Backing up your iPhone is essential in case of a loss or accident that destroys your phone. With contact information being stored digitally more and more, losing your phone can mean losing important phone numbers, addresses, messages and emails, as well as special photos, reminders and notes.
Apple provides two easy ways to back up content from iPhones, each of which comes with advantages and disadvantages: iCloud and iTunes backups. Both are relatively simple processes that anyone can start and maintain to protect their data.
iCloud Back Ups
The main advantage of using iCloud as a backup service for your iPhone is that it provides unlimited storage for anything purchased from the App Store:
It also includes 5 GB of storage for contacts, photos, and other data on your phone. Storage upgrades are available for users who need more space for a small monthly fee. Current pricing is available on Apple’s website, and additional storage can be purchased directly from the iCloud settings. Alternately, the iTunes backup option is limited by the space available on your computer instead and may be a better choice if you don’t need access to your photos or other data on the go.
In addition to free storage of purchased media, iCloud backups are also created automatically while your phone is connected to Wi-Fi. Finally, iCloud backups are always encrypted.
The process for backing up to iCloud is straightforward, and it can be completed directly from your phone.
Verify that your phone is connected to Wi-Fi. iCloud will not perform backups using cellular data connections because of the amount of data transferred.
From the Settings app, select “iCloud.”
If you’re setting up iCloud for the first time, you’ll need to log in with your Apple ID and password, accept the user agreement, and give your phone permission to access iCloud. Note that you will also need to have location services enabled. This can be turned on from within the Settings app as well, under “Privacy.”
Choose what you want to back up. You’ll see a selection of apps and on/off sliders that you can toggle to back up their data.
Scroll down to Storage & Backup. This may be labeled Backup on some iPhones. Make sure the slider is set to on — either displaying the word ON or a green or blue oval, depending on iOS version — or none of your backup settings will take effect.
Select Manage Storage. On some versions of iOS, this might be under the Storage menu in the iCloud settings. Select the name of the device you want to back up. You can further customize your backup options from this menu, and you can see the total amount of space the backed up data is using, along with the amount of space remaining.
Once you’ve selected the apps you want to back up, scroll down and tap Back Up Now. This process may take some time, especially the first time you use iCloud.
Default apps that you can select for backups include:
Other apps may also have backup options for their data. All the apps on your iPhone that are available will appear on the list under Manage Storage Keep in mind that backing up data from those apps counts toward the free data storage limit of 5 GB.
Data that’s already stored in the cloud won’t be part of your iCloud backup, such as email in Gmail accounts. Additionally, Apply Pay information, Touch ID settings, and any imported music or video files that didn’t come from the iTunes Store or App Store won’t be backed up.
Automatic backups will be created daily as long as your device’s screen is locked, it’s plugged in, and it’s connected to a Wi-Fi network.
The second option for backing up your iPhone is using iTunes. Data will be stored on your computer, and can be used to reset your phone to a backup point, or to install your apps, settings and data on a new iPhone by connecting that device to your computer with the cable that came with your phone.
With iTunes backups, there are no restrictions on the amount of data you can back up, and many of your photos and contacts will be accessible from your computer in addition to your iPhone. Backups through iTunes aren’t automatic, however, and you’ll have to remember to back up your iPhone periodically to protect new contacts and photos.
There are two options when using iTunes to create backups: encrypted or not. Encrypted backups require a password, and there’s no way to recover the password or the backed up data if you forget the password. However, encrypted backups allow you to save information that’s not saved by any other kind of backup.
Before using iTunes to create your backup, make sure it’s been updated to the latest version. You’ll be notified if an update is available when you open iTunes, or you can check for updates manually from within iTunes.
Connect your iPhone to your computer. In order to create a backup, your phone will have to be unlocked. You may also need to choose to Trust This Computer from your phone screen when you first connect it to a new computer.
Open iTunes. This may happen automatically when your iPhone is plugged in.
If you have iTunes set to sync automatically, which means to update music, videos, TV shows and other media you’ve downloaded from iTunes or the App Store, wait until the sync is complete. This way, that new information and settings will also be saved.
To back up content from the iTunes Store or App Store that you purchased from your iPhone, select File, then Devices, then Transfer Purchases from the iTunes menu. If you’re using a Windows computer and you don’t see the File menu in iTunes, press the Alt key and it will appear.
To back up all the files on your iPhone, select Back Up instead of Transfer Purchases from under Device.
Wait until the backup is complete. To verify that it was successful, select iTunes, then Preferences, then Devices. The device name — the name you gave your iPhone — should appear along with the date and time of the most recent backup.
In order to save Health and Keychain data, encrypted backups will have to be enabled in iTunes. Like iCloud backups, iTunes backups won’t store any Touch ID settings or Apple Pay information, or anything that’s already stored in the cloud.
To encrypt iTunes backups, follow the steps one through four above, then perform the following steps.
In the summary pane, check the box for “Encrypt iPhone backup.” It can be found on the left side of the Backups box.
After the box is checked, follow the prompts to create a password. Make sure it’s one you’ll remember, or write it down in a safe place. This password cannot be recovered if it’s lost, and encrypted backups can only be accessed with the password.
iTunes will start backing up your iPhone. Additionally, it will overwrite and encrypt any previous backups of this device.
Confirm your backup, as in step six above. There will be a lock icon next to the device name and date to verify that it was successfully encrypted.
Data that’s only saved using encrypted backups includes:
Backing up your iPhone regularly can save hassle and headaches when replacing a lost or damaged device or setting up a new iPhone. The two different backup types each have advantages and disadvantages, but together can suit any backup needs. Keep in mind that you can create both an iCloud and iTunes backup for a single device, taking advantage of the good things about both backup types and mitigating the disadvantages.
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