Frequently Asked Questions About iCloud
There is a lot of information about iCloud on the Internet that you will probably need to wade through in order to get the lowdown on what it is all about. With this in mind, we have compiled a list of frequently asked questions (FAQ) about iCloud that will give you a good foundation on its capabilities, how it can be used for digital music, and other types of data. If you have heard about this service and want answers fast, then reading this iCloud FAQ could just save you a heap of time searching through countless Web pages.
What is iCloud?
iCloud is a free cloud storage service from Apple which you can use to safely store different types of media (and non-media) files online. For digital music, iCloud is especially useful if you have an iTunes music library and want to be able to access your collection from several locations -- this includes other computers and portable Apple devices like the iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch, etc. Storing your important files in a remote location using iCloud also gives you a disaster recovery solution just in case your other conventional backup methods fail -- like an external hard drive for example.
What Can I store in iCloud?
As well as being able to store digital music that you have purchased from the iTunes Store, ripped from your original audio CDs, or downloaded from other online music sources, you can also store this type of data:
- Contacts, Calender, and Mail
- Backups of your data
How Much Free Storage Space Do I Get?
By default you get 5GB of free storage with the basic account. This might not sound a lot for all your iTunes Store purchases, but the good news is that some products don't count towards this limit. For instance, if you have purchased songs, iBooks, or apps from Apple then they won't impact on the 5GB limit. Using the Photo Stream service to store your photos also doesn't eat up your allocated free storage space. If you plan to upload a lot of non-Apple purchases then you can upgrade to a higher storage amount at any time. Currently Apple offers either 10, 20, or 50 extra GB's per year for a fixed annual subscription.
What do I Need to Get my Digital Music Library in iCloud?
In order to use the iCloud service with the focus on music, you will need the following:
- iTunes software version 10.3.1 or higher
- An Apple ID to assign to the iCloud service -- you can either use your existing one that is used to purchase music or create a new one specifically for iCloud. If you haven't got an Apple ID and want to create one, follow our tutorial on how to make a free iTunes account.
- If you've got an Apple device, make sure it is running iOS version 5 or higher.
- Digital music collection -- either in your local iTunes library or previously purchased from the iTunes Store -- songs will automatically be available in iCloud when you set it up without you having to upload them.
What System Requirements do I Need to Sync Other File Types to iCloud?
If you want to synchronize more than just music between iCloud and any other Apple devices, then use this short checklist to verify you meet the requirements:
- To access iCloud from an Apple Mac, you have to be running at least OS X Lion.
- If you are a PC user, then you need to download and install the iCloud Control Panel to access the service in Windows. You will need to be running Windows 7 or at least Vista Service Pack 2.
- If you've got an Apple device, then it needs to be running iOS version 5 or higher.
- Bookmark synchronization requires a compatible Internet browser -- either Safari (5.1.1 or higher) or Microsoft Internet Explorer 8 (or higher).
I've heard of iTunes Match, is This Necessary to Get my Digital Music Library in iCloud?
If you have a large music collection that contains a lot of songs that haven't been purchased from the iTunes Store, then subscribing to iTunes Match could save you a lot of upload time. This is an additional service that Apple provides to make the process of getting even very large libraries up to iCloud in the fastest possible time. It works by scanning your library to see if the same song is already available in Apple's massive iTunes Store catalog. If it is, then the song is instantly available (via sideloading) in your iCloud storage space. Songs will also be available in the AAC format at a bitrate of 256 Kbps -- any files that are at a lower resolution on your computer's hard drive will be automatically upgraded.
For more information, please read our iTunes Match article which goes into more detail on how this service works, its limitations, and how much it costs per year.