How to remove old iCloud device backups

iCloud device backups are great, but you may not always know how to remove old backups from your account. In this article, Cory Bohon shows you exactly how it can be done.

iCloud backups

iCloud backups are one of the extremely useful things that makes an iPhone an iPhone. You no longer have to connect your iOS device up to iTunes to perform a backup, then restore to a new device. However, if you restore to a new device from an iCloud backup, the old backup files can still hang around, eating up your storage space. Let's take a look at how to remove these old backup files to regain some space in iCloud.

Using iOS

To begin, you'll need to be signed in on an iOS device with the iCloud account you use for backups. Next, perform the following steps:

  1. Open Settings
  2. Navigate to iCloud | Storage | Manage Storage
  3. Notice the Backups section, and tap a backup for a device that you no longer have or a device that has been restored and is no longer backing up
  4. In the info section, tap Delete Backup to have it completely removed from your iCloud account (Figure A)

Figure A

Figure A
Tap Delete Backup to have it completely removed from your iCloud account.

When the backup is removed from your iCloud account, you'll no longer have access to that backup when restoring a device using iCloud. The storage of your iCloud account will also be incremented by the amount that backup was taking up.

Using OS X

If you have access to a Mac that's also connected to the same iCloud account, you can remove the old iOS device backups from there as well by following these steps instead:

  1. Open Apple menu | System Preferences
  2. Open the iCloud System Preference pane
  3. Click Manage
  4. Select Backups
  5. Select a backup that you'd like to delete by clicking it, then click the Delete button (Figure B)

Figure B

Figure B
Select a backup that you'd like to delete by clicking it.

Just like when deleting the device backups on iOS, the backup will be removed from your iCloud account immediately and won't be available when restoring from iCloud. Your storage will also increment based on how much storage the deleted backup was using.

Do you have other tips for working with iCloud backups? Let us know in the discussion thread below.

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By Cory Bohon

Cory Bohon is an indie developer specializing in iOS and OS X development. He runs a software company called Cocoa App and is also a developer at MartianCraft. He was introduced to technology at an early age and has been writing about his favorite te...