How To Back Up Your iPhone: Complete Step-by-Step Guide

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by Jack Taylor | Last Updated:  November 29, 2019

The iPhone increasingly has become an essential asset to our everyday way of living. With it, we communicate via text, record photos and videos, and customize it to our liking. But how does one back-up the iPhone? More importantly, how can one be certain that it is backed up every day without fail?

There are three different ways that you can back up your iPhone. You can manually back-up your iPhone to a computer, or turn on Wi-Fi syncing to accomplish the same. However, if you choose to back-up your iPhone to iCloud, it will automatically back up every day without any interaction on your part.

Backing up your iPhone is so incredibly important, and here’s why: If your phone dies for any reason, or if it gets lost or stolen, you can rest assured with confidence knowing that everything on your phone is backed up and can be restored to another iPhone. In other words, there is hope of getting all of that information back.

Today, people’s lives are on their phones. In fact, you have more personal private information on your phone right now than can be found in your home where you live. Think of it. You bank on your phone. Your e-mail is on your phone. Your private text messages are on your phone. All of your memories are captured in pictures on your phone. Why would you risk losing all of that personal private information?

Apple offers three ways for you to back up your phone to ensure that your memories, settings, apps, documents, music and more, are not lost should your phone die, get lost or stolen.

How to Back Up Your iPhone

1) Back Up Your Phone to Your Computer

You trust your computer. You trust the process of backing up your data to your computer. I get it. If you want to back up your iPhone to your computer, simply follow these steps. If I may, however, please keep reading, as I make a great case for backing up to iCloud.

Here’s how to back up your iPhone to your Mac.

  1. Connect your iPhone to your computer using a USB cable.
  2. Open up Finder on your Mac, and select your iPhone on the left had side.
  3. Click General at the top of the Finder window.
  4. Select “Back up all of the data on your iPhone to this Mac”
  5. If you want, you can encrypt your backup and protect it with a password by selecting Encrypt Local Backup.
  6. Click Back Up Now.

Here’s how to back up your iPhone to your PC using Windows.

  1. Connect your iPhone to your computer using a USB cable.
  2. Open up iTunes and click the iPhone button near the top left of the iTunes window.
  3. Click Summary.
  4. Click the Back Up Now link (below Backups).
  5. If you want, you can encrypt your backup and protect it with a password by selecting Encrypt Local Backup.

Word of Caution: If you do choose to Encrypt Local Backup, understand that the ONLY way you can restore your backup, is if you enter the password you created when creating the backup. Understand that if you forget your password, there is no other way to restore the backup.

2) Back Up Your iPhone by Turning on Wi-Fi Syncing

You could turn on Wi-Fi Syncing, which would wirelessly back up your iPhone to your computer. The benefit to this method of backing up your data is that it backs up the data on your iPhone automatically when connected to the Wi-Fi that your computer is connected to. It does this when you are plugged in and not in use overnight.

If Using a macOS Catalina:

  1. Connect your iPhone to your computer using a USB cable.
  2. Open up Finder on your Mac, and select your iPhone on the left hand side. If you are using an earlier version of macOS, you will have to use iTunes.
  3. Click General at the top of the window.
  4. Select “Show this [device] when on Wi-Fi.”

If Using Windows:

  1. You will need to click the iPhone button at the top of your iTunes window.
  2. Click Summary
  3. Select “Show this [device] when on Wi-Fi” under Options.
  4. Click Apply

Now, every time your iPhone is plugged into a power outlet and connected over Wi-Fi to your Mac or to iTunes on your Windows PC, your iPhone will automatically sync to your computer creating a Back Up.

3) Back Up Your Phone to iCloud

Some people like to see their content backed up. They like the assurance that they their data is there with them, on a computer. But what happens if that computer dies or gets stolen? What happens if there is a fire and you loose that computer? Personally, I find this too risky, which is why I highly recommend that you back up your iPhone to iCloud.

Here’s how to back up your iPhone to iCloud

  1. Tap the Settings app.
  2. Tap <Your Name> (at the top of the screen).
  3. Tap iCloud (in the second section).
  4. Ensure that everything on this screen that you want to back up is toggled ON (green). Be sure to toggle Photos (toward the top) ON.
  5. Tap iCloud Backup (now would be a great time to toggle this setting to the ON position).
  6. Tap Back Up Now.

