What happens when iCloud expires?

If we have a contracted iCloud storage plan, we have many advantages in terms of cloud storage and data synchronization. From automatic copies to freeing up space in local memory. However, what happens to our files if the iCloud subscription expires? In this post we tell you the details.

This happens to your data with expired iCloud

If we have an iCloud plan of 50GB, 200GB or 2TB of memory, we are subject to a monthly subscription, which will be renewed through our Apple ID payment method. But, if it happens that we do not update that payment method and Apple cannot charge us for the service, or if we cancel the service, our storage will expire. Our colleague Fer made a video in 2017 answering this question. But in the middle of 2023, we wanted to make sure that the process continues like this and We have called Apple technical support again. And indeed, all the information provided in the video is still 100% valid. You have the video at the end of this post.

What about our files? If we have, for example, a 200GB capacity plan, and it expires, we will end up going back to the free 5GB plan. If of those 200GB we have about 100GB occupied, we will be clearly above the free base capacity in iCloud. Therefore, if our iCloud expires, the following will happen:

  • The free plan will activate from the next billing cycle.
  • When we only have 5GB, but with the files of the plan that has expired, Apple will notify us that we have an additional month of margin to be able to download all our files.

To better illustrate this last point, we give an example of if our subscription is renewed on the 14th of each month: If we unsubscribe on February 25, the free 5GB plan will be activated on March 14. And we will have until April 14 to download our information. In all that time, Apple will send us reminder notices so that we can download our information in a safe place.

Now we enter the field of information and our data. Which files will be deleted first? Is there any criteria by which Apple is governed when it comes to emptying the most occupied space in iCloud? Once the additional month term expires, an automated process begins. Well, for this scenario, you have to know the following:

  • No Apple worker will enter our files to delete them, since a machine will be in charge of doing it. Our data, even at that point, will remain secure (in the sense that it won’t be seen by other people).
  • There is no set time by which file deletion starts and ends.
  • The data will be deleted randomly. There is no specific criteria to delete the oldest data, or the one with the largest size first.

Depending on the amount of data, iCloud will take more or less time to erase all our data. But this process has a turning point, and it is that we will stop seeing how our files have been dwindling, and we will see that our data will occupy 5GB. And yes, this can happen at any moment. The same happens if we lower the memory capacity to our iCloud plan. This process, instead of being applied to 5GB, will be applied to 200GB if we had a 2TB plan, or to 50GB, if we had a 2TB or 200GB plan. So, if iCloud expires, prepare one (or several) hard drives and start downloading everything.