3 Ways to Back Up Your iPad

Don't take a chance on losing your valuable data

how to backup ipad

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Anyone who's ever lost precious data knows that making backups of your devices is essential. All computers encounter trouble sometimes, and having a backup can be the difference between successfully recovering your files and losing days, months, or even years of data.

Backing up your iPad is just as important as backing up your desktop or laptop computer. You have options for backing up your iPad. The best option for you depends on your needs.

Back Up iPad With iTunes

If you regularly sync your iPad with iTunes, it makes sense to back up your iPad to iTunes. With the right settings, you can sync your iPad to your computer with just a click in iTunes. If you ever need to restore earlier data, you also choose the backup in iTunes. You'll be back up and running in a snap. Here's how:

  1. Connect your iPad to your computer using a USB cable. If iTunes doesn't open automatically, open it.

  2. Tap the iPad icon at the top left side of the iTunes window to open the iPad Summary screen. 

    Selecting iPad icon in iTunes
  3. In the Backups section of the Summary screen, under Automatically Back Up, click the button next to This Computer.

  4. Optionally select Encrypt local backup to generate a backup that includes account passwords, and data from the Health and HomeKit apps. This backup is password protected.

  5. Press Back Up Now to make a backup on the spot.

    iPad Summary screen in iTunes
  6. Verify the backup is complete by checking the date under Latest Backup.

In the Options section of the Summary screen, check Automatically sync when this iPad is connected if it isn't already checked.

Backing up your iPad to iTunes doesn't back up your music. Instead, this backup contains pointers to where your music is stored in your iTunes library. Because of that, it's a good idea to also back up your iTunes library with another kind of backup, whether it's an external hard drive or web-based automatic backup service.

This option also doesn't back up your apps. Apple removed apps from iTunes, but you can redownload your apps from the App Store at any time at no cost directly from the iPad.

Back Up iPad With iCloud

You don't have to back up your iPad using iTunes on a computer. You can back it up to iCloud directly from the iPad. Apple's free iCloud service makes it easy to automatically back up your iPad. To turn on iCloud backup:

  1. Tap Settings on the iPad Home screen.

  2. Tap your name at the top of the left panel and select iCloud on the right side of the screen to open the iCloud settings screen.

    iPad Settings screen
  3. Scroll down and tap iCloud Backup.

    Locating iCloud Backup in iPad Settings
  4. Next to iCloud Backup, move the slider to the On/green position.

    Turning on iCloud Backup on the iPad
  5. Tap Back Up Now for an immediate backup.

With this setting, your iPad automatically backs up wirelessly daily whenever your iPad is connected to Wi-Fi, plugged into a power source, and is locked. All the data is stored in your iCloud account.

Your iCloud account comes with 5GB of free storage, which is sufficient for most people's backups. If that isn't enough for your backups, you can upgrade to 50GB for $0.99 per month, 200GB for $2.99 per month, or 2TB for $9.99 per month.

Your iCloud backup contains your photo library, documents, messages, ringtones, accounts, home configuration, and settings.

An iCloud backup does not back up information that is already stored in iCloud, including Contacts, Calendars, Bookmarks, Mail, Notes, voice memos, and shared photos.

Like iTunes, the iCloud backup doesn't include your apps or music, but you have options:

  • For apps, you don't need to worry about backups. You can redownload any of your apps free from the App Store at any time. 
  • Music is a little more complicated. You can easily redownload music purchased through the iTunes Store. However, for music obtained elsewhere, you have two options: a backup using a hard drive or web-based service or iTunes Match. For $25/year, iTunes Match adds all the songs in your iTunes library, no matter where you got them, to your iCloud account for later redownloading. If you do this before your crash — and maintain your iTunes Match subscription — recovering your music is easy.

Back Up iPad With Third-Party Software

If you'd prefer a complete backup of everything, you need third-party software. The same programs that you can use to transfer music from your iPad to a computer can also, in most cases, be used to create a complete iPad backup. How you do that depends on the program, of course, but most of them allow you to back up more data, apps, and music than either iTunes or iCloud does.

If you want to try this option, check out our tops picks for this type of program.