Thinning your iOS backup

The arrival of iOS 5 and iCloud, among many other things, meant a step forward with the backup of all supported iOS devices. It was no longer necessary to connect our terminal to iTunes for the application to store a copy of all our data on the computer: now we can do it as soon as we have a Wifi network available wherever we are. But there is a small inconvenience: these backups can be large and Apple offers us “only” 5 GB to be able to store them in the cloud.

The advantages of having backups in iCloud are very clear: we can back up anywhere, without having to depend on being near our Mac. And if we have a problem, the Apple Store helps us leave the store not only with a repaired or new computer, but with that computer restored from our iCloud backups. Come in worried, come out rested . This is precisely the experience you are looking for from Apple.

Thinning your iOS backup
Thinning your iOS backup

Backing up using iTunes means that the only limitation we have is the amount of free space we have on our Mac hard drive, which meant we didn’t have to worry about how much space our copies took up. But now, with this limitation of 5GB of space in our iCloud account, we have to be careful. When I was trained and advised in this area, I’ve encountered many cases of people filling up those 5GBs with backups alone and not knowing where that much data came from.

The quick fix is to buy more iCloud storage, but not everyone will want to do that. How can we reduce the size of these copies? There are several points to consider.

The first and most urgent: be careful with the amount of pictures we keep in the reel . Whether it’s an iPod touch, an iPhone or an iPad; the film (the place where all the pictures we take using the device’s camera are saved) often stores a lot of pictures without the user noticing. And cameras are getting better and better, so one picture can mean several MB less data.

This is the most common case I have encountered in my private training cases: 3, 4 or even more than 5 GB backups where most of this data is photographs. The solution is to synchronize and store these photos elsewhere. Don’t you have a computer? You can always use to upload your pictures to a service like SkyDrive, Google+ or Flickr .

Another recommendation for caution is in order: once a week, take a look at the pictures on the reel . Save the ones you want to keep elsewhere and delete the rest. Emptying the reel every week ensures that a backup won’t get too fat because of your photography.

Mike Lau

All those MB, as they are, are included in the backup. And just as I say an application of several hundred MB, I also take into account the possibility of dozens of applications of a few MB each. A very large copy, in short, can be a symptom of a device with too many applications installed.

Please also note the data that these applications save : a program can occupy less than ten MB but may require several GB of files to be saved internally. These files must also be backed up. In the end, it’s not a bad idea to regularly uninstall the applications you don’t use and check the amount of space each application takes up in iCloud in the settings panel.

Finally, special care must be taken with email accounts . If you are one of those who use the Mail application with an email account configured to store all emails on the terminal (and not on a server), you only need to collect the attachments of those emails to amass a good amount of data that is also included in the backup. A periodic revision of our mailboxes is imposed in this case, although I particularly recommend using a mail service that can be controlled from the cloud. Gmail’s native iOS application can be a good example.

For practical purposes, taking these points into account, a backup in iCloud is no longer a space problem. In my particular case, with copies of three iOS devices in the cloud, the space occupied by them is 2.2 GB (930 MB of the copy of an iPad and 660-690 MB for copies of a pair of iPhones). Adding 60 MB of the data that my applications occupy, I have 2.6 GB free in my free iCloud account. I could have three more iOS devices and it would still be fine.

Finally, an aside: contacts and calendars , however many you have, do not take up such a lot of space to worry about . We’re talking about data that is reduced to simple text and backups, taking up an amount of space that can be properly neglected. In short, to lose weight you have to control your photos, applications, data and email accounts with your settings. And you have to do it on a regular basis.

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At Apple

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