Poll: How are you syncing your iOS 5 iPhone or iPad?

With iOS 5 Apple has finally cut the cord with iTunes and you no long have to tether your iPhone, iPod touch, or iPad over USB to your Windows or Mac PC just to sync over your stuff. Of course, you can still tether if you so wish, and it's just become part of your routine. However, you can also use iTunes Wi-Fi Sync so your device automatically transfers over content whenever you plug it in and are on the same Wi-Fi network as your desktop iTunes machine (i.e., when you put it on to charge at night.) Apple also has iCloud now, which syncs stores and pushes not from your desktop but from Apple's giant data centers to all of your devices.

Have you gone (or stayed) all in on any one approach? Do you mix and match, for example use iCloud for personal information but still connect to iTunes for big files like movies? If you have a family and are managing iPhones, iPod touches, and iPads for spouses and kids, do you sync them all the same or does it vary? Do your kids games pop up on your work iPhone thanks to automatic downloads, or do their iPods get stale because it's become too much of a chore to keep everyone updated?

How is sync working for you in iOS 5? Does it "just work" or is it more complicated and confusing now than ever? Vote in the poll up top and let me know the details in the comments!

How to set up iTunes Wi-Fi sync using Windows

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Georgia

Senior Editor at iMore and a practicing therapist specializing in stress and anxiety. She speaks everywhere from conferences to corporations, co-host of Vector, Review, and Isometric podcasts, and should be followed on Twitter @Georgia_Dow.

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Reader comments

Poll: How are you syncing your iOS 5 iPhone or iPad?

64 Comments

Have to turn off iCloud syncing if I want to sync a library audio book from overdrive,or it will not transfer to the phone. Then I can turn it back on. ???

I'm anal about backups (been burned too many times), so I have iCloud backing up automatically, and I also do a manual backup to iTunes at least once a day :D

I'm a developer, and my iCloud backup didn't properly restore when I upgraded to the 5.0.1 beta, so I'm sticking with iTunes backups for now. My wife and I share a computer, and she's using wifi sync for her iTunes library, so I'm just using a cable for mine to make things simpler.

As I live in Denmark and Itunes match isn't yet live, I do need to tether to update music. Apps seem to work fairly decently and tasks and calender are for the most part seamless. The BIG PAIN is that I can't shut Itunes down anymore; if I close it, then it will be re-started within 30 secs by one of my 4 IOS devices and they will then all start to sync again. Although I have a six-core 12GB RAM SSD drive powerPC, it slows to a crawl and videos freeze whenever the syncing starts up. I've clicked the "prevent ipods from syncing automatically" in the settings but it doesn't seem to make any difference. I want to be able to shut all that syncing with the PC off completely!

I am using the WiFi iTunes sync, though it hasn’t worked automatically yet. I manually do it every few days.
Except for my contacts and calendars, which I was already using MobileMe for. I haven’t transitioned those to iCloud yet because I’ll lose sync’ing with my Mac since iCloud doesn’t support Snow Leopard. Don’t know what I’m going to do about that. My iMac doesn’t have the recommended RAM for Lion.
I am using iCloud for sync’ing my iWork docs. (Though I’m limited to using the iCloud website to download/upload docs.)

Mostly iCloud. However, I still do a WiFi sync every day for Podcasts. The only reason I still use iTunes sync for podcasts is because I enjoy listening on both my Mac and my iDevices so keeping the last position and listen status up-to-date across the Mac and iDevices is useful for me. When I am out an about (or at work), I use PocketCasts to stream/DL podcasts that I may want to listen to during the course of the day.

iCloud for back-ups is great. Wi-Fi sync to move photo folders from computer to iPad and for non-DRM ePub books to iBooks. All wireless!

Since I use Rdio now my phone syncs but only because its sync via wifi. For my movies I use Plex so there is another reason I have to connect less. I'm find myself moving towards the cloud more now.

wifi sync has NEVER worked for me. i'm using the latest macbook pro and latest itunes software.
it sucks because i am a dance teacher, and its upsets me when i start teaching my class only to find out the music i supposedly synced over wifi never made it onto my phone.

