Let’s be honest: iCloud backup is not perfect (we wrote about its pros and cons before). A lot of people still go with it, though, because it is wireless and automatic. To back up to iCloud, the following simple conditions must be met:
- iPhone is connected to a Wi-Fi network;
- iPhone is charging;
- iCloud has enough free space;
- iPhone screen is locked.
However, many iPhone users face problems creating an iCloud backup. If you are one of them, see our article for solutions:
- Free up iCloud storage space
- Back up only the data you need
- Change iCloud storage plan
- I don’t want to pay to Apple!
I can’t back up because there’s not enough space in iCloud
Let’s start with the most common problem: you can’t back up to iCloud because you don’t have enough iCloud storage.
By default, Apple generously (sarcasm alert!) gives you 5 GB of free space in iCloud. Most often this is not enough to back up the contents of the entire iPhone, including photos, videos, messages etc. What solution does Apple offer? Pay for additional iCloud space!
Even though the price is not actually that high, I am sure you still have better spending options. One way to solve this problem without buying anything from Apple is to free up some iCloud storage space.
But first, it will be useful to find out how much space your next backup will take and how much iCloud storage space is still available to you.
Here’s how to see how much iCloud space your backups take:
On iOS 11 and above: go to Settings > Your name > iCloud > Manage Storage > Backups.
On iOS 10.3: go to Settings > Your name > iCloud > iCloud Storage > Manage Storage.
Here’s how to check how much free space in iCloud storage you have:
On your device, go to Settings > Your name > iCloud.
Free up iCloud storage space
Now you know how much data you can delete from iCloud. So, let’s get started! We have an article on how to free up iCloud space, but here are some main points, too:
- Delete old iCloud backups
- Delete other data from iCloud storage
To free up more iCloud space, delete all your old backups, i.e. backups for devices that you no longer use. To do that, on your iPhone go to Settings > Your name > iCloud > Manage Storage >Backups.
Choose the backup and tap on Delete Backup.
You have now deleted unnecessary backups, but the error message persists? Delete large files you don’t need. Go to Settings > Apple ID > iCloud > Manage Storage. There you can get rid of the data that takes up too much space.
As a rule, the greatest “consumers” of your iCloud space are photos and videos. iCloud Photos feature, often enabled by default, means that all the photos taken with your iPhone will be stored in iCloud storage. You can turn off iCloud photos, but first you might want to download your photo library from iCloud and maybe even delete it afterwards. For these purposes, you can use CopyTrans Cloudly. iCloud Photos feature can be switched off in Settings > Apple ID > iCloud > Photos.
Back up only the data you need
By default, all of your app data is saved to iCloud upon every backup. But do you really need a backup for each app? If not, you can turn off backups for this specific app and furhter reduce iCloud backup size.
To do so, tap Settings > Apple ID > iCloud> Manage Storage >Backup, select your device and disable the backup for unnecessary applications.
Note: All your devices with the one Apple ID are sharing the same storage space. For example, if you have an iPhone and an iPad which are linked to the same iCloud account, you will have 5Gb of free iCloud storage for both devices (not for each). So if you use the same Apple ID on several devices, don’t forget to organize your iCloud storage for other gadgets as well.
Change iCloud storage plan
If you’ve tried all the solutions above and you still don’t have enough space, you can purchase more iCloud space from Apple. Go to Settings > Apple ID > iCloud> Manage Storage and tap Change Storage Plan. Then select the plan you need.
I don’t want to pay to Apple!
If you don’t want to pay for additional space in iCloud, you could also try other ways to back up – using iTunes or third-party apps like CopyTrans Shelbee. You can look up all the pros and cons of different backup methods in our complete backup guide.
Can’t backup with iCloud even though I have enough space
If you are sure you have enough space to place (or squeeze) one more backup into iCloud, yet you still get the error message, the issue is probably Apple-related. In this case, it’s best to contact Apple Support.
I can’t back up because iCloud Backup option is greyed out
“I want to back up to iCloud. I go to Settings > Apple ID> iCloud >iCloud Backup, but “iCloud Backup” is greyed out! What should I do?”
The quickest alternative solution would be to back up using iTunes or other apps like CopyTrans Shelbee.
While many users have faced this “greyed out issue” after an update, there is still no word from Apple confirming that the update is actually the cause. If it is, Apple will probably try to fix it soon. If it isn’t, there are a couple of other things that might cause the issue:
- Apple servers (or part of them) are down;
- iPhone is not connected to Wi-Fi;
- iPhone has a configuration profile installed;
- You are accessing your iCloud backup over a restricted network, such as a company network.
- Restart your iPhone
- Make sure you’ve turned off airplane mode
- Relogin into your iCloud account
- Check if iCloud has enough free space
- Try to back up later
- Delete your configuration profile on iPhone
- Turn off content and privacy restrictions
- Reset network settings
- Reset settings
- Turn on iCloud backup via iTunes
- Update iOS to the latest version
Try these steps to make sure you’ve done everything:
We have a guide on how to restart your iPhone.
This is a rookie mistake, but it never hurts to check. See if the airplane mode is on in the iPhone settings.
