The iPhone is so well-made, stable and reliable that it almost seems like it doesn’t need to be backed up. But you should, and here’s how to backup iPhone.
First of all, be aware that like any advanced technology, there are many details and layers to the technology, and additional reading is always advised. Think of this article as a starter kit.
For openers, there is a choice. One can back up an iPhone (or iPad, iPod) to Apple’s iCloud or to a computer (PC or Mac). Or both.
In the early days of the iPhone, one needed to connect an iPhone to a computer (running iTunes) with a USB cable. That worked nicely and still does. However, by and by, the iPhone became so popular that not every iPhone owner had a computer. Or had the patience to work through the iTunes process. So Apple introduced iCloud backups.
There is also a nice 3rd party solution that I’ll briefly touch on below.
Making a Decision
Apple has several nice support articles that walk through the process. The first step is to read “About backups for iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch.” This article describes the pros and cons of each method.
The first thing to know is that you might have to pay an additional monthly fee for iCloud storage that’s over and above the free 5 GB per account. Secondly, while iCloud backups are encrypted, you may still feel uneasy about Apple hosting your only backup in “the cloud” instead of on a computer under your control.
Finally, it’s good to understand what gets backed up to iCloud and what does not. For that, read: “What does iCloud back up?”
Now that you’ve decided which method to use (or both), it’s time to dig in.
iPhone to Apple iCloud Backup
To start, go to “How to back up your iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch.” Click on the box: “Use iCloud.” That will take you to: “How to back up with iCloud.” If it turns out that you need more iCloud storage, that section has a link, “Get help making a backup or manage your available space in iCloud.” An extra 50 GB costs US$0.99/month.
iPhone to Computer Backup
This section explains how, prior to macOS Catalina, one uses iTunes. However, in macOS Catalina (and going forward) one uses the Finder.
I recommend you elect to encrypt your backups. Apple explains one reason why.
If you want to save Health and Activity data from your device or Apple Watch, you need to encrypt your backup: Select the box called Encrypt [device] backup and create a memorable password. If you don’t need to save your Health and Activity data, you can make a backup that isn’t encrypted.
3rd Party Solution
There are other apps that can backup your iPhone to a computer. A good one that I am familiar with comes from iMazing. Both Mac and PC are supported. To read more, see the iMazing page: “iPhone & iPad Backups.”
If you elect not to do iCloud backups, you’ll want to set up a reminder to backup your iPhone to your computer on a regular basis. Also, it’s a good idea to do a backup using the method(s) you’ve chose just before buying a new iPhone (or iPad, iPod). Having an iCloud backup handy makes transferring all your data to a new iPhone, while in an Apple retail store, very easy.
The next challenge is to learn how to restore an iPhone from a backup, but that’s an article for another day.