What is iCloud, and Do I Need It?

By now you’ve probably heard “cloud”, “cloud computing” or “in the cloud” and thought to yourself “What the heck is a cloud?” Simply put, the term cloud is used to describe information that is stored not on your own personal computer but on a remote computer or server connected via the Internet. It is the next step in computers – having your files, photos, music and more backed up and available over the Internet, wherever you are whenever you need them. Without having to physically plug in your device and sync it to the computer. Apple has recently launched its version of cloud computing, called iCloud, and while it all may seem confusing at first this article should answer many of your questions. How to decide if iCloud is right for you, and what features you would benefit from, is your decision – so it should at least be an informed decision.

Let’s cover this in two parts: Part 1, this article, will cover iCloud with all Apple products. Part 2 will cover using Windows with iCloud.


One thing to keep in mind about iCloud, or any cloud-based service: it is as much a collection of features on multiple devices as it is a product. That is, while “iCloud” might sound like just another program to get, it’s more like a system that unites what you already have. In order to do this properly, Apple has built it with some clear requirements for both software and hardware. For your computer, your computer needs to have the operating system OS X 10.7, codenamed Lion, or later. Every new Mac you purchase now will have Lion or Mountain Lion installed, so you’re all set. If you aren’t sure if your computer can upgrade, check out the technical requirements for Lion first.

For your portable devices such as iPad, iPhone or iPod Touch there are some hardware as well as software restrictions. iCloud needs a minimum of iOS 5, the operating system for Apple devices.

  • iPad: All iPads are compatible with iOS 5 and with iCloud.
  • iPhone: iOS 5 will only work on iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, and iPhone 4S, and iPhone 5. The original iPhone and the iPhone 3G are not capable of running the new operating system.
  • iPod Touch: You will need the third or fourth generation, so anything after September 2009 and you’re fine.
  • Note: Some music features of iCloud require a CDMA model iPhone 4, and will also work with iOS version 4.3.3.


Apple iCloud

iCloud’s purpose is to automatically and securely unite all of your content – music, photos, files, apps, etc. Now, if you are at a friend’s house and they recommend a great song which you download on your iPhone, it will automatically download to your iMac at your office, your iPad at home, and your iPod Touch in your bedroom. The promise of cloud computing was a world without wires, where things you do are seamlessly integrated, backed up and secure, and available wherever you need them.  Most of Apple’s applications have been updated to work smoothly with iCloud, and Apple has provided the details to outside developers so they can make their programs work with it as well. It’s only a matter of time before everything you do will work with iCloud. There are a few big features of iCloud, so we’ll separate them into categories.


Items you buy through iTunes such as songs, albums, apps, TV shows, and books are automatically available across your devices. If you are in a coffee shop and use Shazam to identify that cool song you hear then decide to buy it in iTunes, it will be available to you on all your devices for download, without repurchasing. Items you’ve purchased in the iTunes store can be seen in your purchase history on any device, even if you didn’t buy it from that device, and you can download it again for no additional charge.

iTunes has been updated to incorporate iCloud, but there is also a feature called iTunes Match that really changes things. Your iTunes music library is most likely a mix of music you bought from iTunes, imported from a CD, or shall we just say “other.” With iTunes Match, you can have iTunes compare your library to the more than 20 million songs in iTunes and any songs that match are included in your iCloud account. If you have songs that aren’t matched, you can upload them to iCloud. As an added bonus, the songs are available at 256 Kbps, a high quality setting – even if your songs were of lower quality. iTunes Match is built right into the most recent version of iTunes, but the service costs $24.99 per year and is limited to 25,000 songs. Songs purchased through iTunes do not count toward that limit. In essence, by using iCloud and iTunes Match, you can have access to all of your music wherever you are.


