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When you first backup to iCloud it can potentially take a long time. How long does an iCloud backup take? Well like any cloud-based service, iCloud is reliant on your Internet connection speed, so here’s a way to calculate how long it will take.

Internet speed is probably something your really haven’t thought a lot about. You may have to now, as it is now going to be an important factor if you use cloud backup services such as iCloud. Specifically it is your upload speed that is now important.



Check your Internet speed

Most home Internet connections have a much faster download speed than upload speed. This is the current standard for consumer-based (read “home”) connections. If you buy the standard package from Shaw, Telus, or Rogers, you will get from 10 to maybe 50Mbps (mega bits per second) download, and only .5Mbps (half a mega bit) upload.

You can check your download and upload speeds at


Your backup to iCloud

So why does it take so long? Well, because if you’re on a standard Internet package with an upload speed of .5Mbps, your 5Gb of documents/tunes/pictures/etc your backup to iCloud could take over 18 hours on a standard home Internet connection!


How to calculate how long it will take

Here’s a link to iCalc, where you can put in how much data you want to backup to iCloud and it will tell you how long it will take.
Under “2. File Size Bandwidth Calculator” enter your total file size and click whether it is in Kb, Mb, or Gb.
iCalc will immediately tell you the time required.
Look in the row marked “640K-DSL”, which is just over .5Mbps.

Yes, it’s going to take that long!

Of course, after the initial upload backups will become much faster, since only changes are backed up. It’s only the first backup that is a real pain.


Other Options?

backup to iCloud

If you have a significant amount of data you want to backup, say 100Gb or more then other backup providers such as CloudPockets will send you a USB hard drive for the initial backup, which they then load on their backup server. Now you only have to backup changes from then on.

So yes, an intial bakcup to iCloud will take some time. In the future, Internet providers will have to focus more on upload speeds for home and office connections, something they haven’t had to do so far. As more and more people use cloud based services then both download and upload speeds become important factors.