How to use iCloud or Wifi Sync to automatically backup your iPhone, iPad (Mini), and iPod Touch

With more and more information being stored on your iOS device, it is all the more critical to keep regular backups of your iPhone, iPad (Mini) or iPod Touch. If you happen to lose your iDevice and have a recent backup, it is quite easy to restore all of your content onto a replacement device. The problem is trying to remember to manually backup your device on a regular basis. Thankfully, there are 2 ways to set up automatic backups on your iPhone, iPad (Mini), and iPod Touch in iOS 6: iCloud and Wifi Sync.

How to setup and use iCloud backup1. How to set up and use iCloud backups

With the introduction of iCloud, came the option for automatic backups. You can set up an iCloud account for free when you have an iOS device running the latest operating system or a Mac running Lion or Mountain Lion (Click here for Apple’s tutorial on how to setup an iCloud account on your iOS device: Set up iCloud). Once you have iCloud set up, you can enable automatic backups. Open up the Settings App and go to iCloud –> Storage & Backup. Here you will be able to switch iCloud Backup on as well as view your available online storage. Each iCloud account comes with 5 GB of free storage. If you need more space, you can upgrade to 10 GB for $20/yr, 20 GB for $40/yr, and 50 GB for $100/yr. For most users, the free account will be enough storage. Once you have turned on iCloud Backup, your device will automatically backup any time the device is plugged in and connected to a Wifi connection. Typically, this will happen overnight as you charge your device. That way, you never have to think about the backup and you will have a current backup in case you lose your iDevice.

How to iPhone, iPad (Mini), and iPod Touch2. How to set up and use Wifi Sync for automatic backups

The current version of iOS allows for Wifi Syncing. This means that you can sync your device over a Wifi connection with your iTunes account on your Mac or PC. The sync will be slower than a plugged in connection but the wireless convenience makes it worth it. To use this feature, you will need a computer that is running the most recent version of iTunes. In addition, the computer must remain on and iTunes running in order for an automatic sync and backup to happen (this is one of the reasons why iCloud Backups are preferable to Wifi Syncing Backups). To enable automatic backups via Wifi Sync, open up the Settings App. Go to General –> iTunes Wi-Fi Sync. From here you can manually Sync your iOS device and you can also see when the last sync occurred. Your iDevice will automatically sync with iTunes whenever it is charging and on the same Wi-Fi network as your computer running iTunes. An automatic backup is created whenever you sync your device to your computer. So, the last sync typically tells you when your last backup occurred.

How to iPhone, iPad (Mini), and iPod TouchIf you discover that your device does not automatically sync and create a backup to iTunes when it is plugged in and connected to the same Wifi network, here are a couple of troubleshooting tips:

  • Make sure your computer is running the most recent version of iTunes and that your iOS device is running the most recent version of iOS.
  • Make sure your computer is set to not go to sleep automatically. You can have the display go to sleep but keep the computer itself running. Make sure iTunes is open and running as well.
  • Make sure you have activated two key device settings in iTunes on your computer: “Automatically sync when this iPhone -or iPad (Mini) or iPod Touch- is connected” and “Sync with this iPhone (or other iOS device) over Wi-Fi”. You can find these settings by clicking on the Summary tab of your iOS device in iTunes when the device is connected to iTunes via the USB charge-sync cable that came with the device.

By enabling and setting up iCloud or Wi-Fi sync, your device should backup every night as long as you charge your device and are in Wi-Fi range. This will ensure that if your device is lost or stolen, you can quickly and easily restore all of your apps, music, documents, settings, and everything else that was on your iOS device.

8 thoughts on “How to use iCloud or Wifi Sync to automatically backup your iPhone, iPad (Mini), and iPod Touch

  1. It is worth mentioning that the wifi sync to your computer will provide a “Full” backup of your iDevice’s contents whereas an iCloud backup is only of the most important data on your iDevice. The iCloud backup, whereas quite a bit more convenient and able to be executed anywhere in the world where you can plug in your iDevice and secure a wifi connection, is not as complete a back up as one done over wifi to your computer. This is important to know before doing a “restore from backup.” You want to make sure that if you are doing iCloud backups as a matter of habit that you do a full backup to your computer before “restoring your iPhone from backup.” This will insure your restore from backup will be as complete as possible.

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