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How to back up iPhone complete guide

How to back up iPhone: 6 different ways

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It is generally recommended to back up your iPhone every two weeks. This way, you can prevent massive data loss in case things go not-quite-as-you-expected… And sometimes, things tend to do just that. Backups are a great help if your iPhone gets broken, damaged, stolen or if you erase data from it by mistake. Backing up is also a great trick to pull if you decided to switch to a newer iPhone. In this case, backup and restore operations will help you transfer your data, messages, settings, etc. If you found yourself asking “How to save my iPhone data?”, check out the 6 ways below.

Backup manual for iPhone users

If you are an iPhone user, consider yourself lucky: Apple has already given you two great solutions to back up. You can use iCloud for online and iTunes for offline backups. Both have their up- and downsides that we are going to cover. But we are not going to stop at that! There is actually a range of alternative opportunities, such as using specialized software for iPhone backups or resorting to cloud drives other than iCloud. Alternatively, you may choose to back up photos or music only. If so, we have a couple of solutions for you at the end of the article.

Let’s take a closer look at each of the ways. You can choose to read the complete guide or select one of the methods from below:

Back up to computer with CopyTrans Shelbee

If you want an application that is specifically designed to perform backups, we have the product you need – CopyTrans Shelbee. Like iTunes, the application will allow you to back up Settings, Messages, Camera Roll and much more. If interested, you can see the full list here. Unlike iTunes, it will validate your backup upon creation, making sure you can restore from it later. It will also allow you to save your apps, run partial backup (only the latest changes) and selective restore (restore only the data types you need).

In this guide, we will only cover creating a full backup with CopyTrans Shelbee. You can also back up the latest changes only (you need to have at least one full backup for that).

To make a backup with CopyTrans Shelbee:

  1. Make sure you have the app on your PC. You can download it here:

    Download CopyTrans Shelbee

  2. Install the application. If you need help installing the program, refer to the installation guide.

  3. Run CopyTrans Shelbee and connect your iPhone. Choose “Backup”.

    CopyTrans Shelbee main screen

  4. Choose “Full Backup”.

    Full iPhone backup with CopyTrans Shelbee

  5. Select the folder where you want to place your backup. If you see the message “This backup will be encrypted”, it means that your device has an iOS backup password (see what it means under Step 7). Also, you can choose to save the apps* by checking the box in the lower part of the screen.

    Shelbee select the backup folder


    Shelbee will back up your apps and app data (such as game scores) provided that they are on the App Store at the time of the backup. Once your app data is in the backup, CopyTrans Shelbee will restore the apps regardless.

  6. If you chose to save your apps, you will need to enter your App Store credentials (Apple ID and password). Due to a technical limitation, CopyTrans Shelbee can only access the app data on the App Store, not your device. As the operation will be performed over the internet, make sure you have an active internet connection.

    Back up iPhone apps: App Store login screen

  7. On the next screen, enter your iOS backup password. The program will use it to validate the integrity of the backup, making sure you can restore later. If you forgot the combination, try our tips on how to remember iOS backup password or this Apple guide on how to turn off backup encryption.

    validate iPhone backup with Shelbee

  8. Wait while CopyTrans Shelbee performs the backup. Do not disconnect the device and be patient. Backing up is a complex procedure and may take a significant amount of time, especially if you chose to back up your apps: the process happens over the internet, which takes extra time.

    Backup iPhone with Shelbee

  9. Success! Your data is waiting for you in the folder of your choice.
    iPhone backup complete with Shelbee

Now that your backup is ready, you can restore it to your iPhone fully or partially anytime using CopyTrans Shelbee. You can even extract the data to your PC using CopyTrans Backup Extractor. Also, next time you can make an incremental backup, saving only the latest changes and space on your hard drive.

How to back up to iCloud

Aside from specialized software, one of the most popular ways to back up your device is through iCloud. Now, the advantage of this method is that it is quick, you can perform it from anywhere and, should trouble come, the data will be accessible directly from the Apple servers. The flip side of the coin is your personal data will be stored on the Apple servers, and the free 5GB of iCloud storage will fill up pretty quickly. Not okay with paying for more iCloud storage? Use either of the other two methods or read our guide on how to be economical with iCloud storage.

If the iCloud solution is the one for you, here are the steps:

  1. Make sure you have an active internet connection.
  2. On your iPhone, go to Settings → your Apple ID (sign in if not already signed in) → iCloud → iCloud Backup.

    Find iCloud backup section on iPhone

  3. You will see a backup summary screen with the date and time of your last backup. Press Back Up Now to initiate a new one.

    Choose to Back Up Now with iCloud

  4. Wait until iCloud completes the backup; be sure not to disconnect your iPhone from the internet.

    iCloud backup in progress

  5. Your iCloud backup is ready!

If you want to schedule regular backups to iCloud, make sure you enable iCloud Backup in Settings → your Apple ID → iCloud → iCloud Backup. Once the switch next to iCloud Backup is on, your iPhone will be backed up automatically every day. You will, of course, need to make space for regular backups in your iCloud, which would probably mean upgrading your iCloud storage plan, especially if you have a big storage capacity on your iPhone.

