How do I back-up my iPhone?

iPhone apple logo

I’ve been told it’s a good idea to back up my iPhone regularly. How do I go about it? Which way is best? Suggs, Camden

We’ve all been there. Your iPhone is stolen, damaged or lost and with it go all your latest contacts, as well as paid-for apps, music, priceless family photos and more.

At which point, you wish you’d been a bit more prudent and backed up your handset.

Making a back-up won’t bring your phone back. But it could minimise the financial loss you’ll suffer and save you a lot of time by making it easier and more seamless to transition to your replacement phone.

There are two options for backing up your iPhone: in the cloud, or on your computer. To be extra safe, you may want to use both. Here we’ll walk you the hows and whys…

Backing up your iPhone to iCloud

icloud iphones

The main advantage of backing up your phone to Apple’s iCloud cloud storage service is that you it won’t take up space on your computer.

Given how many apps, movies, photos and games we’re now likely to have on our phones, that’s a real boon.

Here’s how to go about it…

  1. Make sure your phone is connected to WiFi. Backing up using mobile internet will take much, much longer. It’s a good idea to ensure your phone is connected to a power source too.
  2. Head to the settings section of your phone. Tap your name at the top of your list of options and then hit the iCloud tab.
  3. Press the iCloud back-up option. Then hit ‘Back Up Now’.
  4. Leave the phone connected to a power source and on Wifi until the back-up is complete.
  5. If you’ve never backed up your iPhone before, it may take a while to complete. But the good news is that you’ll still be able to use your phone in the meantime.

Furthermore, subsequent updates will be much quicker because you’ll only be backing up changes you’ve made to your phone since you last backed it up.

Scheduling daily iCloud back-ups

iPhones allow you to set up your handset so it automatically backs-up to iCloud every day.

It’s a handy option to have if you’re a bit forgetful, or tend to be a bit lax about the admin that goes with owning pocket tech.

When the daily update option is turned on, your iPhone will usually carry out the update overnight and only when you’re connected to WiFi.

To activate daily updates, you’ll need to...

  1. Head to settings and press on your name at the top
  2. Tap iCloud, followed by iCloud Backup
  3. Make sure your iPhone is connected to a power source and to WiFi
  4. Ensure that the screen is locked. With automatic updates, you won’t be able to use your iPhone while it’s updating

Backing up your iPhone to your computer

back up itunes

In the dim and distant past, backing up your iPhone to a computer was the only way to go. And may still be if you don’t want to pay to expand your iCloud storage capacity beyond the 5GB that Apple provides free of charge.

The process we’ve outlined first applies when you’re backing up to a PC or a Mac that’s running Apple’s Mac OS Catalina 10.14 or below.

After we're done, we'll run you through how to back up to a Mac running Mac OS Catalina 10.15 or a later version of Apple's software.

Here’s what you need to do (updating to PC or Mac running OS Catalina 10.14 or below)…

  • Connect your iPhone to your computer, using the Lightning Cable. Then open iTunes
  • Enter the passcode for your iPhone if prompted whether you ‘trust this phone’. Then hit ‘trust’
  • Locate your iPhone in iTunes. If you can’t see it. Shut down iTunes and connect your phone again.
  • Click ‘summary’. You’ll find this in the sidebar.
  • Locate the ‘This computer tab’ under the heading labelled 'automatically back up'
  • Click ‘back up now’.

In the event that you’re backing up your phone to a Mac with Catalina 10.15 or above, you’ll need to…

  • Connect your phone to your Mac with a Lightning Cable. And open ‘finder’.
  • Enter the passcode for your iPhone if prompted whether you ‘trust this phone’. Then tap ‘trust’
  • Find your iPhone in the locations section of finder and click on it
  • Locate the back-ups section and click ‘back-up now’

If you’ve got WiFi syncing enabled on your phone, you won’t use to connect with a Lightning Cable. But the rest of the back-up process outlined above is identical.

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