Apple iPhones with iPad

An estimated 17.4 million mobile devices were activated on Christmas day according to research firm Flurry Analytics. If you are one of the people who received a phone or tablet for the holidays, now is the time to start coming up with a mobile backup plan. It can be a tedious chore, but if you plan to use your mobile device at your organization, it is likely that you'll store valuable data on them. And unlike a desktop computer, it is pretty easy to misplace or drop (and subsequently destroy) a smartphone or a tablet.

Fortunately, backing up your contacts, photos, and apps is easier than ever. In this three-part series, we'll walk you through backing up your mobile device. We've already covered Windows Phones and Windows 8 tablets along with Android phones and tablets. This week, we'll cover how to back up your iPhone or iPad.

Sky's the Limit with iCloud

If you own an iPhone or iPad, you won't have to do a lot of extra work backing it up as iCloud does much of it for you automatically. iCloud, Apple's device syncing service, backs up your device settings (such as your wallpaper, contacts, and calendar data from your various apps), messages (SMS, MMS, and iMessage), and much more. It also backs up photos and videos from your camera roll. You get 5GB of storage for free; if you need more storage, you'll have to purchase an upgrade. You get unlimited storage, however, for purchased music, movies, apps, and books from iTunes.  

If your iPhone is running iOS 5 or higher, Apple's cloud syncing software iCloud will automatically back up some of your data. Backup will run on a daily basis as long as your device is connected to the Internet via WiFi and connected to a power source with the screen locked. For more on iCloud pricing and backup, see Apple's dedicated iCloud site.

Back Up and Restore with iTunes 11

You can also use iTunes 11 to create backups of your iOS device either manually or automatically. When you plug in your iDevice, you'll see a button that says "Devices" in the upper right-hand corner. Click that and it will open up a summary of your device. You should see the Backups section, which gives you the choice to either automatically back up to iCloud or do a full backup of your iPhone or iPad to your computer (locally). If your iOS device crashes, you can then restore from that locally-saved backup.

A good strategy might be to automatically back up your iDevice to iCloud and then back it up manually once or twice a week to your computer.

Using Time Machine to Back Up

If you're using a Mac running Mac OS X 10.5 (also known as "Leopard"), you can use a program called Time Machine to handle incremental backups of your iTunes library. Time Machine is a built-in backup program in Mac OS X that works with your Mac to automatically back up your system files, applications, accounts, music, photos, and more.

For more on how to perform a backup with Time Machine (as well as other iOS backup methods), read iLounge's The Complete Guide to Backing Up Your iTunes Library.

More Resources

To learn more about backing up and planning ahead of any kind of disaster that could damage your technology, visit our Disaster Planning resources page where you will find The Resilient Organization, TechSoup's disaster recovery guide, helpful articles, and products related to backup.

For more on mobile apps, visit TechSoup's App It Up page.

Image: Apple iPhones with iPad

Ginny Mies is a Content Curator at TechSoup Global.