What Is The Difference Between iCloud and iCloud Drive

Affiliate Disclaimer: If you purchase through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission at no additional cost to you!
Photo of author


What Is The Difference Between iCloud and iCloud Drive

So, what is the difference between iCloud and iCloud Drive? iCloud comes with so many parts, including Backups, Family Sharing, Keychain, and many more. It becomes quite tough to remember which tool does what.

Now, there is iCloud Drive, which is not another name for iCloud. If not, then what’s the difference between the two?

iCloud and iCloud Drive are two cloud-based services offered by Apple. Both of these services are free. They are both employed for storing the data online securely. However, they are not the same tool.

When it comes to iCloud, most Apple users get confused. Plus, the kind of files that you can back up on this platform. Now, there is another tool called iCloud Drive! This service is important for lots of users who like to protect their data.

Also, for people who like to know what they exactly use. Now, we will discuss what is the difference between iCloud and iCloud Drive.

what is the difference between iCloud and iCloud Drive

Part 1: Introduction to iCloud


Basically, iCloud is the storage service offered by Apple. This is not a sharing storage platform, such as Dropbox. However, iCloud is very useful to store some of your data on the phone. While switched on, iCloud backs up all the data on your iOS device, such as photos, documents, calendars, contacts, and much more.

In addition, iCloud also backs up all the purchases made on the iTunes store. However, it does not save any videos, TV shows, or music you have not purchased on iTunes. With this cloud service, users can save all types of data, which can be synced to other iOS devices effortlessly. Anything backed up on iCloud is available to you and protected for accessing online.

For instance, adding a note on your phone will also appear on your iPad. Not just that, you can also edit an event on the calendar from your MacBook. This will even reflect on your Apple Watch. So, iCloud lets you manage your data from any iOS device.

PS: Here are the top iCloud removers for your reference.

Part 2: Introduction to iCloud Drive

While iCloud is the storage service, iCloud Drive refers to the Dropbox version of Apple. This service is also cloud-based, which lets you share all kinds of data on the Drive effortlessly. iCloud Drive even enables users to sync the content between iOS devices.

iCloud Drive seems a bit different in comparison to Google Drive or Dropbox when it comes to operation. Here, you do not access your file collection through the iCloud Drive application.

Users have to do this via different corresponding applications. For instance, if you like to access photos in iCloud Drive, you need to use the Photos application.

Introduction to iCloud Drive

Now, let’s check what is the difference between iCloud and iCloud Drive.

Why do you need to employ iCloud Drive?

Users do not require to employ iCloud Drive. Like other iCloud services, it is an optional feature. When you turn off this feature, all of your files are saved locally on your device.

This means that they are always available, even when there is no internet connection. So, you get what is the difference between iCloud and iCloud Drive!

Is it free to use?

Yes, it is. When you create an Apple account, you receive 5GB of storage space online for free. You do not have to pay a penny if there is enough storage space for everything you like to keep in iCloud Drive and iCloud.

For most iOS users, 5GB is not enough. This is because all the services of iCloud use this space, such as Drive, Photos, Backups, and others. On running out of iCloud storage, users can buy more space from Apple. It comes in three storage subscriptions:

  • 50GB – $0.99 a month
  • 200GB – $2.99 a month
  • 2TB – $9.99 a month
Is it free to use

Also read: iCloud storage full? – Best ways to free up iCloud storage.

How to Turn on the iCloud Drive Service

Before you switch on iCloud Drive, updating all your iOS devices to the recent iOS version is recommended. Users also have to make sure that they are signed in using the same Apple account on every device.

If not, your iOS devices will not sync with each other. So, switch this service from all devices you like to access your data.

Steps to Switch on iCloud Drive on iPad, iPhone, or iPod Touch:

1. Visit ‘Settings’ and then click on your name. Next, choose ‘iCloud.’

2. Keep scrolling down and switch on ‘iCloud Drive.’

iCloud Drive on iOS

Steps to switch on iCloud Drive on Windows PC:

1. Download iCloud on your Windows PC. Install and run it.

2. Sign in with your Apple ID credentials.

3. Tick the box present against ‘iCloud Drive.’

iCloud on Windows PC

Steps to Switch on iCloud Drive on Mac:

1. Choose ‘System Preferences’ and then click on ‘Apple ID.’ Users who use macOS Mojave or below need to choose ‘iCloud.’

2. Tick the box present against ‘iCloud Drive.’

iCloud Drive on Mac

3. Choose the tab ‘Options’

  • i) Switch on ‘Desktop & Documents Folders’ to store them in iCloud Drive.
Steps to switch on iCloud Drive on Mac
  • ii) Check everything else that you like to store in iCloud
  • iii) On macOS Mojave or below, switch on ‘Optimize Storage’ to create more space on the system. On macOS Catalina+, look for the ‘Optimize Storage’ option on the home page of the Apple ID.
Steps to switch on iCloud Drive on Mac

After getting introduced to iCloud and iCloud Drive separately, it is time to see the difference between iCloud and iCloud Drive.

