There are plenty of reasons to download iOS 10, and if you’re like many iPhone fans, you probably won’t think twice about it before downloading and installing the update. While we never expect something to go wrong with an Apple update, it’s always a good idea to make sure that your data, your photos, and your apps are all safe and sound before proceeding with the update.
Backing up your iOS devices is the best way to save the information on them, just in case something goes wrong. (Which is unlikely with iOS 10, since beta testers have been using the new operating system for months. But when it comes to your photos and your phone data, you’re always better safe than sorry.) Read on to refresh your memory on how to back up your iPhone, whether you’re preparing to download a big software update or even getting ready to transfer all of your information to a brand-new device.
When you’re deciding how to back up your iPhone, you’ll choose between backing up your iPhone with iTunes or with iCloud. You should choose the method that’s best for you, though if you want some additional peace of mind, you may find that it’s also a good idea to make one backup in iTunes and another backup in iCloud so that you’ll have an alternative backup. Once you’ve backed up your phone, you can go ahead and download that iOS update, and you’ll be confident that even if something goes wrong somewhere along the way, you’ll be able to restore your phone and its data with no problem.
How to back up your iPhone with iTunes
As Apple explains on its website, there are two ways to back up your iPhone: via iTunes or with iCloud. When you back up your iPhone with iTunes, the backup will be stored on your Mac or PC (so you need to have enough available space on your computer to store your photos, app data, and other information). Backups made with iTunes can be encrypted, though that’s a feature that’s off by default, and iTunes enables you to create and use backups right from your computer.
It’s important to note that syncing your device with your computer isn’t the same as making a backup. An iTunes backup includes nearly all of your device’s data and settings. An iTunes backup doesn’t include content from the iTunes and App Stores, PDFs downloaded directly to iBooks, content synced from iTunes, photos already stored in the cloud, Touch ID settings, Apple Pay information and settings, or Activity, Health, and Keychain data (which you can back up with an Encrypted Backup in iTunes).
To back up your iPhone with iTunes, open iTunes and connect your iPhone to your computer. Follow the onscreen instructions if a message asks for your device passcode or the “Trust This Computer” dialog appears. Select your iPhone (or iPad or iPod) when it appears in iTunes. If you want to back up Health and Activity data from your iOS device (or Apple Watch), you’ll need to encrypt your backup by selecting the box called “Encrypt [device] backup” and creating a strong and memorable password. If you don’t need an encrypted backup, just click Back Up Now.
After the backup is completed, you can check whether the backup was finished successfully by navigating to iTunes Preferences and clicking Devices. Then, you’ll be able to see the name of your device with the date and time that iTunes created the backup. If you encrypted the backup, you’ll also see a lock symbol beside the name of your device.
How to back up your iPhone with iCloud
When you back up your iPhone with iCloud instead of with iTunes, the backup will be stored in iCloud (where you can opt for up to 1TB of storage). iCloud always encrypts your backups, and enables you to create and use backups from anywhere that you have Wi-Fi. You won’t need to plug your iPhone into your computer, or even be at home to back up your iPhone with iCloud.
iCloud backups include nearly all of the data and settings that are stored on your device. They don’t include data that’s already stored in iCloud (like Contacts, Calendars, Notes, and the iCloud Photo Library), data that’s stored in other cloud services (like Gmail or Exchange mail), Apple Pay information and settings, Touch ID settings, the iCloud Music Library, and App Store content.
To back up your iPhone with iCloud, connect your device to a Wi-Fi network. Open the Settings app, then scroll down and select iCloud. Next, tap Backup, make sure that iCloud Backup is turned on, and tap Back Up Now. You’ll need to stay connected to Wi-Fi as the backup is completed, and afterward, you can ensure that the backup was finished successfully by opening the Settings app, tapping iCloud, and tapping Storage. Next, tap Manage Storage and select your device. The details of the backup should appear, including its time and backup size.
While you’re looking at the backup settings on your device, you can also set your iPhone to automatically back up via iCloud each day. Once you’ve made sure that iCloud Backup is turned on in the Settings app, iCloud can automatically back up your device each day when it’s connected to a power source, connected to a Wi-Fi network, and its screen is locked. You’ll also need to make sure that you have enough space available in your iCloud account for the backup.