Creating an iPhone backup in iTunes or iCloud, and why it’s important

By , Apr 12, 2016

Creating a backup of your iPhone iPod touch or iPad

Every time you set up a new iOS device, you should create a backup of it so that when things go wrong, you can easily restore your device’s settings and contents to a point in time when everything worked right.

There are two ways to back up a device: 1) through iCloud, or 2) through iTunes. Either way, you’ll get a way to get back to your current state of iOS whenever problems arise if you create a backup.

In this piece, we’ll explain in detail the backup process for both of the aforementioned methods.

Why to create a backup

Whenever you set up a device, creating a backup saves a state of your iOS device. This state includes system settings, app data, and more.

At any time, when your device starts to act up and things begin not to work right, you can use iTunes to restore your device to factory settings. You’ll then be prompted to restore from a backup, which will restore your settings and app data to your freshly-restored iOS device.

So what is the benefit of this? You won’t ever lose your important settings, information, game progress, and other valuable data you don’t want to let go of when you have to restore your device.

Like we said earlier, there are two ways to back up your device – through iCloud or through iTunes. We’ll outline both below.

Backing up your device with iCloud

The easiest way to create a backup of your iPhone, iPod touch, or iPad is directly through iCloud on the device itself. You can access iCloud Backup by navigating to Settings > iCloud > Backup and turning the feature on if it’s not already turned on.

Once you’re there, you can tap on the blue Back Up Now button, which will back up your iOS device as long as you’re connected to a Wi-Fi network.

Creating an iCloud Backup on iPhone

As you can see under the button, iCloud reports when the last time your device was backed up was. Your iOS device will try to back up automatically to iCloud any time it’s connected to a power source and is connected to Wi-Fi while the screen is locked. Of course, it’ll only happen if you have iCloud Backup enabled.

That’s all there is to making an iCloud backup that you can restore to when the time comes, but some people prefer the tried and true method of using iTunes to make a backup. We’ll show you how to do that next.

Backing up your device with iTunes

If you’re going to be using iTunes instead of iCloud to back up your device, that’s not a problem. Typically, iCloud backups are easier to use, but iTunes backups can be a little more convenient if internet access is limited.

To create an iTunes backup of your iPhone, iPod touch or iPad, follow these steps:

1) Launch the iTunes app on your Mac or PC, then plug in your iOS device with an Apple USB to Lightning/30-pin connector cable.

2) Click on your device in iTunes to display information about it.

3) Make sure the Automatically Back Up section is set to This Computer instead of iCloud, and then click on the Back Up Now button just to the right of it.

Back up iPhone with iTunes Back Up Now Button

4) iTunes will begin to back up your device, as you’ll see in the progress bar at the top of the iTunes app.

Back up iPhone with iTunes progress bar

Optionally, you can also choose the Encrypt iPhone Backup option, which will help to keep your personal data in the backup safe from extraction.

That’s all there is to completing an iTunes backup of your iPhone, iPod touch or iPad!

Now if you want to verify that your backup was a success, you can go to the Menu Bar and choose iTunes > Preferences.

Verify iTunes Backup Menu Bar option

After you do, you’ll get the iTunes preferences pane. Click on the Devices tab and confirm that the backup you just made is there:

Back up iPhone with iTunes Backup list

If it is, then you’re good to go and can use it at any time when you restore your device. You can also delete the backup at any time by clicking on the Delete Backup button with the backup selected.

Which option should you use?

For smaller backups, I find that using iCloud can be a good way to go, since you only get 5GB of iCloud space for free before you have to start paying to upgrade your iCloud storage amount.

For larger backups, such as those from devices that are full to the brim with apps and data, you might want to use iTunes instead. iTunes is also a good option if you think iCloud is going to be down when you want to restore your device, because when iCloud is unreachable, so is your backup. Having a local backup can help prevent this from being an issue.

Wrapping up

That’s all you need to know about how to back up your device. With both options available to you, you can choose between convenience or mobility. I personally like to keep a backup on both my computer and in iCloud, just in case iCloud is unreachable because of some strange circumstance.

Also read: How to restore an iPhone or iPad with recovery mode

Do you keep your device backed up for emergencies? Share in the comments!

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  • Sharukh Mastan

    I prefer the iCloud backup since it does not back up my caches and all the other temporary directories. So during a restore, I get a fresh copy of the OS with only the essentials.

  • Joaquim N.

    “That’s my secret… I never backup my iDevices!”

    I just restore as new and set it all again. I’m so used to it and it takes me 5 minutes after I restore. Of course me contacts and notes are on iCloud but that’s it.

  • Love this blog, but instead of all these “simple” tutorials that arent really all that useful id appreciate one for example why its good to restore from backup when say upgrading a firmware, and how/why is it done ( ..apparently to get rid of the “others” extra storage on your phone)

  • Smegmatron

    I dont think Jennifer Lawrence approves this

  • chjode

    Now if I could figure out why my iPhone used to backup to iCloud daily but now seems to get stuck at the “Estimating time to backup” message. If I cancel it and manually start the backup, it completes in a few minutes.

  • Gary le

    Dont forget if you have an apple watch the health data will only backup in itunes if u enable encryption by checking it.

    Icloud does not seem to do it as I learned it the hard way.