What is iCloud Drive? And What About iCloud Photo Library?

iCloud on various apple devices
iCloud Drive was announced during Apple's Worldwide Developer's Conference. Apple Inc.

iCloud Drive, which is just one aspect of iCloud, provides cloud-based storage for the iPad. This has many uses for iPad owners. The primary use for iCloud Drive is as a way to back up your iPad and restore your iPad from a backup. This is incredibly useful for upgrading your iPad, which is a relatively seamless process thanks to iCloud Drive. 

But iCloud Drive extends far beyond just backing up your iPad. You can store your photos, videos, and documents from apps like Pages and Numbers. And because it provides a global storage option on your iPad, you can use it to access the same document from many different apps. So you can scan a piece of paper using Scanner Pro, save it to iCloud Drive and access it from the Mail app to send it as an attachment. 

How Do You Use iCloud Drive?

iCloud Drive is already integrated into Apple's apps, so if you create a document in Pages, it is stored on iCloud Drive. You can even pull up the document on your Windows-based PC through the iCloud.com website. And many apps like the aforementioned Scanner Pro provide seamless integration with iCloud Drive. 

You can also access iCloud Drive in most apps that support cloud storage. You can often find iCloud Drive by tapping the Share button integrated into the app. Some document-centric apps may have iCloud Drive integrated into the menu system. 

Remember, iCloud Drive essentially saves your document to a specific site on the web. This is important because one great feature of cloud storage is the ability to access the document from multiple devices. iCloud Drive not only supports the iPad and the iPhone, allowing you to work on your document on your smartphone or tablet, it also supports the Mac OS and Windows. This means you can pull up the document on your laptop. 

You can also manage iCloud Drive on your iPad by installing the iCloud Drive app. Unfortunately, there is no current way to create custom folders on iCloud Drive, although that will hopefully change in the future. It certainly seems like a huge omission on Apple's part. 

What About iCloud Photo Library?

iCloud Drive can also be used to store your photos and videos. iCloud Photo Library is an extension of iCloud Drive. In many ways it is treated as a separate feature, however, both iCloud Drive and iCloud Photo Library draw from the same storage space. 

You can turn on iCloud Photo Library in the iPad's Settings app under iCloud settings. The iCloud Photo Library switch is found in the Photos section of the iCloud settings. An iPad with iCloud Photo LIbrary turned on will save every photo or video taken to iCloud Drive. You can also turn on iCloud Photo Sharing without turning on the entire iCloud Photo Library feature.

How Do You Expand the Storage Space Available Through iCloud Drive?

Every Apple ID account comes with 5 GB of iCloud Drive storage space. This is enough storage space to back up your iPad, your iPhone, and even store some photos and videos. However, if you take a lot of photos, make heavy use of iCloud Drive or have additional family members on the same Apple ID, it can be easy to turn out of storage space.

iCloud Drive is relatively cheap compared to other cloud-based services. Apple provides a 50 GB plan for 99 cents a month, a 200 GB plan for $2.99 a month and a terabyte of storage for $9.99 a month. Most people will be fine with the 50 GB plan.

You can upgrade your storage by opening the iPad's Settings app, choosing iCloud from the left-side menu and storage from the iCloud settings. This screen will let you tap on "Change Storage Plan" to upgrade the space available for iCloud Drive.