Back Up Your Phone to iCloud or iTunes

Introduction:

The need to backup your iPhone is something no one thinks about until an emergency strikes.

 A little proactive action can save you a whole lot of headaches down the road. Backup your iPhone now and prevent a lot of grief in the future. 

If you have an Apple device, you have two platforms where you can backup your iPhone: iTunes & iCloud.

First, let’s have a look at the pros and cons of each method.

In a hurry? Jump to a specific section of this post by clicking on the links below. 


iTunes Vs. iCloud - Which iPhone Backup Method is Best?

No matter which platform you choose, storage limits will play into your decision over whether to use iCloud or iTunes to backup your phone . Below you'll find some pros-and-cons for each backup system. 

iCloud

While you'll receive 5 free GB of storage with your iCloud account, you’ll use it up fast if you have large files or a lot of photos stored on your phone. 

The good news is that additional iCloud storage can be purchased according to your needs.

Apple offers three premium plans for iCloud storage.

 U.S.-based iCloud plans start at $0.99/month for 50 GB; $2.99/month for 200GB and 2TB for $9.99/month. (Bonus: 200GB and 2 TB plans may be shared with family members, so your  cost-per-user ends up being less.)

Other countries rates vary – check this page to find out Apple's latest rates for non-U.S. based accounts.

To increase your backup storage, enable the iCloud Photo Library. Doing this eliminates videos and photos from your regular iCloud backups, as they are already stored in the cloud.

iTunes

iTunes backs up data to your own computer, so needless to say, you won’t need to pay for any extra storage when you backup your device to iTunes. 

However, your backups are limited to the amount of space available on your machine. If you know that you're short of RAM on your computer, then backing up a large number of photos and large files to iTunes isn't advised.

You can always backup iTunes  to an external hard drive if you're short of storage space on your computer. 

To backup iTunes up to an external hard-drive, Apple provides instructions here.

Or you can always spring for some extra storage on iCloud.

However if you have any privacy concerns, and you want full control over your data,  stick to iTunes as your backup method. Because iTunes stores your data on your own machine, it isn't as vulnerable to hackers. 

Speaking of hackers, let's look at how to enable data encryption to protect your private data against unauthorized use. 

Encryption: Keep Personal Data Safe When You Backup Your iPhone

Encryption helps keep your private data safe in the event your phone gets lost or stolen. Many of us keep highly confidential data on our phones, such as banking passwords, and health data. You don't want that kind of data to fall into the wrong hands. 

This is why it's very important make sure your data gets encrypted when you backup your iPhone. Luckily, both iCloud and iTunes will encrypt your data.

iCloud encrypts data by default. You don't have to change any settings at all. However,  you must enable encryption for iTunes since it is not a default setting.

But don't stress. It's a simple 3-step process to enable iTunes encryption.

3 Steps to iTunes Encryption 

  1. Connect your iOS device to your computer and open iTunes
  2. Select your device, then click "Summary"
  3. Scroll to the Backups section. Check the box that says " Encrypt iPhone Backup." 

It's that easy! 

What Is and Isn't Automatically Backed Up in iCloud & iTunes

You should be aware that  iCloud only saves what Apple considers as essential data during an automatic backup. This can leave you vulnerable in case of loss or theft, or in case you want to transfer your saved data to a new device.

To follow is a list of what is and isn't automatically saved in an iCloud or iTunes Backup so you can make an informed decision about which one to use. 

iCloud Backup

iTunes Backup

Your iPhone backup to iCloud only includes information and settings stored on your device.

Any information already stored in iCloud is excluded from your backup

Excluded information includes:

  •  Contacts 
  • Calendars 
  • Bookmarks 
  • Mail 
  • Notes 
  • Shared photos, 
  • iCloud Photo Library
  •  My Photo Stream 
  • Health data 
  • Files stored in iCloud Drive.

iTunes is the most complete backup method because it backups some data that iCloud does not. 

iTunes backs up the following information:

  • Photos & Images
  • Media files
  • Messages & call logs
  • Application data, including settings
  • Network settings
  • Memos, Calendars & Bookmarks
  • Safari history, offline data, email attachments & caching data

Even if you prefer the convenience of an automatic iCloud backup, it's still a good idea to occasionally backup to iTunes as well. This will ensures all of your data gets backed up. 

Ready to backup your iPhone? Let's get started! Both backup methods are simple. Just choose the one you think fits your own situation best. 

Let's Backup Your iPhone Now

iCloud Backup Steps

iTunes Backup Steps

Backing up to iCloud is the easiest way to backup your device. You can begin an iCloud backup with only a few taps on your device.