Important fact

If you switch on automatic iCloud backups, your phone will stop making automatic backups every time upon connecting to iTunes. Jump to the right section to run a manual backup with iTunes.

enable automatic iCloud backup for iPhone

How to use cloud storage options

Cloud drives are not, strictly speaking, complex backup solutions – they will not allow you to save your settings, passwords, messages, etc. They will, however, serve you well to store your files – documents, presentations, images, videos, and much more. The advantages of cloud drives are that they are usually quick, cost-effective and you can always choose a payment plan that suits you better. On the other hand, you become dependent on the drive’s servers – if they shut down, the data becomes inaccessible. Other risks include data leakages and vendor lock-ins (when you can’t transfer your data to another cloud drive). To compensate for the drawbacks, we recommend also making a traditional backup to your PC (with iTunes or specialized software).

Some drives that enjoy the most popularity are:

Dropbox logo


One of the most popular solutions with iPhone users, despite that it only allows you 2GB of free space. However, you can boost the storage available in Dropbox by completing small “challenges”. It is an ideal solution for storing lightweight docs, PowerPoint presentations, photos and videos. What makes the service special is the “remote wipe” feature, allowing you to delete the data off your device should it be lost or fall into the wrong hands.

OneDrive logo


A solution much favoured by businessmen, OneDrive will now allow you 5GB of free storage before purchasing an upgrade plan. Conveniently enough, OneDrive is sometimes pre-installed on Windows, making it a good starting point to get familiar with cloud drives. If you are a Mac user, it is possible to get from the App Store. Additionally, OneDrive has the “Personal Vault” feature, which means storing your files in the area with increased security layer.

Google Drive logo

Google Drive

Google Drive is a great solution if you can’t get by 5 or let alone 2GB of free storage. It offers 15GB of storage space for free, but note that this will be shared across all Google services, such as Google Photo and Gmail account. If not sure about Google limitations, see what files count towards your storage limit. Google Drive is a preferred choice with teams because of how easy it is to share and collectively edit data. It is also much loved by Android users.

How to back up with iTunes

iPhone users are known to have a “love and hate relationship” with iTunes: partly because of its speed, partly because of its functionality, and partly because some people just want to hate iTunes. Nothing personal… The fact is, iTunes is still the only offline solution Apple offers to back up your iPhone. On the positive side, the backup is always at hand, and the data is safe and sound on your PC. The possible disadvantage is that iTunes doesn’t validate your backup upon creating it, meaning you can discover that the backup is corrupted or encrypted the very moment you need it to restore your data. If you wish to validate your backups upon creation, we offer a technical solution of our own development, CopyTrans Shelbee. To give it a try, scroll upwards for a guide on how to use the tool.

If you would rather stick with good old iTunes, here are the steps:

  1. Launch iTunes and connect your device to the PC.
  2. Choose to Trust Computer on your iPhone and enter your passcode to confirm.

    Tell iPhone to trust computer

  3. In iTunes window, go to File → Devices, then click on Backup to initiate the process.

    Start to back up iPhone with iTunes

  4. The top iTunes bar will then change and become an indicator of the backup progress.

    Back up iPhone with iTunes

Important fact

If you want your iPhone backup to include your saved passwords, wi-fi settings, website history and health data, you will need to encrypt your backup – if it doesn’t have a password already. To check whether your device is encrypted and manage your password settings:

  • Click on the iPhone icon at the top iTunes panel.
    Find you iPhone in iTunes
  • You will see info about your device and its backups, indicating the time of the last backup and password management options. You can then see whether your backup is password-protected (there will be a check next to “Encrypt local backup”) and run a backup or restore.
    Check the backup settings in iTunes

Back up iPhone photos and videos with CopyTrans Photo

CopyTrans Photo logo

If photos carry the most weight (both figuratively and literally) on your iPhone and you want to make a backup but don’t want to pay for iCloud storage, we have developed the product for you – CopyTrans Photo. You can download and try it here:

Download CopyTrans Photo

Now that you have it, you won’t need to enable iCloud Photo Library in order to save your pictures to PC. CopyTrans Photo takes the whole photo transferring process completely offline, making you iCloud and iTunes independent. Besides, it will back up camera roll photos and videos and pictures from Photo Library (those that you transferred or saved to your device), while iTunes will only do the first two. To add a cherry on top, CopyTrans Photo will allow you a two-way transfer: both to and from your PC.

If you feel like you need guidance, refer to our article on how to back up your photos to PC.

Back up iPhone music with CopyTrans

CopyTrans logo

If you only need to back up your music library to either iTunes or just a convenient location on your PC, we know how to help you, since we have designed our own app, CopyTrans, specifically for this purpose. The application will allow you to back up your entire iPhone/iPod/iPad music library (including playlists and meta info) to any folder on your PC. It can also help to export selected tracks. CopyTrans comes in handy as a supplement for traditional full backups, since they almost never include music. You can download and try the app here:

Download CopyTrans

After you have downloaded and installed the program, follow our guides: they will show you how to back up your music to iTunes or make a complete music backup to a PC folder.


We hope that this article has served you well to help identify and perform the type of backup you need. Backing up your data is never a bad idea, and knowing how to do it properply ensures that your iPhone stands protected against data loss at all times. Do not forget to do it every now and then – we recommend making both online and offline backups because they complement each other. If the worst has come to the worst, and you need to bring your data back to life, here is the article on how to restore your iPhone from a backup.

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By Maria CopyTrans

Maria is our tech support specialist who takes a particular delight in languages, games, experiments and concert whistling. Tweet tweet.