How to securely back up your iPhone or iPad to iCloud or iTunes

Posted:
in iPhone edited March 2017
It was probably prudent to make a backup of all of your iPhone's data before the shift to APFS with iOS 10.3 was applied, but fortunately it all went okay -- but what if it hadn't? In celebration of Backup Day, AppleInsider shows you how to back up your iPhone or iPad.




Apple's APFS sounds great for the future, but any time the file structure of a device is modified on-the-fly by an update, there's always the potential for things to go horribly wrong -- and iOS 10.3 did exactly that as it updated your device. We all took a chance on Apple's say-so, but there were no guarantees of success, really.

At AppleInsider, we make sure that we have a backup before we plow into an update or beta install -- and you should too.

Back up to iCloud

Assuming you've got space, an iCloud backup is probably the most convenient.

First. ensure that you're connected to wi-fi. Then, tap Settings, and tap iCloud. Scroll down nearly all the way, and tap Backup.



Enable the iCloud Backup by tapping on the toggle. The iPhone will pop up a warning saying that it won't automatically back up when connected to iTunes. Click OK and then click Back Up Now. Otherwise, your phone will back up to iCloud when connected to wi-fi and your phone is locked and not in use.



Given that only 5GB of iCloud storage is given to users free, if you choose to go this route, you probably want to spend a bit per month to grow this storage space.

Back up to iTunes

Open up iTunes in macOS or Windows, and connect your iPhone to the computer. If you have set up two-factor authentication, a message will pop up asking you for a device passcode, to Trust This Computer, or both. Do so, or you won't be able to back up. Click on the little iPhone icon, just to the right of the media type selector.



Odds are good, that your phone will start backing up now, if you haven't enabled iCloud backups. Another possibility is that you're not doing an encrypted backup -- and you really should.

Make sure This computer and Encrypt iPhone backup are both selected -- this will ensure that health data and passwords transfer with the backup. Click the Back Up Now button to start the process.




Our backup took about four minutes from an about half-full 64GB iPhone SE.

The backup is done -- now what?

The backup will be automatically stored by the computer. They are all backed up by Time Machine, and all the other solutions we recently examined when you back up your host computer.

If the worst happens with a device, the most likely corrective step will be to erase the device, and restore from a backup -- and now you have one to restore from!

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 17
    oberpongooberpongo Posts: 134member
    I find iCloud backup really convenient but the fact that it doesn't store passwords is really annoying. When moving to a new device and if you have a lot of apps. It can take weeks until you opened up all apps and entered all your credentials again! At least health data is also backed up to iCloud as far as I can tell. Not sure what the article is referring to. 
    lostkiwi
  • Reply 2 of 17
    oberpongooberpongo Posts: 134member
    What is really annoying with encrypted backup to iTunes is that lets say you have done it a few months ago and forgot your password. I thought no problem. I just delete the old backup and create a new backup with a new password! But that doesn't work!!! You can only create a new backup when you know your old password! I still haven't figured out why this would be necessary. P
    lostkiwi
  • Reply 3 of 17
    elijahgelijahg Posts: 689member
    oberpongo said:
    I find iCloud backup really convenient but the fact that it doesn't store passwords is really annoying. When moving to a new device and if you have a lot of apps. It can take weeks until you opened up all apps and entered all your credentials again! At least health data is also backed up to iCloud as far as I can tell. Not sure what the article is referring to. 
    That's really down to the app developers, Apple makes available an API so they can store & fetch passwords in the keychain.

    Unfortunately it does not backup health nor Homekit data, which is really annoying. Why health data isn't backed up I don't know, it's not really personally identifiable and it generally only contains things like steps, heart rate and calorific data. I restored my iPhone from iCloud a while ago and lost all the health data. Luckily I had a local backup, though it was a month or so old.

    Also I'm pretty sure iCloud backup is enabled by default unless you manually turn it off. So this article seems a bit pointless.
    edited March 2017
  • Reply 4 of 17
    mac_128mac_128 Posts: 3,282member
    I only use wifi backup with my iOS devices -- haven't plugged them into a Mac in years. This is in part why there's no need to supply USB-C cables for use with new MBPs.
  • Reply 5 of 17
    lostkiwilostkiwi Posts: 578member
    I'm not sure you could describe iCloud back up as 'secure' - placing a copy of all your data on someone else's server never seemed like a good idea to me. 
    I have always used iTunes encrypted backup route as per the second part of the article. 

    I am am aware that a lot of your iCloud data is still on someone else's server and can be decrypted at will but iMessages aren't and so that is enough for me.

