This week’s reader question concerns backing up an iPhone without using a computer.
“I know I need to update the iOS software, but I’m afraid I might lose my saved information if there are any glitches. I have an iCloud account and routinely back up my data. But, being technologically challenged, I am not sure how to retrieve info I might lose.”
In the early days of the iPhone, backups had to be done by connecting the phone to a computer, but as cellular service got faster, it became feasible to send your data over the internet to Apple’s iCloud servers to back it up.
You can still back up your iPhone to your computer with the Lightning cable, but it is a lot easier to go with just the iCloud backup, which sends the data directly from the phone to the cloud.
These days every Apple ID account includes five gigabytes of storage you can use to back up your iPhone data.
This was pretty good when iPhones had eight or 16 gigabytes of onboard storage, but with current iPhones having up to 256 GB, you can fill up your five free gigabytes in a hurry.
Personally, I pay Apple $2.99 per month for 200 GB of iCloud storage that I share with my wife to back up both our iPhones.
The next level up is two terabytes of iCloud storage for $9.99 per month.
My wife and I are currently using 60 GB for photos, 4 GB for iPhone backups, 6 GB for documents from our apps and 5 GB for iMessages. This leaves us 124 GB for future use.
If you open the iCloud preference pane, you can choose which apps are allowed to push their data to iCloud.
There is an option to enable iCloud Backup, which includes some Apple app data, Apple Watch backups, device settings, home screen and app organization, iMessage and text messages, photos and videos, records of your Apple purchase history, ringtones and voicemail.
There are separate buttons in the iCloud preference pane to back up contacts, calendars, bookmarks, notes and voice memos, mail and health data.
The backups happen when your phone is connected to power, locked and on Wi-Fi.
There is also a “back up now” button so you can manually kick off a backup.
If you ever need to use your backup, you’ll need an iPhone (new or used) with no data on it. You should also make sure the new iPhone has enough space to hold all your stuff.
During the initial phone setup, you’ll be asked whether you’d like to restore from your iCloud backup.
You’ll sign in with your Apple ID and you’ll be presented with the available backups on your account.
For full restore instructions, go to support.apple.com/en-us/HT204184.