iCloud: Sync and Backup to the Cloud

Simply put, the term Cloud is used to describe information that is not stored on your own personal computer but on a remote computer or server connected via the Internet. Having your files, photos, apps, settings, music, bookmarks and more backed up and available over the Internet, wherever you are whenever you need them is very useful. Without having to physically plug in your device and sync it to the computer.

You can back up your data, such as photos and videos in the Camera Roll, app data, home screen, device settings and messages on your iPad, to the online iCloud storage up to 5 GB for free.

iCloud isn’t a singular thing, but rather a suite of services: email, calendar sync, password sync, file storage, and more, all accessible from and synced between any of your Apple devices signed in to the same iCloud account. With iCloud Photo Library and iCloud Music Library, you can even sync your photo and music collections between devices, although these last two generally require a fee

Syncing to iCloud

You can sync your iPad wirelessly to iCloud, which will work in the background to sync important information between your mobile devices. For example, you could purchase a song in iTunes on your iPad, then listen to it on your computer. Or you could create a to-do list on your computer, then keep up with it on your iPad.

When you sync your iPad with iCloud, you gain access to several different features, including:

  • iCloud Photo Sharing: This feature syncs your most recent photos between devices. This means you can take a photo on your iPad, then view it instantly on your iPhone or computer. You can also use this feature to privately share photos with your friends and family.
  • Find My iPad: If your iPad is ever lost or stolen, this feature can help you find it.
  • Backup and Restore: This feature backs up important files and settings on your iPad to the cloud, including your apps and messages.

What is backed up?

You get unlimited free storage for:

  • Purchased music, movies, TV shows, apps, and books
  • Note: iCloud Backup does not back up music, movies, and TV shows that you did not purchase from the iTunes Store, or any podcasts, audio books, or photos that you originally synced from your computer.

You get 5 GB of free iCloud storage for:

  • Photos and videos in the Camera Roll
  • Device settings (for example: Phone Favorites, Wallpaper, and Mail, Contacts, Calendar accounts)
  • App data
  • Home screen and app organization
  • Messages (iMessage, SMS, and MMS)
  • Ringtones
  • Visual Voicemails

What is not backed up? 

 The following items are not backed up to iCloud. You can sync these items with a computer using iTunes:

  • Music, movies and TV shows not purchased from the iTunes Store
  • Podcasts and audio books
  • Photos that were originally synced from your computer.

Note: To find out exactly what gets backed up, see Apple’s article, iCloud: iCloud storage and backup overview.

Which backup to use? iCloud or iTunes

iCloud Backup


iCloud backup provides an easy and reliable backup solution for users who want to back up their iOS devices wirelessly and automatically without tethering to a computer. iCloud Backup is best for you if:

  • You prefer that iCloud take care of backups for you automatically when your device is connected to Wi-Fi and power.
  • You want to restore data to your device from almost anywhere via a broadband Wi-Fi connection.
  • You don’t connect your iOS device to a Mac or PC very frequently.
  • You don’t own a Mac or PC.
  • You would like an automatic backup solution to use in conjunction with iTunes Backup

Turn on Automatic Backups in iCloud

  1. Go to Settings > iCloud 
  2. Select Backup and turn On iCloud Backup
  3. Backup is then done automatically to the iCloud storage when your iPad is plugged in to a power source, screen, locked and connected to Wi-Fi. Or you get it done immediately by tapping "Back Up Now".
turn on icloud backup

If you opt for iCloud Backup, it will turn off automatic backups to your PC when you sync with iTunes. But you still can do a manual backup—just connect your iPad to iTunes, then in iTunes, right-click the iPad device on the left panel and select "Back Up" from the context menu.

iTunes Backup

iTunes Backup is traditionally how users have backed up their iOS devices, and it continues to serve the needs of many users. iTunes Backup is best for you if:

  • You frequently use the computer that hosts your iTunes Backups.
  • You don't have an iCloud account or don't want to use iCloud.
  •  The photos and videos saved in your device’s Camera Roll regularly exceed 1 GB in size or you tend to have very large backups.
  • You want on-site and networked backups.
  • You would like a manual or secondary backup solution to use in conjunction with iCloud Backup.

How to setup iCloud on your iPad

Go to Settings > iCloud 

iCloud Settings - Settings, iCloud

iCloud Settings - Settings, iCloud

iCloud Drive: iCloud Drive provides a cloud-based storage area that works like a normal drive for files created by iOS (and Mac) apps that support iCloud Drive. Files stored in iCloud are accessible on any Apple device signed in to your iCloud account (or in Windows with iCloud for Windows). You can view current iCloud storage prices and change your plan, by tapping Settings > iCloud > Storage > Change Storage Plan (or Buy More Storage). 

To display the iCloud Drive app, go to Settings > iCloud > iCloud Drive, and enable Show On Home Screen.

Photos: Tap Photos to see the following  options.

iCloud Photo Library

  • iCloud Photo Library sends all photos and videos in the Photos app to the cloud—using a cellular or Wi-Fi connection—where they are added to your iCloud storage space and synced to any of your devices that are running at least iOS 8 or 10.10 Yosemite. Edited photos are also synced, and deleted photos are removed from all devices.
  • Only the first 5 GB of your iCloud Drive storage is free—and that 5 GB can easily be eaten up by backups. Paid tiers of storage offer up to 1 TB of space; you’ll be prompted to pay for the appropriate tier when you turn on iCloud Photo Library with more than 5 GB of photos to store.
  • With iCloud Photo Library on, you can toggle an Optimize switch to store only low-res copies of your photos on your device, thus saving local storage space (originals download automatically when you need them, such as if you want to make edits). Keeping only low-res copies is essential for devices with a smaller storage capacity, like 16 GB.