    I read maybe 9 months ago or so Jon Callas moved from Silent Circle back to Apple (his third time working at Apple) to help contribute toward Apples ongoing encryption efforts. I really hope he can figure out some way of enabling 'zero knowledge' backups and iCloud syncing at Apple. 
  • Reply 6 of 17
    mac_128 said:
    I only use wifi backup with my iOS devices -- haven't plugged them into a Mac in years. This is in part why there's no need to supply USB-C cables for use with new MBPs.
    That's nbecause you have never traveled to remote places where you need to charge phone and your only option is from MacBook. Try it. Sticking out head out of big cities really helps to explore world. Hiking is interesting activity.
  • Reply 7 of 17
    Do wjhhetever you want, but I am not going with anything to iCloud including backups. Apple need to fix: 1) Device identification for messaging (SMS takes priority if phone number is used unless user selects otherwise) 2) iCloud does not wipe out data if I want to unsubscribe and does proper "unmerge" if anything. Until then other clouds may be considered, but most likely none... due to security. If you have only games and do not do with devices anything productive ten you do not worry, but I do something more productive thatn that and I do not plan to find out that some "innovative startup" runs based on my works and goes to my clients.
  • Reply 8 of 17
    Those Apple geniuses did it again. I call it the Apple one step forward, three steps backward waltz! The iCloud setting is NO LONGER IN THE MAIN SETTINGS WINDOW! WTF, you say?! Yup, because it's something you use so often, they chose to hide it in the "Masthead" - the very top of Settings, under your name/photo - you'll now find "Apple ID, iCloud, iTunes & App Store". There it is. And why? NO FUCKING REASON AT ALL other than to confuse us! Whether or not you've noticed it over the last few years, whenever they "update" a program or OS, they add functionality, but almost always remove (for me in some cases) critical functionality.
    GeorgeBMac
  • Reply 9 of 17
    john.bjohn.b Posts: 2,716member
     they chose to hide it in the "Masthead" - the very top of Settings, under your name/photo - you'll now find "Apple ID, iCloud, iTunes & App Store". There it is. And why?
    I bet you're fun at parties. 
    elijahg
  • Reply 10 of 17
    Mike WuertheleMike Wuerthele Posts: 3,726administrator
    elijahg said:

    Also I'm pretty sure iCloud backup is enabled by default unless you manually turn it off. So this article seems a bit pointless.
    It is not.
    john.b
  • Reply 11 of 17
    bluefire1bluefire1 Posts: 835member
    The image in the article is incorrect. It shows where iCloud used to be in IOS: below "Privacy" and just above " iTunes and App Store". 
    With the new update, that tab is no longer there. The Settings app features a section dedicated to one's profile at the very top, and that's where to find the iCloud submenu.
    edited March 2017 GeorgeBMac
  • Reply 12 of 17
    mac_128mac_128 Posts: 3,282member
    mac_128 said:
    I only use wifi backup with my iOS devices -- haven't plugged them into a Mac in years. This is in part why there's no need to supply USB-C cables for use with new MBPs.
    That's nbecause you have never traveled to remote places where you need to charge phone and your only option is from MacBook. Try it. Sticking out head out of big cities really helps to explore world. Hiking is interesting activity.
    I would never take a MacBook hiking, what would be the point? I spent a month hiking through Alaska one Summer, with my iPhone and iPad, a portable battery and solar recharger. You might try that.
  • Reply 13 of 17
    oberpongooberpongo Posts: 134member
    I am a little confused, what "health data" is. I restored through iCloud and still have all my steps, weight etc history from many years. 
    GeorgeBMac
  • Reply 14 of 17
    GeorgeBMacGeorgeBMac Posts: 3,267member
    For those complaining about Apple security:  What is your alternative?

    I feel secure knowing that Apple has no reason or incentive to do anything but protect my data.   I know of no other vendor who can claim that -- both today and tomorrow.   For even those cloud vendors who have a good a good reputation for security, they could be sold tomorrow to somebody who knows how to profit from that information -- your information.

    As Tim Cook said:  "If you aren't the customer, you are the product"

    watto_cobra
  • Reply 15 of 17
    darkvaderdarkvader Posts: 325member
    mac_128 said:
    I only use wifi backup with my iOS devices -- haven't plugged them into a Mac in years. This is in part why there's no need to supply USB-C cables for use with new MBPs.
    That's nbecause you have never traveled to remote places where you need to charge phone and your only option is from MacBook. Try it. Sticking out head out of big cities really helps to explore world. Hiking is interesting activity.
    You do you.  I'll stick to cities, where there's actual interesting stuff to do.  Trees, rocks, and dirt are boring.
  • Reply 16 of 17
    steveausteveau Posts: 190member
    Those Apple geniuses did it again. I call it the Apple one step forward, three steps backward waltz! The iCloud setting is NO LONGER IN THE MAIN SETTINGS WINDOW! WTF, you say?! Yup, because it's something you use so often, they chose to hide it in the "Masthead" - the very top of Settings, under your name/photo - you'll now find "Apple ID, iCloud, iTunes & App Store". There it is. And why? NO FUCKING REASON AT ALL other than to confuse us! Whether or not you've noticed it over the last few years, whenever they "update" a program or OS, they add functionality, but almost always remove (for me in some cases) critical functionality.
    Agreed, and how about the new Numbers for iOS! The neat keypad icons have been changed and the Querty keypad comes up by default - why? It's a spreadsheet guys, or didn't you notice.
    GeorgeBMac
  • Reply 17 of 17
    GeorgeBMacGeorgeBMac Posts: 3,267member
    steveau said:
    Those Apple geniuses did it again. I call it the Apple one step forward, three steps backward waltz! The iCloud setting is NO LONGER IN THE MAIN SETTINGS WINDOW! WTF, you say?! Yup, because it's something you use so often, they chose to hide it in the "Masthead" - the very top of Settings, under your name/photo - you'll now find "Apple ID, iCloud, iTunes & App Store". There it is. And why? NO FUCKING REASON AT ALL other than to confuse us! Whether or not you've noticed it over the last few years, whenever they "update" a program or OS, they add functionality, but almost always remove (for me in some cases) critical functionality.
    Agreed, and how about the new Numbers for iOS! The neat keypad icons have been changed and the Querty keypad comes up by default - why? It's a spreadsheet guys, or didn't you notice.
    Yes, I keep a spread sheet with a lot of durations in it to track workouts running & cycling, etc..) and now its a lot harder to enter say "1 hour and 15 minutes" but I have not seen where it's any easier to enter other values.   Usually I find that Apple's changes are well thought out.  But I'm not sure of their reasoning on this one...

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