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How to Back Up Your iPhone or Android Phone

How to Backup Your iPhone or Android Phone

Daniel Horowitz
Reading time: 9 minutes
Our phones are loaded with important data – and we’re not just talking about funny memes and texts with your friends. From precious photos to crucial contacts, it’s important to have a backup of your data in case you lose your phone, or it stops working.
Whether you have an iPhone or Android phone, we’ll walk you through the steps on how to back up your phone.

Why should I back up my phone?

Backing up your phone protects your data if you lose your phone, it’s stolen, or it no longer functions. And when the time comes to replace your phone, a backup allows you to easily restore your data to the new device. Plus, backing up your phone helps you organize your data, so it’s easier to access.

Cloud-based vs desktop phone backup

There are two primary ways to back up your phone: cloud-based and desktop. Cloud-based backups store your data offsite on a remote server. This is a great option if you have a lot of data to back up or want the ability to access your backups from anywhere.
With a desktop backup, you’re only storing your data on your personal computer. You may choose this option if you don't have a lot of data to back up or want a local backup.

How to back up your iPhone

While it’s easy to create an iPhone backup with the iCloud service, there are some particulars you need to know first.
iCloud storage is only free for the first 5GB of storage, and then you will need to pay a monthly fee based on your storage needs. Also, your iCloud backup is linked to your Apple ID, and you can only access it with a WiFi or data connection.
Here’s how to back up your iPhone data with iCloud, to your Mac, and to your PC.

1. Use iCloud

Use iCloud
iCloud is Apple's cloud-based storage solution. Every iPhone comes with iCloud, and it's free to use for up to 5GB of cloud storage. You can use iCloud to back up your iPhone to the cloud, either via WiFi or your phone’s data plan. We recommend using WiFi because the data will transfer more quickly.
To back up your device using iCloud:
  • On your phone, go to Settings.
  • Select iCloud and then Backup.
  • Make sure the switch is turned on for iCloud Backup.
At this point, you need to consider how much data you need to back up. If you have a lot of data on your device, you’ll need more than the free 5GB of iCloud storage. You can upgrade to a larger storage plan of 50GB, 200GB, or 2TB, but just remember that it comes with a monthly payment.

2. Back up your iPhone to Mac

If you're a Mac user, you can access one of the easiest and most reliable ways to back up your iPhone. It's a quick and easy process you can finish in mere minutes.
  • Connect your iPhone to your Mac using a Lightning-to-USB cable. If your computer has USB-C ports, such as the Macbook Pro 2021, you need to purchase an adapter to connect your iPhone and Mac.
  • Once you connect your phone, open the Finder app on your Mac.
  • Select your iPhone in the sidebar.
  • Select Trust when you receive the prompt to “trust your iPhone.”
  • Click on Back Up Now.
This process creates an automatic backup tied directly to your Mac. In the event that you lose, damage, or upgrade your iPhone, simply connect your new device to your Mac to automatically restore it to your preferred backup point.
Remember that when you use this method, you will have to create regular local backups to access the latest version of your iPhone. This includes any photos, contacts, iMessages, and apps you may want to recover.

3. Back up your iPhone to PC

Backing up your iPhone to your PC may not be as easy as the above methods, but it’s still very doable. The primary roadblocks are that the connectivity is not native (PC vs Mac) and you need to use iTunes, which Apple no longer actively supports. However, you can still download iTunes to your PC directly from Apple's website.
Once you install iTunes on your PC, you can use it to back up your iPhone with these steps:
  • Connect your iPhone directly via USB or a USB-C adapter.
  • Follow the prompts on both your iPhone and PC to trust the device.
  • Open iTunes.
  • Click on the small icon that resembles an iPhone. You’ll find it in the top-left section of the window.
  • You will see a prompt to create a backup with two options: “iCloud” and “This Computer.”
  • To create a local backup, select “This Computer.” Just note that this disables the iTunes backup option, which creates backups at regular intervals via a shared internet connection.
To create more recent restore points, you will need to connect your iPhone and repeat the above process.
What if you want to protect sensitive data on your phone? You can encrypt it on iTunes via a local backup. Here’s how.
  • Follow the above steps and then check the box for Encrypt iPhone Backup.
  • Type in a password to encrypt your backup.
Keep in mind that iCloud backups are not encrypted, so this is the best way to protect your data in case you lose or damage your iPhone or PC. And if you want a secondary backup, you could store it on an external hard drive.

How to restore your iPhone backup

Restoring your iPhone backup is a simple process. If you back up your iPhone via iCloud, all you have to do is sign in to your Apple ID. You’ll then see a prompt to "Restore From iCloud Backup" once you connect your device to a WiFi network.
It’s just as easy to restore your phone with Finder and iTunes.
Here's how to restore an iPhone backup with a Mac:
  • Connect your iPhone to your Mac via USB.
  • Navigate to the Finder.
  • Click on your iPhone in the left sidebar.
  • Select Manage Backups.
  • Choose Restore Backup.
Here is the process for PC using iTunes:
  • Connect your iPhone to your PC via USB.
  • Open iTunes.
  • Select the iPhone icon in the top left.
  • Click on Summary.
  • Select Restore Backup.

