Apple and Cheap iCloud Storage

September 28th, 2016

As you know, when you set up your iCloud account, you have a stingy 5GB of free storage. If you want more, you have to pay for it.

Now the prices are competitive. For 99 cents you can have 50GB. Higher tiers include $2.99 a month for 200GB, $9.99 a month for 1TB, and $19.99 a month for 2TB (a recent addition). Compared to Microsoft and Google, it’s nearly the same, proportionately speaking, even though quantities are different.

But Google offers 15GB free.

The real issue is how much is enough for most users, and how much you will require if you have large photo and music libraries to back up, or if you want to share your Desktop and Documents folder? The latter is a key feature of macOS Sierra. I suspect 15GB is quite enough for the first two for many of you, but obviously not for the two Mac folders. I realize that some of you have large photo and music collections that exceed 15GB.

Apple’s 99 cent deal for 50GB is actually an ideal configuration. But is Apple really making so much money from that storage option that they couldn’t offer it free of charge? Well, if 50 million customers buy it, that adds up to a gross revenue of $49,500,000 per month, and that’s not chump change even to a company as large as Apple.

In saying that, online storage will no doubt become cheaper over time, and Apple might very well increase the free storage as well. I don’t think it’s a matter of greed, even though Apple deals in stratospheric numbers. It’s just business and costs need to be covered.

However, Apple is starting to force the issue. More and more services are requiring larger iCloud Drive allocations. Up until recently, I managed with the free 5GB, but just barely. So I opted to go cheap and practical, and I pay 99 cents a month for 50GB. With my music and photo libraries, that’s just perfect. If I decided to include the Desktop and Documents folders, I would require more than 200GB, so I’d be forced to choose $9.99 a month for 1TB.

Besides, I already pay for an offsite backup via CrashPlan. I also use two external drives, one with Carbon Copy Cloner, and the other for Time Machine. So I’m quite comfortable that all my stuff will be available to restore regardless of what happens. Well, except for whatever files I created between backups.

What’s more, I mostly use just one Mac, and that’s my 27-inch iMac. I have a MacBook Pro, but I don’t use it often enough to care about sharing any large folders. It’s just as easy to drop a few files on its drive if the need arises.

But that’s just me. A number of Mac users may find this macOS Sierra feature a welcome improvement. But they will need the appropriate amount of storage to make it so, and even the basic 50GB package is probably not sufficient for most of them.

Other iCloud-based features include a Universal Clipboard, and Optimized Storage, which can send unused files to your iCloud Drive. All told, Apple is taking steps to make iCloud an essential addition to your Mac experience, which is no doubt going to push more Mac users to increase their storage.

Remember, that this extra-cost requirement is offered with an operating system that is otherwise free. It also seems clear that Apple will continue to make moves that encourage you to use more iCloud Drive storage. I considered Time Machine, but it appears the options to do that are not standard issue in the preferences pane, although I’ve read of some managing it.

But it does make a whole lot of sense that Apple would rather keep your business for online backups rather than have it go to Carbonite, CrashPlan, iDrive and other third-party offsite storage options. Now imagine if you could store all that stuff seamlessly in iCloud for the standard price of admission? You’d just have to select iCloud Drive as the target storage device.

I suspect that new Mac users who might be considering cloud-based  backup systems, would very seriously consider Apple if it were made simple, automatic, without the need to manually drag files or otherwise remember or remind yourself when it was time to backup your stuff.

Yes, I realize Apple would want to suggest Time Machine as the solution, but what if any third-party backup app could also access the iCloud Drive as the default backup location? It would require using an Apple API, but I’m quite sure developers would only be too happy to offer that option if it were offered.

In the meantime, I’m happy with the modest amount of iCloud storage I have. Despite glitches over the years, it has been quite a while since my iCloud email or the syncing process failed. So perhaps Apple is getting its act together, and laying plans to greatly expand what you can do with your iCloud Drive.

I do wonder what it will cost when all is said and done.

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One Response to “Apple and Cheap iCloud Storage”

  1. David says:

    Unlike people who are constantly taking selfies and pulling out their phones to snap everything they see, I only take photos at events and on family vacations. I have shot a few videos, but half of them are from old cameras that only did 320×240 or 640×480.

    So I think I have a small photo library. But it’s nowhere close to fitting into the amount of space you think suffices for a small library. According to Finder it’s currently 210 GB. People who shoot 4K video will probably surpass that in a year.

    I know my music library is larger than average because I prefer owning over streaming and because most of it is in a lossless format so I’ll never find myself wanting or needing to convert from one lossy format/bit-rate to another. It currently weighs in at 240 GB.

    While I could certainly pay Apple to keep an iCloud copy, I’ve used the same amount of money to accumulate a huge collection of external hard drives and USB thumb drives for backups. By keeping them at home, work and a relative’s place, and rotating them regularly, I’m well protected against drive failure, theft and fire.

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