Decided to store the precious files on your iPhone for safekeeping? Most people stray away from it because they’re lazy, don’t want to waste storage or think it won’t happen to them. It is only when their iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch gets damaged, stolen, lost, or has to be replaced, that they change their mind. By that point, chances are pretty slim. This leads to desperation to get the data back that could’ve been easily avoided. To make sure it doesn’t happen to you, we’ll show you how to backup iPhone. We also demonstrate different methods, so pick whichever fits your circumstance or habits best.
1. Guide to backup iPhone with iCloud
Using iCloud is the preferred method for backing up your iPhone. Here’s why followed by the demonstration of the entire process.
Why should I use iCloud?
It’s automatic, easy to set up, doesn’t require additional hardware, and cloud-based. That allows you to download your data after you reset your iPhone or activate a new iPhone. The only downside is the limitation on the free storage space in the cloud of 5GB. If that doesn’t cover your data, you can move on to the methods below or pay a monthly fee to expand the cloud limit to between 50GB and 2TB.
Backing up your iPhone to iCloud
Here are the steps required to backup iPhone with iCloud:
- Make sure your iPhone is connected to a Wi-Fi network.
- Tap on Settings.
- Tap on your name at the top of the list.
- Scroll down and tap on iCloud.
- Scroll to the bottom.
- Toggle iCloud Backup to ON position if it’s disabled.
- Tap on Back Up Now.
- Give it some time. To verify whether the backup was successful, check the time and date underneath Back Up Now.
- Tip: To trigger an automatic backup to iCloud, connect your iPhone to a wired or wireless charger, to a Wi-Fi network, and make sure the screen is locked.
2. Backup iPhone with your Mac computer
This is the second easiest method since Mac and iPhone belong to the Apple ecosystem. However, there are iCloud/iTunes alternatives that might be superior. With that out of the way, here’s how backing up an iPhone to Mac works:
- Connect your iPhone to your Mac via USB/USB-C to Lightning cable.
- Open Finder (macOS Catalina 10.15 and newer) or iTunes (macOS Mojave 10.14 and earlier).
- Click on your iPhone’s name in the sidebar on the left.
- Tap on Trust This Computer when prompted on your iPhone and the Trust button on your Mac.
- Under Backups, select either Back up all of the data on your iPhone to this Mac or Backup your most important data on your iPhone to iCloud.
- Choose whether to Encrypt local backup. You’ll put a password and a decryption key will be generated, ensuring the data cannot be seen or tampered with. However, it will take additional time to complete, and you can always do it afterward.
- Give the backup process time to finish. Once it was successfully finished, it will list a date and time above the Manage Backups… button.
3. Backup iPhone using your Windows PC
Here’s what to do to backup iPhone to a PC using Windows 10:
- Connect the computer and the iPhone using a USB 3.0 to Lightning cable.
- Download, install and run iTunes from the Microsoft Store.
- When prompted, tap on Trust This Computer on your iPhone.
- Click on the small iPhone button in the top left corner of the iTunes app. It’s next to the Music/Movies drop-down list.
- Under Settings > Summary, take a look at the Automatically Back Up section.
- Select between iCloud or This Computer. Also, choose if you want to Encrypt local backup.
- Under the Options section, you can pick a backup method between when iPhone is connected via USB and syncing via Wi-Fi.
- Click on the Back Up Now button and wait for the process to complete.
4. Backing up iPhone to an external drive
This method allows you to change the location of iCloud or iTunes backups on both Windows and Mac. The most common practical application is selecting an external drive.
First, you need to find a specific backup folder. Then you need to link the default folder and the one on an external drive. Let’s get into it.
Configure Terminal permissions
Here’s how to add Full Access permission to your Terminal app in Mac:
- Click on the Apple icon, then select System Preferences.
- Go to Security & Privacy > Privacy.
- Enter your admin password.
- Click on Full Disk Access.
- Click on the + button and add Terminal.
Here’s how to find a list of all stored backups on macOS Catalina 10.15 and newer:
- Follow the steps for Mac we listed above to get to the Backup window.
- Click on the Manage Backups... button.
- Right-click on a backup you want to move and select Show in Finder.
The process of finding backups on macOS Mojave 10.14 and older looks like this:
- Open iTunes.
- Click on Preferences, then Devices.
- Right-click on a backup you want to transfer and select Show in Finder.
Connect two folders through a symbiotic link
Follow these instructions to back up iPhone to an external HDD/SSD on Mac:
- Connect your external drive.
- Drag the backup folder you found above to the external drive.
- Type your admin password.
- If the folder’s name is simple, remember it. If it’s a long string of characters, copy the name since you’ll need it in a second.
- Rename the folder to iOS_backup.
- Open Terminal.
- Type the following command, but customize it to your case:
- Change External to the name of your external drive, if it’s different. Change the original-backup-name to the name of the folder before you changed it to iOS_backup.
- Press Return on your keyboard.
- Check the original backup folder, and you should see a new link with an arrow in the bottom left corner, like a shortcut.
Here’s how backing up data from iPhone to a Windows external drive works:
Find the backup folder
There are two ways to find the iTunes backup folder in Windows:
- Open This PC and paste this in the address bar: C:\Users\(your username)\AppData\Roaming\Apple Computer\MobileSync\Backup\
- Press the Windows key + S.
- Type %appdata% or %USERPROFILE%
- Go to Apple Computer > MobileSync > Backup.
Connect two folders
This is how to link the original iTunes backup folder and the one on your external Windows drive:
- Connect your external drive, create a new folder, and remember its drive letter. We’ll use E:\New-Backup.
- Rename your Backup folder (inside MobileSync) to anything else. We’ll use Old-Backup.
- Now, while inside MobileSync, press Shift + right-click.
- Select Open PowerShell window here.
- Paste the following command: cmd /c mklink /J “C:\Users\(your username)\AppData\Roaming\Apple Computer\MobileSync\Backup” “E:\New-Backup”
- Replace the highlighted part and press Enter.
- Go back to the MobileSync folder and copy the contents of Old-Backup to the new Backup shortcut folder that appeared.
- Delete the Old-Backup folder.