Back up your iPhone to iCloud

A few months ago, my wife and I left our two girls with their grandparents, and spent the weekend in Minneapolis. We loved exploring that city on our bikes, until we received a phone call from my wife's Dad. "So, uhm, your mother-in-law just walked into the lake with her iPhone in her pocket." She apparently was having so much fun playing with the girls, she forgot the high-tech gadget in her pocket. Of course, this could happen to any of us--and probably has! Unfortunately for my mother-in-law, she hadn't plugged in her phone to her computer for several months (which is when the phone normally backs itself up). This meant several photos, phone numbers, and text message conversations were completely gone forever.

Thankfully, Apple now has an easy way for your iPhone or iPad to automatically backup each day.

iOS 5 was released just last week. It gives you the ability to back up your phone to iCloud. Having worked at the Apple Store for years, I've seen countless iPhones come in for repair that hadn't been backed up. Delivering the sad news that their data is gone was never easy. Now, with iCloud backup turned on, your iPhone and iPad will get backed up to Apple's servers at least once a day, when it gets plugged in for a charge. This is huge!

To get started, you will have to first make sure your iPhone is running iOS 5. Launch Settings, and then tap General > About. Here, you will find your software version listed. If you're not running 5, then you'll need to plug in your iPhone to iTunes and install the free update. (This is one of the last times you'll need to plug in your phone for a software update as well!)

Once you have iOS 5 installed, sign up for a free iCloud account. Your phone will prompt you to do this automatically, but if you skipped through this step, you can sign up in the Settings app, under iCloud. You'll be required to sign in with your Apple ID, which is the same credentials used whenever you buy a song or app from Apple.

Now you're ready to turn on iCloud backups. Again, launch your Settings app, and tap on iCloud. Scroll down to the bottom and select "Storage & Backup". Then, turn iCloud Backup to the "On" position. From here on out, you can rest assured that your phone is safely getting backed up at least once a day when it's charging. To learn more about iCloud, head over to Apple's website.

Rick Stawarz

Minneapolis, MN

I am an Apple Certified Support Professional with over a decade of experience supporting families, schools, and businesses. Tech has always captured my imagination, but it's not my only passion. I'm an ordained Anglican minister;  Aeropress is a daily ritual of mine; I've driven across Mongolia; and I'm the father of three girls. I hope to provide for you a balanced and realistic perspective into the practicality of technology.