erase icloud backup iPhone

Manually backing up your iPhone or iPad, or taking advantage of iCloud automatic backups, is the best way to guarantee that you will be able to get all your data back in the event something goes wrong.

Whether you choose to backup via iTunes or iCloud, you might want to delete this backup at some point. Maybe the backup file got corrupted, or maybe you’re running out of storage space on your Mac or in iCloud. Or maybe you have an entirely different reason to delete your iPhone or iPad backup file.

Whatever the reason is, we’ve got you covered. In this post, we will learn how to delete an iPhone backup from a Mac and we’ll also see how to delete a backup file from iCloud.

Note that for the purpose of this tutorial, we will look into deleting the backup of an iPhone, but the steps are exactly identical if you were to delete an iPad backup file.

How to delete an iPhone or iPad backup in iTunes

If you use iTunes instead of iCloud to backup your iPhone or iPad, the backup file will be stored somewhere on your computer. We’re going to see how to delete this file directly from your Mac using iTunes.

1) Launch iTunes.

2) In the Menu bar, go to iTunes > Preferences (if you’re on a Windows PC, go to Edit > Preferences).

iTunes menu preferences

3) In the Preferences, navigate to the Devices tab.

4) You will now see a list of all the backup files that have been made on your computer, from all devices synced with your iTunes account. As you can see here, I have a few iPhone backups, all of them dating from last year, including a couple for devices I don’t even use anymore. We definitely want to clean up these backups. To do so, select the backup you want to delete. You can select multiple backups at a time by holding the Command key on your keyboard while selecting different files with the mouse.

iTunes Preferences Devices delete old backups

5) Click on the Delete Backup button. You will see this popup asking you to confirm to delete the backup. Click Delete to confirm.

Confirm to delete old backups

The backup file has now been deleted from your computer. At this point, it is gone forever.

How to delete an iPhone backup in iCloud on Mac

If you backup your iPhone or iPad in iCloud, you can also easily access these backups and delete them directly from your Mac.

1) In the Menu bar of your Mac, go to  > System Preferences.

Mac system preferences menu

2) Click on the iCloud icon.

System Preferences iCloud

3) This will load up your iCloud preferences. Click on the Manage button at the bottom right of the window.

iCLoud Preferences manage

4) This will load up all your iCloud content. Select the Backups tab at the top of the list, which will bring up all the iCloud backups from all your devices linked to your iTunes account. As you can see, I have only iPhone backups made in iCloud. Select the iCloud backup you want to delete.

select backup to delete

5) Click the Delete button. A confirmation message will popup. Click Delete to confirm and erase the backup file once for all.

confirm backup to delete

You may repeat the process with each backup file you want to delete.

How to delete an iPhone backup in iCloud directly from your iPhone

Now that we’ve seen how to delete a local iPhone or iPad backup and how to delete an iCloud backup from your Mac, we’re going to see how to delete the same iCloud backup files, but this time, directly from your iPhone or iPad.

1) On your iPhone or iPad, go to Settings > General > Storage & iCloud Storage, and select Manage Storage under the iCloud section. At the top, you will see all your iOS backups.

Manage iCloud storage on iPhone

2) Select the backup you want to delete.

3) Tap Delete Backup.

delete iPhone backup from iCloud

4) A popup will show up, asking if you want to turn off backup and delete all backup data for the device. Select Turn Off & Delete.

5) The backup will be deleted but iCloud backup will be turned off too. This is fine if you don’t want to backup to iCloud anymore, but in case you do, make sure you go back in Settings > Your profile > iCloud, and turn iCloud Backup on.

I hope you will find this guide useful. If you have any question, please feel free to ask in the comment section below.

  • Aneeq Naqvi

    What is that iphone 6 prototype doing there??? Just to tease us! Right!

    • I could tell you but then I’d have to kill you :p

  • David Gitman

    It will help for the new users with theirs iPhone. Good job!

  • Which one better? iTunes Backup or iCloud Backup?

    • With iCloud it is somewhat more secured with your Apple ID and password, it is however space limited unless you purchase more GB storage from Apple. With iTunes you can restore with out an internet connection and it can be encrypted which keeps the backup pretty safe.

      • Basically completeness VS convenience…

      • Erik

        Not sure “completeness” is the correct word there… I’d say it’s “virtually unlimited space vs convenience”, because as far as what is backed up to iCloud vs iTunes, there is no difference.

    • Jonathan

      Personally, I prefer iCloud. When it first came out, it seems iCloud backed up my photos, and iTunes didn’t (it may have changed now though), so I always stuck with iCloud since it backed up everything (discluding music in my iTunes library)

      Find I find iCloud is much less of a hassle. Never have to worry about it, just plug it in to charge, and it does the rest. While yes, it does limit you to 5 GB that’s free, I have 2 devices backing up to 1 account, and I still have about 2 GB of free space. Mainly because I regularly copy my photos off onto my computer.

      A worst case scenario, my device and computer are in the house and the house burns down, I still haven’t lost any data.

      • This may sound strange but if my house were burning down I’d definitely try and get my phone before getting out lol.

      • Jonathan

        So would I, to be dead honest, lol.

      • The worst, worst, worst, case scenario is an Apple data centre burning down and your house burning down, the chances of both happening being very, very, slim of course…

      • Jonathan

        How about just nuking planet Earth? xD

  • @dongiuj

    Hey, I’ve got a question. How come EVERY time I “wake up” my iPhone the location arrow appears at the top of the screen? I only have Siri location service on. Never had this problem before and it’s damn annoying. Even typing this comment it just came on and now off. I don’t have cellular connection, only wifi.

    • Erik

      It’s probably Passbook or Frequent Locations.
      If you go to the Location Services area of your Settings app quickly enough after seeing the location icon you can tell which service/app is using it.

      • @dongiuj

        Right, I’ll switch that off and see if it does it again.

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  • Christina

    Will anything on my phone delete if I delete a backup? I bought more storage when I had the 5 and now I have the 6 and it is not backing up because I have no room I guess. I dont want to lose any information but I want to start backing up my iphone 6. Is it safe to delete and remove the iphone5 backup or will I lose things?

  • Yumna

    i purchased macbook from my husband’s friend,
    n sync my iPhone with mac
    and mistakenly backup all my friends data
    how could i restore my own data including contacts, notes etc??

  • Ruby

    Thank you for your clear directions.

  • Susan Marlowe

    If I delete all my backups for my iPhone 4s by logging into iCloud on my windows computer, will those backups be deleted from my iPhone as well? Or do I have to separately delete backup from my iPhone to make sure that nothing remains? Thank you