How to backup iPhone to iCloud and iTunes [Ultimate Guide]

Have you ever lost all of the contacts stored in your phone? I had ones… And it was painful to restore them back one by one. After that lesson I got a small paper notebook where I kept all important contact details. It was year 2002, so don’t laugh at my «personal real paperback backup storage». Those days are gone and technologies went far ahead of «pen and paper» ideology. Today, to backup all information from the phone, you have to press not more than one button. Of course you have to know which one… So in this article I will show how to backup iPhone to iCloud and iTunes. Let’s begin…

I presume you need some guidance… OK, no problem. First thing you should know about is that there are two options. You can back up your iPhone either to iCloud virtual storage or a Personal Computer. Which option to use is totally up to you.

How to backup iPhone to iCloud?

Since Apple had gifted us with 5Gb of iCloud storage, it will be fair to start from here first. To Backup iPhone to iCloud all you need is a stable WiFi connection.

Before we create an actual backup copy, you should realize that while you follow a guide below you may see some differences on your iPhone (due to iOS version or so).

Don’t worry. It’s an easy process. Just follow a step-by-step guide and adjust if necessary (I will give a clue of course):

STEP 1 Go to Settings > [Your Name] > iCloud and click on name of your device
How to backup iPhone to iCloud

STEP 2 Activate «iCloud Backup» option and then click «Back Up Now»
Backing up iPhone

Let your iPhone to complete a backup copy… But don’t get so excited, it’s not over yet. I suggest you to follow few steps more to set and forget it ones in your life… I hope the iCloud copy of your iPhone was successfully created. If not, keep on reading.

STEP 3 I suggest to check your iCloud storage now. Go to Settings > [Your Name] > iCloud where you’ll see a visual representation of the storage. Do you have any space left? If NO, follow the link above for explanation how to clear iCloud storage. Otherwise follow to STEP 4.
How to backup iPhone on computer

STEP 4 How much of storage is taken by a Backup? If you have no space left, most likely you have too many photos on your iPhone. All those photos probably had been included in iCloud backup copy. To check this, go to Settings > [Your Name] > iCloud > Manage Storage > Backup, then click on the name of your device.
What data is stored in iCloud backup

STEP 5 If you make a lot of photos, I strongly recommend to switch off Photo Library from data to back up. If a backup copy had taken all space in iCloud, Delete this Backup by clicking corresponding link at the bottom, then create a new one, like we did in STEP 2.

At this page (screenshot above) you can also choose which apps should be allowed to store it’s data in iCloud backup copy. If you think there is no need to copy all the attachments from WhatsApp or Viber, just switch it OFF.

What else is included in iCloud backup copy? Keep on reading… There is a dedicated part of the article for that.

Ones you activated an iCloud backup option in STEP 2, your iPhone will be doing regular automatic backups when it’s connected to a Charger and WiFi network.

Looks like, this is everything you should know about creating an iPhone iCloud backup copy. Let’s talk about iTunes now.

How to backup iPhone in iTunes

I hope you didn’t struggle up to this point, because from now on it will be even easier. Using iTunes you can backup iPhone either to a computer HDD or to iCloud virtual storage. To make a backup copy to computer follow the guide below:

STEP 1 Connect your iPhone to a computer with USB cable

STEP 2 Click on the device icon at the top row
How to backup iPhone in iTunes

STEP 3 Look at the “Backups” area. Everything is written in plain English. First you have to choose the location where a backup will be stored, then press “Back Up Now” button. That’s it!
iPhone information copy

If you would read information below those two options, you should realize that iCloud and Computer backup copies are very different. The iCloud copy will include just most important data from your iPhone, while you can do a FULL backup to a Computer. So what exactly is stored in a backup? Lets see in the next chapter.

What is stored in iPhone backup?

