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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All computers encounter trouble, and having a backup can be the difference between successfully recovering files and losing days, months, or years of data. Backing up your iPad is just as important as backing up your desktop or laptop computer. You have three options for backing up your iPad.

Back Up iPad With iTunes

If you regularly sync your iPad with iTunes, 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 need to restore earlier data, choose the backup in iTunes.

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

  2. Tap the iPad icon in the upper-left corner of the iTunes window to open the iPad Summary screen. 

    iPad icon in iTunes on macOS
  3. In the Backups section, select 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. Select Back Up Now to make a backup.

    Back Up Now button in iTunes on macOS
  6. Verify the backup is complete by checking the date under Latest Backup.

  7. In the Options section, select Automatically sync when this iPad is connected.

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, also back up your iTunes library with another type of backup such as an external hard drive or a web-based automatic backup service.

This option also doesn't back up your apps. Apple removed apps from iTunes, but you can redownload 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. Instead, 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. In the left panel, tap your name.

  3. In the right panel, select iCloud to open the iCloud settings screen.

    iCloud button in iPad settings app
  4. Scroll down and tap iCloud Backup.

    iCloud Backup button in iOS Settings on iPad
  5. Turn on the iCloud Backup toggle switch.

    iCloud Backup toggle in iOS settings on iPad
  6. Tap Back Up Now for an immediate backup.

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

iCloud comes with 5 GB of free storage, which is sufficient for most backups. If that isn't enough, upgrade to 50 GB for $0.99 per month, 200 GB for $2.99 per month, or 2 TB 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 apps or music, but you have options:

  • For apps, redownload any of your apps free from the App Store at any time. 
  • Music that was purchased through the iTunes Store can be redownloaded.
  • Music that was obtained elsewhere can be restored from a backup using a hard drive or web-based service
  • For $25/year, iTunes Match adds every song in your iTunes library to your iCloud account for later redownloading.

Back Up iPad With Third-Party Software

If you want a complete backup of everything, you need third-party software. The same programs that transfer music from an iPad to a computer can also, in most cases, create a complete iPad backup. How you do that depends on the program, but most back up more data, apps, and music than either iTunes or iCloud. If you want to try this option, check out our tops picks for third-party backup apps.