Apple’s iCloud is a convenient backup option for Macs and iOS devices. iCloud is built-in right into your Mac and is an easy way to backup almost all of your essential personal data. However, the backup described in this article will not be a full Mac backup to iCloud. To perform a full backup there is Time Machine, but that’s a lesson for another day.
With iCloud on the Mac you can backup files from your Desktop and Documents folders, Photos, Contacts, Calendars, and more. Even some Mac apps have an iCloud sync integration and will backup data to be shared with authorized companion apps on your iPhone or iPad.
The best way to backup your Mac to your iCloud account is with the iCloud Drive options. The benefit of using iCloud is that it can be handled without any extra apps; it uses what is already installed on your Mac.
To get started, open the System Preferences and find the iCloud option (see above). You will then be asked to sign into your Apple account. Follow the prompts to sign into your AppleID which will likely include entering a six-digit code sent to your iPhone.
When signed into iCloud, there will be a list of checkboxes to backup Photos, Contacts from Mac to iCloud, etc. Note that if you choose to backup notes you will need to have an iCloud.com email address (which you can create for free). To backup your personal files and other app data you will need to turn on iCloud Drive (see below).
Be sure to review the iCloud Drive options, as there will be a list of apps with iCloud integration. If you choose to backup your Desktop & Documents folders you will be able to access these files remotely via your account. At this point (if not already) you may be asked to upgrade your storage plan. Every Apple account has 5GB of iCloud storage for free, but depending on how many items you are including in your backup, there may be a need to pay a monthly fee for more space.
To check if your iCloud backup is working, navigate to www.icloud.com and sign in with your AppleID. You should see items backed up almost instantly, but the initial backup may take some time based on how much data is being uploaded. From this point on, iCloud will check for any new items in the selected locations on a continuous basis and automatically back them up to your account.