You know when you’re at your child’s recital or a sporting event and you get that great picture on your phone that you can’t wait to get home and find that cable you swear was just right there on the kitchen counter and eventually plug your phone into the computer so you can import the picture? Well Photo Stream, part of iCloud, takes care of that. Now the photo you take automatically appears on your computer or other devices, by connecting to Wi-Fi and pushing the photos from your iPhone to the other devices. If you have an Apple TV, you can even share your photos from iCloud on the big screen of your HDTV. PhotoStream stores your 1,000 most recent photos from all devices for 30 days in iCloud. Do not think of iCloud as permanent storage – if you want to keep any of these photos, make sure they are also saved on your computer or on your device.


For business owners, professionals, students, etc. what could be better than having your documents with you all the time? Imagine if you have to make a presentation out of town, you create a presentation at the office, finalize it with the boss and head for the airport. While you’re in flight, the client calls the office wanting changes. Your co-worker makes the changes and iCloud does the rest. When you land and turn your phone back on, the updated document appears on your iPad. You make the presentation, land the client, get promoted, get a huge bonus, buy a new house, run for President…okay, maybe not all that. But think of the time (and as we know, time equals money) that will be saved not having to recreate those changes over and over. As of now, Apple’s iWork apps like Pages, Keynote, and Numbers all work seamlessly and you can even use Microsoft Office documents by logging into your iCloud.com account.

Other Features

iCloud also synchronizes your contacts, calendars, email (iCloud includes a .me or .icloud email account if you don’t already have one), bookmarks, notes and reminders. So if you bump into an old friend from college and get his phone number & address and make a lunch date for next week, it’s all seamlessly synced across your devices. Another feature is Find My Friends – you and your friends can use this new app on your iPhone and use the GPS to identify where you are on the map. Perfect for meeting family or friends for a picnic or dinner. Also good for keeping track of teenagers who swear they’re just going to the mall. Along those lines, the Find My iPhone app will now work with your Mac as well, so if you MacBook Pro is stolen you can locate it simply by logging into iCloud.com.

Believe it or not, this is only a recap of the major features – there are far more beneath the surface. Setting up iCloud can be a bit tricky at first, and you should definitely make sure all your hardware is ready, software is compatible, etc. before switching to iCloud. iCloud promises to make a lot of things much easier in the future. Perhaps the future is here already.



iCloud features require Lion on your Mac – but some older applications are no longer supported. Before you upgrade your Mac, watch this Video Minute to find out if all your applications will be compatible!

Permanent link to this article: http://www.macinaminute.com/what-is-icloud-and-do-i-need-it


Skip to comment form

  1. Lane C Dowell

    Can do only my devices have access to this information?

    How do I put info into iCloud? I assume that only the info I put in iCloud is usable by all my devices?

    What if I no longer wish a document to be accessible to multiple devices?

    If I put all my photos into iCloud are they then downloadable into other devices?

    Thanks for your time,


    1. Mac in a Minute!

      iCloud works by synchronizing items across multiple Apple devices such as an iMac, iPad and iPhone. The items you synchronize can include photos, documents, data such as calendar appointments and addresses, etc. All the information is password protected and only available by logging in with your iCloud user name and password. When you create an iCloud account, you choose what information you want to synchronize and the rest is automatic. At any time you can choose to stop synchronizing any or all information. Photos are shared with the Photo Stream feature and are indeed shared on all devices that use the same iCloud account. I hope this helped – if you need more help, please use the contact page to set up an appointment.

  2. Maya Loma

    Thank you for this great article and demystifying iCloud.
    In the article you mention that there are many more benefits beneath the surface.
    Where might I go to read more?

    Many thanks, Maya

    1. Mac in a Minute!

      Maya, you can always find more information directly from Apple at http://www.apple.com/icloud. If you need hands-on help, please contact me and I’ll be glad to help you!

  3. PT

    Do I really need iCloud ? I have the new iPad and a Dell PC – that’s it re technical toys. I don’t typically download music. I do take pictures, have Pinterest boards and download pictures I like from the Internet. I am finding I use my Pc less and less; I use it to print and that’s about it. I’ve had my iPad since late July and am already getting a message that my 5gb is almost full.

