How to back up iPhone and iPad to iCloud, Mac or Windows PC

How to back up iPhone and iPad to iCloud, Mac or Windows PC

Our iPhones hold onto sensitive information like passwords, online banking access, and treasured photos and videos. As a result, backing up data is a must to ensure the safety of your data. Also, it lets you recover accidentally deleted files or fully restore your iPhone after a factory reset. Here, I will share how to back up iPhone and iPad to iCloud, Mac, or Windows PC.

Which iPhone backup method is best for you?

Apple gives you two ways to back up your iPhone or iPad: iCloud or a computer. 

The first method stores the backup in iCloud, while a computer backup stores data within the device. That being said, how much data you can store on each depends on the available space within your device or on your iCloud. Unless you upgrade to iCloud+, you only get 5GB of free iCloud storage for your Apple ID.

One advantage of using iCloud backups is that you can back up your iPhone or iPad anywhere with Wi-Fi. Meanwhile, you don’t need an internet connection to back up files using your Mac or PC. 

Here are some other differences:

Encrypted backupsData encryption is optional but is turned off by default
Gives you the freedom to choose which apps to back upBacks up all installed apps
Includes all the information and settings stored on your device that don’t already sync to iCloud.

iCloud backups don’t include:
→ Data already stored and synced in iCloud, like Contacts, Calendars, and Notes
→ Photos, if iCloud Photos is enabled
→ iMessages, SMS text, and MMS messages if you sync messages with iCloud 
→ Data stored in other cloud services, like Gmail and Exchange mail
→ Apple Mail data
→ Apple Pay information and settings
→ Face ID or Touch ID settings
→ iCloud Music Library and App Store content
Includes almost all your device’s data and settings.
Backup from a computer doesn’t include:
→ Content from the iTunes and App Stores or PDFs downloaded directly to Apple Books
→ Content synced from your Mac or PC, like imported MP3s or CDs, videos, books, and photos
→ Data already synced and stored in iCloud, like iCloud Photos, iMessages, SMS and MMS
→ Face ID or Touch ID settings
→ Apple Pay information and settings
→ Apple Mail data

Note: This backup won’t include Health, Activity, and Keychain data unless you enable Encrypted Backup.

How to back up iPhone or iPad using iCloud

You can back up your iPhone or iPad with iCloud manually or automatically. You can turn on iCloud Backup so your device automatically backups your data.

  1. Go to Settings → [your name].
  2. Select iCloud → iCloud Backup.

    Back up iPhone using iCloud
  3. Toggle on Back Up This [device].

    Toggle on Back Up This iPhone

When it is enabled, your device will back up your data in the cloud as long as your device:

  • Is powered on
  • Is connected to Wi-Fi or cellular data (if you’ve enabled Back Up Over Cellular)
  • Is screen locked
  • Has enough storage space (you’ll get an alert asking you to clear up your space to continue the backup)
  • Has not been successfully backed up in the last 24 hours

Otherwise, you can do a manual iCloud backup by connecting your device to a Wi-Fi network and following the steps below:

  1. Navigate to Settings→ [your name].
  2. Tap iCloud → iCloud Backup.
  3. Select Back Up Now.

    Select Back Up Now

You’ll see the date and time of your last backup under Back Up Now. Once in progress, ensure your device stays connected to a Wi-Fi.

Note: If you face any issues, refer to our guide iPhone won’t back up to iCloud

How to view your iCloud backups on iPhone or iPad

  1. Go to Settings → [your name] → iCloud.

    Select your name and tap iCloud
  2. Select Manage Account Storage → Choose Backups.

    Go to Manage Account Storage and Tap Backups
    • To delete a backup from your device: Choose a backup → Select Turn Off and Delete from iCloud.

      Select backup and tap turn off and delete from icloud
    • To delete an iCloud backup on a different device using the same Apple ID: Select a backup file → Tap Delete.

How to select which iPhone apps to back up to iCloud

You can choose which apps you want to be a part of the backup and which ones to exclude for iCloud. If you are on the 5GB free plan or wish to speed up the backup process without consuming a lot of data, it is good to prevent unnecessary apps from backing up.

But which apps to avoid? The most straightforward answer is social media apps like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc. These apps already have all the data in their cloud, and once you log in, you get everything back. Thus, it is not necessary to back up these on iCloud either.

  1. Go to iCloud → Manage Storage → Backups.
  2. Select your device.
  3. Toggle off apps you don’t want to back up.

Besides, the native Apple apps, such as Photos, Keychain, Notes, Messages, Health, etc., have iCloud enabled by default. So, when you log in your Apple ID to another device, these data will be restored without a backup.

How to back up your iPhone or iPad using your Mac

If you’re using a Mac running macOS Catalina or later, you can back up your iPhone or iPad using Finder.

  1. Connect your iPhone to your Mac using a USB cable.
  2. Click Allow on the Allow accessory to connect to give your device permission.

    Click Allow on the Allow accessory to connect
  3. Now, locate your iPhone in the Finder sidebar.
  4. Click Trust in the Trust [your name] ’s [device] popup to sync with your iPhone.
    You might see the same popup window appear on your iPhone or iPad. Tap Trust and enter your passcode.

    Tap Trust and enter password
  5. To include your Health and Activity data in the backup, tick Encrypt local backup and create a password.
  6. Hit Sync.

    Tick on Encrypt local backup and tap Sync

Once done with the backup, you’ll see the date and time of your last backup. Now that you’ve already backed up your device, you can restore your iPhone or iPad from a backup anytime!

How to back up iPhone to an external hard drive

Your Mac or PC stores all the backup files for your iPhone or iPad in a system folder called MobileSync. If you prefer to save your backups on an external hard drive rather than your local disk, you can change your device’s backup location to an external hard drive instead.

How to back up your iPhone or iPad using your Windows PC

The process of backing up your iPhone or iPad using a Windows PC is similar to that of a Mac, except that you’ll be using iTunes instead of Finder.

  1. Just plug in your device on your computer using a cable.
  2. Open the iTunes app on your PC.
  3. Locate the iPhone button on the left side → Click Summary.
  4. Select Encrypt local backup and enter a password.
  5. Click Back Up Now.

How to back up an iPhone or iPad to Mac wirelessly

After syncing your device to a Mac or PC using a cable, you can sync them wirelessly and automatically whenever both devices use the same Wi-Fi network. This means adding something on your iPhone or iPad will also appear on your Mac. 

While your iPhone or iPad is connected to your Mac:

  1. Go to Finder and select your device in the sidebar.
  2. Head to the button bar → Select which content types you want to sync.
    iCloud Photos and Apple Music sync automatically, so you won’t see options for syncing music and photos.
  3. Tick Sync [content type] onto [person’s device] to enable syncing for that content.
    Repeat this for each content you want to sync.
  4. Click Apply when you’re ready to sync.

    Back up an iPhone or iPad to a Mac wirelessly

Note that deleting an item automatically synced from your Mac also removes the item from your device the next time you sync.

Wrapping up…

Backing up your iPhone or iPad to iCloud or your computer is undeniably one of the best steps to safeguard your valuable data. Whether you accidentally delete important files, face unforeseen technical glitches, or simply want to upgrade to a new device, having a reliable backup ensures that your digital world remains intact.

Which backup method do you prefer? Tell us why in the comment section below!

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