Should I use iTunes or iCloud to back up my iPhone and iPad?

Learn which backup method for your iPhone and iPad is best for you.

Each backup method has its own advantages. In most cases, Apple recommends iCloud Backup.

  • iCloud Backup provides an easy and reliable backup solution. Use iCloud Backup if you want to back up your iOS devices wirelessly and automatically without connecting your device to a computer. iCloud Backup is best for you if:

    • You prefer that iCloud take care of backups for you automatically when you connect your device to Wi-Fi and power.
    • You want to restore data to your device from almost anywhere using a broadband Wi-Fi connection.
    • You don’t connect your iOS device to a Mac or PC very frequently.
    • You don’t own a Mac or PC.
    • You want an automatic backup solution to use together with iTunes Backup.

    Your iOS device backup includes data and settings stored on your device. It doesn't include data already stored in iCloud. For example:

    • Bookmarks.
    • Contacts.
    • Calendars.
    • Documents you save in iCloud using iOS apps and Mac apps.
    • Mail messages.
    • Notes.
    • iCloud Photo Library beta (if enabled).
    • Shared photo streams and My Photo Stream.

    iCloud Backup doesn't back up music, movies, and TV shows that you didn't purchase from the iTunes Store, or any podcasts, audio books, or photos that you originally synced from your computer. (To learn about syncing your iphone, click the link.) iCloud Backup will restore your purchased music, movie, and app content from the iTunes Store, App Store, and iBooks Store during the background restore process. Previous purchases might be unavailable if they're no longer in the iTunes Store, App Store, or iBooks Store.

  • iTunes Backup is best for you if:

    • You frequently use the computer that hosts your iTunes Backups.
    • You don't have an iCloud account or don't want to use iCloud.
    • You want on-site and networked backups.
    • You would like a manual or secondary backup solution to use together with iCloud Backup.

    Keep in mind that iTunes Backup doesn't create a duplicate back up of your movies, music, podcasts, and apps. When you back up, your media content is synced from your primary computer using iTunes.


    If you want to back up your Health data using iTunes, you need to encrypt your backup by selecting "Encrypt iPhone backup" in the Summary tab in iTunes. If you don't select this option, your Health data won't back up.

  • For an extra level of backup for your data, you can use iCloud Backup and iTunes Backup together.

    Using iCloud Backup doesn't disable iTunes Backup completely; it just turns off Automatic Backups via iTunes. You can trigger a manual iTunes Backup whenever you want to create a new one.

    • Plug your iOS device into your primary computer via the provided cable.
    • Open iTunes.
    • In iTunes 12 or later:
      • Click on your device.
      • In the Summary section, under Backups, click Back Up Now under "Manually Back Up and Restore."

    For the best results, back up with iTunes on a weekly basis or more frequently if you need to back up important data. You might want to create a reminder to back up.

    If you're using iCloud and iTunes Backup together and you want to speed up your iCloud Backup and restore, you can save iCloud storage by turning off iCloud Backup for very large data types.

    • iOS 10: Tap Settings > iCloud > Storage > Manage Storage.

    You can then back up these items manually in iTunes.

    Now that you have learned about both backup solutions, if you need assistance backing up your device click here.