Why is my iCloud backup so big?

Apple iPhones backup their phones to iCloud, which can give iOS device owners more than just their hard drive space.

All iPhone owners get 5GB free iCloud space, which can be used for photo and media storage, as well as backups of their device.

Many iPhone users complain that their backups take up a lot more storage space than they’d anticipated.

If you’re having this issue with your old iPhone, there’s probably a good reason for that – let’s look at the most common causes of this issue.

Why is my iPhone Backup Size So Large?

Many iPhone users find it surprising how large their backups can be.

In most scenarios, the reason that your iPhone backup size is larger than you’d expect is because of your Messages – this isn’t included in the list of apps your iPhone backup suggests.

Your messages will include all the photos and videos you’ve received over the past year. These media files are often large and include some non essential data, though they still take up a lot of your iCloud backup size.

Phone backups are typically very big due to their inclusion of other information (like Messages), and this can cause backup size to increase dramatically.

You can limit backup size with the account management app for iCloud, which may be worth doing if you find that your backup size is too large.

Another thing to consider is that when you see the size of your iPhone backup, you’re seeing the compressed size of the storage space you’re taking up.

This is often much smaller than the actual storage space the backup would take on your device, so it’s normal to expect that your actual size is larger than the compressed backup size.

Let’s look at what makes iPhone backups so large, and how we can go about reducing their size.

What information is contained in an iCloud backup?

It’s actually easier to list the things that aren’t included in your iPhone backup as opposed to the things that are included.

Your backup won’t include things that are already stored in the iCloud anyway. This can mean things like;

  • iTunes songs, Apple Music podcasts and Apple Books downloads
  • Other data already stored in iCloud – this will include Photos, iMessages, and texts that are already saved to iCloud
  • Your ID settings (Face and Touch ID)
  • Apple Pay settings
  • Apple Mail data
  • Health data

Your apps themselves will not take up a whole lot of space on your backup, but some data may be saved so they can be re-downloaded when you install the backup.

Anything aside from this, you can assume is included in your iPhone backup size. A backup is intended to store all of your data and settings from your iPhone, so you can re-install the backup on a new iPhone.

Most users will already be using the iCloud storage space for some data though, so this isn’t included in your used space when it comes to backups.

Not enough space? Do this

If you get an alert saying that you do not have enough storage space to complete a backup, then you can usually get past this by opting to delete photos and videos, as well as other media files you may not need.

  1. To do this, go into your Settings and select iCloud.
  2. Then, select Manage Storage.
  3. Scroll down to Backups – here, you’ll be able to see the size of your next backup.

If it’s too large, then you really only have two options – you can either delete some of your files, or buy more iCloud storage by upgrading to a larger plan that allows for more space.


Apple automatically provides iCloud accounts with 5GB of data, and usually this is enough for the majority of iPhone users. However as you use more data over time, there’s a good chance that you may end up needing more storage than this.

This is especially true when it comes to taking iCloud backups, which can be surprisingly large. In most cases, this can be traced to the Messages app, which saves a lot of your media and can make your Cloud backup size much larger than it has to be.

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Edward brings years of experience in a variety of different fields including online marketing & No-code app development, and he's been investing in stocks and cryptocurrency since 2016. Outside of work you'll usually find him watching movies at the local cinema or playing games in the Apple Arcade.

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