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Apple iCloud Drive review

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Apple iCloud drive (opens new tab) Apple continues to improve its products and services. Apple’s cloud storage service is long behind Google, Microsoft, and Dropbox.

Apple is showing signs that it’s getting its groove with iCloud drive, with new features such as folder sharing and better integration with iOS and macOS. This is what you can expect from Apple iCloud Drive, and how it will work for your needs.

  • Sign up for Apple iCloud Drive (opens new tab).

Apple iCloud Drive features

iCloud Drive can back up data from certain apps – but this depends on the app developer working closely with Apple to ensure compatibility – but it is now a user-facing and more traditional cloud storage service. It has its own entries on macOS and its own apps for iPhones and iPads. You can backup anything, including images and PDF documents, to Apple’s servers, and access it from anywhere.

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Android support is not available, unless you include the tedious process of logging into iCloud in an Android browser. Windows users are better than others, as there is a desktop iCloud client you can use to sync files between your Windows machine and a Microsoft OS-based computer. However, this doesn’t provide the same smooth experience as macOS users. iCloud Drive is really only for Apple hardware users.



Apple iCloud Drive’s best feature is its ability to work. It’s not as obscure as it used to be, but it still works in the background and syncs your important files between desktop and mobile devices. Everything that is added to your iCloud Drive gets synced to the internet. On a Mac, you can also choose to include the Desktop or Documents folders.

iCloud Drive works best when it is running in the background. It will automatically synchronize files and optimize space on your Mac’s hard disk. We were pleasantly surprised by the results of our tests with the browser portal. The service is capable of keeping up with the competition, and your broadband connection will likely be the limiting factor.

It can be difficult to find the settings because iCloud Drive is so integrated with macOS. Finder will provide many of the user’s daily experiences. However, System Preferences – which controls the computer-wide settings – contains some settings.

You can toggle on or off “Optimize Mac Storage”, which will allow you to download files to your computer as long as you have enough storage. If not, you can remove the local copies when you run out. This is something that other cloud storage options offer, but Apple’s smart optimization of this based on your most frequently used files makes it more flexible than others. This is great but some users want more control.

You can share files and folders with the app, but you cannot access older versions. Collaboration with others is best done through the macOS or iOS apps. However, there is basic browser access for people working on other operating systems.

(Image credit: Apple)

Apple iCloud Drive interface

We have already discussed how iCloud Drive integrates into macOS and iOS. Even if you don’t sign up to extra storage and don’t allow iCloud manage your photos or videos, it is still embedded in these operating system (even if it’s used to manage app backups, calendar and contact syncing).

iCloud Drive can be found in the Finder on macOS. You also have the option to access System Preferences, which offers a wide range of options. Although iCloud Drive can’t back up your entire computer, it is capable of reinstalling macOS and other programs via the internet. Almost everything that is important can be saved in iCloud. File transfers are almost instantaneous and speedy, according to our knowledge.

On iOS, you will now find a Files app that has its own iCloud Drive section. It is easy to copy, move and delete files, as well as share them with the same visual appeal and ease that you would expect from Apple.

The same applies to iCloud online. Although it has improved in recent years, it is now much easier for you to access your files. You can’t stream video directly from the internet, but you can stream audio files so long as they are saved in common formats.

We love the fact that Files for iOS can show other cloud drives, such as Google Drive or Microsoft OneDrive, directly within the app. This eliminates the need to use a third-party app (it still must be installed on your device), and it will make accessing files much easier. Apple also offers a more consistent user experience with native apps, allowing for better syncing.

The interface of iCloud drive is almost identical to other Apple software. It’s smooth and polished with a few quirks. Unlike its predecessor, iCloud Drive doesn’t look like a tagged-on extra.

(Image credit: Apple)

Apple iCloud Drive security

Although iCloud Drive data has been encrypted to protect it from prying eyes it is not end-to–end encrypted. This means that Apple could technically access the data if it so desired, although there is no reason to believe it would. Other cloud storage services use the same approach to ensure your files are accessible from any location. There are better options for users who need the most secure storage.

Two-factor authentication can be used to protect Apple accounts. We recommend you turn this on. This means that even though your password and username are visible, any unwelcome visitors cannot access your data without an additional code displayed on your phone, laptop, or by SMS. Apple and iCloud Drive are both excellent at data security.

Apple iCloud Drive Pricing

Apple offers 5GB free storage space with iCloud Drive. However, that won’t be enough if you want to sync all your videos and photos to the internet. You will need to pay a monthly charge for additional space after you have used all of that.

There are three options for users: 50GB for $0.99/PS0.79 per month, 200GB at $2.99/PS2.49 per month, and 2TB for $9.99/PS6.99 per month. This is comparable to the cloud storage services Apple offers for consumers, such as Google Drive and Microsoft OneDrive. Your files won’t disappear if you stop paying but you won’t have the ability to upload any new files.

All plans, now called iCloud+, include iCloud Privacy Relay, which masks your IP address online. You can also create multiple unique email addresses to sign-up to third-party apps such as Hide My Email. There are custom email domains and unlimited storage for HomeKit Secure Video-compatible cameras, depending on the plan.

There are three bundles available. Only one is for individuals. It includes 50GB of iCloud+ storage and Apple Music, Apple TV+, and Apple Arcade subscriptions at $14.95 (PS14.95). Family plans increase the iCloud+ storage storage to 200GB for $19.95 (PS19.95), while Premier plans add Apple News+ and Apple Fitness+, as well as 2TB of iCloud+ storage at $29.95 (PS29.95), per month.

As we mentioned, iCloud drive is only for Apple customers. We like the variety of bundles and options available to multi-service subscribers to save money.

(Image credit: Apple)

Apple iCloud Drive verdict

iCloud Drive has improved a lot over its predecessors. It is now a solid cloud storage solution that can compete with Dropbox, Microsoft OneDrive(opens new tab), Google Drive(opens new tab) and many others. However, it is still not as good as other services, especially when it comes to Android apps. It also lacks advanced features like versioning and selective synchronization.

There are many better cloud storage options, but if you only have an iPhone and a Mac, iCloud Drive is so integrated into your devices that you may never need to change to another. iCloud will always be the default option in macOS and iOS. However, if you are looking for a more expensive service, we believe that you should consider other options.


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