How to create an Android backup

Similar to the iPhone, you have a few different options to back up your Android phone. Remember that Android phones aren’t native to PCs like an iPhone is to a Mac, which complicates the process a bit. However, even without a closed ecosystem, the different processes for backing up your Android phone are easy to follow.

1. Use Google Drive

Use Google Drive
The easiest and most common method of backing up your Android phone is to use Google Drive. This process automatically saves your contacts, photos, videos, calendar events, and other data if you lose or replace your device.
Here's how to back up your Android phone with Drive:
  • On your phone, go to Settings.
  • Select Google.
  • Select Backup, which will display your Google Drive account’s overall storage.
  • Toggle on the “Backup to Google Drive” option.
  • You will receive a prompt to “Back Up Now.”
If you have never backed up your Android phone, you may have a longer process. Make sure to plug in your phone so your device remains connected to your home WiFi network, charged, and untouched throughout the backup. Android phone data backed up this way can be encrypted via a prompt at the beginning of the process. Doing this allows you to create a hidden section of your Google Drive account that only you can access.
When you create a copy of your Android’s data, keep in mind that Google Drive only offers 15GB per storage per Google account – including the backup. You may want to consider upgrading to a Google One account if you need more room. You can choose from 100GB, 200GB, or 2TB of cloud storage, which is well beyond the amount of storage on your phone.

2. Back up your Android phone to PC

While backing up your Android to your PC is simple, it’s also slightly disorganized. You first need to connect your Android phone to your computer via USB and then follow these steps:
  • Read the notification on your Android phone that says “Charging this device via USB.”
  • Select “more options” on your phone below the notification.
  • Select File Transfer.
  • On your PC, navigate to Windows File Explorer.
  • Click on your phone’s icon under “This PC.”
You can then manually drag the files from your Android phone to create a copy of them on your PC. Before doing this, be sure to organize your folders to neatly separate your photos, videos, notes, and applications.
After you create and organize your Android backup folder, you can encrypt your data with these steps:
  • Right-click the folder and select Properties.
  • Click on the Advanced button.
  • Check the “Encrypt Contents to Secure Data” box.
  • Click OK to close the Advanced Attributes window.
  • Click Apply.

3. Back up your Android phone to Mac

It’s a bit more complex to create a local backup from your Android phone to your Mac, because there’s no native relationship between Android phones and Macs. Plus, you need to install the Android File Transfer App on your Mac, otherwise, the computer will not recognize your phone.
Once you install the app, follow these instructions:
  • Connect your Android phone to your Mac via USB.
  • The USB connection should automatically open the Android File Transfer app.
  • Access your phone’s folders through the Finder and copy them over to your Mac.
Just like with the Android PC backup, you should organize your data first. This is why we recommend using Google Drive for Android backups because it’s automated and more organized.

How to encrypt Android backup files on Mac

After you copy your Android file to your Mac, you have the option to encrypt them. You can do this with FileVault, a built-in encryption feature for MacOS. Here’s how:
  • Go to the Apple menu in the top left corner of the screen.
  • Select System Preferences.
  • Navigate to Security & Privacy.
  • Click on the FileVault tab.
  • Select “Turn On FileVault”
Once you enable FileVault, it will automatically encrypt your files, including those in your local Android backup.

How to restore your Android backup

Restoring an Android backup is very easy whether you use Google Drive, a PC, or Mac. If you purchase a new Android phone or need to factory reset your current device, you can restore it in several steps with Google Drive:
  • Select the language on your Android phone after turning it on
  • Click on the prompt to “Copy Apps and Data.”
  • Type in your WiFi network details to connect.
  • Sign in with your Google Account.
  • Click Backup to Restore.
  • Select the data to restore.
  • Click Restore.
To restore from PC, all you need to do is plug in your Android phone via USB and drag the files from your PC to your Android. For Mac, you can utilize the Android Transfer App to drag and drop the files you want to copy back to your Android.


Creating a backup of your iPhone and Android phone is extremely important, because it saves your data, settings, and your apps. And when you need to restore your phone, you’ll be relieved that everything is sitting right there for you.
There are a variety of ways to back up your smartphone data via cloud storage options like iCloud and Google Drive. However, if you want to encrypt your data or prefer a local backup option on your PC or Mac, you can do this easily. Whatever option you choose, make sure to back up your phone's data regularly so you can access your most recent data.
About the Author: Daniel Horowitz is a contributing writer for HP Tech Takes. Daniel is a New York-based author and has written for publications such as USA Today, Digital Trends, Unwinnable Magazine, and many other media outlets.

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