Friday Tech Tip: Keep Your iPhone Backup Secure

Friday Tech Tip: Keep Your iPhone Backup Secure

Welcome back to the Friday Tech Tip!

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Backups are extremely important: Imagine losing all your files, photos and documents. And since so many of us are using our phones more than our computers, backing up our phones has become an even more critical part of digital hygiene.

iPhones by default will back up some stuff to Apple’s iCloud, but only give you so much storage there. And not everything gets backed up. Apple’s own documentation is a little confusion on the topic. Plus, in early 2020 Apple gave in and agreed that they wouldn’t fully encrypt iCloud backups – at the FBI’s request.

And you have the question of whether you want your backup stored on the cloud. Even though it’s encrypted on Apple’s servers, having data on someone else’s service is always a risk. If you have an iPhone and an Apple computer, you can choose to back up everything on your phone right to your computer, instead. On the most recent version of macOS, click your iPhone in the left corner of a Finder (desktop) window. On older versions, open iTunes and select your phone there. On Windows, you’ll do this through iTunes, and the language will be similar.

Screenshot of the iPhone management screen on a Mac.
"Back up all of the data on your iPhone to this Mac" is checked. "Encrypt local backup" is checked.

Under Backups, check “Back up all of the data on your iPhone to this Mac.” Then, check “Encrypt local backup” and set a password – one that’s hard to guess but that you’re sure to remember! You should keep it in your password manager.

Finally, click the Back Up Now button. Depending on how much stuff you have on your phone, this could take a while – but consider how long it would take you to re-create all your files and the value of the photos you’d lose.

Make a Copy, Keep it Elsewhere

A single backup is better than nothing, but the best backups have multiple copies in different physical locations. Let’s say your computer and phone are both stolen, or a disaster damages them both — you’ll have lost your backup.

You might consider putting your phone backup on a USB thumb drive and keeping it somewhere else – a trusted friend or family member’s home, for example! To do that, click the Manage Backups button, then right-click the backup and choose Show in Finder.

This will open a new window – just copy the files to your USB drive to make your copy!