Since Apple released iOS 5 and iCloud last summer, people with iPhones, iPads, and Macs have enjoyed a much more cohesive experience with apps, email, and contacts management. iCloud introduced Apple’s first “update in place” option, and for the first time, allowed users to fully set up their iDevices without having to plug into a Mac and sync with iTunes. While the idea is simple, for many people, it has brought with it some genuine confusion. Today, we’ll take a look at how to easily backup all your devices to iCloud, and keep the same settings, apps, songs, and photos right where you want them – even if you purchase a new device.
Sometimes, being a pro has its drawbacks. I’ve been managing my Apple computers and gadgets for years, and have gotten a little too used to making frequent backups. I do it without thinking. Any time I have upgraded to a new laptop or iPhone model, the transition has been smooth because of what I know.
A little help from my friends
This has not been the case for many of my friends and family. Last summer, when my cousin decided to upgrade her iPhone from the iPhone 4 to an iPhone 4S, she called me first to ask for advice. I told her not to worry, that when she got the new phone she could restore from a backup and everything would be identical. My error was that I assumed she had a backup. All I asked was, “you have iCloud, right?” She said she did, so I figured all was well. Unfortunately, she had not set her old iPhone to backup to iCloud.
She was still plugging it in and syncing through iTunes every time – and since she’d gotten iCloud, she’d stopped doing even that. As a result, when she got home with her shiny new iPhone 4S, the most recent backup she had was from months ago, in iTunes, on her iMac.
I thought you said everything would be there,” she said. “Nothing is here: no contacts, no text messages or photos, all my music is gone. No Netflix, no Words with Friends, no DirecTV. Where are all my apps?”“I thought you said you had iCloud,” I replied. And then I understood: she had an iCloud account, but hadn’t been using it for anything but making purchases from the App Store and for email.Needless to say, I ended up spending a few hours at her house, manually restoring order to her chaotic situation, manually re-downloading apps, pictures, her contacts, everything. She wound up losing her text messages. It was pretty much a disaster.
Before you switch out an iPhone or iPad, to be sure you have your backup in iCloud, make sure you do the following:
Tap Settings, and scroll down to tap iCloud. First, check that your iCloud account (your email address @me.com) is listed beside Account. Underneath that, make sure the sliders are ON for Mail, Contacts, Calendars, Reminders, Bookmarks, Notes, Photo Stream, and Documents and Data. Then go down to Storage and Backup and tap. At the very bottom, make sure the slider beside iCloud is in the On position. Then, go down and tap Back Up Now. Let the backup complete. The next time you sign in to a new iDevice with the same iCloud account, all your stuff will be right where you left it, and you’ll live happily ever after.
Melonie McLaurin is a technology writer and long time Apple user. You can read more at The Apple and Paw, Melonie’s Apple, gadget, and technology blog .