Its great since you dont have to think about it but the only thing is how long will a restore take hours day? just wondering say you have 10gbs in iCloud it will take a while unless your on a big pipe I think.

Sticking with USB sync. Main reason is because at home I only ever charge from my laptop so it's connected anyway. I found wifi sync to be very slow and caused my iPhone to heat up. Plus, the only things I really "sync" are app updates, photos, music, and videos taken with the iPhone. Nothing wrong with USB. I do backup to iCloud though and not local.

I use ICloud mostly, however, if there was a free way to transfer music, video, pictures, etc on a Mac.......I'd never ever use ITunes.

I'm syncing with WiFi sync but it won't recognize my devices sometimes or it tries to connect to them when they aren't charging causing errors. It could be my school's network though. I'm backing up to iCloud. I would love the iTunes Sync to work better so I can update playlists with out connecting. Though of course that will soon go out the window with iTunes Match

USB.
Icloud isn't worth using for backup either but i like some other features of it. Wifi sync too buggy. To be honest, i'm not sure why icloud is listed in the poll having to do with syncing.

It's a hit or miss for me. I can't determine if my WiFi connection or iTunes WiFi sync is the issue. This is 50/50 process for me; iPhone plugged to power and WiFi but updates or sync not possible until I connect via USB. At other times updates or downloads happen automatically when plugged to power cord and WiFi. All in all I get what I need even if it takes a few minutes longer.

I have too many accounts with iTunes. So I just sync with USB, until they figure out how to combine them all. No biggie!

I have too many accounts with iTunes. So I just sync with USB, until they figure out how to combine them all. No biggie!

I chose it's complicated. I'm doing both iTunes and iCloud. iCloud will sync all the new stuff but I can't get the wireless wi-fi sync to work so I still have to plug in when I want to sync. It's a pain.

I still do a USB sync to iTunes when I have to organize my pictures. I do not like that I cannot shuffle my pictures between folders but rather I am only allowed to create a new folder. But for everything else, I do wifi sync

wifi sync is hit or miss. sometimes i get a message saying wifi sync did not happen because a file could not be found?? I had this problem with my ipad at first now that its fixed its moved over to the iphone.

I still use USB, and that's fine with me. I'm glad they've added the option for wi-fi syncing (finally). I just wish they would allow for wi-fi ACTIVATION. It's ridiculous that you need a USB connection just to activate an iOS device.

Still using the cord, its just faster and a bit easier especially when you have a lot big files.(ie Games)

Totally iCloud, unless I want to put TV Shows on for working out. But that's rare because I put two seasons on at a time to last me awhile.

Wifi sync works just fine for me. In fact, it works even when the iPad/Pod is not connected to a power source. This morning, I synced my Touch while it was sitting in my car, parked in front of my house.

Been using Wifi sync since it has been available. Most of the time it works great, but sometimes I've turned on my computer to discover some error that my iPhone couldn't be synced (or something like that).
In addition, about a week ago I had a funky thing occur, I connected my iPhone via USB, iTunes displayed a page that said something like "name this iPhone" or "sync this iPhone" (I can't remember exactly, it wasn't the restore from backup/setup new iPhone page though, it was one I hadn't seen before). When it started syncing it copied over all my old apps that I had deleted in the past. I manually removed them all from my iPhone and now it appears fine, but that was quite annoying. I think somehow the "sync all new apps" button got checked after that odd page came up in iTunes.

Been using Wifi sync since it has been available. Most of the time it works great, but sometimes I've turned on my computer to discover some error that my iPhone couldn't be synced (or something like that).
In addition, about a week ago I had a funky thing occur, I connected my iPhone via USB, iTunes displayed a page that said something like "name this iPhone" or "sync this iPhone" (I can't remember exactly, it wasn't the restore from backup/setup new iPhone page though, it was one I hadn't seen before). When it started syncing it copied over all my old apps that I had deleted in the past. I manually removed them all from my iPhone and now it appears fine, but that was quite annoying. I think somehow the "sync all new apps" button got checked after that odd page came up in iTunes.

