Posted on March 16, 2023
Clean up your iCloud and Google Drive to save space and money
These days, we’re always looking for ways to save a little money.
One easy way? Avoid paying more every month for extra cloud storage. If you’re anything like us, your phone’s iCloud or Google Drive can get pretty full pretty fast — and you’ll be tempted to buy more storage to backup your photos, videos and other personal data when space runs out.
In this week’s tip, we’ll show you how to clean up your cloud storage to save space and a little money at the same time.
Now that our smartphones have incredible cameras that can take high resolution photos and videos, we’re increasingly using more and more storage space on our devices — and in our cloud backups.
On a new iPhone 14 Pro, for example, you can now take hi-resolution images that can use over 70MB of space, or film a ProRes video that can easily use up multiple gigabytes of storage! All those photos and videos will easily use up your basic cloud storage space — and Apple or Google will take no time in offering you the option to pay more for extra storage.
If you’re not ready to upgrade your online storage plan just yet, here are some tips to free up space on your devices.
How to clean up space on iCloud
Depending on your settings, you could have A LOT of data backing up to your Apple iCloud, including photos, videos, notes, application data, device and computer backups, emails and attachments, data from your computer, and more. Here are a few quick tips to clean it up (and here are some official tips from Apple).
Find out what’s taking up space — and delete it
- On your Apple device, go to Settings > [Your Account Name] > iCloud. At the top, you will see how much storage you are using and which kinds of data are using it.
- Tap Manage Account Storage to see detailed information about how much data each app and service is using.
- Most of the time, Backups are the reason you are using up your data. Check to see if you have backups of devices you no longer use and delete them.
- Then check which apps are using up a lot of data. For many apps, you don’t need a cloud backup for that data.
Delete old messages
In the last step, if you noticed that messages were using up a lot of cloud storage, it might be a good time to delete some.
- On your Apple device, go to Settings > [Your Account Name] > iCloud > Manage Account Storage
- Tap Messages > Top Conversations
- You should see a list of the message threads that are taking up the most space in iCloud. From here, you can tap edit, select the conversation you wish to delete, then tap the trach button.
Delete unwanted photos and videos
Your photos and videos are probably taking up the most space in your iCloud — and for good reason! You don’t want to lose all those important moments, it’s likely there are many photos and videos that are taking up space for no reason. It’s time to delete them.
Unfortunately, there’s no simple solution to finding the photos and videos you no longer want. Go to your Photos app and start deleting the images and videos that you don’t need.
Pro-tip: Use the search function and type “videos” to pull up only videos, which can get you started on deleting data that’s using up the most space.
Delete files in your iCloud drive
If you are syncing data from your Apple computer to your iCloud account, you may want to clean up your iCloud Drive. Just like with your photos, your drive may get filled with unwanted files you never knew were being backed up and taking up space in your iCloud.
The easiest way to clean out your iCloud Drive is from your computer (not your handheld device). Open Finder and browse to your iCloud Drive. From here, you can browse and sort your drive to find and delete unwanted files.
How to clean up space on Google Drive (and Gmail)
You can perform these clean up tips from either your smartphone or your desktop; we are providing the step-by-step instructions below for your desktop in case you want to save files to your hard drive before deleting.
Cleaning up large files on Google Drive
- Log into your Google Drive account from a computer.
- Click on the Storage menu on the left hand side.
- You should have a list of large files sorted from largest to smallest. If not, click Storage Used to resort them.
- Now, you can delete any big files stored in your Google Drive. If you want to save the file before deleting, right click/secondary click on the file and choose Download.
- When you’re finished, go to Trash > Empty Trash > Delete Forever.
Cleaning up large files in Gmail
Emails and attachments in your Gmail are also calculated in your total storage allotment for Google Drive, so you’ll want to check to see if you have some long-forgotten emails that could be taking up a ton of space.
- Log into your Gmail account on your computer.
- Click the Show search options button on the right hand side of the Search bar.
- In the dropdown menu under Size, choose greater than 10MB. You will receive search results that show your largest emails (likely with large attachments).
- Delete the emails you don’t need any longer, or open the emails to save the attachments before deleting.
- Click Trash in the left hand menu. If Trash is not visible, click More > Trash, then click Empty Trash Now.
- While you’re logged into Gmail, click on your Spam folder, then click Delete all spam messages now.