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Apple downgrading iCloud storage on September 30

Apple sends a warning to iCloud users regarding this Friday's downgrade of complimentary storage space from the MobileMe transition.

In an e-mail sent out to its iCloud subscribers who have kept with the service in its transition to iCloud, Apple is reminding users that their complimentary 20GB of extra storage from the MobileMe transition will be revoked on September 30.

Through the years of its cloud-based offerings, Apple has steadily increased the storage level offerings for its users, allowing them more options for distributing storage for various account services including iDisk and e-mail. The storage level for a basic account peaked at 20GB for a free MobileMe account and could be split among its e-mail and iDisk services depending on what the user needed.

Apple unveils iCloud storage options
iCloud offers 5 gigabytes of free storage for mail, documents, and backup. Purchased music, apps, and books don't count against the 5GB. Donald Bell/CNET

With the transition to iCloud, Apple reassessed its storage offerings and introduced a new basic storage capacity of 5GB per user, claiming that most people did not come near using this amount. In addition, Apple's new syncing approach for user documents uses the iCloud storage as a syncing medium instead of a permanent storage location, resulting in less overall need for space.

Regardless of the new approaches, for users who transitioned from MobileMe to iCloud when it debuted in early June were given a complimentary but temporary 20GB storage upgrade through September 30, 2012, giving existing users more space for their e-mail, backups for iOS devices, and documents in the cloud services that are offered with iCloud (Photo Stream, and purchased apps, books, and music do not count). However, this complimentary storage is a temporary measure to facilitate the transition to iCloud, and on September 30, Apple will be downgrading all basic iCloud accounts to its base 5GB storage level.

If you are an iCloud user and have not used more than 5GB during the transitional period, then your storage levels will switch automatically without you having to do anything; however, if you have been using more than 5GB of storage, then you will have a choice of either clearing out documents from iCloud or purchasing more storage to meet your needs. To help remind those who are currently using more than 5GB of storage, Apple has sent out an e-mail outlining these options:


Your iCloud storage will be reduced to 5 GB on 09/30/2012. However, you are currently using more than 5 GB.

Unless you take action before your downgrade takes effect, backups to iCloud will stop, and apps will no longer be able to save documents to iCloud. You can either free up storage or cancel your downgrade to keep your current storage plan for another year.

To free up storage in your account:

Step 1:
On your iOS device, go to Settings and tap iCloud

Step 2:
Tap Storage & Backup

Step 3:
Tap Manage Storage and choose items you'd like to delete or stop backing up For more information on managing your iCloud storage, please read this article.

To keep your current storage plan:

Step 1:
On your iOS device, go to Settings and tap iCloud

Step 2:
Tap Account

Step 3:
Tap your current plan, then choose Downgrade Options and follow the prompts You can also cancel your downgrade from a Mac or PC.
iCloud account storage management
Clicking the Manage button at the bottom of the iCloud preferences will allow you to delete files that various programs use. Screenshot by Topher Kessler/CNET

If you are currently using more than 5GB of storage, Apple will not delete your data if you do not upgrade, but new storage to your iCloud account will be frozen until you remove items to bring your storage levels below the new 5GB limit. This means that not only will you be unable to upload and sync files, but you will also not be able to receive any new e-mail. During this time, iCloud will inform you that you have exceeded your limit and offer links to support documents on how to upgrade or remove items from your iCloud storage.

To free up iCloud storage in OS X, go to your iCloud system preferences pane and click on the Manage button at the bottom of the window. In the new panel that appears you can select a program or service category to see what documents are being stored in iCloud by that service. The overall amount of storage used by that service will be listed underneath it.

While you can manually delete documents and backups from iCloud using the OS X system preferences, e-mail must be managed through Apple's Mail program or another e-mail client you are using to access your iCloud mail.

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