There are two types of backups available for iOS users. ICloud backups are automatically encrypted and stored in the cloud, and you can create and use them anywhere with a Wi-Fi connection. Instead, Mac-based backups are created and stored on your computer, encryption is optional, and you need to connect your device to your computer to restore one. This article shows you how to back up your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch to a Mac running macOS Mojave or earlier.
Since the launch of macOS 10.5 Catalina in 2019, Apple has offered separate Mac applications for Music, Podcasts and Apple TV, and features for managing a connected iPhone, iPad or iPod touch are located in the Finder. However, in macOS 10.4 Mojave and earlier versions of macOS, backing up an iOS device to a Mac involves using the iTunes application. Keep reading to find out how.
How to create an iTunes backup
The following step-by-step instructions on how to back up iTunes are for iPhone, but also for iPad and iPod touch. The second set of steps shows you how to archive the backup, if necessary.
- Connect your iOS device to a Mac or PC using a Lightning to USB cable.
- Open iTunes.
- Click the device icon in the top left menu.
- Under Backup, click This computer.
- Select Encrypt iPhone backup check if you want to back up your login credentials and any Health and HomeKit data.
- Click Back up now and wait for the backup process to complete. It will take about five minutes to complete, depending on what is installed on the iPhone.
Archive the backup
An archived iTunes backup saves the current state of your iOS device and prevents it from being accidentally overwritten by later backups. Creating an archived backup is useful, for example, if you want to install a public beta of iOS, because if something goes wrong with your beta, you can use it to restore your device to its previous version of the operating system. The following steps show you how to archive your iTunes backup created using the previous steps.
- Click iTunes -> Preferences … in the macOS menu bar.
- Click on Instruments tab.
- Right-click (or Ctrl-click) the new backup and select Archive from the context drop-down menu.
The backup should be done regularly. If you use iCloud, it will be done automatically, but if you’re using iTunes, make sure you’re backing up every week or two so you don’t lose important data.