    1. Mac in a Minute!

      For people with only one iDevice (an iPad, iPhone, or iPod Touch) it can seem unnecessary to have iCloud if you think of it as something that syncs multiple devices. Keep in mind that iCloud syncs the data from your iPad to a secured online server, giving you access to that information from any computer by logging into your account at http://www.icloud.com while also giving you the option of backing up directly to iCloud. This is most likely why you’re reaching your 5GB limit: the backups filling it up. You can turn that off and sync the old fashioned way by plugging it into your PC. But that’s so 20th century. Check your settings, and you may find that one item (such as photos) is taking up a large chunk of that space. If you stop syncing photos, you’ll get that space back. Just remember that if you have photos you like and want to be sure you don’t lose them, email them to yourself to make sure copies of the photo don’t just exist on the iPad. If you lose that, you lose anything not synced.

      1. Xavier

        What if I only want my photos on my iPod touch and not on any other device. Or any other device to even reach them. Some of my photos are some that I wouldn’t want anybody to see because I share my apple I.D with other people.

        1. Mac in a Minute!

          First, on your iPod Touch or any device you have control over what you share with other devices. In Settings, under iCloud, turn PhotoStream off. That keeps your photos on the device and doesn’t upload them to iCloud. For true privacy, don’t share your Apple ID with other people. Remember that when we talk about syncing devices using an Apple ID, the idea was to sync YOUR devices. Your iCloud account can be different from the Apple ID you use in iTunes and the App Store. You may want to consider keeping it separate.

  4. Thomas Roth

    My iPhone constantly says that storage is full. “Manage storage”. Why is my storage full? I have half as many songs and photos as my last phone and no storage. Does this have anything to do with iCloud?

    1. Mac in a Minute!

      It is most likely referring to your iCloud storage, which is 5GB. The usual culprit is iCloud backup, in particular having photos backed up. Go to Settings/iCloud and then to manage your storage. Turning off backing up photos usually does the trick.

  5. Weng Malabanan

    I wanted to delete some photos from my ipad but not sure if it will be deleted also from ICloud. Please confirm. Thanks

    1. Mac in a Minute!

      If you are using PhotoStream, then photos uploaded from your iPad will remain in PhotoStream and not be deleted. As always, if there are any photos you absolutely do not want to disappear, use multiple methods to keep it: PhotoStream, emailing copies, moving to a photo album in iPhoto, etc.

  6. Tony

    When I put an appointment in m iPhone it does show up on my iPad and my mac. A lot of times it is in double or triplicate on the other devices. Why do I always get doubles on my iPad and mac?

    Also, it seems it only works when I enter items into the calendar on my iPhone. If I enter an appointment on my mac or my iPad it does show up on the other devices. Why does it seem to only work if entered on the iPhone?

    1. Mac in a Minute!

      Many times it’s the result of how you’re adding the account to your devices. I’ve seen people add the same account more than once, which gets you duplicates. You may be looking at All Contacts instead of just the contacts in one group. As for only showing up on the iPhone, doublecheck your iCloud settings in the System Preferences on the computer and in Settings on your devices to make sure they are all syncing the same items with the same account.

  7. RonAmber

    I want to sync my phone with a phone previously synched to iCloud. How do I get the information from this particular iCloud sync to my new phone? The previous phone was not synced with my computer but I see it listed in my iCloud backups on my new device.

    Thank you,

    1. Mac in a Minute!

      When you go through the Setup Assistant when setting up a new iPhone you’ll be giving the chance to restore from iCloud Backup. I would make sure you’re connected to power and Wi-Fi before starting this, as it’s going to take time to download everything. You may need your passwords for content such as music. It should be pretty easy.

  8. Julie

    Thank you, indeed, for this great article! I’ve been wanting to use icloud for some time now but I’m not tech savvy and the task of upgrading all my Mac products seems a little daunting! I also read mixed reviews about mountain lion and decided to err on the side of caution and do a little more research. I have a few questions before upgrading to Mountain Lion. Here are the products I own: 1) iMac (Mac OS X 10.6.8) 2) iPhone 4 (version 4.3.3) 3) MacBook Air (Mac OS X version 10.7.5)

    1) Is it necessary to back up my hard drive, calendar, contacts, music, and photos first?

