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  • Free Storage: 5 GB
  • File Size Limit: 50 GB
  • Zero-knowledge Encryption: /
  • Apps: iOS and Windows

iCloud Drive Review

iCloud is the go-to cloud storage for all iOS users. They will appreciate the seamless integration with Apple’s ecosystem and fast syncing capabilities presented by iCloud Drive. In this iCloud Drive review, you’ll learn more about this popular cloud storage service.

  • Free Storage: 5 GB
  • File Size Limit: 50 GB
  • Zero-knowledge Encryption: /
  • Apps: iOS and Windows

Best For

iOS users

STRENGTHS

  • Seamless integration with Apple’s ecosystem
  • 5 GB of free cloud storage with every Apple product
  • 24/7 support
  • Reasonable prices

WEAKNESSES

  • No file versioning
  • No Android app
  • No block-level sync

This review is centred around the most popular online storage platform amongst iOS users. If Apple’s products are part of your everyday life, you probably already know a thing or two about iCloud Drive.

People frequently mix up iCloud with iCloud Drive, although they are two different things. In this iCloud Drive review, we will see how they differ and examine all the strengths and weaknesses of this service. By the end of this article, you should be able to decide whether iCloud Drive is a convenient cloud storage service for you.

What Is iCloud Drive?

iCloud Drive belongs to iCloud’s family of products and services. It enables file syncing and file sharing on all your connected devices. Apart from iCloud Drive, iCloud offers many other services, some of which are:

 

  • iCloud Photo Library
  • Family Sharing
  • iCloud Keychain
  • Find My 
  • Hide my Email

 

iCloud is a cloud storage and cloud computing service developed by Apple. Like all storage solutions, it lets users store data such as documents, photos, music, and apps online and access them from any device connected to iCloud. 

Before iCloud came about, MobileMe served as a subscription-based collection of online software and services provided by Apple, all of which were little by little replaced by the free iCloud app.

Steve Jobs’ official announcement about MobileMe getting discontinued took place at the 2011 Apple Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC). iCloud was launched soon after, on October 12, 2011.

Within the first week of its official launch, iCloud got over 20 million users. However, not all of Apple’s customers were happy with the transition from MobileMe to iCloud, which led to a class-action lawsuit filed in May 2012.

iCloud vs iCloud Drive

iCloud is a complete file backup solution that will back up anything on your device, from your messages and reminders to your voice memos and browser history. On top of that, you can back up third-party apps installed from the App Store. 

iCloud App | CyberCrew

Things you buy from Apple, such as music, books, podcasts, and apps, remain registered on the cloud. However, items bought from other parties won’t be backed up in iCloud. 

iCloud Drive | CyberCrew

Furthermore, any music, movies, podcasts, or other files transferred from your computer will not be backed up by iCloud. This is where iCloud Drive comes in. 

Since your data is stored online, changes you make on one device will automatically appear on your other devices connected to your iCloud Drive account. You can select which apps and services you want to back up in the cloud simply by toggling the switch next to each feature. 

There isn’t an official, centralised iCloud Drive app for storing your data. Instead, the Files app on your Apple device has a folder dedicated to your iCloud Drive files.

iCloud Drive | CyberCrew

Interface and Ease of Use

If you are an iOS user, you already know that creating an iCloud account is pretty much the first thing you do after buying your first Apple device. 

After creating your iCloud account, you can set up iCloud Drive by taking the following steps:

1. Go to Settings2. Click on your name at the top of the screen

3. Open iCloud

iCloud Account | CyberCrew

iCloud Drive | CyberCrew

4. Make sure that iCloud Drive is turned on.

iCloud Drive Turned On | CyberCrew

The Files app on your iPad, iPhone, or iPod touch and the Finder app on your Mac allow you to manage your files. When you edit your files on one device, iCloud Drive immediately updates your edits on all of your other devices.

Besides being intuitive, the iCloud interface is sleek and polished, as anyone would expect from Apple. In addition, the platform is so well-integrated with Apple’s ecosystem that some users wouldn’t even know they are using it.

To set up iCloud Drive on a Windows PC, you first need to download and install the app. Next, you can either continue with an existing account or create a new one.

File Syncing

iCloud Drive takes a standard folder form on desktops, so you can drag and drop any file you want to sync in the folder. You can also create sub-folders and manage your local documents.

