iOS 6 was the first full iOS update offered over-the-air (OTA) using Apple's bit-differential, update-in-place iCloud system. That should make for faster, more convenient updates for current devices, and easier migrations to new devices. But the thing is, when pushing around billions of bits, things can and will go wrong. Storage has errors, power and connectivity fails at the worst times possible, and files get corrupted.
We've gotten reports from a few readers who are having trouble with backups at the moment, so it's worth going over the key strategy again -- local, online, and redundant.