Many Apple device users are confused about iCloud, the type of data that can be backed up on iCloud and the difference between iCloud and iCloud Drive. The service has been very important for users who want to ensure the safety of their data and for those who want a clear picture of exactly what they are getting.
What Is iCloud Drive?
iCloud is Apple’s name for its cloud storage services which incorporates a few different things:
- iCloud Photo Library lets you store and access your media in the cloud, rather than keeping it on your devices.
- Its Music Library is a single cloud-based library of songs used by Apple Musicto keep your collection synced between devices.
- iCloud Backup is, unsurprisingly, a backup service for your devices which is kept in the cloud.
- iCloud Drive is the closest thing Apple has to a standard Dropbox or Google Drive shared folder, where files are synced between devices.
So iCloud Drive is only one part of the larger iCloud ecosystem, and it most closely resembles the bog-standard folder format used by nearly every other cloud storage provider. There are a few caveats to the service which make it unique, as is often the case with Apple’s products.
You can save documents to iCloud Drive within apps, especially Apple’s own apps like TextEdit and Pages. Files can be saved anywhere to your cloud storage, but also appear in an app-specific folder. This makes for a compartmentalized approach to cloud storage, which still provides a degree of control over folder structures and organization.
Unfortunately, Apple’s approach also means that sharing is rather limited. Unlike Google Drive, you can’t set permissions for folders or individual files and share them with others. You can still collaborate on projects stored in iCloud, but the nitty-gritty of it is handled by the app (for example Pages).
You’ll need an Apple ID, and thus an Apple device, in order to have access to iCloud Drive. You only get 5GB of free storage per user, not per device; with the option to upgrade if you need more. If you intend to backup your iPhone and store a few files, you’ll almost certainly need to buy more iCloud storage at some point.
What Is the Difference between iCloud and iCloud Drive?
iCloud Drive is part of iCloud. What you saved on iCloud Drive will be saved in iCloud. Mostly iCloud serves to back up your device and sync limited kinds of data to other Apple devices, while iCloud Drive more focuses on sharing among devices and seamless interaction and co-working among devices, which means that data in one device can be shared among other devices without copying, sending or transferring. For example, you create a new Pages file on your MacBook Air, put a few lines on it, and then throw it into iCloud Drive. Then you may continue working on it wherever you go as long as you have access to it via your iPhone or iPad.
How to Access It?
You will need to activate iCloud Drive before you can use it. On an iPhone or other iOS device, head to Settings > iCloud > iCloud Drive and check the option to turn the service on. If you are using a Mac then you can check the iCloud Drive option under System Preferences > iCloud. Windows users can download iCloud for Windows.
Once enabled you can access iCloud Drive using the home screen shortcut on your iPhone or iPad, from the Finder sidebar on a Mac, or via the iCloud for Windows add-on. This will give you a simple folder view, where you can open files and upload new ones.
You can also access iCloud Drive by logging in at iCloud.com and selecting iCloud Drivefrom the list of items. This is great for Android or Linux users, or anyone using a shared computer. You can even upload files via the web interface from compatible browsers.
On macOS, some apps will suggest iCloud Drive as the default saving location for documents. A good example is Apple’s word processor, Pages. If you want to save or load to iCloud, make sure you specify it in the app you are using. On a Mac, you can quickly move files to iCloud Drive simply by selecting the right option from the document title drop-down box (pictured below).
When using an iOS app, you’ll have to look for the iCloud option when saving or loading. Apple has been pushing developers to adopt its cloud storage platform for years, so many apps include this functionality now.
Why to Use iCloud Drive?
Your decision to shun or embrace Apple’s cloud storage very much depends on your workflow, and what other devices you frequently use. It’s harder for Windows or Android users to fully immerse themselves in Apple’s ecosystem when the technologies do not integrate in the same way they do on macOS or iOS.
There’s also the small matter of space. While Google gives you 15GB of Google Drive space and free storage for photos and videos, Apple only provides 5GB. If you want to use iCloud Photo Library or have cloud-based backups then you’ll need to buy more storage, and anything left over will give you some room to move.
How to View What’s Backed Up in the iCloud?
Sometimes iCloud may fail to backup all of your data. So if you want to view the data that has been included in your latest iCloud backup, you may need the services of a third-party tool. This third-party tool, iMyFone D-Back iCloud backup viewer for Win or iCloud backup viewer for Mac allows users to gain access to the backup and see what’s inside. It is also a very powerful data recovery tool and the following are some of its features.
How to Control Which apps Have Access to iCloud Drive?
With iCloud Drive, you can sync files across all of your device in supported third-party apps, as well as Apple’s built-in programs. This starts to use up a lot of storage. It’s incredibly convenient to be able to sync files across your iPhone, iPad, and Mac, but you don’t need to use it with every app. You can manually change which apps should or shouldn’t use iCloud Drive.
How to Save Your Desktop and Documents Folders in iCloud Drive?
As of macOS Sierra, you can store files and folders from your desktop and all the files in your Documents Folders in iCloud, where you can access them from any device using iCloud Drive. It saves space on your Mac, while making it easier for you to get your important files on any other iCloud supported device.