Making Sense of iCloud Storage: iPad Memory & Insufficient Space

A reader recently wrote me concerning problems with iCloud storage space and playing a rented movie. Our edited email exchange appears below. Our discussion should help others to understand what gets stored in iCloud and why having gigabytes (GB) of iCloud space can still generate insufficient space errors on your iPad.

From: Marion

I am using an ipad 2 and need information about how to use icloud. I
have read many online instructions but my screen does not look the
same as the model. I recently upgraded my storage by purchasing extra
but am still short of space. Surely there is some method of me
deciding what goes to icloud and what does not. I would appreciate your comments.

Hi Marion,

For iCloud specific info you can try:

Thanks for the links but I was hoping to get further than that. If I go into Settings – icloud – I get 2 options. One is to delete account and the 2nd is to manage storage, i.e., buy more storage. I did this a few weeks ago and paid $20 for 10 gig and thought I had solved my storage problem. I recently tried to rent a movie and was told there was insufficient storage. I am at a loss as to what to do. Any suggestions would be welcome.

I believe I see the problem now. The insufficient storage message you are getting is because you do not have enough room on your iPad to store the movie for playback. This has nothing to do with the iCloud storage capacity. iCloud does not store music, movies or apps.

Movie files tend to be large, a few GB in size. You get this message because your iPad does not have enough space. You will have to delete something and make enough room before you can download the movie to your device. For more on how to find what content is taking up the most space on your iPad see this article.

Thanks for your reply. You can bill me for this if you wish. I have spent ages online seeking information and you seem to be about the only source of knowledge. No music, movies or apps – just what I would like to store. I guess buying extra storage was unnecessary.

iCloud storage:
You get unlimited free storage for purchased music, movies, TV shows, apps, and books. But movies and TV shows are not streamed from iCloud. They are downloaded and played from the memory on your iPad. So you need to have space for them on your device.

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

You are correct that you probably don’t need extra, paid iCloud storage.

About Andy Brovey

Dr. Andy Brovey, The Portable Prof, teaches about digital tools through his work, websites and social media. In 2007, Apple Inc. recognized his work and named him an Apple Distinguished Educator. He started this iPad Academy website shortly after the first iPad went on sale. On his Freelance Teaching site you'll find the resources you need to teach like a smart entrepreneur.