Back up your iPhone and iPad to your Mac for before updating iOS

Back up your iPhone before you upgrade it to the next version of iOS

Your Mac is the best backup device for your iPhone and iPad, but how many people bother to use it? It is essential to have a backup whenever a major iOS update is available, so get it done today!

You should not need reminding about backups, but most people don’t create them and when something goes wrong with an operating system update, whether it is iOS or macOS, they are in a bit of a pickle. Their computer or device no longer boots and they don’t have a solution.

There is an old saying, hope for the best, but prepare for the worst. The chances are that nothing will go wrong during an operating system upgrade or update, but it does happen to someone somewhere and it might be you next time.

With iOS 10 and macOS released in September, you need backups of your Mac, iPhone and iPad.

Back up your photos

Plug your phone into the Mac using the USB cable and it should trigger two apps - iTunes and Photos.

Photos may be backed up to iCloud, but even so, it is good to have a copy on your Mac’s disk. Select the Import tab in the Photos app and click Import All New Items. Do the same with the iPad and plug it in to copy any new photos.

Back up the photos on your iPhone and iPad to the Photos app on the Apple Mac

No matter what happens to the iPhone or iPad during the upgrade, you have a copy of your photos on the Mac.

Back up your iPhone and iPad

iTunes should open and automatically back up the iPhone and iPad. When did you last back up? Go to iTunes, Preferences and select the Devices tab.

View the iPhone and iPad backups stored in iTunes on the Apple Mac

Here you can see that I backed up my iPhone today. The date on the previous backup was July last year! iPhones and iPads don’t need the Mac these days, so they are rarely plugged in and it is easy to forget to back up.

Backups can be made to iCloud, but the free 5GB is used up in no time, so you might not have space online to back up. If you are not backing up online and you never plug the device into the Mac, backups are never made.

The backup dates on my iPad are over a year old, so they need plugging in and backing up before updating iOS.

Close Preferences and click the iPhone or iPad icon in the toolbar to view the device options.

Back up your iPhone to the Mac before you upgrade iOS

There are options to back up to iCloud or the computer, but if you are on the free iCloud plan, choose the computer.

If you do not have a current backup, click Back Up Now.

If an iOS upgrade causes problems with your iPhone or iPad, the Restore Backup features here will put back the system exactly as it was.

There is an option to encrypt backups. I had assumed that this was only to secure the backup when FileVault was not encrypting the disk contents, but it turns out (see comments below) that if encryption is not enabled for backups then your passwords, Wi-Fi settings, web browsing history, and health data are not backed up. Enable encryption and these items are included in the backup.

Encrypt your backups even if you use disk encryption.





I don't own and iPad or iPhone, but I can definitely endorse the post. Recently I went into the shop to purchase a new SD card for my Smart Phone. The saleslady offered to put it in for me. Why not? So I let her, and I put my old card with hundreds of photos, into my pocket. I don't know how, but it was gone when I got home. Weeks and weeks of beautiful memories. Oh man! Read this post everyone and BACK UP!

Great website and article. Thanks. In your last sentence, you say that if a person is using FileVault, then "there is no need to encrypt the backup." I disagree. As the Prefs interface notes below the "Encrypt..." checkbox, an encrypted iPhone backup stores all your passwords and some more details. (e.g. saved web passwords, Wifi access point passwords, etc.) Without encryption, your backup can't restore to "exactly as it was." Details at Also, encrypted iPhone backup files can be copied to other backup locations (e.g. external hard drive, offsite backups, etc.) and still be safe from prying eyes.

Thanks for the info. I wasn't aware that certain information wasn't included in ordinary backups. I've amended the article.

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