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How to backup your iPhone and iPad to various places

Although iCloud is more secure, backing up to a computer is an option too.

Published onApril 3, 2023

When you start to have several thousand photos on your phone, as well as documents and videos, making sure you backup every day becomes imperative. With an iPhone or iPad, it’s a simple case of hitting the backup button (or schedule it), and everything goes straight to iCloud. But you can also backup to a computer. Here is how to backup your iPhone and iPad to various places.


To backup your iPhone or iPad to iCloud, log in to your iCloud account on the device. Go to iCloud Backup in your Apple ID and tap the Backup button. On a Windows or Mac computer, open iTunes or Finder, respectively, and plug in your device. You will then get a backup option in the main window.


How to backup your iPhone and iPad to iCloud

The most secure method of backing up is to use iCloud. The following screenshots are all of an iPhone, but the process and screens on an iPad are absolutely identical. It goes without saying that you must have enough space in your iCloud account to cover the amount of data on your device. If not, you will need to upgrade.

Go to your Settings, and at the top of the screen, tap your name. If necessary, sign into your iCloud account.

ios settings icloud tab

Scroll down and select iCloud.

ios settings icloud

Now tap iCloud Backup.

ios settings icloud backup

The next screen gives you a green toggle. Toggling it to green will schedule a daily automated backup, assuming that the iPhone is plugged into power, locked, and on Wi-Fi. Toggling off will cancel the automated backup, necessitating a manual backup instead. This is obviously not recommended as you will most likely forget to do it.

To begin a backup, tap Back Up Now.

ios settings icloud backup now

You will now get a status message telling you that it is backing up, along with an estimate of how long it will take to finish. You can also cancel the backup if you wish.

ios settings icloud backing up files

How to backup your iPhone and iPad to Mac

If you don’t want to use iCloud, or you want to have a second backup, you can also backup to your Mac computer.

  • First, open Finder and plug in your iOS device with a cable (theoretically, you can also do it via Wi-Fi, but this is notoriously flaky).
  • After entering your PIN code into your iOS device, it should now appear in the sidebar under Locations.
  • In the main part of the window, look at the Backups section. Click Back up all the data on your iPhone to this Mac.
  • It is also recommended that you tick the box for Encrypt local backup, as your passwords will be included in the backup, and encryption protects them from prying eyes.

Bear in mind, though, that if you forget the password, your backup will be useless. There is no password recovery function.

ios backup macos finder

When all is ready, click Back Up Now and just wait for it to finish. There’s no real way to stop the backup process once it begins, so don’t be tempted to pull the cable out or shut the computer.

ios backup macos backing up

How to backup your iPhone and iPad to Windows

If you have an iOS device, you really should be using iCloud for your backups. Considering how cheap it is, there’s really no reason to be using iTunes on Windows these days. The app is virtually an antique now. But if you insist on using it, here’s what you need to do.

  • Launch iTunes and attach your iOS device to your Windows computer with a cable.
  • If this is the first time doing this, you will need to go to Account >Authorize and authorize the computer to access your iOS device. You will also need to enter the PIN code into your iOS device.
  • You’ll be asked on your iOS device screen if you want to trust the Windows computer. Obviously, say yes.
  • When everything connects, click the small smartphone icon at the top of the screen.
windows itunes
Mark O'Neill / Android Authority

You will now be brought to the main backup and restore area for your device.

windows itunes backup UI
  • In the main part of the screen, look at the Backups section. As with the Mac method, select This Computer as the backup location and tick Encrypt local backup.
  • You will be asked to enter and verify a password.
  • When all is ready, click Back Up Now and let iTunes do its work.
windows itunes backup options


Since both the iPhone and the iPad run on the same operating system, you can use one to restore the other. However, any incompatible features in the backup will not transfer over.

No, the backup containing the beta files will be incompatible with the older device.

If you cannot remember the password, then the backup is useless. There is no password recovery function, and the password is needed for the backup to be used to restore a device.

Plug in your device to your computer and open Finder. Click your device in the sidebar, then go to General >Manage Backups. You can see all of your backups here, as well as archive or delete any.

In the Windows Explorer search box, type %appdata%. If you don’t see your backups, enter %USERPROFILE%. Press Return and then double-click Apple >MobileSync >Backup.

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