How to set up automatic iCloud backups for your iPad

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Many of you already know the importance of backing up your device, whether it be an iPad or an iPhone.  If this is you, I apologize if you’ve heard this before, and I’m happy to hear that you are taking the few minutes it takes to protect your data.  If you’re hearing this for the first time, or if you still haven’t ever backed up your device, pay close attention.  These few easy steps are so painless and important.  Unfortunately,  for some reason many iPad and iPhone owners fail to _ever_ backup their devices.  I have sen this happen time and time again.  Just today I texted a friend of mine who wasn’t sure who I was because he washed his iPhone in the laundry and had lost all his contacts.  I asked him when the last time he backed up his device, and her said never.  Don’t let this happen to you.  It is completely avoidable and only takes a few minutes.


The easiest way to create a backup is to go through iCloud.  Your iPad and/or iPhone come with 5 GB of free storage already, so why not take advantage of it.  In addition, when you buy a new iPad or iPhone it walks you through the process of setting up iCloud while activating your device.

How to Back-up your iPad via iCloud

  1. First you need to make sure that your iPad is connected to your local Wi-Fi network.
  2. Next, open the Settings App–> and choose iCloud–> Backup, and turn the feature on
  3. To immediately initiate  your back-up, select Back Up Now, and wait for the process to complete before disconnecting your device from Wi-Fi.
  4. You can now verify that your back-up is complete, by going back to Settings, and choose Storage–> Manage Storage, and select the iPad you just backed up. If you successfully backed up your device, your iPad or iPhone should now appear in the details with the time it was completed, and the backup size.

Now that iCloud bad-up is turned on, your iPad will automatically back-up each night.  You will no longer have to think about it ever again.  This will continue to happen _every_ night as long as your device is connected to a power source and a Wi-Fi network with the screen locked and ample space available for the backup to save to your iCloud account.

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8 thoughts on “How to set up automatic iCloud backups for your iPad”

  1. I have my iCloud backup turned off bc my iPad backs up to my computer. If I turn on iCloud backup it turns off the backup to my computer. Should I still backup on iCloud even though I backup to my computer? Is it possible to do both? I know when I backup to my computer it’s going thru iTunes, so I’m a little confused. Thank you.

    1. Hi Sandi,

      You can definitely do both. In fact, I think it’s a good idea to have it in both places. Backing up through iTunes is definitely faster. However, going through iCloud is more convenient because all you need is a Wi-Fi connection to start restoring from a backup.

  2. As I understand it, there is an important difference between iTunes & iCloud backups when you consider what gets restored. If you restore from an iTunes backup, it restores everything; whereas, an iCloud restore will force you to reinstall the applications. Then there is the encrypted option for iTunes backups that contains data that iCloud backups don’t. This like health content, messages content, passwords… a number of things. I encourage you to read Apple’s site on encrypted backups.

    1. Hi John, thanks for your comment.

      I have been performing iCloud backups for years, and I can assure you the differences you speak of simply aren’t true.

      There is a sentence form your link that you might have missed…
      You can also make a backup in iCloud, which automatically encrypts your information every time

      All your health info, messages, passwords, etc are transferred with your iCloud backup, and when your perform a backup all your apps are installed during the restore–you do not have to reinstall them.

      1. Please have a look at the following link below, from Apple and you will clearly see that iCloud backups do not backup/restore:
        iCloud Music Library and App Store content (If it’s still available in the iTunes, App, or iBooks Store, you can tap to re-download your already purchased content.)

        Yes, iCloud is always encrypted and iTunes offers encryption as an option. So, to ensure the safest most robust iTunes backup you need to select iTunes encryption option.

        Link for differences in backups…

        1. John,
          Have you ever created/used an iCloud backup? Every single time I have restored my iPhone from an iCloud backup all the apps I had previously installed on my device appear on my iPhone/iPad once the restore is complete. I have _never_ had to re-download apps that were part of an iCloud backup. As for Apple Music, I am not a subscriber and have don’t have any experience using the service.

          Most iPhone and iPad users _never_ even open up iTunes on their computer, if they even downloaded the app, much less use it to save a backup. As a result, many users lose data permanently in the event that their device is damaged or stolen. My goal with this post was not to compare the merits of one process versus the other. Rather, I wanted to get people to set-up iCloud when they first set-up their device, and turn on automatic backups so that they have a “safety net” in case the unexpected happens.

          Personally, I only back up to iTunes once a year, and that is just prior to setting up a new device, before restoring from an iCloud backup.

          1. Yes, I’m familiar with iCloud backups… I support a household with 5 iPhones, 3 iPads, 2 MacBook Airs, 2 iMacs and 1 MacBook Pro Retina. I use a family plan so we share our iTune’s resources and enough iCloud space so each person can use iCloud backups. We each use iTunes as well to backup our devices. Therefore, there is a iTunes encrypted backup as well as the iCloud backups. The iTunes backups are done periodically ; whereas, the iCloud backups are on as the default setting.

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