How to Backup Your iPhone 7

Safely store your iPhone data so you can get it when you need it

A photo illustration showing a man holding a smartphone while a drawing of a cloud is meant to represent data uploading from the phone to offsite storage.

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Backing up your iPhone 7 is one of the most important things you can do with your phone that most people don't usually do. Backing up your computer is an important way to make sure you don't lose valuable data like family photos, financial and medial records, and music. Computers break, hard drives fail, and other disasters occur, but if you've got a backup, you're protected. The same thing is true for your iPhone 7.

Our smartphones are packed full of important data. Photos, text messages, emails, music, apps, and more are all things you want to hold onto. But smartphones may break even more often than computers — they're definitely at more risk from drops, being lost or stolen, and other disasters.

If you've backed up your iPhone 7, though, you don't have to worry about disaster striking. Your data will be safe, sound, and ready to be restored onto a new phone whenever you need it. This article gives you step-by-step instructions on the two ways Apple gives you to back up your iPhone 7.

The instructions in this article apply to all versions of the iOS that can run on the iPhone 7. That's iOS 12, 11, and 10.

How to Backup iPhone 7 Using iCloud

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Backing up your iPhone to iCloud is an easy process that your iPhone can do automatically after you set it up. Because it's automatic, we recommend this option. All you need is an iCloud account — which you probably created when you set up your iPhone — and a Wi-Fi connection. Assuming you've got those things, here's how to backup your iPhone 7 using iCloud:

  1. Make sure your iPhone is signed into iCloud and connected to Wi-Fi.

  2. Tap Settings.

  3. Tap your name at the top of the Settings screen.

  4. Tap iCloud.

  5. Tap iCloud Backup.

  6. Move the iCloud Backup slider to on/green.

    With this slider turned on, your iPhone 7 will automatically back up to iCloud whenever your phone is connected to Wi-Fi, connected to a power source, and has its screen locked.

  7. Tap Back Up Now to start backing up the data on your iPhone 7 to your iCloud account. The amount of data you have to back up will determine how long the process takes.

If you have an Apple Watch paired to the iPhone that you're backing up, the Health and Activity data collected by your Watch is backed up to iCloud as well. No need to do anything else to back up that data.

How to Upgrade iCloud Storage

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Every iCloud account comes with 5 GB of free storage. This is great, but it's also not enough for most people. Your iCloud account stores more than just backups. It can also be used to store photos, contacts, calendars, documents, and more. You'll end up with more than 5 GB of data on your iPhone pretty quickly and you won't be able to back up if your iCloud account doesn't have enough free space. Luckily, Apple makes it easy — and affordable — to upgrade your storage. Here's how:

  1. Tap Settings.

  2. Tap your name.

  3. Tap iCloud.

  4. Tap Manage Storage.

  5. Tap Change Storage Plan.

  6. Review the plan options. As of this writing, plans range for 50 GB for US$0.99/month to 2 TB for $9.99/month.

  7. Tap the plan you want to upgrade to. The credit card you have on file in your Apple ID will be billed.

  8. Tap Buy in the top right corner.

  9. Enter your Apple ID password when prompted. An onscreen message will let you know when you've upgraded.

You can also downgrade to a cheaper (or free) storage plan if you want. Just follow the same steps and tap the Downgrade menu instead.

How to Backup iPhone 7 Using iTunes

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You can also backup your iPhone 7 to a computer using iTunes. This creates the same kind of back up, and gives you the same set of options for restoring the data onto a new phone. There are two key differences:

  1. You have to make this backup manually.
  2. If something happens to the computer that had the backup on it, you'll use the backup.

Still, backing up to iTunes may be the better choice for you, especially if you have a slow Wi-Fi connection that means iCloud backups take forever or you don't want to pay extra for an upgraded iCloud account.

To backup your iPhone 7 to iTunes, follow these steps:

  1. Connect your iPhone to your computer.

  2. If iTunes doesn't open automatically, open it.

  3. Click the iPhone icon in the top left corner, just beneath the music playback controls.

  4. This takes you to the main iPhone management screen. In the Backups section in the middle of the screen, check the box next to This computer.

    If you have an Apple Watch and want to save your Health and Activity data from the Watch, you have to encrypt your backup. Check the Encrypt iPhone Backup box and set a password.

  5. Click Back Up Now.

  6. How long this takes depends on how much data you have to back up, but expect it to at least take a few minutes.

Why You Should Backup to Both iCloud and iTunes

Now that you know the two ways to backup your iPhone 7, the question is which is best for you. The answer may surprise you: it's both.

That's right, you should back up your iPhone to both iCloud and iTunes.

That may seem pointless and repetitive, but it's actual smart data security practice. Generally speaking, you always want to have two backups. You want one that's easy to access and one that's "offsite." An offsite backup is a backup that's not in the same location as the device you're backing up.

Think about it: If you only back up to a computer, your backup could be lost if something happens to your iPhone and your computer. If the computer's hard drive fails, your iPhone backup will be lost. If the house the computer is in burns down, your iPhone backup burns down with it.

You can use iCloud as your offsite, automated backup and iTunes as your convenient backup. Chances are, you won't end up in a situation where you need to have two backups, but should disaster strike, the small amount of extra work required to create two backups will be more than worth it.