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Thursday, 20 February 2020 16:13

What is iCloud?

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There is a great deal of confusion about which iCloud is and does. I'll try to explain
iCloud is a system for giving you some space on Apple's servers. You get 5Gb for free if you own an Apple product, and you pay if you want more.
Think of it as a COPY of important information on your devices. If you have only one Apple device, say one computer with no iPhone etc, there is much less point in using iCloud. 
If you have more than one device, you want some information to be kept in sync on all your devices.
So, for example, your contact list, and your calendars need to be kept in sync. You want to add a name on the computer and have it appear on the iPhone. The way it does that is that it is COPIED to the iCloud servers, and then downloaded to the other devices.
Try it now. Go to and log in with your AppleID and password. You will see an entry for contacts, and another one for calendars. If it is all working, any contact on your phone or computer will also be on the website.
OK so far?
Now let's look at iPhone backup. You want to be able to recover your important information if you lose your iPhone, or drop it in the river.
So there is an option on the iPhone to backup to iCloud.
But what is backed up? Not your contacts, or calendar, because they are already in iCloud. OK? it won't back them up. What it will backup is what apps you have, how they are laid out on screen, all your call history, texts etc.
Note: if you have been using Macs for some years, you may be used to connecting the device to the computer with a cable and using iTunes to backup. That's still possible (though in Catalina it works differently) but if we try to include that, we'll just get more confused.
So we now have all our contacts and calendar on all your devices AND the Apple iCloud servers.
What else can we put on there?
The next one most people want is their photos. In order to do this, iCloud photos must be switched on on the iPhone AND on the computer. Then if it is working ok, once again you can go to iCloud in a browser and see all your pictures. But you are unlikely to be able to do this without paying for more than the free 5Gb.
What next? Music. There are two ways you can use iCloud for your music. The main one is to pay £10 per month for Apple Music. That way you can access any of the millions of recordings on the Apple servers on any device. Kinda like Spotify, Amazon Music etc.
There is another way of doing it: you can upload all your own recordings, that you have copied from a CD, or recorded yourself, or been given by a friend, or downloaded off a website. There is a system called iCloud Music whereby you can upload all your own music to their servers so, guess what, you can access it anywhere. 
What next? All your own files, your word documents, your pdfs, your spreadsheets. It's possible to keep those in iCloud as well. But remember, you are COPYING them to the iCloud servers: the main files are still where they started, probably on the computer.
I'm pretty sure that it also synchronises all your Safari bookmarks, your Mail signatures and rules whoever your mail provider is. All clever stuff.
Any questions, just ask.
Read 338398 times Last modified on Tuesday, 25 February 2020 13:03


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