Syncing files from your iPhone or iPad is a tad different. To do it, you’ll need to take the following steps:

 

  1. Open the file you want to sync
  2. Click on the three dots in the top-right corner
  3. Choose Move
  4. Select “iCloud Drive”
  5. Click on “Done”

iCloud File Syncing | CyberCrew

Another way to go about this is to use the 3D Touch option on your device. Press and hold the file you want to move, and select “Move”.

 

File Sharing

To set up file sharing on your Mac, you need to take the following steps:

  1. Go to “System Preferences” 
  2. Click on “Sharing” 
  3. Select the File Sharing tickbox

Sharing a specific folder requires clicking the “Add” button located at the bottom of the “Shared folders” list. Select the folder you want to share and click “Add”.

To give access to a certain folder only to specific users, choose the folder in the Shared Folders list, click on the Add button at the bottom of the Users list and choose who you want to share the folder with.

Next, from the pop-up menu next to their username, choose one of the following options:

  1. Read & Write
  2. Read Only
  3. Write Only
  4. No Access

Sharing a file from your iPhone is a fast and straightforward process. First, you need to go to the “Files” app and find the folder or file you want to share. Then, press on it and hold, and from the drop-down menu, select the “Share” option.

iCloud File Sharing | CyberCrew

You’ll see your contacts and different apps you can use to share the selected file/folder. Choose what works best for you, and you’re all set.

Privacy and Security

Apple tried to introduce zero-knowledge encryption for iCloud, but the whole concept failed due to the governments and law enforcement agencies complaining that it would significantly impede their investigations.

While most of the data on Apple’s servers is encrypted, Apple has the keys. If it had Zero-knowledge encryption, only the user would be able to access the locked data. For example, one online storage provider that uses such encryption is pCloud.

All your data in transit is protected with TLS (Transport Layer Security) or SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) encryption. In contrast, your files resting on iCloud’s servers are protected with AES 128-bit encryption.

In addition, Apple has a two-factor authentication feature, protecting your device with a passcode and either Face ID or Touch ID. 

Speed

File transfers take only a few seconds if we’re talking about smaller files and not a huge number of them. Apple is known for having high-speed products and services, so it’s no wonder this is the case with iCloud Drive as well.

However, in the past, users have reported slower uploading and downloading speeds, which is something Apple has worked on improving.

Some tips for optimal transferring speed are to have your device connected to a steady internet connection and make sure you’re running the latest version of iOS, macOS, or Windows. 

Pricing and Plans

Since iCloud Drive is part of iCloud, it’s included in the price you pay for your iCloud plan.

Apple’s pricing plans for iCloud are very straightforward. There are only three iCloud storage plans to choose from, and here’s how much each cost, plus what they offer:

 

Pricing Plan iCloud+ with 50 GB storage iCloud+ with 200 GB storage iCloud+ with 2 TB storage
Cost £0.79 £2.49 £6.99
iCloud Features
  • 50 GB of storage
  • iCloud Private Relay (Beta)
  • Hide my email
  • Custom Email Domain
  • HomeKit Secure Video support for one camera
  • Share everything with up to five other family members
  • 200 GB of storage
  • iCloud Private Relay (Beta)
  • Hide my email
  • Custom Email Domain
  • HomeKit Secure Video support for up to five cameras
  • Share everything with up to five other family members
  • 2 TB of storage
  • iCloud Private Relay (Beta)
  • Hide my email
  • Custom Email Domain
  • HomeKit Secure Video support for an unlimited number of cameras
  • Share everything with up to five other family members

As presented in the table, the two main differences between the plans are the amount of storage space they offer and the number of video cameras supported for the HomeKit Secure Video feature.

Unlike other cloud storage services, iCloud doesn’t offer annual subscriptions or discounts for its plans.

Customer Support 

Apple is known for providing superior products and support for its customers. iCloud users can get support via:

  1. Phone numbers
  2. Support app
  3. Apple Communities
  4. Apple Support Videos
  5. Twitter (@Apple Support)

Before calling Apple, check their official website to find the phone number enlisted for your country. Keep in mind that local and national telephone rates apply and that the toll-free phone numbers are for landlines only.

iPhone and iPad users can get help for all Apple products straight from the Apple Support app. The app is free and lets you talk with a real person to troubleshoot an issue or get step-by-step directions to resolve it yourself.

Apple Support | CyberCrew

Apple Support Community is a forum where you can find answers to common problems and ask questions. It lets you share your knowledge, personalise your Apple ecosystem experience, and engage with other members.