I was using mostly iCloud and used the USB just to initially sync once I got my iPhone 4S last week. However, I just got an email from Apple telling me my iCloud is at 4.3gb and do I want to pay for more. That took a week!!! Now I have to go into iCloud to see what I need to do so I don't go over. I didn't pay any attention until now. I have my iPhone and iPad 2 using iCloud. I will start by turning iCloud off on both.
How about an article to tell us what to do when Apple emails us that we are getting close?

The usual old way. Wifi sync doesnt work at school so useless. Plus you have to keep it plugged to work. Which defeats the purpose of a pc free anyways.

Exactly! I though I was doing something wrong when I just couldn´t manage podcasts without iTunes thethering. It took me a while to accept that it was just a badly designed service from Apple.
After fighting iCould and wireless I´m back doing everything the old way.

After this iCloud/wireless mess I hope I never see again one of those comments like "just works" or "doing it right" regarding Apple software and services. They can be just as messy, complicated and frustrating like everybody else.

I still don't get the Wi-Fi sync.
If I have to access iTunes to select what I want to sync, then why not just plug into the computer I'm using iTunes with? Why would I get up, walk into another room, plug my iPhone into a wall, then walk back to my computer to select what photos and TV shows I want on, then walk back to the other room to tap sync on my iPhone?
I can't crack this one.

I don’t often change my sync settings. It’s not convenient for me to sync my devices at my computer. It is very convenient to sync them on my night stand while they’re recharging. Wifi iTunes sync lets me do that.
If you’re only using sync to transfer photos and TV shows to your device, then—yeah—it doesn’t make much sense. But you should be syncing your device on a regular basis to ensure that it is backed up. Because, one day, you will need that backup.

Ahh, thanks for that. I knew I must've been missing something.
And I backup on iCloud now. So iTunes is only really good for loading content now.

I have an iPhone4 and an iPad2, and a Dell Windows 7 laptop and I use iCloud to sync contacts, photos and documents between the devices. I tried using WiFi sync, but I found myself spending too much time trying to get it to work consistently. I have had all of my music disappear on my iPad and the iPhone got an error message, "iPhone cannot sync. Require folder cannot be found." I've had to turn off the Genius setting and resync my music to get back on the devices. I've had to delete the Photo Cache and resync my photos to get them back. It's just easier to plug the devices into my laptop and let them sync quickly and efficiently with no problems.

I have an iPhone4 and an iPad2, and a Dell Windows 7 laptop and I use iCloud to sync contacts, photos and documents between the devices. I tried using WiFi sync, but I found myself spending too much time trying to get it to work consistently. I have had all of my music disappear on my iPad and the iPhone got an error message, "iPhone cannot sync. Require folder cannot be found." I've had to turn off the Genius setting and resync my music to get back on the devices. I've had to delete the Photo Cache and resync my photos to get them back. It's just easier to plug the devices into my laptop and let them sync quickly and efficiently with no problems.

iCloud for iPhone and iPad mostly but I WiFi sync for large files like movies. Haven't had problems.
I'm very happy with how things are going.

I never sync. Devices are attached to iTunes once when new and when there's a significant update to do. I use other pros to load music because on a PC, iTunes sucks more ass than a pornstar...

Still using USB, WiFi syncing doesn't work at all for me. After trying for 10 minutes it fails even if everything is updated to the latest version.

Still using USB, mostly because since getting the 4S / iOS 5 USB sync sucks. It always worked fine on the 3GS / iOS 3, but now it chronically gets stuck at "Waiting for items to copy". I've deleted various caches multiple times, which means that my entire photo and music libraries have to be regenerated and then recopied to all of my devices on their next sync. I'd like Apple to not release things unless they actually work, especially when it replaces something that worked just fine.

I don't synch it, I open up the apps I want to install on each device and install them, and put some of my music on each device, if I let Icloud etc put everything on a device each one would blow up.

And an even easier solution is to fill a 5-gallon bucket of water and dump it quickly down the toilet. Sometimes that big surge of water will flush the obstruction right out of there.