What Is The Difference Between iCloud and iCloud Drive

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By Jack

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

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?

So, what is the difference between iCloud and iCloud Drive? iCloud Drive isn’t different from iCloud, but a part of it. Whatever you save in iCloud Drive, gets stored in iCloud.

Generally, iCloud aids in backing up the phone and syncing restricted types of data among other iOS devices. On the other hand, iCloud Drive focuses more on sharing between Apple devices and allows seamless co-working and interaction.

This means that users can share the data saved on one device, with other devices, without transferring, sending, or copying. For instance, if you have a fresh Pages document on the MacBook Air, type in some lines, and move it to your iCloud Drive.

After that, you can keep working on that file whenever and wherever you like, given that you can access the file through your iPad or iPhone.

So, this is what is the difference between iCloud and iCloud Drive!

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.


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.

Try Tenorshare UltData