How to back up your iPhone

With iOS 7 coming out tomorrow (September 18th, 2013), I thought it might be handy to take a minute and make a video on how to back up an iPhone. As readers of this blog (should) know by now, I’m uncomfortable doing anything without a backup (you should be too).

Backing up an iPhone is pretty simple – connect the iPhone to your computer, open iTunes, click the phone, and select back up.

You’ll notice that my iPhone backups are encrypted – if someone got their hands on my MacPro, I don’t need them getting all the info from my iPhone as well. Additionally, selecting an encrypted backup includes nearly all of your passwords, so you won’t have to spend a tonne of time re-entering them all.

If you’re wondering why I don’t just back up to iCloud, it’s easy; my iPhone is 64GB, and iCloud doesn’t remotely cover that.


Quick Tip: How to turn on your iPhone (or other iOS device) password

Here’s a quick tip that will show you how to enable both levels of password security on your iPhone.

Here’s how:

  1. Go into Settings
  2. Click General
  3. Click Passcode Lock

At this point, you have two options – to use the simple four digit passcode (Simple Passcode menu item set to ON), or to use a longer, more robust passcode (Simple Passcode menu item set to OFF).

Personally I change the level of security on my phone depending on circumstance – a long, robust password can be an inconvenience, but sometimes I feel it’s called for (when I’m in an unfamiliar city, for example). Generally, I use the four digit passcode (not the one in the video, obviously).

Using either form of passcode encrypts data on your iPhone. There’s a decent explanation of it available on

  1. Select Simple Passcode on/off
  2. Enter passcode twice
  3. Optionally turn Siri, Passbook, and Reply with Message on/off
  4. Turn Erase Data to ON – this will erase all data on your iPhone after ten incorrect passcode attempts

Please make sure that your passcode/password is something you will remember, the only real way around it is to restore your iPhone from an older backup or to restore your iPhone to factory defaults and start over.

One thing you can do is turn the passcode off, plug your iPhone into iTunes and turn on the encrypted back -up option, and once the back up is done, re-enable the passcode. But this might be more effort than it’s worth for you.

Encrypt iPhone Backup in iTunes