The iCloud storage service integrated into Apple devices offers very interesting features to synchronize contacts, photos and documents. Unfortunately, the free storage limit is only 5GB and with the use of high resolution images and video, this capacity may not be sufficient for many Apple users. If you do not want to expand iCloud storage and pay Apple, but still want to keep all your contacts, photos and files synchronized in the cloud, there are several free third-party alternatives.
However, these third-party services require configuration and are not well integrated into iOS and MacOS. Below we will look at the main features of the iCloud features and what are the best alternatives of the Apple storage system without paying a single penny.
Overview of iCloud features for free
Before proposing alternative solutions to the features of iCloud, I want to provide an overview of the functions managed by iCloud which we will discuss in this article.
- iCloud Drive
- Pages, Numbers, Keynote
Many of these functions synced from iCloud can be easily replaced by Google products that you can use very well even on your iPhone. But replacing or integrating the official services of the iPhone is only possible if you are not a huge fan of Apple products and with the solutions we offer you will seem to betray the style of Cupertino.
E-Mail, Contacts and Calendar
The best free alternative to synchronize your emails, contacts and calendar is Google Mail. It not only works perfectly with iPhone or iPad, but also integrates very well in Windows or MacOS. If you use Gmail on your iOS device, you do not need to download or install a different application – all features work well with standard iOS apps. If you’re switching from Android to iOS this will be especially useful, because all your contacts, e-mails and calendar entries will be synchronized automatically on the new iOS device. To use Gmail on your iPhone, follow this procedure:
- Create a Google Account (skip this step if you already have a Google Account).
- On your iPhone – go to Settings> Mail, Contacts, Calendars> Add account.
- Select Google and for the log-in insert your registration data to Google.
- Choose the services you want to sync (Select Mail, contacts and calendars ) and confirm.
- Open your contacts and click on Groups in the upper left.
- Select the contacts to synchronize from here.
That’s all. Now you can keep your contacts using the Google web interface. It is also possible to synchronize the Notes via Google Mail, although for this I personally recommend using Google Keep, (see below). Here are the most important links to manage email, calendar and contacts through the browser of your PC or Mac:
There are several ways to sync and back up photos from your iPhone – it all depends on what is most important to you. Want to create a backup of photos and videos in the cloud? I would suggest using Dropbox. Do you want to share them with friends and relatives, edit them and have them all easily accessible from your browser? Then choose Google Photos.
Set up Dropbox to sync photos
Syncing photos and videos using Dropbox is easy and requires only a few steps. You must be aware that Dropbox has only 2GB of cloud storage with its free basic level, however, there are possibilities to bring it to 40GB for free. Follow the steps below after logging into your Dropbox account.
- Download the Dropbox app for iOS
- When you open the application for the first time, the program asks the user to upload photos of the camera roll. Activate it and make sure to allow only the upload when you are under a Wifi connection, otherwise the application may exhaust your mobile data traffic. I advise you to also activate the loading in the background, otherwise you will always have to manually open the application to upload the photos.
After initial setup, Dropbox uploads all photos and videos automatically to the cloud. If you have a desktop client installed, the images will be automatically downloaded to your computer.
Set up Google Photos synchronization
Google introduced the Photos application that allows simple file sharing, image backups and some impressive features such as auto-enhancement and face recognition. You need a Google account, so make sure you create one if you have not already done so.
- Download the Google Photos app
- When you start the application for the first time, you will be prompted to log in to the camera. You need to authorize such access so that the application can correctly back up all your images in the cloud.
- Just like with Dropbox, I would recommend that you enable uploading only under a Wi-Fi network.
Google Photos offers two types of plans to upload images: 15 GB for full resolution files and unlimited space for high resolution images. In the second case, Google will resize the 16 Megapixel images. If you want more storage, Google offers different plans starting at $1.99/month for 100 GB of storage.
iCloud Drive is a special case, because on it you can not upload any type of file, unlike Dropbox on which you can store anything you want. Using the DropBox iOS application, you will be able to access these files on the go. If you do not know how iCloud Drive works, we talked about it in more detail in another article of which I propose the link below.
How to use iCloud on Windows, Mac, iPhone and iPad
Notes and Reminders
To sync Notes and Reminders I highly recommend Google Keep. It includes many useful features and is the perfect tool to keep notes in sync. In reality, it is not limited to the Notes and Reminders, but it can also do other advanced things. For example, you can take pictures of text documents and the application can transcribe the text of the photo. If instead you are writing the shopping list – you can ask Google to remind you of the list when you are near a supermarket. To use Google Keep, you still need a Google account. You can download the application from the App Store and access your notes via the browser on keep.google.com.
Pages, Numbers and Keynote
Pages, Numbers and Keynote are applications that come from Mac OS and basically offer a great alternative to Office. While I personally prefer Microsoft Office, I have to suggest (the umpteenth) Google app as a free alternative. The Google alternative automatically saves files on your Google Drive, making them accessible from anywhere. You can, of course, also download the relevant app on the App Store:
That’s all. As you can see, Google applications can cope well with the storage limits of iOS apps and replace iCloud features for free. It is possible to integrate third-party services into the Apple system thanks to the policy of opening third-party apps that has been running for some time.
Given that space is never enough, we have written more articles on cloud storage, selecting the best services that offer more space without spending anything. Try reading this guide.
8 Best Cloud services with free online space to backup your data