How to Backup Your iPhone to iCloud in 5 Easy Steps in 2021

Learning how to backup an iPhone to iCloud is a straightforward process. It takes a few simple steps, and the reward is that you can restore your data and content should you ever replace your device.

Dan Ginn
By Dan Ginn (Writer)
— Last Updated: 2021-07-12T13:23:22+00:00

Backing up your beloved iPhone to iCloud should be high on your list of priorities. Why? Well, because we keep most of our life on our smartphones. Our photos, our videos, our contacts — they all exist on the portable device in our pocket. Should you lose or replace your Apple device without knowing how to backup iPhone to iCloud, you could lose all of your treasured data forever.

You’ll be happy to read that backing up your iOS device is neither complicated nor time-consuming. It only takes a few minutes and a handful of steps to protect your data.

Key Takeaways:

  • Backing up your iPhone will ensure you don’t lose important data.
  • The process of backing up your iPhone is easy and will only take a few steps.
  • You can backup your iPhone with iTunes on Mac and PC devices.
  • Restoring your iPhone requires a full reset of your current device.

If you only use your iPhone for its basic functions, the 5GB of free iCloud storage should be enough to backup your phone. However, if you’re a heavy user — like someone who enjoys taking tons of photos — it’s likely you won’t have enough space and will need to pay for more iCloud storage. Apple’s storage options remain competitive when it comes to cost, with paid plans starting at $0.99 per month for 50GB of storage space. 

However, there are other cloud services you can use to backup your iPhone — you can compare all the leading options by reading our best cloud backup for iPhone article. While third-party services remain simple to use, you can lose some of the simplicity of backing up your iPhone when choosing not to do it through iCloud.

  • 07/09/2021

    New images added. More details on backing up to iTunes.

  • Yes. Our top pick for backing up your iPhone without iCloud is IDrive (read our IDrive review). However, there are other services that allow you to backup and restore your iOS device.

  • There’s no fixed time for how long a backup takes. Times will vary depending on how much data you need to backup and the strength of your WiFi connection.

  • Once you turn on iCloud backup, your device will tell you when your last successful backup took place.

Why Should I Backup My iPhone to the Cloud?

Beyond protecting all of your photos and videos, you can also backup a range of important information you’ll likely not want to lose. Text messages, passwords and settings are all backed up, too, as well as other vital bits of information. So, if you ever need to replace your phone, you can restore all that information and not worry about losing anything. 

Before Backing Up Your iPhone to iCloud

Before backing up all of your data, there’s a little bit of housekeeping you’ll need to do to ensure the process works:

  • Your device must be able to run iOS 5 or higher.
  • You’ll need an active Apple ID and password to access iCloud and its features.
  • You must connect to a WiFi network.

We should point out that backing up your iPhone won’t automatically backup other iOS devices. So, if you have an iPad, or are still rocking an iPod Touch, you’ll need to back them up separately. Thankfully, the process is exactly the same.

How to Backup iPhones to iCloud: 5 Easy Steps

As we said, backing up your iPhone to iCloud only requires a handful of steps. Once the process is complete, your iPhone will backup automatically on a regular basis. (Although we do recommend also backing up your data manually to ensure you’re always up to date.)

  1. Locate Apple ID in Your Settings Menu

    Once you’re connected to a WiFi network, open your iPhone and go to “settings.” Underneath your name, you’ll see “Apple ID, iCloud, media & purchases.” Tap on your name to get to the next step. (You shouldn’t need to log in again. However, it’s worth having your Apple ID and password handy just in case.)

    settings on iphone back up your iphone
  2. Check Your iCloud Storage

    Next, tap “iCloud.” At the top of this section, Apple shows you how much available iCloud storage you have.

    icloud tab back up your iphone
  3. Purchase More iCloud Storage If Needed

    If you don’t have enough storage space to backup your data, your iPhone will alert you and ask you to purchase more storage. To do this, select “change storage plan,” and choose the plan that best suits you. (If you don’t want to pay for extra storage, we’ll show you how to backup your iPhone with iTunes later in this article.) Once you have enough storage space, you can move to the next stage.

    icloud storage space back up your iphone
  4. Tap iCloud Backup

    Inside the iCloud settings section, you’ll see different categories that include photos, contacts and calendars. Scroll down until you see “iCloud backup” and tap it. Then make sure it says “on.”

    iCloud backup tab back up your iphone
  5. Select “Back Up Now”

    The final step of backing up your device to iCloud is to tap “back up now.” Your device will then begin to backup the data and files on your phone directly onto iCloud. Going forward, your iPhone will automatically backup to iCloud every 24 hours. When completing the process in the future, you’ll also see when the last backup took place on your device.

    back up now tab

Out of Cloud Storage? Make iPhone Backups on a Computer With iTunes

Although extra iCloud storage is relatively inexpensive, we understand not everyone wants to shell out the extra cash needed to upgrade their storage space. The good news is you can make an iPhone backup on your computer with iTunes.

Backup iPhone With iTunes Using a Mac or PC

In 2019, Apple disbanded iTunes into three separate categories: Music, Podcasts and AppleTV. So, if you’re using macOS Catalina or higher, you can backup your iPhone through Apple Music.

  1. Select “iPhone” Underneath Devices

    On the left-hand side, you should see “devices,” with “iPhone” underneath. Select your device to move to the next step.

    itunes(apple music) homepage
  2. Select Sync Settings

    Located on the top right-hand corner is the option to “sync settings.” Tap that to reach the backup page.

    sync settings on apple music
  3. Choose Your Data Backup Option

    Next, select “Back up all the data on your iPhone to this Mac.” If you want to backup sensitive data, such as passwords, health information and call history, you’ll need to check the box “encrypt local backup.”

    back up now page on itunes (apple music)
  4. Tap “Back Up Now”

    For the final step, all you need to do is tap “back up now,” and you’re good to go. Your device will now make a backup of your information on your Mac computer.

    back up now on itunes

For PC users, the process is the same. All you need to do is download iTunes for Windows onto your laptop or desktop computer.

Restoring iPhone from iCloud Backup

If your device was lost or stolen, or you bought a new iPhone, this is where your backup comes in handy. It’s also useful if you lose important data on your current device that you need to recover. (If you’re recovering lost data, you’ll need to erase all of your content and set up your device from the beginning.)

1. Navigate to the Apps & Data Menu

When setting up your device, you’ll arrive at a section called “apps & data.” Here, you’ll see the option to “restore fromiCloud backup.”

restore icloud backup on your iphone

2. Find the Backup You Want to Restore

Log in to your iCloud account with your Apple ID. You’ll now see a list of all the backups you made. You can identify which backup you want by looking at the date and size of each backup, then select the one you want to begin restoring your iPhone. 

3. Wait for Your Device to Restore Your Data

To ensure you’re not left wondering if the restore is working, Apple thankfully shows a progress bar that includes how long it will take to restore your data. Your phone may continue to restore information such as apps and photos over the next few hours, depending on how much information needs downloading.

restore from icloud waiting time

Final Thoughts: iPhone Backup to iCloud

Now, you’re good to go. From now on, you should have no issues backing up and restoring the information stored on your iPhone. We’re happy to have helped you with the process.

Did you find this guide useful? Have you encountered any issues with backing up your iPhone that you would like us to resolve? Let us know in the comments below, as we’re always grateful for your feedback. Thanks for reading.