Apple Support Community | CyberCrew

Apple Support Videos is Apple’s YouTube channel that consists of helpful videos for all iOS devices, divided into categories for easier navigation.

Finally, you can reach Apple on their official Twitter account, where they provide all kinds of tips and tricks.

Unfortunately, there isn’t an email address where you can contact Apple.

iCloud Competitors

The use of online cloud storage services is increasing rapidly. As a result, more and more cloud storage services are being launched.

Let’s take a look at three of the most popular iCloud Drive competitors — Google Drive, One Drive, and Dropbox.

iCloud vs Google Drive

Google Drive is a file syncing service launched by Google in 2012. The platform has over one billion users, and, unlike iCloud, it is available on all devices, including Android smartphones. 

Storage-wise, Google Drive offers its users 15 GB of storage for free, which is three times the amount offered by Apple. Like Apple, Google Drive has seamless integration with all Google services — Gmail, Google Docs, Google Sheets, etc. 

Additionally, Google Drive’s collaborative features are unmatched. 

If you are an iOS user, you will benefit more from choosing iCloud. However, in other cases, Google Drive is a better option. 

iCloud vs OneDrive

OneDrive is Microsoft’s default cloud-based file storage solution fully integrated into the Windows operating system.  

OneDrive was launched in 2007, making it one of the first services of its kind. Similarly to iCloud, it offers the same amount of free storage (5 GB), but with far better collaboration capabilities and features. 

File sharing and syncing are almost identical with both platforms, with OneDrive being a bit safer, using 256-bit encryption.

If you are an iOS user, you will benefit more from using iCloud. However, if you are a Windows or Android user and want more features, OneDrive is a better choice.

Our in-depth iCloud vs OneDrive comparison has way more details, so make sure to check it out.

iCloud vs Dropbox

Dropbox is another one of the original cloud storage services launched back in 2007. The service uses a freemium model where it offers a free account with set storage size and paid subscriptions offering more capacity and additional features.

Dropbox is compatible with all devices and operating systems, having unique collaborative features. Unfortunately, it has a history of security breaches. So, in terms of safety, iCloud might be a better choice.

Dropbox offers less free storage than Apple, and it’s a pricier option. However, it has more features, boasting Office integration and better file sharing. 

Customer Reviews

On TrustRadius, iCloud Drive is rated 8.5 out of 10 stars, based on 500+ reviews. 

Customers were mainly disappointed with the below-average/impossible integration with Microsoft Office products. What they found annoying were the non-stop notifications about the iCloud Storage being full. Finally, some found the service not fast enough compared to other platforms, such as Google Drive.

On another note, iOS users were satisfied with the seamless integration with Apple’s ecosystem, which is by far the best-rated quality of the service. They also appreciate the automatic syncing and reasonable pricing.

Final Verdict

This iCloud Drive review showed us that this cloud storage service is very intuitive and easy to use. However, some alternatives are way more powerful and offer more features.

Overall, iOS users are sure to benefit from how well-integrated iCloud Drive is with their devices at a reasonable iCloud price.

FAQ

What are the disadvantages of using iCloud?

iCloud doesn’t offer the highest level of privacy and security, as it doesn’t provide zero-knowledge encryption. Moreover, if you are an Android user, there isn’t an app for your smartphone.

Are files safe on iCloud?

Yes, your files are safe on iCloud, but it’s not the safest storage provider. All your data in transit is protected with TLS or SSL, while your data at rest is encrypted with AES 128-bit encryption. 

This form of security is standard, but some file storage services offer premium protection, known as zero-knowledge encryption. Such services boast a higher level of security.

Who can see my iCloud photos?

Unless you choose to share them with your contacts or family members, your photos are only visible to you.

Does turning off iCloud Photos delete them?

After turning off iCloud Photos, you will receive a notification asking you if you want to download your photos and videos. If you choose not to, the ones not taken on the device you are using will be deleted but still accessible on other devices with the iCloud Photos app and on the iCloud web client.

Can I delete photos from my iPhone but keep them on iCloud?

Yes, you can do that. Just make sure that “My Photo Stream” and “iCloud Photos” are disabled, and go ahead and delete the photos. However, keep in mind that if you turn the two features on again, your photos will be lost from iCloud as well. The best solution to this problem is to upload these photos to a different cloud storage service, such as Google Photos, for example.

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