Your iPhone is full of sh&%t of all sorts. You know… As I mentioned above, a backup copy created for iCloud is very different from one created for Computer. Here is the stuff you can find in a Computer version of iPhone backup:

  • Photos and walpapers
  • Contacts and call history
  • Messages (iMessage, SMS, MMS including images and video)
  • Notes
  • Safari bookmarks, cookie files, web surfing history, etc.
  • E-mail accounts settings (email messages are not copied)
  • Voice Memos
  • AppStore data (not including the app itself and temporary files)
  • Parameters, settings and data of all apps, including documents
  • In-App Purchases
  • Game Centre account data
  • Installed profiles
  • Calendars
  • Autofill data
  • Network settings (passwords for WiFi hotspots, VPN settings, network settings)
  • Home screen layout
  • Keychain info (passwords for different accounts on web or apps)
  • Location Services settings
  • Bookmarks for Maps (as well as search history and current location on the map)
  • Saved workouts and settings of Nike + iPod
  • Information about Bluetooth devices linked to your iPhone

ATTENTION! One more time for people who don’t like to read long lists. A backup copy (doesn’t matter how you created it) will NOT include applications and games installed on your iPhone. All settings, parameters and In-app purchases will be copied to a backup for every app on your iPhone, but not the actual app. After you restore that copy, all apps and games will be automatically downloaded from AppStore.
A backup copy which is stored in iCloud contains less information and is limited to data and settings which are kept on your device. This copy WILL NOT HAVE data which was already synchronized with iCloud (contacts, calendars, bookmarks, notes, documents) and photos which were saved to iPhone from other apps.

iTunes backup files location

If you want to dig deeper and find iTunes backup files location, use the following path (depends on OS you use):

  • Mac: ~/Library/Application Support/MobileSync/Backup/
  • The tilde sign (~) represent the user name folder. The “Library” folder is hidden by default. To get access to it, press Option (on keyboard) then click at “Go” in Finder top menu. You’ll see a Library option in opened menu tab.

  • Windows XP: \Documents and Settings\(user name)\Application Data\Apple Computer\MobileSync\Backup\
  • Windows Vista, Windows 7 и Windows 8: \Users\(user name)\AppData\Roaming\Apple Computer\MobileSync\Backup\

A backup copy stored on computer hard drive is not just one file. I was surprised when I found a lot of folders and files with weird names and without extensions. It will be good to know the iTunes backup files location, only if you want to delete them from the HDD.
iTunes backup files location

It’s hard to understand anything from a screenshot above. Folders and files of a backup that don’t really say which device they belong to and what is included inside. To see which backup copies are stored on your computer, go to iTunes Preferences and then click on Devices tab.
Deleting iPhone backup files from computer

How to delete iTunes backup files from computer? Good question! My MacBook Air 2012 has only 35Gb of free storage left (why Apple still equip some MacBooks with 120Gb SSD?). This is nothing, so I have to keep track of every bit of storage. If you also struggle with a spare space and wish to delete iTunes backup files from your computer, just do it either manually by locating a path in Finder, or from iTunes Settings > Devices > Delete Backup.

How to restore iPhone from iTunes/iCloud backup?

Since the backup copy of your iPhone can be stored either in iCloud or computer, it’s possible to restore iPhone backup in few different ways. I propose the most common ways below:

Restore iPhone from iTunes Backup

STEP 1 Connect your device to a computer (the one you used for backup)

STEP 2 Click on a device icon at top row of iTunes window

STEP 3 Choose which version of backup to use (iCloud or This Computer). Click “Restore Backup…” button (see one of the screenshots above)

Restore iPhone from iCloud Backup

Here you have few different options:

Restoring a backup on a new iPhone. During initial iPhone setup, one of the options will be “Restore from iCloud copy”. This is exactly what you need. Just enter your Apple ID to get access to iCloud.
Restore iPhone from iCloud backup

Restoring a backup on a used iPhone. In this case first this to do is to reset iPhone to factory settings. To do that go to Settings > General > Reset > Erase All Content and Settings. By doing this you’ll get your iPhone to the state of a new device. Now read the previous paragraph.

By now you should have a solid knowledge of iPhone backing up process. Remember that iCloud backup copy may include not all necessary information, so I suggest you create an iTunes backup copy from time to time. I don’t want to disappoint you, but even iTunes can play a trick with you. It’s also possible that a backup copy saved on your computer will not be available for restore any more (even if you still find it at iTunes backup files location). I will describe how to fix that problem in one of the coming articles. Subscribe Now. We never send spam, but only good and useful guides.

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