How to Backup Your iPhone

Gone are the days of Not Needing a Smartphone. Your iPhone is so much more than just a screen for texting and Angry Birds. Today, smartphones are how we get work done, stay on top of the crazy news cycle, rock out, stay in touch with friends and family, and capture life’s most important moments. Carrying all of that information in our pockets is incredibly powerful, and it makes getting through our days a little easier. It also means that our most important data can easily be lost when you forget your phone on the train or have an unfortunate spat with a pool of water.

If you want to avoid frantically trying to recover the best shots from your weekend in Cabo, you’ll need to back everything up. There are a few ways to do this, and which one you choose will depend on your needs and habits.

Up in the Clouds

Your easiest option, and Apple’s first recommendation, is to back your phone up to iCloud. The process is pretty simple: connect to Wi-Fi, go into settings, tap on your name, go to the iCloud page, and make sure the iCloud Backup switch is turned on so you’ll get automatic backups. If it’s off, you should hit the Backup Now button to make sure you’re taken care of right off the bat.


Apple gives users 5GB of iCloud storage for free, but that’s probably not enough to cover all of your data. You can buy more storage, but it adds up pretty fast. For data-heavy users, there’s a better way, and you can do it for free.


If your phone is loaded with pictures, songs, apps, and years worth of text messages, a basic iCloud backup isn’t going to cut it. If you have a computer with some gigs to spare, all you need to do is plug in your iPhone, install iTunes on your Mac or PC, and click a few buttons to make sure all your phones data is tucked away, safe and sound.

Once you’re plugged in, open iTunes and click on the name of your device (spice things up and make it something funny — mine is “Whatsapp Ricky”), and hit “Back Up Now” under “Backup and Restore.” This creates a backup of everything on your phone, including all your app data so you don’t have to log into all your accounts again, plus your home screen arrangement to save you from dragging a bunch of icons around to get it just the way you like it.


Protip: this method will let you create multiple backups, so don’t panic if you need to find some info from a few months back. Just dive into iTunes preferences, click on the Devices tab, and you’ll see a list of every backup for your devices. As long as the one you need is there, you can go back to your device’s page in iTunes and hit “Restore from Backup” then pick the right one and you’ll be ready for a blast from the past.

One More Thing

We all take a bunch of pictures with our phones, and we want to be able to look back on those moments after they’ve passed. Backing up to iCloud or your computer will get the job done, but it doesn’t hurt to have a second place to save all your family photos and best vacation pictures. Google Photos is a great way to make sure your photos won’t get lost, since you get unlimited storage as long as you’re fine with your images being compressed. If you’d rather save them at full resolution, you can pay for a little more storage and save those crisp photos for access anywhere. As an added bonus, the app lets you clear your iPhone’s camera roll once all your photos are backed up if your phone’s low on storage.