Backing up your iPhone will come in handy if you ever lose your phone or need to transfer contacts to a new device. Your iPhone probably contains hundreds of pictures of places you visited, the moments you shared, and adorable pet photos you captured.
Backups are also a good way to restore your phone if something happens to iOS, or you’re sick of dealing with a buggy beta. We recommend creating regular backups of your phone to avoid losing pictures, contacts, and any important files that you’ve downloaded.
Thankfully, backing up an iPhone is easy, and you can update your backup automatically. This guide shows you how to back up an iPhone using Finder, iTunes, and iCloud.
MacOS Catalina or newer: Use Finder
Apple did away with iTunes as we know it on MacOS Catalina. In its place is a new Music app with the iTunes logo. However, it’s not used for iPhone backups. Instead, Apple moved that functionality to Finder.
Step 1: Plug your iPhone into your Mac running MacOS Catalina or newer. Note that on modern MacBooks, you’ll need a USB-C adapter or a USB-C-to-Lightning cable.
Step 2: Open Finder and select the iPhone listed on the left.
Step 3: Click the blue Trust button displayed on the right.
Step 4: On the iPhone, a Trust This Computer prompt appears. Tap Trust and enter the passcode to continue.
Step 5: Back in Finder, click the Back Up Now button under the General tab.
A status bar along the bottom will show the backup progress. This may take some time, so go grab a snack during the wait. Take note that Finder also provides tools to encrypt the local backup (enabled by default), restore an iPhone from a backup, sync all media to the Mac, and so on.
MacOS Mojave and earlier, or Windows 10: Use iTunes
While Apple is phasing iTunes out, it still works on Macs running MacOS Mojave and earlier, and Windows 10 PCs. It can act as a great backup utility for your iPhone’s most important memories. The following instructions are based on iTunes for Windows 10.
Step 1: Connect the iPhone to your Mac or Windows 10 PC’s USB port. You may need a USB-C adapter or a USB-C-to-Lightning cable, depending on the PC.
Step 2: Open iTunes and click Continue on the prompt. It merely asks if the computer can access the connected iPhone.
Step 3: On the iPhone, a Trust This Computer prompt appears. Tap Trust and enter the passcode to continue.
Step 4: In iTunes, click the little iPhone button near the top left corner, as shown above. If iTunes doesn’t appear to recognize your device, follow these Apple help steps.
Step 5: Select Summary listed on the left.
Step 6: Select Encrypt Local Backup, type a password, and then click Set Password if you want to encrypt the backup. Make sure to remember your chosen password or store it in a password manager.
Step 7: Click the Back Up Now button listed under Backups.
When the backup process is complete, look for an entry under Latest Backups to confirm whether the backup was successful.
How to use iCloud
Apple’s iCloud is a service that can handle backups manually or automatically and will whisk your files away to a remote cloud server. With this feature enabled, there’s no worry about losing photos and other important data if one of your iCloud-connected devices bites the dust.
Keep in mind that the free version is currently restricted to 5GB of data, so don’t expect to back up all your photos and videos. However, Apple provides three premium storage options for up to 2TB of space.
Step 1: Open Settings and tap on your name (aka Apple ID).
Step 2: Tap iCloud. If you haven’t used it before, you may wish to select which applications or files your iCloud backup should target.
Step 3: Scroll down and tap iCloud Backup.
Step 4: Tap the Toggle next to iCloud Backup to turn it on (green).
Step 5: To manually back up the iPhone now, tap Back Up Now.
If the backup was successful, a confirmation appears under the Back Up Now button. For more information on how to use iCloud on your iOS device and other operating systems and platforms, check out our in-depth look at how to use iCloud.
Safe and secure
Nothing protects you better from life’s little accidents like backing up your iPhone. A nice, solid case can help protect the hardware, but we can’t make any guarantees. At the very least, you can make sure your data is safe and sound.