How to Back up iPhone to Keep Your Data Safe

It’s best practice to regularly back up your iPhone, so you don’t lose your precious data. Fortunately, Apple makes it easy and simple to back up your iPhone with iCloud, Finder, and iTunes.

And today with this step-by-step guide, you’ll learn how to back up your iPhone. Although some third-party apps may promise full backup of your Apple devices, Apple’s backup methods are the best options to back up your iPhone.

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How to Back Up iPhone

Before we get to the instructions, below is what’s included in an iPhone backup.

  • Your device settings
  • Paired Bluetooth devices
  • Health data
  • HomeKit configurations
  • Safari bookmarks and Safari AutoFill data
  • iMessages, MMS messages, Notes, voice memos
  • Preferences and data for third-party apps
  • Passwords for Mail and Wi-Fi accounts
  • All your photos and videos from the Camera Roll

How to Back Up iPhone With iCloud

Before iOS 5, it was a pain to back up your iPhone, since your only option was to connect it to a Mac or computer using iTunes. With the introduction of iCloud, backing up your iPhone is easier and more convenient.

Many of iPhone users think somehow their iPhones automatically back up everything in Apple’s cloud service. Unless if you’ve turned iCloud backup on, your iPhone will back up your data to the cloud. Otherwise, nothing will happen. To back up your iPhone to iCloud, make sure your iPhone is connected to a Wi-Fi network.

Turning on iCloud backup
  1. Go to your iPhone “Settings”, tap on the banner with your name.
  2. Tap on iCloud, it will show you how much storage you have and how much is available.
  3. Scroll down to the bottom, find “iCloud Backup”, then select it to turn it on.

To automatically back up with “iCloud Backup”, your iPhone needs to be locked and connected to a power source and Wi-Fi network. Make sure you have enough storage since you only get 5GB of iCloud storage per Apple ID for free. So if you have multiple Apple devices, that storage will be split.

If you need more iCloud storage, Apple currently offers 50GB for $0.99 (USD) a month, which should be enough for most people. You may want to follow our tips to free up iCloud storage without paying a dime to Apple.

If you shoot 4K videos, you’ll certainly need more storage. For 200GB the cost is $2.99 per month, and for 1TB Apple charges $9.99 per month. We recommend you consider other cloud storage services if those prices don’t line up with your budget.

While this method is super convenient, it does not perform a full backup of your iPhone. Apple only backs up what they think are your most important files. With iTunes, you can perform a full backup of your iPhone with all your data. Keep reading to know how to do it.

How to back up iPhone with Finder

For Mac running macOS Catalina or later follow the steps below to back up your iPhone.

Creating a fresh backup in Finder. Screenshot: Herby Jasmin/Gotechtor
  1. Open Finder
  2. Connect your iPhone to the computer with a USB cable.
  3. If asked to trust your iPhone in order to sync with the Mac, click the “Trust” button.
  4. If you want to encrypt your backup, check the encryption checkbox and choose a password. Otherwise, you can skip this step. It’s important to encrypt your iPhone backup because anyone who has access to your computer can read your iPhone backup files.
  5. Select your device on your computer and click the “Back Up Now” button. If it’s your first time backing your iPhone through that computer it may take quite a while. Subsequent backups will be faster as only newer data need to be added to the backup each time.
  6. You’ll the process has successfully completed when you see the date and time of your last backup.

How to back up iPhone with iTunes

For PC or Mac running macOS Mojave or earlier, you’re going to use iTunes to back up your iPhone.

iTunes interface

Step 1

To back up your iPhone with iTunes, you’ll need either a PC or Mac with iTunes installed on it. You need to allow your iPhone to communicate with your computer either through Wi-Fi or a USB cable. You’ll be prompted to enter your device password, then you’ll be set.

Step 2

Once you open iTunes and your iPhone is connected to your computer, you should see a message pop up on the screen asking you to “Trust This Computer”. If it’s the first time you connect your iPhone to this computer, you’ll also be asked to “Trust This Computer”.

Encrypting iPhone backup on iTunes
macOS Finder’ iOS backup interface. Screenshot: Herby Jasmin/Gotechtor

Step 3

Select your device when it shows up on iTunes to have a summary. Since your iPhone contains sensitive information, you’ll have the option to encrypt your iPhone backup.

Go ahead and select the box with Encrypt iPhone backup. Make sure you create a strong and memorable password since you’ll need it to restore your iTunes backup.

Latest backup in iTunes
Creating a fresh backup in iTunes. Screenshot: Herby Jasmin/Gotechtor

If you have problems managing your passwords, a good password manager will be your best companion. If you don’t want to encrypt your data, just click “Back Up Now.”

With this method, you can make a full backup of your iPhone. To verify if everything was done successfully, just look under Latest Backup to see a list of all the Backups.

Where is my iPhone backup stored on my mac?

To view a list of all your backups, click on the search icon in the menu bar on your Mac. Paste this: ~/Library/Application Support/MobileSync/Backup/, then press enter.

Don’t own a Mac? Don’t worry, here’s how to access your iPhone backup on a PC.

What Method is best for you?

Now you know how to back up your iPhone with iCloud and iTunes. What’s the difference between the three methods? Is one better than another?

There are three main differences.

  1. What’s being backed up (iCloud doesn’t back up everything while Finder and iTunes back up everything).
  2. Location (Cloud vs Local).
  3. iCloud backup is always encrypted while Finder or iTunes backup offer the option (off by default)

Now that you know the main differences, it may be easier to decide which method is best for you.

Conclusion

As mentioned earlier iCloud backup only backs up what Apple thinks are your most important data. With Finder and iTunes backup, all your data are backed up, even your Health and Activity data.

With iCloud, your backups are stored in the cloud. You can access them anytime and anywhere as long as your iPhone is connected to a WiFi network. If you back up your iPhone using Finder iTunes, your backups are stored locally on that PC or Mac.

I don’t have a preferred method as I use them all. Once in a while, I’d use Finder backup to perform a full backup of my iPhone. It doesn’t cost anything, and I think you should too.

If you learned how to back up an iPhone today, please share and/or recommend this article with your friends so they can enjoy it too.

Herby has a healthy obsession with all things technology, especially with smartphones. He loves to rip things apart to see how they work.

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