One of my biggest fears as a professional photographer is that someday, somehow, for some…
When iCloud isn’t enough for your precious photos and texts
Data loss is a fact of life – you drop your phone, it hits the ground, shatters to pieces, and chances are you lost the majority of your data on the device. Thankfully, we have services like iCloud that automatically backup your data, making it easily retrievable in the case of a shattered or damaged smartphone.
Unfortunately, it isn’t the best solution for backing up data, particularly because Apple just isn’t the best when it comes to cloud services. Security is a big concern with iCloud, and if you ever want to get more storage, it’s quite pricey compared to competitors. The company also gives you a mere 5GB of cloud storage that it’s hardly possible to backup all of the pertinent data on your iOS device, especially if you have a large photo library full of special moments you want to keep.
That said, there are plenty of other ways to make sure your data is safe by backing up your files across a few free services. The first step is, of course, making sure you have a backup of your device on your PC or MacBook.
To get started, plug your iPhone into your computer and open up iTunes. From there, select File > Devices > Transfer Purchases. This will save all of the content you’ve purchased via the App Store or iTunes Store on your computer. Wait for iTunes to finish transferring your purchases, and then select File > Devices > Backup. iTunes will begin backing up your device. Depending on how much data you’re backing up, this could take some time.
After it’s finished, make sure it was a successful backup by heading into iTunes Preferences > Devices. You should see all of your backups with your device name and the date and time the process finished.
Now you have a backup on your computer that you can always revert back to in the event of data loss. However, it’s good to make sure that you have a copy or two of this backup sitting in the cloud somewhere. You never know when your computer could fail you, too.
Google Drive is a great place to backup a lot of content, mainly because of the 15GB of free storage you get with your Google account. That’s more than enough to handle important documents along with a robust photo library.
The first step is to download the Google Drive application for Windows or Mac. Since I’m primarily a Windows user at the moment, I’m using the Windows version, but it shouldn’t be too hard to follow along if you’re a Mac user.
The second step is to run Google Drive. You don’t need your phone plugged in since iTunes already backed up all of your files. It’ll ask you to sign-in and then run you through a fairly short setup wizard. Follow the steps, and click “Done” once you’re finished. Google Drive should now be on your computer and the Google Drive folder it created will automatically open via your native file explorer.
Google Drive isn’t your traditional backup service, but it works just as well, mainly because of how simple it is to sync files. In your file explorer, head on over to:
Find your latest backup, right click it, press copy, select your Google Drive folder, and press paste. Your backup should now be uploading to Drive, and depending on internet speed and how big the backup file is, this could take some time. For Mac users, you’ll want to go to:
Then just copy and paste the backup folder in your Google Drive folder, as instructed above. However, it could be a bit more complicated finding your backup. To get specifics on either Windows or Mac, open up iTunes and head on over to iTunes Preferences > Devices. Either Control click or right click the backup you want, and click Show in Folder or Finder. It should take you to the exact location where your backup is.
Keep in mind that if you ever lose the backup on your computer, you can download your extra copy from Google Drive, but you’ll need to make sure to put it in the exact same file location you got it from.
Dropbox and iCloud
Google Drive is a great option for those who need a lot of free storage, but if you aren’t a heavy power user, Dropbox and iCloud are great places to keep your data. With Dropbox you only get 2GB of free storage for signing up, but setup is very similar to Google Drive since the two services work much the same.
Head on over to, sign-up for an account, and download the correct version for your operating system. It’ll take you through the setup wizard, and once you’re done, just like you did above, you can copy your backups and paste them in the Dropbox folder, putting it in the cloud.
Dropbox certainly isn’t for the power user, but it’s a great place to keep a third backup if something were to ever happen to your other two options.
And of course, even though iCloud isn’t the best for keeping your device backed up, it’s always good to have turned on, as it makes setting up a new device or restoring apps after a reset a seamless process. I just wouldn’t put all of my faith in it to alone to house pertinent files. It’s good to make sure you have various copies across services.
To make sure you’re set up with iCloud, unlock your device, head into Settings > iCloud, and ensure all of the apps, documents and data you want in the cloud are actively being backed up. For some apps, such as Notes and Mail, you’ll need to create a free @email address.
If you’re really paranoid about losing data, even after you’ve put backups in the cloud, you can always go the traditional route and put backups on hardware, such as external hard drives and USB thumb drives.
It works virtually the same way as putting your data on the cloud. Only, instead of pasting the backup in your Google Drive or Dropbox folder, you’ll need to find your external hardware device in your file explorer and paste it in there.
It’s very rare that software bugs out and messes up your data, at least as far as integrated devices go. Most data loss actually happens due to hardware failure, human error, or people dropping their devices on the ground, shattering them. You can almost never avoid hardware failure, but there are ways to make sure your devices are protected against accidents.
Apple’s devices can be slippery, particularly with the company’s latest rounded designs. That said, it’s always best to have a case around your phone, and if you’re worried about making sure your device stays “stylish,” there are some great cases out there for iPhones and iPads.
As a rule of thumb, it’s good to make sure your devices aren’t around water. If you’re out on a boat this summer, throw your iPhone in a ziploc baggy and leave the tablet at home and enjoy the weather.
If all else fails, there are ways to recover your data, but it’s a lengthy process and requires a team of professionals. Not only that, it’s also quite pricey.
Most of the time, data recovery company DriveSavers can recover your data if your device is broken. They have one of the highest success rates in the industry and a quick turnaround time. Again, DriveSavers is quite pricey, but if you need some very sensitive data off of your iPhone or iPad, it might just be worth it to grab an estimate and make sure your files are backed up in various places next time.
These days, data is massively important in our lives:we might be carrying around sensitive financial documents for businesses on our devices or it could be a timeless photo of your child in his or her infancy.
Don’t let this happen to you
Either way, our data is just as important to us as physical items are, and they should be put away safely on the shelf, or in this case, in the cloud.