    2) Will I have to re-install MS Office and other softwares?

    3) I watched your “Video Minute” to find out if my applications will be compatible. There are about 40 items under About This Mac | Kind | PowerPC. To be honest, I don’t recognize what they are! Some of the application names seem to refer to my printer (6300_install_printcart, HP Software updater) Does this mean I will have to reinstall my printer?! Other app names seem to refer to MS Office (Open XML for Excel, Microsoft Query) Other random app names (Web gallery, DivX Support, flashplayer, Make Calendar, Contact Sheets, Analyze Documents, c_use_folders, c_burn_cd. etc.) So I’m still not sure what the impact of installing Mountain Lion would be as I don’t recognize what the Application Names!

    4) When I upgrade my iMac (from Snow Leopard) to Mountain Lion. Do I also have to upgrade my MacBook Air to Mountain Lion (from Lion)? If so, do I have to pay twice?

    Sorry if this is convoluted! Any advice would be appreciated!

    Thanks so much!


    1. Mac in a Minute!

      Hi Julie, sorry for the delayed response. Your comment arrived with about 100 or so spam comments (yay) and I almost deleted yours by accident! You are right to ask these questions first, so let’s go through it piece by piece for you.

      1) ALWAYS back up your data. You should use Time Machine which is already on your Mac, or something like CarbonCopy Cloner. Better safe than sorry.
      2) You shouldn’t have to reinstall any software, unless it’s software that is no longer supported which leads to..
      3) The list of PowerPC applications almost always has old printer software on it, but since Lion (10.7) Apple has built-in the drivers it needs for printers and gets what it doesn’t have automatically when you connect a printer. Worst case you have an older barely supported printer, you’ll need to go to their website and download new drivers. As for Microsoft Office, if that is listed as PowerPC you’ll need a new version, but the support programs like you mentioned won’t make much difference.
      4) All purchases through the App Store and iTunes are available to you on your other devices that use that Apple ID at no additional cost, so you can purchase Mountain Lion on your iMac and then on your MacBook Air in the App Store under Purchases you’ll see it available for download.

      If you need hands-on help just let me know, otherwise it sounds like you’re ready to go! Enjoy!

  9. David


    Quick question. With iCloud, can you sync all the devices together? Like say you are playing a song with your ipad and you have an ipad mini. Can you change the song playing on your ipad from your ipad mini?

    Thanks David

    1. Mac in a Minute!

      No, you cannot use one iDevice to remotely control another iDevice. iCloud keeps the devices in sync, but doesn’t act to control the others. iOS is designed to prevent this for security reasons.

  10. Susan

    I only have an iPad, no computer, a regular cell phone no iPhone. I download songs occasionally but I do take pictures. Do I need iCloud and how do I send things to iCloud with no computer?

    1. Mac in a Minute!

      A computer isn’t necessary for iCloud. While the overall purpose of iCloud is to seamlessly sync multiple devices, each device syncs to the iCloud servers creating at the very least a level of backup. With just the iPad, you can sync your contacts, calendars, etc. to the cloud and use iCloud to create a backup of your iPad – if you ever need to, you can easily restore your iPad using the backup. With iCloud you’ll have access to that information at http://www.icloud.com from any computer as well, so if you’re visiting someone and don’t have your iPad you can still get your iCloud email, contacts, calendars etc.

  11. Nina

    How can I stop my ipod touch syncing with my two kids Ipods?? Obviously they share the same Itunes account as me as they are both young which means every time I download something they receive it too, and after just reading about the Icloud it’s going to be a total nightmare as we are all going to end up with the same things???!!!!

    1. Mac in a Minute!

      Go into the settings and log out of iCloud on those iPod Touches. iCloud won’t really help you in this situation. Remember that iCloud is SUPPOSED to make multiple devices share the same things, as ideally those devices would all belong to one person. With kids, you’ll need to do things a bit differently. You can still use the same Apple ID in the iTunes and App stores to buy and download songs and apps, but I would set up parental controls on the iPod Touch first.