Tip: If you have a slow Internet connection or small bandwidth cap, you may prefer to keep iCloud Photo Library and My Photo Stream off. You can transfer your photos to a computer through a USB cable connection.

My Photo Stream: My Photo Stream automatically syncs new photos (but not videos) to your other Apple devices. It works only over Wi-Fi, and although it can be tricky to grok its 1,000-photo/30-day limit, it is free and doesn’t take space in iCloud Drive. If you use iCloud Photo Library, leave this off. Turn it on if you don't use iCloud Photo Library.

Upload Burst Photos: With this switch on, your device adds photos taken in Burst mode to your My Photo Stream. This switch appears only if My Photo Stream is on, and if the device supports Burst mode.

iCloud Photo Sharing: iCloud Photo Sharing lets you share photo albums from the Photos app and see photo albums shared by others. I recommend leaving iCloud Photo Sharing on in case a friend or family member wants to share photos with you.

Mail: Apple gives all iCloud users a free @icloud.com email address. Leave it enabled even if iCloud is not your preferred email provider, because Apple may use it to contact you

Contacts: iCloud Contacts syncs your contacts with your iCloud account, and from there to your other Apple devices. You can also view these contacts on the iCloud.com site (as long as you sign in with the same Apple ID).

Calendars: This service syncs your calendars with iCloud and thus with your other Apple devices, much like contact syncing. You can also view these calendars on iCloud.com. iCloud Calendars lets you sync calendars across devices and share calendars with other iCloud users.

Reminders: The built-in Reminders app is handy for tracking to-do lists and tasks. This service syncs your reminder lists with iCloud.com and between your devices.

Safari: The Safari service syncs bookmarks and open tabs between copies of Safari on your Apple devices. If you use Safari, it can be helpful to turn on this service, but if your battery tends to drain quickly, constant bookmark syncing may be part of the problem.

Notes: This service syncs notes in the Notes app between devices and with iCloud. If you don’t use Notes, turn it off.

News: The new News app can use iCloud to sync favourites and saved articles between your devices.

Find My iPad: This feature—called Find My iPad or Find My iPod touch on those devices—makes your device discoverable if it’s misplaced or stolen.  See Locate a Lost or Stolen iPad.

Advanced: Location Sharing: Under Share My Location (at the bottom, under Advanced), you can choose whether to share your location and from which of your Apple devices to share your location. If you have an iPhone and iPad, for instance, you probably want to share the iPhone’s location, since you are more likely to take it along when you leave the house. When location sharing is enabled, you can also see who among your family and friends can view your location; that’s controlled in either the Find My Friends or Messages apps.

Windows Users

iCloud is available for Windows PC's. you need to download the iCloud Control Panel from here.

Setting up other devices

If you want to use iCloud to sync information between your other devices (for example, iPhone, iPod Touch, Mac, or PC), you'll also need to set up iCloud on those devices. Review the instructions below as needed:


What can iCloud do for You?

Share and synchronise documents 

If you use the iWork apps - Keynote, Numbers and Pages on your iPad, you can save the documents online in iCloud. You enable iCloud in each app's settings. For example in the Pages app, turn On - Use iCloud

Settings, Pages app

Settings, Pages app

If you use the iWork apps - Keynote, Numbers and Pages on your iPad, you can save the documents online in iCloud. You enable iCloud in each app's settings. For example in the Pages app, turn On - Use iCloud.

 In the iCloud Preferences via the Settings app, turn on: Documents and Data. 

Create a new document in Pages on your iPad and upload it to iCloud. When you get home, and open Pages on your computer, the iPad document will be downloaded to your computer to continue editing.


On a computer, in your web browser, go to iCloud.com and login. You can access your iCloud mail, notes from the Notes app, Edit and manage your Calendar, Reminders, Contacts. You cannot access this page from your iPad's browser. All you can do from your iPad is setup iCloud on your device, install Find my iPhone and install Find My Friends

Using the Notes app with iCloud.   Using the Calendar app with iCloud.




Photostream Settings

Photostream Settings

Photo Stream is the iCloud feature that lets you view your recent photos on all of your devices wirelessly, and share selected photos with people you choose. Photo Stream includes My Photo Stream and Shared Photo Streams. With My Photo Stream, the photos you take with your iOS devices or import to your computers appear automatically in the My Photo Stream view on all of your devices. It’s a great way to get all your latest shots on all your personal devices.

  • Turn on Photostream on any device that you want to be part of your photo stream.

  • Take a photo with your iOS device, or import photos from your digital camera to your Mac, iPad, or Windows computer.

  • Photo Stream automatically uploads the photos to iCloud over any WiFi or Ethernet connection, then downloads them to your other devices.

  • The photos appear in the My Photo Stream view on each device: in the Photos app on your iOS devices; in iPhoto or Aperture on a Mac; under Photo Stream on Apple TV; or in the Pictures folder on a Windows computer.

iCloud stores your new photos in the cloud for 30 days so your devices have plenty of time to connect and automatically download the photos. Your iOS devices keep a rolling collection of your last 1000 photos and you can save your favourite shots to your Camera Roll or any other album to keep them on your device permanently. Because your computers have more storage, they can keep all your Photo Stream photos.

Download as pdf:

Demonstration of My Photostream

How to setup a Shared Photostream iOS 7

How to Find your iPad

Is there a way to locate your iPad if it gets lost or stolen? Yes. Not only possibly can you locate it, but you can display a message or play a sound on your iPad, lock it using its existing passcode, or even erase all data on your device remotely, with help of the feature "Find my iPad" that can be enabled on your device.

See Backup, Security, Privacy