Once your phone has finished backing up, you can tap back three times to get to the Settings homepage.

3 Reasons Why You Should Use iCloud to Back Up Your iPhone

All of your memories and data are stored in a secure encrypted environment, accessible only to you, at any time from anywhere.

Every photo you have ever taken, every setting on your iPhone, every app you have downloaded, every text message and a whole lot more are automatically backed up to iCloud for you. All of your memories are backed up.

Once set up, you never have to give it a second thought. Ever. If for some reason your phone suffered catastrophic damage, was lost or stolen, you would never need to concern yourself with the data on your iPhone. It would already be backed up, and could easily be downloaded onto either a new iPhone or to an older iPhone you have been keeping just in case.

Restoring a backup to your iPhone is only possible if you provide your Apple Username, (the e-mail address you used to set up your phone), and your Apple ID (your Apple password). There literally is no other way to gain access to that data. If you know your Apple ID and your Apple ID password, you (and only you), can easily restore your data.

You don’t have to remember to do this, it does it automatically for you . . . when you are sleeping . . . every day.

Using iCloud to back up your data is the most secure means of backing up your data. If you were to back up to your desktop or laptop computer, you risk loosing that back up. For example, what if your computer dies? What if it were destroyed in a fire? There is no guarantee that your computer will not suffer a hardware failure, get lost or even stolen.

Knowing that everything is always backed up to iCloud on a daily basis will give you peace of mind. Your data is encrypted, meaning that it can’t be read unless unlocked with your Apple ID and your Apple ID Password, and again, you are the only one that has that information. You don’t have to worry about loosing your data. The back up just works every time . . . all the time.

iCloud storage fees are ridiculously inexpensive.

Every iPhone comes with 5 gigs of storage for free. For most people, (90%+ ?), that’s just not enough storage. If you have a 64 GB iPhone, and you have used 20 GB of disk space already, your iPhone won’t be able to back up to iCloud, because the free version only offers 5 GB of space. What is the solution?

Spend a whopping .99 cents a month, and you’ll get 50 GB of iCloud storage. That’s right. Ninety-nine cents. After doing so, you can rest assured that all of your memories and data are safe and sound. That comes to 3 pennies a day for 50 GB a month. You can afford 3 pennies a day.

How to Increase Your iCloud Storage From 5 GB to 50 GB for 3 Pennies a Day

From your iPhone:

  1. Tap the Settings app
  2. Tap <Your Name> (at the top of the screen)
  3. Tap iCloud (in the second section)
  4. Tap Manage Storage (in the top section)
  5. Tap Choose Storage Plan
  6. Tap the storage plan of your choice

Backing up your iPhone is not hard. In fact, by using iCloud to back up your data, once you set it up, you never have to bother with it again. If you want to see when your last successful back up occurred, simply follow these 5 easy steps:

  1. Tap the Settings app
  2. Tap <Your Name> (at the top of the screen)
  3. Tap iCloud (in the second section)
  4. Scroll down and tap, iCloud Backup
  5. If iCloud Backup is enabled, look at the last line, which will read, “Last successful backup:“. The date and time of the backup will be displayed.

Note that you can upgrade your iCloud storage plan at any time, should you need more storage. Additionally, you can downgrade your iCloud storage plan if you find that you are not utilizing as much iCloud storage as you thought you might.

Closing Thoughts

Of the three methods of backing up your iPhone available to you, backing up to iCloud is the easiest and most secure way to back up your iPhone. It only takes 6 seconds to manually start a backup to iCloud (I know, I just timed myself).

Regardless of which method of backup you decide upon, make your choice right now and follow through by backing up your device today. Doing so just may save you a lot of heartache.


Jack has been helping people with computers needs for several years, and he loves to help people succeed. He brings a wealth of wisdom and insight from an entrepreneur's perspective and enjoys freelance writing. In fact, when he's not writing an article or working on his YouTube channel, you might find him binge-watching Suits or formatting his computer . . . again, just for fun. To learn more about Jack, click here.