More and more people are beginning to use iCloud Drive to store their files, starting with partial and sometimes occasional moves to the Apple cloud to store everything (you can save space by compressing files to macOS if you like). And with this situation, I’m hearing more and more of the same question: What happens when you have more occupied storage on the iCloud Drive than free storage on your Mac?
Yes, the situation can arise. All you need is a MacBook with 128GB of storage, 2TB of iCloud storage, and 500GB of files you want to manage from the cloud. You can do that with no problem, but keep in mind that the Mac is going to behave differently.
Let’s take that same example I mentioned: you save 500GB of data in your iCloud Drive directory and on the Mac you only have 128GB on the Mac . If there was enough free space on the local disk, a local mirror copy of the iCloud Drive files would be saved on the Mac, but this is not the case.
At AppleSaving Hard Drive Space by Compressing Files in MacOS and Five Utilities to Do It
What the Mac does by default in this situation is save those 500 GB in the cloud without any problems, but it will only sync to the local disk those files that you use the most. The rest will be visible in the Finder, but with a small cloud symbol indicating that before you can process them you will have to download them . And before you do that you have to make sure that you have enough free space on your computer.
There’s nothing wrong with storing your files like this: you just need a guaranteed Internet connection and an understanding of how your Mac manages its space
It is not necessarily a bad situation, although it is somewhat more complex than usual. The main danger is that there is actually only one copy of the files in the cloud and it would be nice to have a local backup somewhere else beyond the Mac. An external hard drive with Time Machine can perfectly fulfill that task.
The benefit you get from this is that if your Mac breaks down, you only need to log in to iCloud from another computer to access all your files without any problems. All you need is an internet connection , and that’s something that’s omnipresent almost everywhere right now.