  12. Barbara Okun

    Hi, I don’t own an ipad, iPhone etc. I only just purchased this Mac Intel Core version 10,8.2. I do lots of photography and do have a Mac laptop. Would the icloud work using my laptop when away and need to access my photos from my Lightroom gallery?

    1. Mac in a Minute!

      No, iCloud doesn’t work like that, it’s mostly to keep multiple devices in sync. What you’re trying to do is remote access to files on the computer. There are ways to set up your Mac to allow remote access, but it’s more complicated than I can answer in a comment unfortunately. I’d be happy to help with that if you need it.

  13. Tina A

    Hi…I was wondering if there is a “cost” involved with iCloud…it says free download, but once you start sharing your documents on this site…is there a charge when you run out of space…or is the space unlimited for people who take a lot of photos.

    1. Mac in a Minute!

      iCloud is a free service that includes up to 5GB of online storage. You can of course purchase more storage if you’d like. The 5GB of storage can last quite a while or be filled up very quickly depending on what you’re using it for. Not everything that iCloud syncs counts against that 5GB limit: photos in Photo Stream, music, apps, and books do not count against the limit. Photos in your device’s camera roll, mail, documents, account info, settings, and app data do count. As for being unlimited, while photos in Photo Stream do not count, Photo Stream only shows the 1,000 most recent photos. If you’re looking to have access to thousands of photos at any time, you’ll need a different solution.

  14. Moira

    I have successfully downloaded TV Series from iTunes to my computer-I did not view them for approx. 2 weeks when I went to view them the new downloads seem to have gone to iCloud and I had to go into iTunes and download them again. Is this normal also if I re-download this TV Series will it stay in my library or will it again disappear back to iCloud and I will have to download it again

    1. Mac in a Minute!

      Once you download a song, TV Show, or purchased movie to your computer it should remain there. All content purchased using your Apple ID will be available on other devices that use that same Apple ID (your iPad, other Mac) and will appear under purchased items with the iCloud icon next to it. The only reason it wouldn’t still be there is if it was deleted from your computer, in which case it will go back to having the iCloud icon.

  15. Bruce

    Hi I recently downloaded a new version of iTunes and have noticed that all my purchased items have the lil cloud icon in the corner, which I’m guessing means they are now being stored in the cloud. I don’t use icloud as I only use one device so it seems a bit pointless, so is there any way to stop this from happening in the future ???

    1. Mac in a Minute!

      All the icon means is that any item you’ve purchased with your Apple ID that is not already on your computer is available to you. It does not count towards your iCloud online storage limit. Even if you don’t use iCloud, it only means that the item with the icon is available for you to download.

  16. lily

    Hey there. I have an ipad mini and laptop. Still new with apple product. I’m a student with lots of picture taking. I might also want to includes all of my notes (word,powerpoint) in my ipad. What desktop software do I really need? Do I need iCloud?

    1. Mac in a Minute!

      If you are using Word and PowerPoint, you’ll find that Microsoft hasn’t yet (for some reason) come out with iPad apps. Apple makes office apps called iWork which includes Pages (for word processing), Numbers (like Excel for spreadsheets) and Keynote (for presentations) that are all fully compatible with Office documents. Each are available for the iPad for $19.99 and have the added benefit of the documents working seamlessly with iCloud. This means you can’t lose your documents, even if you lose your iPad. If your laptop is Windows, you can create documents in Word, email them to yourself, open them on the iPad in Pages and edit them on the go. Then you can send it back as a Word document.

  17. Emily

    How do I install a purchased ipad app onto my iPhone? (Word with friends)


    1. Mac in a Minute!

      As long as you log into both devices with the same Apple ID, you’ll find all your purchased apps available in the App Store app. Just click Updates and you’ll see a choice for Purchased at the top.

  18. mark

    I don’t understand. Is icloud now required if I have more than one computer with itunes on it? For example, two weeks ago I purchased a song on my laptop from itunes. I also have a PC with itunes. But now, only the songs I purchased on the PC will download onto the ipod. I tried reinstalling the software on the PC and restoring the ipod but neither worked. Am I crazy or just stupid? I didn’t think it used to be this way but maybe it was. Do I now need icloud to do this? Any help would be appreciated.

