iCloud Drive is Apple’s online storage service for iPhone, iPad and Mac. What is the difference with the regular iCloud and what can you do with the iCloud Drive storage space?
Everything about iCloud Drive
In addition to the well-known online storage services such as Dropbox and Google Drive, Apple also has its own storage service called iCloud Drive. You get 5GB of storage space from Apple and you can expand this further for a fee. iCloud Drive is for storing documents and other files that you always want to have available. If the files are on iCloud Drive, you can access them from all your devices: iPhone, iPad, Mac and the like. What’s the difference with iCloud? And what can you do with it? We explain that in this article.
- What is iCloud Drive?
- Turn on iCloud Drive
- Access iCloud Drive files
- What can you do with iCloud Drive?
- Tips for iCloud Drive
What is iCloud Drive?
iCloud Drive is part of iCloud, Apple’s online storage service. iCloud is used, for example, to store your calendar, reminders, notes and photos online and to sync them between your devices. This ensures that you can access your notes and photos from any iPhone, iPad and Mac. iCloud Drive is a separate section, where you get storage space to store your own files. These can be documents, but also photos or folders with important forms that you always want to have at hand. Apple ensures that regular backups are made so that you can be sure that the files on iCloud Drive cannot be lost.
A disadvantage of iCloud Drive is that the files are online, on a server managed by Apple. As a result, they could fall into the wrong hands if iCloud Drive is ever hacked. The chance of this is very small, but keep in mind that Apple, for example, can provide access to your data if they receive information requests from governments. For example, if you are a suspect in a criminal case.
Most parts of iCloud are intended for Apple services, such as Pages, Reminders, and iCloud Photo Library. With iCloud Drive, however, you are free to use the storage space. You can create folders yourself and arrange everything according to your own wishes.
iCloud Drive has a folder structure. You decide how you organize the storage space into folders and you can search for everything based on keywords. Apple gives you a fixed amount of storage space (5GB free). If you want more, you can buy extra storage space. If you regularly use iCloud Drive, we definitely recommend expanding this. The upgrade to 50GB storage (10x as much) costs only € 0.99 per month. As far as we are concerned, that is well spent. If you are running out of storage space on your iPhone, this can be a godsend.
Turn on iCloud Drive
If you want to use Apple’s storage service, you can easily turn it on. You enable it as follows:
- Open the Settings app on your iPhone or iPad.
- Tap your profile picture at the top of the screen.
- Tap iCloud.
- Make sure the switch for iCloud Drive is on.
If you want to enable iCloud Drive on the Mac, do this as follows:
- Go to > System Preferences.
- Click on Apple ID.
- Turn on the switch at iCloud Drive.
You can turn iCloud Drive off again if you don’t want to use it anymore. You can also choose which apps can access iCloud Drive. You can also create folders on iCloud Drive and then share them with others. See the list of tips at the bottom of this article.
Access files on iCloud Drive
You can access the files in the following ways:
- Via a supported browser by going to iCloud.com
- Via the Files app on iPhone and iPad ( iOS 11 and newer)
- Via the iCloud Drive app on older iPhones and iPads ( iOS 9 and 10)
- By going to the Finder on the Mac and opening the iCloud Drive folder
- By going to iCloud Drive in File Explorer on a Windows PC
When you add your desktop and the Documents folder to iCloud Drive, all your files are moved to iCloud.
What can you do with iCloud Drive?
iCloud Drive is an online storage space like any other. You can upload files by dragging them to the Finder window on the Mac. On other desktop computers, you can always log in to iCloud.com and browse the files. If you have a Windows computer, there is special iCloud software for Windows.
For the iPhone and iPad, there is the Files app to manage your files. But there are also numerous apps that make use of it. For example, Apple’s own apps Pages, Numbers and Keynote store their files in a special folder on iCloud Drive by default. Many third-party apps do this too. The Microsoft Office apps support Apple’s storage service and there are many more examples. Adobe apps such as Photoshop and Illustrator prefer their own Creative Cloud storage service.
Does iCloud Drive save storage space?
Some people think you can save space on your Mac or iPhone by turning on iCloud Drive. This is not the case. The Mac will still download the files to Finder if you are using iCloud Drive. The advantage is that everything is synchronized via iCloud Drive so that you always have a backup online. This saves time when switching to another Mac: instead of backing up the files on your old Mac, all you have to do is turn on iCloud and have instant access to all your files stored in the cloud.
If you still lack space on your Mac, you can prevent everything from being placed locally. You use the option to Optimize Mac storage for this:
- Go to > System Preferences.
- Click on Apple ID.
- At the bottom of the screen, you’ll see the Optimize Mac Storage box. Check this.
From now on, files will not be saved on your Mac if not needed, but only in the online storage space. When you need them, they are downloaded from iCloud for you to use.