Tech and Science

Ask Kurt: Is your Apple iCloud storage full?

Many people with Apple devices use iCloud to store their photos. But what if you want to free up some space and download them to a portable drive instead of paying more out-of-pocket money for additional iCloud storage?


This is a common problem faced by people like Larry from Marshville, North Carolina. That's why I love it when people send great questions to this tech reporter who's been in this space for over 20 years. Here's what he's asking so you can get started too:

“I want to EMPTY all the photos from my iCloud account onto a large USB drive. They've filled my 5GB iCloud storage space and I refuse to spend more per month on photos I already have on my desktop and iPhone. What are my options?”

– Larry from Marshville, North Carolina

I understand how frustrating it can be when your cloud storage space is full and you can't add new photos. However, there are some simple fixes for Larry and those in a similar situation to his. Let's look at some ways you can safely and conveniently store your photos.

How can I download photos from my iCloud to a USB stick?

Flash drive in the laptop

Flash drive plugged into the laptop (

Don't fall for this new round of iCloud support scam emails

Downloading your iCloud photos to a portable drive is easy and you can do it by following the steps below.

Transfer photos from iCloud storage to a USB flash drive

  • Access your cloud storage location from a workstation (PC, Mac, Chromebook, etc.).
  • Connect yours hard disk or yours Plug the USB stick into one of your device ports.
  • Go to iCloud official website and sign in with your AppleID.
  • Click photos on the homepage.
  • Choose photos and videos you want to transfer to your device.
  • press the download Click the button in the upper right corner (it looks like a cloud with an arrow pointing down) and in the left pane of your Finder window look for the hard drive or USB stick that you have plugged into your device , and select it.
  • Click the “Save” button and your media will now be saved to your device.

Which USB stick can I use?

If you want a fast and portable solution to take your media with you on the go, there are many USB flash drives available that can store tens to hundreds of thousands of photos and videos (depending on storage capacity). . An affordable and reliable solution that fits Larry's needs perfectly is the Amazon Basics 256GB USB.

Amazon flash drive

Simple Amazon flash drive (Amazon)


The 256GB Amazon Basics Flash Drive lets you store up to 64,000 12MP photos or 978 minutes of 1080P video recording, so it's safe to say it's a pretty good choice. It runs 15X faster than 2.0 flash drives and adopts high-quality NAND FLASH flash memory chips, which can protect your data security effectively. At the time of publication, this product had over 3,900 reviews worldwide, with 76% giving it 5 stars.

Get Amazon Basics 256GB USB

Is it worth paying for cloud storage?

I understand that paying for more cloud storage may not be an option for everyone. You may have other financial priorities or limitations that prevent you from spending more on this service. However, if you can afford it, I would recommend considering upgrading your cloud storage plan. It can provide you with many benefits, such as:

  • More space for your photos and other files.
  • Automatic backup and synchronization between devices.
  • Access your data anytime, anywhere.
  • Advanced security and privacy features.
  • Reduced risk of losing your data due to device damage or theft.

These are some of the reasons why cloud storage is a valuable investment for those who can fit it into their budget.

woman at a computer

Woman at her computer and laptop looking at pictures (


Comparison of cloud storage plans

Let's look at some cloud storage options, what their prices are, and what exactly you get with those higher prices.


Every Apple device comes with iCloud and you get 5GB of storage for free. With iCloud+, you pay an additional subscription fee to get more storage space and some advanced privacy features. iCloud+ offers three options to choose from:

  • $0.99/month for 50GB.
  • $2.99/month for 200GB.
  • $9.99/month for 2TB.

Each of these plans also comes with great privacy features like iCloud Private Relay, Hide My Email, Custom Email Domain, and HomeKit Secure Video.

Discover iCloud+

Google One

Google One for more storage

If you need more storage, you should consider getting Google One (Google)


Anyone can use Google Drive to store their photos, videos and other files for free. With this first plan, you get 15 GB of storage. However, if you need more storage space, you should consider getting a Google One subscription. Like iCloud+, Google One offers three plans to choose from:

Basic: 100 GB storage for $0.49/month for three months and $1.99/month thereafter (at the time of publication).

Default: 200 GB of storage at $0.75/month for three months and $2.99/month thereafter (at the time of publication).

Bonus: 2 TB of storage for $9.99/month, billed monthly (at the time of publication).

All three of these plans offer access to Google Experts, sharing with up to five people, more Google Photos editing features, a VPN for multiple devices, and a dark web monitor.

Discover Google One

Drop box

Dropbox offers different plans depending on whether you want to use it for personal or business reasons. For personal use, Dropbox offers the following plans:

Individually: $9.99/month for 2TB storage (1 person).

Family: $16.99/month for 2TB of storage (up to 6 people).

Each of these plans also comes with unlimited device linking, 30-day file and account history, large file delivery with Dropbox Transfer, and 3 free e-signatures per month. The family plan also includes individual accounts for up to 6 people, access to a family room folder for sharing and coordination for each group, and a single bill for the whole family.

If you want to use a Dropbox subscription for business purposes, the company offers:

Specialist: This plan is aimed at freelancers and costs $16.58/month for 3TB of storage.

Default: This plan is intended for smaller teams and costs $15/user/month for 5TB of storage.

Progressive: This plan is intended for larger teams and costs $24 per user per month. After purchase, you can get as much storage space as you need.

Company: This plan is for organizations and prices vary. For pricing information, you can contact the Dropbox sales department.

Each of these plans also offers easy-to-use content protection and external sharing controls, file restore or restore your entire account for up to 180 days, and automatic computer backups and external drives connecting directly to the cloud.

Discover Dropbox

Dropbox files

Dropbox is a storage box for your digital files (drop box)

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Amazon photos

Prime members Get free unlimited full resolution photo storage and 5GB of video storage. However, if you need more storage, Amazon offers tons of plan options to fit your exact needs. Here are your options:

  • 100GB Storage for $1.99/month.
  • 1TB Storage for $6.99/month.
  • 2TB Storage for $11.99/month.

The rest of the plans offered do not offer monthly payment plans, only annual payment plans. The cheapest option is 3TB of storage at $179.97/year and the most expensive option is 30TB of storage at $1,799.70/year. Amazon doesn't specify on its pricing page whether any of these packages come with additional benefits like data encryption or other Amazon perks.

Explore Amazon photos

Kurt's key insights

Bottom line: if you are running out of storage space on your cloud service, there are plenty of other options to choose from that will help you successfully store everything you need. Take a look at what you can plan each month and what each cloud service can offer you. If you have a little more money to spend, I'd recommend upgrading to the cloud plan so all your files stay in one safe place. If you want to avoid recurring costs altogether, you can consider investing in a USB flash drive as your primary storage device.

Are cloud storage prices becoming too high? Do you think people should print out photos and keep them in albums again? What is more worthwhile for you? Let us know by writing to us


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Do you have a technical question? Ask Kurt here.

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