You can also disable it from the Control Center. To do so, on iPhone X or later with iOS 12 or later, swipe down from the upper right corner of the screen. On other devices, swipe up from the bottom of the screen. Then tap the airplane icon.
In some cases, logging in again fixes iCloud connectivity issues. Tap Settings > Apple ID > Sign Out. Then tap “Sign in to iPhone” in the Settings and follow the instructions.
To check how much iCloud space you have, go to Settings > Apple ID > iCloud.
Just check on the issue a bit later to see if that was a server problem.
Configuration profiles are commonly used on devices provided to company employees. You may be asked to install a configuration profile that was emailed to you or downloaded from a web page. Such profiles can cause Wi-Fi and configuration issues.
You can check the installed profiles in Settings > General > Profiles. You can also delete the profile there.
Go to Settings > Screen Time > Content and Privacy Restrictions. Then disable “Content and Privacy Restrictions”.
When iCloud cannot be backed up, resetting network settings may be effective. It resolves network-related issues such as being unable to connect to Wi-Fi. Tap Settings > General > Reset > Reset network settings.
Another way to fix iCloud backup failure is to reset iPhone settings altogether. The system settings (Wi-Fi network password, etc.) will be deleted, but the files on the iPhone (application data, etc.) will not be erased.
Go to Settings > General > Reset > Reset All Settings. Back up to iCloud after the iPhone restarts.
Connect your iPhone to PC and launch iTunes, then click on the iPhone icon and select iCloud in the backup field. After that, disconect your iPhone from PC and make an iCloud backup as usual.
Sometimes the problem is caused by an old iOS version. To update your iOS, go to Settings on your iPhone, tap on General > Software Update > Download and install. If you have the latest version, the message “Your software is up to date” will be displayed.
I can back up but it takes too long. How to speed it up?
How long does it take to create a normal iCloud backup?
It depends. The backup speed mainly depends on the backup size and the quality of your Wi-Fi connection. It can take ten minutes, but it can also run for hours.
- If iCloud backup doesn’t finish after a long time, try these solutions:
- Connect to a stable Wi-Fi network
- Close all apps on the iPhone
- Delete unnecessary backups
- Delete unnecessary files
The faster your Wi-Fi connection is, the sooner you can get your iCloud backup done. It is very important to connect to a stable Wi-Fi network.
If your Wi-Fi network is stable but takes too long to back up, turn off background apps to increase speed.
Too many apps running in the background will slow down your device.
Sometimes old backup files can cause speed problems. To solve that, delete the previous backup and create an iCloud backup from scratch. Open Settings and go to Apple ID > iCloud> Manage Storage > Backup.
Then choose Delete Backup.
It’s not just slow internet connection that makes iCloud backups take too long. iCloud often backs up unnecessary files without permission. If you enable app backup, you will not be able to select the files you want to back up, so all files in the app will go to iCloud. If iCloud backup doesn’t finish, delete unnecessary and heavy files from your iPhone.
Besides, it is recommended to delete Safari cookies. Not only does this free up space on your device, but also increases the security of your data.
iCloud backup alternative
If you are still unable to back up to iCloud after performing all the steps above, you can create a backup on your PC with CopyTrans Shelbee. The program is specifically designed to back up and restore iPhones/iPads. You can use it to save the backup to any folder or external HDD.
To back up with CopyTrans Shelbee:
Download the application from the following page:Download CopyTrans Shelbee
Install the program. If you need help installing CopyTrans Shelbee, please refer to the installation guide.
Run the program and connect your iPhone to PC. Click on “Backup”.
Then click on “Full backup”.
Select the PC directory where you want to place the backup by clicking on the green pencil button on the right. By default, CopyTrans Shelbee will take you to iTunes backup directory.
Now just wait until the backup is complete. CopyTrans Shelbee is backing up iPhone settings, contacts, calendars, messages, apps, app documents, and photos/videos in the Camera Roll. Encrypted backups also contain passwords for email accounts, Wi-Fi and websites.
Once the backup is complete, you can enable backup notifications to never miss the time of the next backup.
A backup file for your iOS device is now saved on your PC in the folder of your choice.
Back up photos to iCloud separately to save time and space
One last trick for you to make your iOS device more iCloud-backup-friendly: exclude photos from iCloud backups (as described above) and only back up selected photos from PC using CopyTrans Cloudly upload feature.
Here is how to do it:
Download and install CopyTrans Cloudly from the following page:
Run CopyTrans Cloudly. You will see a login screen. Enter your Apple ID and password.
If you have two-factor authentication enabled, make sure to allow the connection on your device and enter the verification code you receive:
After you successfully connected your iCloud account to CopyTrans Cloudly, click “Upload”.
Select the files you want to upload to iCloud. CopyTrans Cloudly works with .HEIC, .PNG and .JPEG formats.
When everything is selected, click “Upload”.
Great! Now all your favorite pictures are safe and independent from PC and iPhone!
iCloud backup can be confusing and demanding. Hopefully, equipped with our guide, you will be prepared for possible issues and always have a fresh backup in iCloud.