Apple gives you two ways to do this: iCloud, the company's cloud storage solution, or on your home Mac or PC through Apple's desktop software. The upside is that this all happens on your phone and you don't need a cable or laptop to do it. Using the desktop method is a little more involved, and captures a complete backup in fewer steps, but you have to remember to plug your iPhone into your computer to do it, and often. Right now, you'll use Apple's iTunes software, but Apple is doing away with that starting with its next software update, MacOS Catalina , which arrives in October.
After iTunes goes the way of the dodo, Finder will handle iDevice backup duties. We'll take a look at iCloud first. If you're looking for a simpler but less automated method, instructions on how to back up via iTunes follow. Whichever way you decide works best for you, here's how to make sure every byte of important information is saved in an iPhone backup, so you can restore your data and move on with your life. The first and most crucial step in getting a handle on your iCloud backup is to know which apps are being backed up separately from your iPhone's primary backup file, which mostly just saves your personalized settings.
To see a list of apps you can choose to back up individually to iCloud, go to Settings and tap on your name at the top. Beneath the bar graph is a list of Apps Using iCloud.
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If any of these buttons are toggled off, iCloud will not back up data for that app. Unless you're trying to conserve space, you'll want to leave all of these turned on. If you want to see how much space your individual apps are using to help you decide which ones to cut, tap Manage Storage. This will generate a list of all your apps and how much space they're taking up, in order from the most to the least, and will give you the option of deleting their data individually. This is also where you can change your storage plan. If you're like most folks, photos and videos probably take up more room on your iPhone and iCloud backup than any other content.
To decide how you'd like your iPhone and iCloud to handle your camera roll, back out to the previous screen and tap on the first app in the Apps Using iCloud list: Photos.
What are these backup files and why are they taking up so much space?
If all you wanted to back up was your camera roll, the only setting you'd need would be the first toggle listed, labeled iCloud Photos. If you want to save a backup of every photo you take to iCloud indefinitely, flipping this switch on will do just that. Below Photos is a list of every other iCloud-enabled app on your iPhone, starting with Apple's own apps. If your goal is to maintain a complete backup of all the information on your entire phone, all of these toggles need to be turned on.
Besides Photos, the two biggest data hogs using your iCloud storage tend to be Mail and Messages. If you turn off the iCloud backup settings for these two apps, you'll still get emails and messages pushed to all your devices. At the end of the first block of apps you'll see iCloud Backup set to either On or Off. Tapping that setting takes you to a second screen with a toggle switch and an option to Back Up Now. With all the separate settings for your iPhone's various apps on the previous screen, you may wonder what, exactly, is getting backed up.
This setting saves all your other settings that don't belong in any other bucket. Stuff like your default ringtone and text tone, your saved alarms, how long your screen waits before dimming and turning off, etc. Truth is, you could turn this setting off and, even if you lost or broke your phone, when you signed into a new device with your Apple ID, virtually all your data would sync.
That said, this part of the backup takes up some of the least amount of space, so there's really no reason to skip this step. If your goal is to keep as complete a backup in iCloud as possible, and you have enough room in your iCloud account to fit it all, just make sure all the aforementioned settings are On. If you want to dabble with shrinking your backup, go right ahead. Michael -- if you're on a Windows machine, trying running these commands in a Windows Command that has been launched with "Run as Administrator".
Works like a charm! It is exactly what I was looking for to free up space on my C: drive. Thank you so much Aidan! Hi Kalveer, this message suggests your filesystem is FAT-based. I've updated the article to include a mention of why it's not possible to create links on FAT. I've also included a link to instructions on upgrading to NTFS. Good luck! Awesome instructions, thank you!
I think there is a typo on step 5 for Mac. Howdy Greg! Having "Backup" in the path should be correct, as it'll ensure the link that gets created is called "Backup". Makes sense? We've got something up our sleeves to make this a little easier in future. Keep an eye on the release notes. You have provided a fantastic workaround! One thing I wasn't sure about was at step 3 Windows - when you right-click to choose "Open PowerShell window here" , is that in the Explorer window of the now renamed Backup folder? Eg, in the now-named "BackupOld" folder window? Hi Clint, thanks for your kind words.
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What you'll need In order to change your computer's default iTunes backup location, the following is necessary: Medium competency with a PC or Mac 10 minutes An understanding of the desired new backup location path A Mac running macOS Changing the iTunes iOS backup folder automatically The free version of iPhone Backup Extractor will automatically show you your computer's default iTunes backup location -- and let you change it.
Download and install iPhone Backup Extractor. Choose Preferences from the main menu Select Backups from the Preferences window The "Preferences" pane showing backup locations Click the Change button to start the process of changing your iTunes default backup folder. The Explorer window that opens will show a folder named "Backup".
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This contains any iTunes backups which are already present on the computer. In order to change the backup folder's location, this folder must be renamed, moved or deleted.
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As an example, one could rename it to "Backup Old ". Once the "Backup" folder has been renamed, moved or deleted, a symbolic link can be created to the desired backup location. In order to do this, a Command window must be opened. Click that. After restarting Windows, iTunes will store its backups in the new location. Reveal the current backup folder in Finder by entering open. The Finder window that opens will show a folder named "Backup". After restarting the Mac, iTunes will store its backups in the new location.
How to restore the iTunes backup folder to its original location If you've taken the steps above, and you'd like to rever the change, the process is straightforward: Browse to the iTunes backup folder. Delete the Backup symlink that will appear there. Drag your original Backup folder back in, renaming it if necessary to match its original name. Other challenges? It's easy to solve this, and there are two options: Drag the folder back to where you found originally. About the author Aidan Fitzpatrick founded Reincubate in after building the world's first iPhone data recovery tool, iPhone Backup Extractor.
How can we help? Our support team are here to help! We aim to reply to all messages within one working day. Comments 21 ML by Mike L.
Where Are iTunes Backups Stored on Windows PC/Mac? [Solved]
September 30 th , A fix to the insufficient permissions error-- Since I got the permissions insufficient in both cmd and powershell. A by Aaron September 16 th , Hello Aidan! Hi Aaron, thanks for the comment. M by Mohamed September 3 rd , I tried it, the following error popped up.. Check the spelling of the name , or if a path was included , verify that the path is correct and try again.
S by Sean August 9 th , M by Max July 27 th , Thank you for the article. Here are a few notes to help somebody. J by Joe July 25 th , J by Jess July 16 th , H by Hogan July 4 th , Hi Aidan, Thanks for your amazing instructions! Looking forward to your further clarification.