Previous 1 of 3

How to back up your iPhone or iPadSource: iMore

Your iPhone or iPad store all your photos, messages, health data, documents, accessory setups, settings, and more. In other words, your memories and your preferences. Your data is important, even precious, and should be treated as such. The best way to secure your data is to back it up. You can back up your iPhone or iPad via iCloud, or directly on your computer using iTunes. Before you download any software, you should always back up your device. You should also maintain a regular backup routine, just in case something happens to your iPhone or iPad, like getting lost or stolen.

What is a backup?

A backup of your iPhone or iPad includes your device settings, app data, Home screen and app organization, iMessages and texts, ringtones, your visual voicemail passcode, health data, and HomeKit configurations. Photos and videos are only backed up if you don't already have iCloud Photo Library enabled on your iPhone, iPad, and Mac.

Best online learning tools for kids: ABCmouse, Reading IQ, & more

You can use iCloud to back up your device, or you can connect to iTunes on your computer. It's up to you. The main difference is where your backups are stored. iCloud backups are stored in iCloud and iTunes backups are stored locally on your Mac or PC.

If you back up your iPhone or iPad using iCloud, you'll be able to access and them anywhere using Wi-Fi. If you back up your device using iTunes, you have to use the computer you store the backups on to access them.

How to enable iCloud backup on your iPhone or iPad

Using iCloud as a backup location for your iPhone or iPad is a great idea. If anything happens to your phone or tablet, you will have a backup you can access from anywhere with an internet connection.

But before you can start backing up to iCloud, you have to make sure that iCloud backups are enabled on your device.

  1. Open Settings on your iPhone or iPad.
  2. Tap your Apple ID at the top of the screen.
  3. Tap iCloud.

    Open Settings, tap Apple ID, tap iCloudSource: iMore

  4. Tap iCloud Backup.
  5. Flip the switch next to iCloud Backup on.
  6. Tap OK.

    Tap iCloud Backup, toggle it on, confirmSource: iMore

iCloud will attempt to start a backup your data every 24 hours or so, as long as your iPhone or iPad is connected to Wi-Fi and plugged in to charge. Most of the time this will happen while you sleep.

If you've never backed up to iCloud before, the first backup can take a while. After that, iCloud will only upload the changes you've made since the last backup, which is much faster.

Note: Need to delete an older iPhone backup stored in iCloud? Here's how!

Previous 1 of 3
2 of 3

How to manually trigger an iCloud backup

iCloud backups should automatically happen at least once a day: They trigger when your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch is plugged in and on Wi-Fi. That said, here's how to make sure you have an up-to-the-minute backup solution.

  1. Open Settings on your iPhone or iPad.
  2. Tap your Apple ID at the top of the screen.
  3. Tap iCloud.

    Open Settings, tap your Apple ID, then tap iCloudSource: iMore

  4. Tap iCloud Backup.
  5. Tap Back Up Now.

    Tap iCloud Backup, tap Back Up NowSource: iMore

    Keep in mind: If you want to back up your iPhone or iPad to iCloud, you must first have an iCloud account and be signed in to it. If you don't and aren't sure how to make one, here's how to go about doing it.

How to back up your iPhone or iPad manually in macOS Catalina

In macOS Catalina, backing up to iTunes is no longer an option, as that app's functions have now been split into the Music, Podcasts, and TV apps. The device backup feature, meanwhile, now resides in Finder on Mac. Here's what you need to do to back up there.

  1. Connect your device to your Mac.
  2. Click the Finder icon in the dock.
  3. Click on your device under Locations in the Finder sidebar.

    Click Finder, click deviceSource: iMore

  4. Click Back Up Now to manually initiate a backup.
  5. Click the button next to Back up all of the data on your iPhone to this Mac if you want your iPhone to favor backups to your Mac instead of iCloud.

    Click Back Up Now, click buttonSource: iMore

  6. Click the checkbox to enable or disable encrypting your local backups. It's highly suggested that you do this if you're going to use a local backup to move data to a new iPhone, as some data will be lost if the backup isn't encrypted.
  7. Click Manage Backups... to view all existing device backups.

    Click checkbox, click Manage Backups...Source: iMore

  8. Click on any device backup you want to delete.
  9. Click Delete Backup. Be aware that the backup might not disappear until the next time you visit the 'Manage Backups...' view.

    Click device backup, click Delete BackupSource: iMore

  10. Click OK.

    Click OKSource: iMore

2 of 3
3 of 3 Next

How to enable iTunes backups in macOS Mojave in earlier

If you don't want to store your device backups in iCloud, you can store them locally on your computer instead.

  1. Connect your device to your computer.
  2. Open iTunes.
  3. Click on the Device icon next to the category dropdown menu on the left side of the iTunes window.

    Click the device iconSource: iMore

  4. Select Summary from the sidebar.

    Click Summary in the sidebarSource: iMore

  5. Select This computer under Automatically Back up.
  6. Tick the box for Encrypt [device] backup to ensure that your passwords, health, and HomeKit data is backed up. You'll have to create a password to protect your encrypted backups. The password will be automatically stored in Keychain.

    Tick the box off for encrypted backupsSource: iMore

  7. Click on Back Up Now to start the backup.

    Click Back Up Now to start the backupSource: iMore

  8. Click Done when you are finished.

    Click Done when finishedSource: iMore

How to back up your iPhone or iPad manually via iTunes in macOS Mojave and earlier

If you have enabled iTunes backups, your device will back up automatically when you connect it to your computer. You can also manually back up your iPhone or iPad if you want to make a new backup while it is still connected.

  1. Connect your device to your computer.
  2. Open iTunes.
  3. Click on the Device icon next to the category dropdown menu on the left side of the iTunes window.

    Click on Device in the drop down menuSource: iMore

  4. Select Summary from the sidebar.

    Click on Summary in the side barSource: iMore

  5. Select Back Up Now under Manually Back Up and Restore.

    Click Back Up NowSource: iMore

  6. Click Done when you are finished.

    Click DoneSource: iMore

Any questions?

Do you have any questions about how to enable iCloud or iTunes backups? Let us know in the comments and we'll help you out.

Updated March 2020: Updated with information about backing up on macOS Catalina.

Backing up: The ultimate guide

Main

3 of 3 Next