How to Back Up Your iPhone and iPad Without Using iCloud

Users concerned about security and the amount of storage can use iTunes or Google Drive

Woman Holding Drink and iPhone in Front of Macbook / How to Back Up Your iPhone and iPad Without Using iCloud
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September 14, 2016

Cloud computing is no longer a nebulous, futuristic idea; it is a reality in the here and now. Users ranging from multinational corporations to individuals use the cloud for storage and backing up their files.

Unfortunately, cloud services range in quality, and many Apple users prefer not to use iCloud to back up their devices due to security concerns. Fortunately, other options are available.

Backing Up with iTunes

Creating a back-up of your device using iTunes is one of the most straightforward methods of backing up data, and it ensures that you have a backed-up version on your computer.

To start backing up data on iTunes, follow these steps:

  1. Plug the phone into the computer
  2. Open iTunes
  3. Select File, then Devices, then Transfer Purchases

This method saves all content purchased on the App Store or the iTunes Store onto the computer. After this, every time you use a USB cable to plug your device into your computer, or plug it in through a connection with another piece of hardware like a speaker dock, the device is automatically backed up fast.

You can also back up the device manually while in iTunes. You might need to do this if you will be transferring your data to a new device soon or will be installing a new version of iOS. The process is simple:

  1. With the device plugged in and iTunes open, right-click the device in the Source pane on the left side of the screen
  2. Choose Back Up

You can also use this method to manually restore a device from a backup version stored in iTunes. Simply follow the above steps, but choose Restore from Backup instead of Back Up. Note that iTunes will automatically offer to restore a device from a stored backup if you connect a new blank device to the computer, so you may not need to manually restore it.

Backing Up with Google Drive

Another option users may want to consider is Google Drive. Although, like iCloud, it is a cloud-based service, Google Drive offers much more free storage space. You can use it to store a backup of your device online, which is useful at those times when something causes your computer not to work.

Follow these steps to back up your device using Google Drive:

  1. Download the Google Drive application for Windows or Mac
  2. Run the application
  3. Sign in and follow the steps to set up the service with the setup wizard
  4. Click Done

Need to sync your files? No problem! Here's what you do on a PC:

  1. Open File Explorer
  2. Search for Users and open the folder when it appears. Note that you need to Search This PC, not just the Current Folder or All Subfolders
  3. Find your username and click on it
  4. Open AppData, then Roaming, then Apple Computer, then MobileSync, then Backup
  5. Find the most recent backup version and right click it
  6. Press copy, then select your Google Drive folder and press paste

Your backup is now uploading! Note that the time this will take will depend on your internet speed and the size of the file.

Mac users should follow these instructions:

  1. Go to Library, then Application Support, then MobileSync, then Backup
  2. Copy and paste the most recent backup version into your Google Drive folder.

If you have trouble finding the backup on either a PC or a Mac, open iTunes and go to iTunes Preferences, then to Devices. Control click or right click the appropriate backup, then click Show in Folder or Finder. This will take you to the location of your backup.

Google Drive is a great option for many users. Note, however, that if you ever need to download a backup from Google Drive, you must put it in the exact same file location from which you originally uploaded it.

Backing Up Using Hardware

If neither iTunes nor Google Drive is to your taste, you can always put a backup version onto a form of hardware such as an external hard drive or USB thumb drive.

The procedure for doing this is the same as it is for backing up in Google Drive except that instead of pasting the backup into Google Drive, you have to find the hardware device in the file explorer and paste it there.

Preventative Measures and Data Recovery

Backing up your devices is a good habit to cultivate, but there are also other measures you can take to lower the risk of losing your data. These include putting your device in a case and keeping it away from water.

Finally, if something happens and you are unable to recover some piece of vital data, you can hire a data recovery company, but these are often very expensive and take time. It's better to back up your data as many ways as possible.

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