What Is iCloud and How Does It Help Me?

Apple’s iCloud service has been around for several years, but many iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch users don’t really understand it. Taking a few minutes to setup the service on your mobile devices and your computer could save you a significant amount of time and effort in the future.

What is iCloud?

It is simply a service that keeps information on all your devices in sync. In other words, you can share information between an iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and a computer. The information on each device is automatically updated to make sure the most current information is available on all devices. The service is free, operates wirelessly, and runs in the background, with no special action required by the user.

For example, you may be out with friends and take some photos with your iPhone. Those photos are automatically available on all your other devices. There is no need to manually transfer photos from your iPhone to your computer. The photos are automatically available on your computer.

In addition to syncing photos across multiple devices, it also syncs other information such as: iTunes purchases, Contacts, Calendars, Notes, documents, Reminders, and Safari bookmarks. It provides the capability to backup your device or locate a lost device.

The syncing service works by storing your information securely on a remote server. This online storage capability is also known as “cloud” storage. By securely storing your information online, you can access this information from any device, at any time.

Create an Account

To get started, you must first create a free account. Typically, your account can be the same as your Apple ID. If this sounds a little confusing, your Apple ID is the email address you used when signing up for iTunes. You use the Apple ID and password to download apps or music. To keep things simple, you can also use the same Apple ID when creating an iCloud account. However, if you have more than one person sharing the Apple ID, you may want to create a separate account.

Setup on an iOS Device

As part of the setup process for a new device, you were asked to enter an Apple ID and setup iCloud. You may have an active account and not realize it. Even if you elected not to enable the service as part of your initial device setup, you can enable it at any time by opening the Settings app on your iOS device and selecting iCloud. If the service is not enabled, you will be asked to enter your Apple ID and password. Once logged in, you will see options to enable syncing of various types of information. Set the slider control to ON for each item you want to sync between devices.

Setup on a Computer

On a Mac, select iCloud in the System Preferences and sign in with your Apple ID and password. If you have a PC, you will need to download a control panel item from Apple’s website http://support.apple.com/kb/dl1455. Once it is installed on your PC, open the icon in the Control Panel, and sign in with your Apple ID and password.

Trying to manually keep information up to date on several mobile devices and a computer can be a challenging task. With iCloud, keeping information synced across all your devices has never been easier.

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