is shared between iCloud backups, photos, documents, and other data stored in iCloud. However, many users find that 5GB fills up quickly.

You can upgrade to higher storage tiers for a monthly or yearly fee. The storage options are:

  • 50GB for $0.99 per month
  • 200GB for $2.99 per month
  • 2TB for $9.99 per month

Once you reach the limit of your selected plan, you will not be able to back up or store additional items in iCloud until you delete data or upgrade your plan.

How do I know when I’m nearing my iCloud storage limit?

Your iPhone, iPad, or Mac will display alerts as you approach the capacity of your iCloud storage plan. You may see messages that your backup could not complete or that you are out of storage space.

You can also check your iCloud usage by going to Settings > [your name] > iCloud > Manage Storage on iOS devices or Apple menu > System Preferences > Apple ID > iCloud on Macs. This shows a visualization of used and available storage.

What Happens When You Go Over the Limit

Once your used iCloud storage exceeds the capacity of your plan, certain features will become unavailable. Some consequences of going over your limit include:

Backups get interrupted

iCloud backups allow you to save and restore your device data. However, new backups can't complete if you are over your storage limit. You will get a message that the backup could not finish.

Existing backups will remain available. But your devices cannot create new backups until you free up space or upgrade your iCloud storage.

Unable to save photos and videos

The iCloud Photos feature automatically saves your photos and videos to iCloud. If you go over your storage limit, iCloud will stop uploading new images from your devices to the cloud.

Any photos or videos already stored in iCloud will remain available. But new ones will only save locally on your device until you upgrade or delete data.

Documents don't sync

iCloud helps keep your documents and app data in sync across devices. But when you exceed your iCloud capacity, any new files or data changes will not sync to other gadgets.

For example, you may create a new Pages file on your iPhone that won't appear on your Mac due to insufficient storage. Existing synced files will remain available across devices. However, nothing new can sync until you resolve the storage issue.

Can't create iCloud Drive files

Similar to standard documents, you cannot create new files in iCloud Drive if you go over your limit. Any files already in iCloud Drive remain accessible. But adding anything new will fail until you free up space.

Email attachments disabled

If you use iCloud Mail, it will stop downloading attachments when your storage is full. You will get a notification that attachments were not downloaded due to the storage issue.

Cannot restore from backup

Restoring an iOS or Mac device from an iCloud backup requires available storage capacity. If you try to restore when you're over the limit, it will fail with an error.

To restore a backup, you would need to delete enough data to make room or upgrade your iCloud storage plan first.

Solutions for Dealing with Exceeding Your iCloud Storage Limit

If you go over your available iCloud storage, there are a few options to resolve the issue:

Delete data from iCloud

The simplest solution is to delete enough data from iCloud to get back under your capacity limit. You can remove backups, photos, documents, and other files.

Go to Settings > [your name] > iCloud > Manage Storage to see your largest items and delete anything unneeded.

Stop storing data in iCloud

Another option is to turn off certain iCloud features, like iCloud Photos or iCloud Drive, to prevent additional data from syncing and taking up space.

You can enable these selectively for only your most important data. The key is minimizing what gets continuously backed up to iCloud.

Upgrade your iCloud storage plan

If you frequently brush up against your limit, it may make sense to upgrade to a higher storage tier. This provides more room so you don't have to actively manage storage as closely.

Upgrading can also be a temporary solution if you only occasionally exceed your limit during certain times, like when traveling. You can downgrade after the need passes.

Transfer photos to another service

If photos and videos are taking up a large chunk of your iCloud storage, consider transferring them to another service. For example, you can move your entire iCloud Photos library to Google Photos for free unlimited storage.

This prevents image backups from constantly filling up your iCloud capacity. Just be sure to turn off iCloud Photos on your devices once transferred.

Use optimized device backups

iOS and MacOS have the option to create "optimized" device backups that don't eat up as much space. This only backs up information and data unique to your device, not anything already stored in iCloud.

Optimized backups are smaller, which can help prevent storage limits from being exceeded. Enable this option under iCloud settings if available.

Delete device backups

As a last resort, you can delete old device backups from iCloud. Make sure you have copies of any important data first. Then remove backups you no longer need.

This should only be done with caution as it can prevent you from restoring to an earlier device state if ever needed. Try other options first before deleting backups.

Quick Tip to ensure your videos never go missing

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In Conclusion

Exceeding your iCloud storage limit can disrupt your ability to back up, sync, and access your data across devices. Carefully manage your storage, upgrade when needed, or use alternative services for select data if you routinely bump up against capacity limits. With some proactive planning, you can avoid major headaches from going over your available iCloud storage.


How do I download data from iCloud before deleting it?

You can download copies of photos, documents, backups, and other data stored in iCloud before removing them to free up space. On iOS, use the iCloud Drive and Photos apps. On Mac, access iCloud Drive and Photos in the Finder.

Can I temporarily upgrade my iCloud storage plan?

Yes, you can upgrade your iCloud storage for one month when you are over the limit and then downgrade back to the original plan afterward. This avoids paying for a permanently higher tier when you only briefly need more space.

What happens if my phone is full when backup fails?

If your iPhone or iPad storage is also full when an iCloud backup fails due to exceeding limits, you could potentially lose data not saved elsewhere. Try to keep local iOS device storage free as well.

How can I see what's in my iCloud backup?

On iOS, go to Settings > [your name] > iCloud > Manage Storage > Backups to view information on the backup size and data. On Macs, you can see backup details in System Preferences > Apple ID > iCloud > Manage.

Why can't I turn off iCloud Photos if I'm out of storage?

Disabling iCloud Photos requires space to transfer the library from the cloud back to your device storage before switching it off. You will need to make space before turning off Photos.

Can I choose which apps sync data to iCloud?

Yes, you can disable iCloud sync and backup for individual apps. Go to Settings > [your name] > iCloud on iOS or System Preferences > Apple ID > iCloud on Mac, then toggle off apps.

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