Here are the easy steps to backup with iCloud:

  1. Make sure your phone or device is on WiFi and connected to your charger before beginning your backup.
  2. Turn on iCloud Backup by navigating to Settings > [Your Name] > iCloud > iCloud Backup. (Note: if you’re using iOS 10.2 or an earlier version to go Settings > iCloud >Backup )
  3. Make sure you have enough storage space available in iCloud (as previously noted, you receive 5GB free storage. Upgrade if you think it's necessary.)
  4. From this point forward, as long as your screen is locked, iCloud will perform an automatic backup of your device nightly

Backing up your phone or device with iTunes a snap. Here are the 5 easy steps to backup secure your data with iTunes.  

  1. To begin your iTunes backup, connect your Apple device to your computer via a USB cable.  
  2. Open iTunes on your computer.
  3. You may get a message asking for your device passcode or asking if you Trust This Computer. If so, follow the onscreen steps.
  4. Go to File > Devices and choose your device.
  5. After you choose your device, choose Backup and follow the screen prompts.

Now you’ll enjoy peace of mind that your device data is protected in case of the loss or theft of your phone. And if you change devices, it will be easy to upload your contacts, apps and data.

Note: You can also select which individual apps you'd like to backup. Under “Choose Data to Backup”, turn off any apps that you don't wish to backup at this time.

To do this, choose “Turn Off & Delete.”

Now that you’ve successfully discovered how to backup your device with both iTunes and iCloud, here are the steps to access your backup and restore your data any time you need it.

Restore Your Backed Up Data to iPhone

If you purchase a new device, it's a pain to have to download all your favourite apps one-at-a-time to your new device and also reconfigure all of your settings. 

But you, being the smart person you are, has your iPhone data backed up. This makes it easy to automatically restore apps and settings to a new device! 

Below are instructions on how to restore your backed up data to any compatible device. 

Restore iCloud Data

Restore iTunes Data

 Data stored in your iCloud backup can easily be restored to a new device. 

However, if you started to set up your device without restoring data from a backup, there is an extra step you'll need to take. Any new data you've added to your device must be erased in order for the backup to work properly.

Erase Steps:

  1. Tap Settings > General > Reset
  2. Tap "Erase All Content and Settings." (You may need to enter your passcode or Apple ID password if asked.)
  3. Confirm that you want to erase your device.
  4. After your existing data has been erased, it’s time to restore your data from your backup.

Restore Steps:

  1. Turn on your device. You should see a “Hello” screen.
  2. Navigate to the “Apps & Data” screen.
  3. Sign in with your Apple ID and choose the backup with the most relevant date and size. (If you’ve used multiple IDs to purchase apps, books, etc from Apple, you’ll need to sign into each account separately.)
  4. Stay connected to WiFi and wait until you’ll see a progress bar. Wait for the progress bar to complete.
  5. Follow the prompts and finish setting up your device.

Here are the easy steps to restore data from an iTunes backup:

  1. Open iTunes on the computer that you used to backup your device
  2. Use a USB cable to connect your Apple device to your computer.
  3. If prompted to enter your device passcode or to Trust This Computer, follow the onscreen steps.
  4. When your device appears in iTunes, select it.
  5. Choose Restore Backup. (Pick the most relevant backup to restore.) Click Restore.
  6. You may need to enter your passcode again if your backup is encrypted.
  7. After your device restarts, keep it connected to your computer. Wait for your device to sync with your computer.
  8. When your device finishes syncing, you can disconnect from your computer and start using your device.

Note:There isn't any need to keep every iPhone backup indefinitely. As new apps and data are added to your device, old backups become obsolete. So you can save yourself some storage space by periodically deleting your old backups. 

How to Delete Old iCloud Backups You No Longer Need

To follow are instructions on how to delete old backups from iCloud.

This action saves you storage space for when you really need it. The instructions are slightly different depending on which iOS version you're using. It's unlikely many of you are still using iOS 10.2, but you never know. So we're providing this information on deleting iOS 10.2 just in case.

Deleting iOS 10.3 and Later Backups

Deleting iOS 10.2 or Earlier Backups

  1. Go to Settings > Your Name > iCloud
  2. Tap: Managed Storage > Backups 
  3. Tap the name of any device linked to your storage
  4. Tap Delete Backup > Turn Off & Delete
  1. Go to Settings > General > Storage & iCloud Usages
  2. Under iCloud, tap Manage Storage
  3. Tap the name of your device
  4. Tap Delete Backup > Turn Off & Delete

iCloud vs. iTunes Backup: The Final Verdict

What's the best way to backup your iPhone - iTunes or iCloud?

Both! iCloud is more convenient , but iTunes backups your non-Apple purchase and passwords without eating into your iCloud data allowance.

So why not use both methods?

While you may not want to go through an iTunes backup daily, backing up to iTunes when you purchase a book, music or other download from a source other than the Apple Store ensures you can always access these items whenever you need them.

Comments or Questions? Let us know! 

Thanks for reading. 

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Norma Rickman

About the Author

Norma Rickman

NormaR is our WeBananas tech blogger. She came to us as a crusty copywriter from the Far North who lives and breathes conversions. In her spare time, she's a diehard Edmonton Oilers fan (sadly), a foodie and a passionate landscape photographer.