    1. Mac in a Minute!

      If you are using the same iTunes account on both computers, any songs you purchase will be available on both. Keep in mind you can only sync an iPod/iPad/iPhone with one computer, but you can have the same songs on multiple computers – you can authorize up to 5 computers. If you are syncing your iPod with your PC, make sure that any songs you purchased on your laptop have been downloaded to your PC. You can turn on Automatic Downloads and this will be done, well, automatically from now on.

  19. Stephanie

    I have an iPhone 4S and an iPad and no computer of any sorts. I use the cloud to connect the two devices. Since I got the iPad a year ago neither device will back up when charged. I apparently am totally out if storage on my 16GB iPhone. I cannot download anything, update anything, or back up anything,cannot take a picture or video. I just recently (yesterday) purchased more iCloud storage thinking it would solve my problem but out of 25GB iCloud storage it says I only have 9.8GB remaining!?! My only other option I can think if would be to factory reset my iPhone e and see if that helps…but I don’t want to lose my photos. I know they are on my photo stream…but when I log into iCloud on a desk top I have no idea where to find my photos. Under the iCloud settings on my phone it says my photos are “on” and being pushed to my iCloud but just recently when I log into the cloud in the desktop I cannot find my iCloud icon (which before just took my to iTunes). I am not familiar with navigating iTunes so when I was sent there from the cloud I had no idea where to find my photos. I have had this problem for over a year…it’s very frustrating. No one seems to be able to help. I am not able to capture those special moments with my kids and I am so fed up with it. Please help.

    1. Mac in a Minute!

      Hi Stephanie, sorry you’re having such trouble. I can help you. I’ve emailed you offline to set up a time to help. You can email me directly at help@macinaminute.com

  20. Michael Williams

    i love apple

  21. Michael Williams

    I lost my macbook air without downloading the icloud app. Is it still possible to locate my device using icloud?

    1. Mac in a Minute!

      Sorry to hear you lost your MacBook Air, Michael. Unfortunately if you did not activate iCloud and the Find My Mac feature before it was lost you won’t be able to use it to locate your computer.

  22. Jennifer Hamm

    Hi, I have no clue on how to work or install the I-cloud before i do i would like to know if i can use my i-pad. I work for an appraisal company and we appraise houses, we have a program on the computer in the office called click forms, we wuld like to know how to get it to the i -pad through cloud so that we can do the work on the road, i am not sure if this makes sense but if we can get some advice or he;p i would appreciate it, or even just a number to call. Thank You for you time hope to hear from you.
    Thanks Jennifer

  23. Gemma

    Since I connected to iCloud I can not down load anything from App Store not even previous apps there is a cloud at the side with a arrow in instead of instal dose this have something to do with iCloud ??

    1. Mac in a Minute!

      The cloud icon represents items you’ve purchased that are not on your device, and by clicking that icon you can download it to the device. It’s called iTunes in the Cloud. As for not being able to download anything from the App Store, is your iCloud account the same as your Apple ID you used in iTunes and the App Store? Did you create a separate iCloud account and could that be what’s entered in the App Store? Make sure your log in information is correct. If it’s all correct you will need to call Apple to find out why you can’t download with that account.

  24. Emma

    Hi, my son has an ipod touch 4th generation 8GB and uses it mostly to play games. Recently he has found that he’s running out of storage – would iCloud help him? We haven’t set it up on his ipod touch yet.
    Photos and music take up a chunk of his storage but also one of his apps (games) takes up 1.2GB.
    Thanks, Emma

    1. Sharon

      I didn’t see your question answered. I haven’t used iCloud yet but from reading all of this info it sounds like is only a place that stores a backup. So it wouldn’t help your son’s memory problem. I also have an 8GB and am running out of storage. All I can do is delete apps. We can’t add extra storage so we’re in a tough place.

