Do you have an iPhone? Do you use it to, say, take photos or listen to podcasts? Then you're probably familiar with the "Not Enough Storage" alert. In fact, you probably receive it every. Damn. Day.
You can't back up your phone; your iCloud is full. Apparently this is such an imminently disastrous situation, Apple deems it necessary to remind you of this problem on a regular basis. It's a royal pain in the ass. But there is a way to banish this unpleasantness from your life -- without paying Apple a cent for extra storage -- and still save a copy of your most important stuff. Here's how.
Before we get into it, let's acknowledge why this notification is showing up in the first place. In short, you're trying to back up way too much phone data to your iCloud account. This is something your iPhone automatically attempts to do at least once a day, when it’s connected to Wi-Fi, locked, and plugged into a power source (hence, the reason this pesky alert often greets you in the morning, if you keep your phone plugged in overnight -- and by the way, you shouldn't do that).
Ditch your old phone backups
First, get rid of old phone backups you no longer need. Go to Settings > General > Storage & iCloud Usage, and tap Manage Storage under the iCloud section. If there are any device(s) you no longer own or use listed there, tap 'em and click "Delete Backup." There's no reason to let whatever crap was on your iPhone 4 hog up your precious 5GB of free iCloud space.
Now before we move on to the next part, and especially if your current phone hasn't been backed up in a while (or ever), plug it into your computer and do a backup via iTunes (File > Devices > Back up). You'll also want to transfer your photos and videos on to your computer as well.
Prioritize the data that really matters
No one wants to lose their contacts and photos when their 6s falls in the toilet, but does it really matter if Words With Friends and Tinder are restored on your new device? Hopefully not. By default, these apps automatically back up to the iCloud, so you can free up a decent amount of space by disabling that option.
Go to Settings > General > Storage & iCloud Usage > tap Manage Storage under the iCloud section > select your device ("This iPhone") > tap Show All Apps. Now, go through and toggle off all the apps you don't need to do a restore (bye bye, Snapchat). Seeing how much space each takes up should help motivate you.
You'll notice that "Photo Library" is by far taking up the most space. Turn that off, too. Don't freak out, this won't delete any of your photos (and you just transferred them to your computer, remember?) "But how will I back up my selfies!?" you protest. Keep reading.
Back up your photos without taking up storage
Bear with me while I explain the difference between the iCloud Photo Library and My Photo Stream. iCloud Photo Library uploads and stores your photo/video library to your iCloud account when you back up your phone (which counts against your 5GB of free storage). But My Photo Stream automatically uploads photos and sends them to all your devices when they’re connected to W-iFi, and doesn’t eat up any of your storage.
Think of it like this: the iCloud Photo Library is like paying to have all your photos stored in a safety deposit box, and My Photo Stream is like handing a secure copy of your photos to each of your dearest friends, and asking them to look after them for free.
Both are solid options, but one that doesn't cut into your free storage is always better. To set it up, go to Settings > iCloud > Photos then turn off iCloud Photo Library and turn on My Photo Stream (also, make sure to do the same on any other iPhones or iPads associated with your Apple ID).
Be free and victorious
At this point, you should have enough storage freed up in your iCloud to complete a backup. Go to Settings > iCloud > Backup and tap Back Up Now. Pat yourself on the back, you just smacked that "No More Storage" notification out of your life. For now.
Of course, the easiest way to get rid of that godawful notification? Just give up and give Apple $.99 a month for access to 10 times more storage. To upgrade to that sweet, sweet 50GB, head to Settings > iCloud > Storage > and tap Change Storage Plan.
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Joe McGauley is a senior writer for Thrillist who prefers his clouds fluffy and white.