I have received many questions about iCloud Backup and I hope this short story help you understand it!
Apple offers a service to backup your iPad, iPhone or iPod Touch to their hard drives located in various buildings around the world. This service is called iCloud Backup.
Because data on your device changes everyday as you add contacts, receive email, take photos etc and this amount of data can get quite big Apple only allows iCloud Backup to occur if you are connected to a WiFi Network.
The reason for this is that sending data over the mobile phone network is very expensive and you normally do not get a very big allowance from your mobile provider. e.g. a standard mobile data plan usually comes with approx 1GB of data and to buy an extra 3GB from Telstra costs $30. In comparison for $30 your average home internet provider gives you 100GB.
If you were able to use iCloud Backup over the mobile phone network everyday when your iPhone or iPad backs up it would diminish your data allowance and it would be highly likely you would end up using all your data very early in the month.
If you use all your data early and do not contact your mobile provider you could end up with a bill in the hundreds of dollars. (my daughter once ran up $140 in a day after using all her data) or you will have to buy more data at an expensive rate.
So what can you do? There are a few options based on what setup you have.
1. If you DO have home WiFi then iCloud Backup should be switched ON. Its automatic and once switched on you don’t need to do anything. It just backs up each time your device is locked (screen off – not totally switched off) and plugged in to recharge.
2. If you DO NOT have home WiFi and DO NOT have a computer then switch iCloud Backup ON but be aware it will warn you when you haven’t backed up for a while. Anytime you get the opportunity to join a friends home WiFi network or the Library’s free WiFi you should go into Settings > iCloud > Backup > and tap “Back Up Now”. Until you connect to a WiFi network you will be reminded how long it has been since you have backed up. Better to back up once in a while than not at all. (OR if you don’t want to be warned about how long it has been you can switch iCloud Backup OFF and only switch it ON when you join a WiFi network and follow the instructions above to “Back Up Now”.)
3. If you DO have a computer but DO NOT have WiFi you can switch iCloud Backup OFF and plug you iPhone or iPad into your computer with iTunes installed. iTunes will back up your device to the computer instead of the iCloud.
4. If you DO have a computer and your iCloud Account is full and you don’t want to pay $1.29/mth (20GB) – $24.99/mth (1TB) to get extra capacity then you can switch iCloud Backup OFF and plug your device into your computer and back it up through iTunes.
My personal recommendation is to make backup as automatic as possible so you don’t forget to do it so check that you have iCloud Backup on. (Settings > iCloud > Backup > ON)
I have met many people who have never plugged their iPad or iPhone into their computers and do not have iCloud Backup on. If your iPhone or iPad is stolen or dropped into water etc then you could lose everything.
Sorry this is so long but I want to make sure you don’t get angry at a system that is there to protect you and has to cater for the many different ways we all connect.
Please leave a comment if you still have questions or even to let me know your setup.