      1. Mac in a Minute!

        Sharon & Emma,

        iCloud itself syncs data across devices, and provides online backup. By itself it won’t give you extra storage. What WILL work for both of you is iTunes Match, which Apple offers for $25 per year. You would need Internet access (wi-fi or cellular) but you would have access to your entire music library, not just what will fit on your device. For example, if you have 80GB worth of music on your iMac at home, with iTunes Match you would have access to the entire 80GB of music on your 8GB iPod Touch, as long as you have wi-fi Internet access. You can download individual songs, playlists, or albums at any time. You can find out more at http://www.apple.com/itunes/itunes-match/

  25. Michelle

    If iCloud stores all of our information onto an Internet server, how do I know it’s truly safe and secure? How do I know that my information is not being held or viewed without my consent? Just curious.

    1. Mac in a Minute!

      Apple has an excellent track record on protecting privacy, and your information is password protected so others can’t access it without your password. In any relationship like this, however, there is a degree of trust. If you don’t trust your data will be safe, don’t use the service. But ask yourself: who would really want to see YOUR personal information anyway?

  26. keith

    I have no need for icloud and have deleted it from my 3GS. I now want to terminate my icloud account (as per apple’s T&Cs). What will happen if I do this?

    1. Mac in a Minute!

      The terrorists will win. Actually all that happens is that you no longer have access to the features of iCloud like the email account, syncing, iCloud backups etc. If you don’t want it, don’t use it. No problem.

  27. Ellen

    I just got an Ipad mini. I have no other apple products. Do I need to set up iCloud?

    1. Mac in a Minute!

      iCloud is not required, it’s a free option. Even with only one device, iCloud syncs your data and provides a backup in case anything gets lost. For that alone it’s usually worth it.

  28. Susan

    My backup was full so I deleted the apps that I really didn’t need backing up into the cloud like Netflix twitter Facebook ect (thats ok right? can i still get the updates for those apps?) I deleted my camera roll and it made a huge difference! I still have photo stream on can I still do that? Can I still save using photo stream without backing up the camera roll? I don’t have a lap top I only have the iPad2
    Also when I purchase music is it backed up automatically because I don’t know if it is. That’s what is important is my music :)

    1. Mac in a Minute!

      Hi Susan, yes not backing up your camera roll definitely frees up the most space. You are correct that items purchased in iTunes or the App Store are always going to be available to you, even if you delete them from the iPad. As for photos, remember that Photo Stream only syncs the 1,000 most recent photos. This means that photo #1,001 will be deleted from Photo Stream – any photos you do not want to lose, make sure you back them up somewhere else for the long term.

  29. Dee

    New to iCloud. Just bought an iPad and want to wirelessly “sync” my devices…thought the cloud would fit the bill. However, upon attempting to setup the cloud on my iMac it wants me to share contacts, mail, etc…I do not want to share my documents and data as I would have absolutely no use for this. But if I uncheck the box it tells me that if I don’t allow it to go to the cloud all of my documents and data will be deleted from my computer! I only want to share music and photos. Is this possible? Also, I tried to sign out of icloud on the imac and it won’t let me – keeps telling me it will delete all of my files. Now I’m regretting turning in on. Any help is appreciated.

    1. Mac in a Minute!

      It can be a bit confusing. When you turn on sync for something like Documents and Data, iCloud looks to what you’ve synced from other devices and brings them down to this device. When you turn it off, iCloud will either delete them or leave them on your device. iCloud does not delete your existing documents from your computer. You can safely turn that off.

  30. Zelda Knoetze

    Hi there, new to IPad (luv it :) ) but, all pics and music on Dell computer. Do I now have to install ITunes on my Dell as well , plus ICloud on both computer and IPad to enable to get my pics and music onto my Ipad? Regards zelda

    1. Mac in a Minute!

      Yes Apple devices sync with iTunes.

