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Over a year ago, I wrote a blog about backing up your computer, found here. In that blog post, I primarily spoke about backing up your computer, and why it is so important. It is extremely important, and can relieve a lot of potential headaches, so if you haven't checked out that blog post yet, please do so.
Right now, however, I wanted to speak about a different type of backup. This one actually seems to be more and more relevant each day. I couldn't count the number of times that someone has brought me a phone saying, "I dropped my iPhone in the river and now it won't turn on, but I need my pictures off of it."
My initial response is always, "Were you backing up your phone?" The blank stares typically answer my question.
Let's make a few things clear, syncing your information to iCloud is NOT the same as backing up your phone to iCloud. On your iPhone (if you're running iOS 11), if you navigate to Settings > Apple ID at the top of the page > iCloud or if you're on an operating system earlier than iOS 11, simply go to Settings > iCloud which is about halfway down the page, you will see a list of items that can be toggled. This list will include Contacts, Reminders, Photos, Notes, etc., etc.
To make one note - if you're phone does go belly-up, and you purchase a new phone or navigate to iCloud.com, you can retrieve all of those items that were syncing. But quite often, people don't realize exactly what they are synching. Just because iCloud is turned on doesn't mean that all of your pictures are backing up. If you truly want your pictures backed up, you need to enable iCloud Photo Library, which will upload all of your pictures to iCloud.
Don't worry, this is where the staunch opposition of iCloud users get their wish. The most stable way to do a backup...is to your computer. Not only are you backing up your iPhone/iPad to a physical device, hopefully you are backing up your computer, which then technically means you have to backups of your device.
To achieve this, plug your device into your computer (for the sake of this article, we'll use an iPhone). Open up the iTunes on your computer, Mac or PC. Allow a minute for your computer to recognize your device, and then you should see the device button (pictured below).
Once that loads, you will see the option to "Back Up To This Computer" and to "Encrypt iPhone Backup." If you check the box, as show below) then watch the area at the top of iTunes where you currently see the logo, you will see that your device will start backing up.
The best thing about an encrypted iPhone backup to your computer is that it saved all of the passwords, Wifi Settings, Website History, and Health Data, so if you use an Apple Watch, you should absolutely do it this way.
Note: You will have to set a password to encrypt your backup. As with any password, make sure you remember it, because if you don't, you cannot recover that data.