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HolidayBuyer's Guide
Storage

Your complete guide to Apple's iCloud Drive

Apple's online storage solution is called iCloud Drive. It syncs and stores your files across Apple devices, and yes, there's even a Windows version.

Matt Elliott/CNET

Looking back now, it's clear Apple has long been working its way toward a Dropbox-like solution for keeping files synced across its product lineup. When iCloud originally launched, it offered document and data syncing but lacked any true interface for users to access the files outside of the appropriate apps.

With iCloud Drive, the service has turned into a true online storage solution. That is, for those who live inside Apple's ecosystem -- oh, and there's even a Windows app. We rounded up the latest guides and how-to's covering all things iCloud Drive in an effort to make your life easier.

Editors' note: This post was originally published on November 19, 2014. It has since been updated to reflect changes to iCloud Drive, iOS and OS X.

The cost

Here's what Apple's iCloud Drive will cost you, compared with its competition

iCloud Drive comes with a standard 5GB of data for free, but beyond that you're going to have to pay. It's a good idea to know what you can expect to pay, and educate yourself on what you could potentially get elsewhere for the same price.

Setup

An iCloud Drive warning before updating to iOS 8

This warning can actually be applied to both iOS 7 and OS X 10.9 Mavericks users alike. Basically, iCloud Drive doesn't play nicely with older operating systems. So if you're stuck on older hardware or simply refuse to update to iOS 9 or OS X 10.11 El Capitan, you might want to wait on enabling iCloud Drive on a newer device.

How to set up iCloud Drive

Matt Elliot walks you through setting up the new service on both iOS 9 and El Capitan. Because, what good is a service if you haven't actually set it up?

Windows

iCloud Drive hits Windows ahead of Mac

For those who are using Windows in tandem with an iOS device or a Mac, a link for downloading iCloud Drive for Windows waits inside.

Photos

Getting started with the iCloud Photo Library

Depending on your primary use for iCloud Drive, photos are arguably the biggest burden on your storage allotment. (It's the sole reason I upgraded to the 1TB plan.) With Apple's iCloud Photo Library service, all of your photos and videos are automatically backed up. However, they eat up space in your iCloud Drive account.

Managing storage

How to free up space in iCloud

With iCloud Drive storage limits, managing your storage is going to be important. Not only does iCloud Drive sync your photos and documents, but it also serves as your iOS device's backup solution. Meaning if your iCloud Drive storage is full, your iOS device simply stops backing up until you make room.