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How to Back Up Your iPhone

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How to Back Up Your iPhone

Your iPhone is so much more than just a screen for texting. Smartphones are how we get our 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 that information in our pockets is incredibly powerful, and it makes it a little easier to get through our days. It also means that your most important data could be lost if you forget your phone on the train or have an unfortunate argument on the sidewalk.

If you want to avoid frantically trying to recover the best photos from a friend’s wedding, you should backup your iPhone. It’s an especially good idea if you plan to update to a new iPhone. There are a few ways to do this depending on your needs and habits. Once you’ve backed up, check out our guide to choosing the best iPhone.

Updated March 2024: We’ve verified the steps for the latest version of iOS, added screenshots for illustration, and updated the steps for MacOS.

Back up to iCloud

The easiest option, and Apple’s first recommendation, is to back up your iPhone to iCloud.

The process is quite simple:

  1. Connect to WiFi.
  2. Go in Institutions and then tap your name iCloud.
  3. On the iCloud page, scroll down and tap iCloud backup. Make sure the switch is turned on so you get automatic backups when your iPhone is charging, locked, and connected to Wi-Fi. Then tap Back up now to force a backup.
  4. Check things like photos you want iCloud to back up (you can uncheck other categories).

Apple gives you 5GB of iCloud storage for free, but that’s probably not enough to cover all your data. You can always buy more iCloud storage, but that will draw you deeper into Apple’s ecosystem. Luckily, in iOS 15, Apple introduced a temporary way to back up your data to iCloud even if you run out of storage space, so you can switch iPhones. If you prefer not to use the cloud, there is another way.

Back up to your Mac

If your phone is full of pictures, songs, apps, and years of text messages, you might want to make a local backup. If you have a computer with some extra tasks, you can plug in your iPhone and click a few buttons to make sure all your phone’s data is safely stored away. But the exact method depends on your version of MacOS.

If you’re not sure which Apple operating system you have, click the small Apple icon in the top left corner of your Mac desktop and select About this Mac. Another window will appear indicating which version you are using.

Back up to MacOS Catalina 10.15 or later

The upgrade to MacOS Catalina (2019) did away with iTunes and replaced it with three separate apps for music, podcasts, and TV. The backup option is now in Finder, where you can search folders and other drives. The steps to backup your iPhone are much the same as iTunes:

  1. Connect your iPhone to your computer with a cable.
  2. Open Finder and select your iPhone from the sidebar.
  3. click on General and choose Backup all data on your iPhone to this Mac.
  4. To encrypt and password protect your data, select Encrypt local backup.
  5. Click Back up now.

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