An Explanation of Apple's iCloud Service

Ever wondered how iCloud can be used for your music collection?

iCloud Service
Syncing from iCloud to your devices. Image Courtesy of Apple, Inc.

What is iCloud?

iCloud (previously known as MobileMe) is a free Internet-based storage service from Apple. You need to be in Apple's ecosystem to use it and therefore an Apple ID is required and for it to be linked to your iOS device or computer. You might think that iCloud is only for storing photos and apps, but it also enables you to backup your digital music library too. 

Storing your songs on the Internet rather than local storage such as your computer or an external storage device can be handy, especially when syncing music to all your linked devices. You also have the benefit of knowing that your purchases are securely and remotely stored and can be synced anytime to all your iDevices -- the current limit for this is 10.

iCloud makes it easy to do this even wirelessly. Incidentally, if you use the iTunes Store to purchase songs, then one of the biggest benefits of using the iCloud service is that it automatically pushes down (synchronizes) your purchases to all of your registered devices.

This online locker space isn't just for audio and video either. Other types of data can be stored in iCloud such as your contacts, documents, notes, etc.

How Much Free Storage Comes With iCloud?

The basic service comes with 5GB of free storage. Certain products purchased from Apple like: songs, books, and apps don't count towards this limit. If you store photos using the Photo Stream service, then this also doesn't impact on your allocated storage space.

Can Music From Other Services be Uploaded to iCloud?

There's no free way to get music uploaded to iCloud that has come from other digital music services. However, you can do it using the iTunes Match service. This is a subscription option that currently costs $24.99 per year.

Rather than having to manually upload all the songs in your music library, iTunes Match uses a scan and match technology to dramatically speed things up. It basically searches the music library on your computer for songs that are already in the iTunes Store -- this potentially saves heaps of upload time.

The songs that are matched are automatically added to your iCloud account. If you have songs that are a lower quality than in the iTunes Store, these will be upgraded to 256 Kbps (AAC). These higher quality songs can then be synced (even wirelessly) to all your registered iCloud devices.

To learn the steps necessary to sign up to this service using the iTunes software, be sure to follow our guide on how to subscribe to iTunes Match.

For more storage alternatives, read our MobileMe Replacement guide for more information.