Yes, you can still back up your iPhone even if there is “not enough iCloud storage”


Manage iCloud storage by deleting old backups from iOS devices you no longer have.

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Backing up your iPhone is a trivial task, but it can save you some frustration. Whether you are preparing to move on to the new iPhone 13, update your iPhone to iOS 15 (Where iOS 15.1), or you just want to be prepared in case your iPhone is never lost or stolen, there are different ways to backup your Apple device. The easiest way, however, is to use iCloud.

Unfortunately, iCloud has its limitations, which may lead you to see the dreaded “not enough iCloud storage” error message. But do not worry. I’ll walk you through how to backup your iPhone to iCloud, iTunes, and MacOS. And I’ll even show you how to troubleshoot and bypass some of iCloud’s limitations.

Read more: Did you just buy an iPhone 13? This iOS 15 trick gives you more iCloud storage for free

If you want to follow it step by step, watch the video below: How to Backup Your iPhone.

iCloud: when everything works as it should

iCloud is a free account (we’ll get to that later) that is linked to your Apple ID and can back up your iPhone. However, it doesn’t back up everything on your phone. Things that you buy with your Apple ID, such as apps or music, will not be backed up because Apple has a receipt that says you have already purchased them and will allow you to download them again for free. Emails, contacts, and calendars usually sync with your email account like Gmail, but in some cases you can sync these items with iCloud as well.

When you have the iCloud space you need, backing up your iPhone is simple and easy.

James Phelan / CNET

You can recheck all of this by going to Settings, then to Passwords and accounts, which has a list of your email addresses. Under each address, you can see what’s synced: mail, contacts, calendars, etc.

To start a backup to iCloud, connect your iPhone to Wi-Fi, then go to Settings and press the Apple ID / iCloud tab at the top, which also has your name. If you’re not signed in, take a moment to sign in, then tap iCloud. On the next page, scroll down and press ICloud backup, to allow ICloud backup then press Save now to start.

Depending on how much data you have or if this is your first time backing up to iCloud, the backup process may take a few minutes or an hour. Check below the Save now to see the exact time and date of your phone’s last backup. Now, whenever your iPhone is connected to power, locked, and on Wi-Fi, it will automatically back up any new data you have to iCloud.

“This iPhone cannot be backed up because there is not enough iCloud storage”

If this iCloud backup worked fine, then all the better, you’re done. But I realize that a lot of people won’t be able to back up to iCloud without a bit of work. You might see this message on your iOS device, “This iPhone cannot be backed up because there is not enough iCloud storage available.”

cannot save-1

Look at the message under the Save now button.

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Each iCloud account gets 5 GB for free. But most people have more than 5GB of data on their phone – or they have more than one iOS device to back up. Therefore, 5 GB is not enough space. And maybe one day Apple will change its free plan to give us more data and make backup easier for everyone. But until then, we need to do some math to optimize our iCloud accounts.

Determine the size of the iCloud backup

As I mentioned earlier, iCloud doesn’t back up everything on your phone. Instead, it takes a smart approach and doesn’t back up items synced with your internet accounts or that you’ve purchased with your Apple iTunes ID. To find out exactly how much iCloud space your backup file will take up, go to Settings, press the Apple ID / iCloud, then tap iCloud, so Manage storage space and, finally, press Backups. There is a list of devices that are backing up or attempting to back up with your account.


You can manage your iCloud storage by deleting old backups from iOS devices that you no longer have.

James Phelan / CNET

By the way, if you see multiple backups of the same phone, take a look at the age of each. You may have an old iPhone backup which you can delete to open the iCloud space. When you’re done purging this list, tap the name of the device you’re currently using.

Give your phone a few moments to figure things out, then look at the top of the screen. You should see the following details: Last Backup, Backup Size, and Next Backup Size. If you haven’t backed up your iPhone to iCloud before or for a long time, the Next save size will be quite a large amount of data. Obviously, if it’s more than 5GB, you either need to buy more storage or adjust exactly what you’re backing up.

Change what’s backed up in iCloud

Further down the screen under Next save size is a list where you can Choose the data to back up. This list will contain the applications and the amount of data that each needs to back up. The list goes from what takes up the most space to the least.

If you just need a slightly smaller backup file, uncheck the larger data items on the list if you don’t mind whether or not they are backed up.

Buy more iCloud storage

This is the part that no one likes to do. Basically, you can pay Apple 99 cents a month to boost your iCloud storage from 5GB to 50GB. And if you still need more, there are iCloud storage tiers of up to 2TB.

I realize that the idea of ​​paying Apple more money on top of what we’re already spending on devices, accessories, and AppleCare doesn’t suit a lot of people. But if you lost your iPhone, have a new one to replace it, and someone told you that you can download a backup of all your lost phone data for just $ 12, you would probably say yes. And that’s how much additional iCloud storage costs per year.

Using iTunes

Do you remember iTunes? Good old iTunes. If you’re using MacOS Mojave (10.14 or earlier) or using a PC, you can just plug your phone into your computer and back it up to iTunes instead of using iCloud.

Open iTunes. If you are on a PC, you may need to download it first. After allowing your devices to talk to each other, click on the small iPhone at the top left of the iTunes window.


IPhone / iPad / iPod Touch icons in iTunes are easy to miss.

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Scroll to Backup section and sub Automatically To safeguard Choose This computer. After a while, your computer will have a backup file of your iPhone. To recheck the file, go to the itunes menu, select Preferences and choose the Devices tongue. From there, you can see a list of all the iPhone backups you have made through iTunes.

Keep in mind that your backup is as current as the last time you ran the process. Plus, your backup file is as secure as your computer.

Use MacOS Finder Backup

You may have heard whispers that MacOS Catalina, released in 2019, iTunes finished. Well, it’s kind of true. ITunes functions are broken down and reassigned. Instead of backing up to the iTunes app, you’ll just use a Finder window.

Open a Searcher dock window. Select your device in the sidebar under Devices. Then on the right side click on the General tongue. Then click on Save now. Depending on how much data you have, this may take a while.

I highly recommend backing up your iPhone – and really any iOS device you own. But how you go about doing it is up to you.

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