How to Back Up Your iCloud Contacts and Calendar Data

Keep your contacts and calendar data available even during outages

Like any cloud-based service, iCloud is susceptible not only to local server-based problems that can cause brief outage issues but also to wide-area interconnect problems that can cause it to be unavailable when you need it the most. These types of problems can be beyond Apple's control. They can involve your local ISP, network gateways and routers, Internet connections, peering points, and half a dozen other points of failure that can occur between you and the Apple cloud servers.

That's why it's a good idea to always keep a current local backup of the documents and data you're storing in iCloud.

Instructions in this article apply to OS X 10.7 (Lion) and later.

How to Back Up Calendars From Your Mac

iCloud stores data in an application-centric system. That is, instead of a pool of storage space you have direct access to, storage space is assigned to each app that uses iCloud; only that app has access to its storage space.

This means that you'll need to use various apps to do the backing up for you.

  1. Launch Calendar from your Mac's Applications folder.

    Calendar app on a Mac
  2. If the Calendar sidebar, which shows all of the individual calendars, isn't displayed, click the Calendars button in the toolbar.

    Calendar button in the upper-left
  3. From the Calendar sidebar, select the calendar you wish to back up.

    Calendar sidebar
  4. Under the File menu, mouse over the Export option and click Export in the submenu that appears.

    Export under the File menu
  5. Use the Save dialog box to browse to a location on your Mac to store the backup, and then click the Export button.

    The exported file will be in the iCal (.ics) format.

    Export button
  6. Repeat these steps for any other calendars you wish to back up.

How to Back Up Calendars From iCloud

You have another option to save your data from the Calendars app: using the official iCloud website.

  1. Go to the iCloud website.

    Managing your Apple ID online
  2. Log in to iCloud.

    Managing your Apple ID online
  3. On the iCloud web page, click the Calendar icon.

    Calendar on iCloud site
  4. Select the calendar you wish to back up.

  5. To the right of the calendar name that appears in the sidebar, you'll see the calendar sharing icon. It looks similar to the AirPort wireless signal strength icon in the Mac's menu bar. Click the icon to reveal the sharing options for the selected calendar.

    Share Calendar icon
  6. Place a checkmark in the Public Calendar box.

    Public Calendar box
  7. Click Copy link.

    Copy link
  8. Paste the copied URL into the Safari web browser's address bar and replace webcal with http.

  9. The calendar will be downloaded to your designated downloads folder in the .ics format.

    The calendar's file name may be a long string of seemingly random characters. This is normal. You can use the Finder to rename the file if you wish; just be sure to maintain the.ics suffix.

  10. Repeat the above process for any other calendars you want to backup from iCloud to your Mac.

How to Back Up Contacts from Your Mac

You can also manually download your contact data for safekeeping in case you need to access it offline. Here's what to do.

  1. Launch Contacts from your Applications folder.

    Contacts in the Applications folder
  2. If the Groups sidebar isn't displayed, select Show Groups under the View menu.

    The keyboard shortcut to show and hide groups is Shift+Command+1.

    Show Groups
  3. Click All Contacts to ensure you get a complete backup.

    All Contacts
  4. Select Export under the File menu, and then click Export vCard from the submenu.

    Export vCard
  5. Use the Save dialog box to select a location on your Mac to store the backup.

  6. Click Save.

How to Back Up Contacts From iCloud

Like Calendars, you can also back up your contacts from the iCloud website.

  1. Go to the iCloud website.

    Managing your Apple ID online
  2. Log in to iCloud.

    Managing your Apple ID online
  3. On the iCloud web page, click the Contacts icon.

    Calendar on iCloud site
  4. Click All Contacts.

    All Contacts
  5. Click the gear icon in the bottom left corner of the sidebar.

  6. From the pop-up, select Export vCard.

    Export vCard
  7. The contacts will be exported to a .vcf file in your Downloads folder. Your Mac's Contacts app may automatically launch and ask if you wish to import the .vcf file. You can quit the Contacts app on your Mac without importing the file.

Backup Schedule

You should consider backing up your iCloud files as part of a good backup strategy and include it in your routine practice. How often you need to perform this procedure depends on how often your Contacts and Calendar data changes.