Delete unnecessary iPhone backup icloud

jana used Ask the Experts™
I have tried to delete the backup in my icloud and haven been able to do it.  I went to iPhone settings icloud and tried to delete to have "Cannot delete backup... cannot be deleted at this time".  I also tried by using iCloud apps and same message.  Can someone tell me how to delete backup file sin iCloud no longer needed?
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Try these steps:

Note: I have never had to do this, so I do not know the side effects, if any. Please be sure you have a backup of the data being deleted. For example, move you photos to a separate drive first just in case this fails in a strange way.)

Reboot your device. It is possible the iCloud backup is still connected.
Then go to Settings > iCloud > Storage > Manage Storage and selected the backup you want to delete.
It should list items being backed up.
Disabled Photo Library (the most likely candidate holding the backup open), and you should see “Do you want to turn off Photo Library’s backups and delete the backup data from iCloud?”
(Before doing the next step you may want to be sure you have the photos backed up elsewhere before doing this to be safe.)
Selected Turn Off & Delete, the data deleted successfully. This should only delete the photo storage from that backup.
You should be able to delete the backup you selected at the start.


Thank you, didn't work.  Also tried disabling all other buttons in Apple-Id section of iPhone, like locations, mail, contacts, etc.  but same problem, "Cannot delete backup" try again later.

Oh, too bad. I assume you are doing this to try and delete it, right:

  • Normally, backups can easily be deleted from an iOS device by going to Settings > iCloud > Storage > Manage Storage.

Ok, a few other things you can try, one at a time.  

1. Reboot your device. Try deleting.

2. Go Settings > iCloud > Backup > and turn off ‘iCloud Backup’, Wait a few seconds, and try deleting.

3. Go Settings > iCloud > Storage > Manage Storage > Select your device backup that you cannot delete
You will see a spinning wheel (backup options) that indicates that iCloud is busy
Wait a few seconds until this  spinning cursor is gone.
Now try to delete your backup.

4. Log out of iCloud (Settings > iCloud and Sign Out) Wait a few seconds and go to Settings > iCloud on the device and sign in again. Try and delete backup.

5. Go Settings > iCloud > Backup > and turn off ‘iCloud Backup’, wait a few seconds and turn on again.
Now try removing your backup using another device like a computer.
  • For example, you can use a Mac by going to Apple menu > System Preferences, click iCloud, click Manage then Delete.
Now try the delete.

6. Update the iOS (backup first). Sometimes doing that full reboot and and startup will fix it.

7. If the update is not needed, and you do have a good backup, do a reset on the phone. This is drastic and takes a long time. But it should release everything.

These are some ways I have been able to recover from that error.

If all else fails, and you have an Apple Store nearby, they might have additional ideas to help.
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Tried them, still the same problem message:

I also tied setting up the iphone with another account, deleting it and returning with the apple id account with the problem.

In #7 you say "do a reset on the phone".  My problem is the backup file in iCloud in a specific apple-id account.  If I reset it will always have the backup on the cloud.  

If I reset the iPhone, it will also delete the icloud backup file?

My problem is the backup file in iCloud in a specific apple-id account.  If I reset it will always have the backup on the cloud.  

Wait You did not say that the backup belonged to another account. Or am I just misunderstanding? I believe you need to be logged into iCloud with the account that created the backup.

But I do not think a full reset will work here.  So lets skip that.

Is the backup on your iTunes account?
Are you logged into iTunes on a computer when trying to remove it?
This may require Apple Support help. It sounds like the backup file is locked, and I can't think of other reasons you can't delete it.
The phone reset is more about making sure the phone has let go of the backup. But powering it down should achieve the same thing here.

Ill ask a few people what they think might help.

Sorry that did not get it.


No, it does not belonged to another account.  I tried to setting up the iPhone to another account then tried to delete the backup (just wanted to see if the by changing account on the iPhone and returning it to the problem account would permit to delete the backup file).

The backup is in my iCloud account ( then in "Storage" area)

I am not logged into iTunes on a computer when trying to remove it (the only way to remove the backup file as far as I have searched for is thru the iPhone).

Yes, that is what I think; the backup file is locked.

More info in my problem so you can see, together, what else can be:
  • the file is a iCloud backup file (in iphone, Apple id, then settings, then iCloud, then iCloud backup, finally  backup now)
  • the iPhone was used by a friend and when the friend returned it to me, I noticed it was resetted.
  • when re-configuring the phone i noticed that it had reached the 5gb storage.
  • when i reconfigure the phone i did not restore the backup.

I am still searching for a solution, hope the information above helps you help me.
So if the file is in your iCloud account, it was created by a device on your iCloud account UNLESS you share that iCloud with someone else and they created a backup.  Do you have other devices on that account? I was not aware that you could not delete another device's backup, but things change on iCloud all the time, so maybe this is another device's backup? If yes, try deleting it from there.

But at this point you might want to give Apple support a call and explain the problem and ask them to help.  I am kind of short on additional ideas.

Try this for me if you have a computer:

On the Mac:
  • Choose Apple menu > System Preferences, click iCloud, then click Manage.
  • Click Backups on the left
  • This should show a list of backups.
  • Select on the right the backup you don't want, then click Delete.

On Windows:
  • Open iCloud for Windows, then click Storage.
  • Click Backups on the left
  • Select an iOS device on the right whose backup you don’t need.
  • Click Delete.

If you don’t see Backups on the left, your iOS devices don’t have iCloud backups. See Back up your iOS devices to iCloud.


Though your comment on "UNLESS you share that iCloud with someone else" was not true in my case, you made me think: what if the friend made a backup and after resetting when I reconfigure, it would halt the deletion? - YES!, that what it was.   I just let it restore and waited then could deleted. So in conclusion the device would permit deletion until the backup file has been complete restored.

Thank you very much!

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