  31. Jayne

    I’ve backed up my iPad onto icloud, are my videos (filmed by me not purchased on itunes) now safe and can I delete them from the iPad or will they disappear from the cloud? And if they are safe and i can delete them to free up space how do I watch them again, I can’t seem to find away to see what’s in the cloud..or maybe now I have bought more cloud space that means there is more space on my iPad. Thanks

    1. Mac in a Minute!

      Remember that iCloud and Photo Stream are not a permanent storage solution – it is a method of seamlessly syncing your devices. Any videos or photos you want to keep, make sure you have copied them to your computer or to your device’s camera roll. If iCloud Backup is backing up your camera roll, it will be safe there until those backups are deleted, which depends on your space available.

  32. Dane

    I recently misplaced my phone and had a coworker go onto icloud.com to access the “find my iphone” feature. They have my apple ID and password. Does this mean they can access my photos, search history, etc. on my iphone even though they are not linked to my icloud? I’m a little confused as to who can see my information or how it works. I don’t have any other devices on my icloud. Thanks.

    1. Mac in a Minute!

      Anyone with your password can access your data. All you need to do is change your password.

  33. Aroosa

    i only own one apple product which is the iphone and im sort of confused on how it works. So for example my phone is lost or destroyed etc and i need to get a new phone, once i log into my new phone with my apple id or cloud id will the things that i used on icloud be on the new phone such as my contacts and photos?

    1. Mac in a Minute!

      In the case of a lost or stolen phone you can choose to restore from your previous backup and it will restore your data.

  34. shawnmbishop03@yahoo.com

    If I am sharing, say 16 gigs worth of I for (photos, documents, etc), then will it take up that much space on all my devices. I like to share/store things between my computers, but I don’t want my iPhone to be filled up. I do howler ever want access to the stuff via my phone. I have too much music for my phone, but I want access to it all. So having it synced, does that take up space on my phone if its on my iMac?

    1. Mac in a Minute!

      Any documents, photos, songs etc. you put on your phone will of course take up space. You’ll want to use iTunes Match to access your entire music library on your device.

  35. sherri

    This website seems awesome…I have a question (or two);
    can each person with an iphone have a different icloud? Or do they all have to be under one account? Does icloud sync have to be on all the time?

  36. Gab

    Hi i have this huge question i share an apple id with a person andd i ddint know at all about icloud and then some people told me that he could see my stuff i mean my pictures videos and everything but i went to settings and icloud and all my stuff was off just reminders were on so i wanna know that is there any chance that he could be getting my pictures and videos even tho i have phot stream and data and everything off ? Please help

    1. Mac in a Minute!

      If you never turned on PhotoStream or any of the other features of iCloud you should be fine. As always, it’s important to know what you’re turning on before you turn it on, especially if you’re sharing with others. In general iCloud is meant for one person to sync multiple devices of their own. There are other, safer ways to share with others.

  37. J Brown

    Is it possible to permanently delete apps that you’ve deleted from a device so they don’t show up in your purchased apps anymore?

    1. Mac in a Minute!

      Not on your device, you’ll have to use iTunes on your Mac or PC. In the iTunes Store, click the Purchased quick link, then go to Apps. Hover your cursor over the app and click the x that appears.

  38. Jim

    I have an iphone 4s with ios7, and a PC with itunes on it. Can you tell me simply how to activate icloud?

    Thanks much, Jim

  39. Monica

    can icloud also sync the songs that are not purchased from iTunes (well lets say i downloaded it from the internet)? or do i have to use the imatch and pay for it?

    and will all my documents on my mac synced to my iphone? even the docs that i dont want to have in my iphone too?

    thankyou so much :)

    1. Mac in a Minute!

      Sorry for the delayed response, I’ve been inundated by spam comments lately. If you want iCloud to sync all songs in your library including those imported from CDs etc. then you will need to use iTunes Match for that. As for documents, anything created in Pages, Keynote or Numbers is automatically synced to iCloud. Any other documents (Word, etc.) will not be but can be opened in Pages for example and saved there, allowing it to sync. You will see the option in Pages/Keynote/Numbers to save to iCloud or save to the computer. If you want it available in iCloud, just save it to iCloud. If not, save it to your computer. As always, make sure you are also backing up all of your files to an external hard drive or cloud service like iCloud so you don’t lose anything.

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