Part 3: What is the Difference Between iCloud and iCloud Drive?

Functionality and Purpose

The primary difference between iCloud and iCloud Drive lies in their functionality and purpose. iCloud serves as a comprehensive cloud storage and synchronization service that covers not only file storage but also various aspects of device data and settings. On the other hand, iCloud Drive specifically focuses on file storage and organization, offering a file-centric approach.

Storage and File Management

Another crucial distinction is in the realm of storage and file management. iCloud encompasses all aspects of device data, including contacts, calendars, photos, and backups, while iCloud Drive solely focuses on file storage. If you primarily require efficient file management and organization, iCloud Drive provides a more tailored solution.

Accessibility and Syncing

Accessibility and syncing capabilities also differ between iCloud and iCloud Drive. iCloud ensures seamless synchronization of data across all your Apple devices, keeping your files, settings, and app data up to date. iCloud Drive offers similar syncing features but primarily concentrates on file synchronization and accessibility.

Which One Should You Choose?

When deciding between iCloud and iCloud Drive, several factors should be considered based on your specific needs and preferences. Here are some aspects to ponder:

  1. Comprehensive Storage: If you value a unified storage solution that covers multiple aspects of device data and settings, iCloud is the way to go.
  2. File-Centric Approach: If your primary requirement revolves around file storage and organization, iCloud Drive offers a more streamlined experience.
  3. Apple Ecosystem Integration: Both iCloud and iCloud Drive seamlessly integrate with Apple’s ecosystem, providing a cohesive experience across devices.
  4. Cross-Platform Compatibility: If you frequently use Windows devices alongside Apple devices, iCloud Drive provides limited compatibility for accessing your files across different platforms.

Consider these factors carefully to determine which service aligns best with your needs, ensuring a seamless and efficient cloud storage experience.

Tip: Best Backup Option for iOS Devices

It is not complicated at all to manually enable iCloud to perform the auto backup. However, it comes with certain limitations. iCloud cannot back up all types of data on your iOS device. That’s why a few iOS users select iCloud Drive.

If you do not know, iCloud Drive just comes with 5GB storage space for free. If you want to expand the space, you need to pay for that.

For users who are looking for free methods to back up data, it is better to use iTunes. It is just too simple to connect your iOS device to Mac or Windows PC and just sync hassle-free. Meanwhile, you can back up everything on the device without any limitations. Additionally, restoring your data from iTunes is pretty fast.


  1. Q: Can I use iCloud and iCloud Drive on non-Apple devices? A: While iCloud has limited functionality on non-Apple devices through web access, iCloud Drive offers better cross-platform compatibility.
  2. Q: How much storage do I get with iCloud and iCloud Drive? A: Apple provides 5GB of free storage with iCloud, and additional storage plans are available for purchase. iCloud Drive storage is included within the overall iCloud storage allocation.
  3. Q: Can I access my iCloud files offline? A: Yes, iCloud and iCloud Drive allow you to download files for offline access on your Apple devices.
  4. Q: Is my data secure with iCloud and iCloud Drive? A: Apple takes extensive measures to ensure the security and privacy of your data stored in iCloud and iCloud Drive. Encryption and robust security protocols are employed to safeguard your information.
  5. Q: Can I share files with others using iCloud and iCloud Drive? A: Yes, both services allow you to share files with others, simplifying collaboration and document sharing.


Now, you know what the difference is between iCloud and iCloud Drive! So, it is important that you back up your data regularly to not worry about data loss. However, there is no need to panic if you delete something important accidentally while there is no backup.

In that situation, you can use Tenorshare UltData. This tool performs its best for retrieving deleted, missing, or lost data on your device.


Ten years of experience in information and computer technology. Passionate about electronic devices, smartphones, computers, and modern technology.

More Articles

Cronometer vs. MyFitnessPal

Cronometer vs. MyFitnessPal: How to Find the Better One?

We are here with a guide on the Cronometer vs. MyFitnessPal food trackers. This is to help all nutrition enthusiasts get ...
Spotfire vs. Tableau

Spotfire vs. Tableau – Comprehensive Comparison of 2024

When it comes to business intelligence, the debate between Spotfire vs. Tableau always manages to get to the surface. In ...
Captivate vs. Camtasia

Captivate vs. Camtasia: A Comparative Guide for Educators

Discover the best software for content creation with our Captivate vs. Camtasia guide for educators. Compare features and pricing to find your match!