Warning: Full iCloud Account Rejects Emails Sent to @iCloud.com Addresses
Do you have a full iCloud account with no storage available? And do you have an @icloud.com email address that you use with that account? If so, you will no longer receive emails at your @icloud.com email address for as long as your iCloud storage is full.
Additionally, you won’t get any notice or alert about any missing emails to your @icloud address.
Instead, the person trying to send an email to your @icloud address will get an ‘over quota’ bounce-back message that reads like it’s from 1996 stating “User over quota : cannot receive new mail”… (really, when was the last time you saw an email quota error?!? Maybe you were listening to Nirvana on CD while paying by the hour to connect to your dial-up ISP, perhaps AOL, Compuserve, or Prodigy? Time to dust off your 14.4 modem and run Windows 95 again for the full experience!). Here’s an example of what a bounced emails looks like, sent from a Gmail account to a full @iCloud.com email address:
Again, the person with the full iCloud storage will not get any specific email warning, they’ll just get the regular generic ‘iCloud storage full’ message that is a common sight for iOS device owners.
This article is mostly serving as a PSA and general warning, given that most people don’t want to miss incoming emails, but also given how common it is for a users iCloud storage to be perpetually full.
Thus, if you want to get emails at your @icloud.com email address, then be sure you have sufficient iCloud storage space available on your associated iCloud account. A failure to do so may mean you are losing out on emails sent to that @icloud.com address.
Freeing up storage in iCloud is challenging at the 5 GB free tier, so you’ll almost certainly have to delete iCloud backups to accomplish that, and then you’ll almost certainly fill it up again immediately by trying to backup any device, but at least until it’s full again you’ll receive emails sent to the @iCloud.com email address.
The next option to relieve the storage conundrum, and what’s most realistic if you actually want to use iCloud for nearly anything let alone backing up any device, is to
contribute to Apple Services revenue growth pay for an upgraded iCloud storage plan, which start at about $12/year.
Upgrading your iCloud storage plan is fairly simple and can be done through the the Settings app on your iPhone or iPad, and you will be charged per month depending on the storage plan you choose.
Currently, the available iCloud storage plans are:
- 5 GB – free, but impractical if you want to use iCloud
- 50 GB – $0.99 per month
- 200 GB – $2.99 per month
- 2 TB – $9.99 per month
If you have a larger capacity iPhone, or multiple Apple devices using the same Apple ID, getting the larger iCloud storage plans tend to make the most sense.
If you’re opposed to the idea of paying for additional iCloud storage, then deleting all iCloud backups and deleting other iCloud data may get you to a point where the 5 GB free plan can be tolerated, though you’ll likely not get much use out of iCloud if you can’t squeeze storage out of the free tier.
Interestingly, the 5 GB free storage tier that is offered today in 2018 is the same free storage size as was offered in 2011, so while device storage capacity and requirements of iOS devices and Macs has ballooned, iCloud free storage has remained the same. It’s challenging to find a positive opinion of the free iCloud 5 GB storage plan, DaringFireball says it ‘seems ridiculous’ and “untenable”, while Wall Street Journal called it a ‘ransom’. Google openly parodied the annoying ‘storage full’ messages in a funny commercial for their own Google Photos cloud service. It’s probably long past time for the free 5 GB plan to be multiplied by 10 or more, or matched to the size of the devices sold by Apple, but… here we are.
My personal opinion? If you want to use an @icloud.com email address, or any other iCloud services or features, whether that be iCloud backups, iCloud Drive, iCloud Photos, or anything else related to iCloud, the 5 GB free tier is completely inadequate, and you’ll want to pay for one of the larger iCloud storage plans. So when you’re thinking of buying a new iPhone, iPad, or Mac, go ahead and count the additional annual iCloud service price into the total cost of ownership. I have the 2 TB plan, myself.