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You may not have realised it, but your iPhone is probably automatically backing everything up online using iCloud. Apple provides 5GB for free, but how much are you using? Are you near your limit? How can you reduce your usage? Let’s take a look.

To find out how much of the free online storage space you are using on iCloud, go to Settings on the iPhone and select iCloud. Swipe down to the bottom of the list of settings and then tap Storage and Backup. On the next screen it tells you how much total storage space there is and how much is available.

You can see from the screen shots that I have 5GB and there is 1.5GB available. Down at the bottom of the screen is a switch to turn iCloud Backup on or off. It is best to have it on of course, then everything is backed up should you lose your iPhone or if it fails.

Press Manage Storage and you can see why a massive 3.5GB of space on iCloud is being used. It is because the iPhone and two iPads are being backed up. Well, actually, you can see in the screen shot that it is mainly the iPhone 5 that is using most of the space and the backup is 2.1GB. Why is it using so much space? The clue is shown below.

 iPhone backup . . iPhone backup options

Press a backup and you can see the details. For example, pressing the iPhone 5 backup shows the screen below. The date of the latest backup is displayed and the backup size is shown.

What is more important though, is the list of backup options below. Not everything is shown and most items are currently hidden. Swipe up the page and tap the Show All Apps link to see the complete list.

iPhone backup settings . . iPhone backup

iCloud Backup copies all the data stored by all your apps and you should ask yourself whether you actually need to back up all those apps. You could save space on iCloud by not backing up items that are not important.

It is up to you what you back up and everyone will have a different apps list, but in mine I have to wonder what Twitter is backing up. Twitter is a constantly updated stream of tweets stored on the web. If the worst happened and the Twitter app was lost, I could just install it again and sign in. Everything would be there and nothing would be lost. So why bother to back it up? It’s not like I’ll lose anything.

Some of the others are puzzling too, like MTV News. It’s just a news app and if the worst happens I can simply reinstall it and get the latest news.

Go through the list and look at the size of each of the backups. Does each of the apps store anything useful? Would it matter if it wasn’t backed up? If the answer is No, then switch off the backup for that app.

By switching off unnecessary app backups, less space will be used on iCloud. Whether this matters depends on how many Apple devices you have. I have three and by the looks of things, I would probably struggle to add a fourth (an iWatch is rumoured). If you only have one iPhone or iPad, you probably won’t need to worry about the space. But then there is the bandwidth of all the backups too. It only happens on Wi-Fi, but some people have limited bandwidth, so it could be a concern.