This guide is for and anyone who needs to back up their iPhone (complete device along with separate backups of photos and videos).
This is not a paid promo, I don’t get a kickback for mentioning the awesome app below.
Check our my other related posts
- Backing up files to a Backblaze B2 Cloud Bucket with Duplicati
- Backing up your computer automatically with BackBlaze software (no data limit)
At the time of writing iTunes v188.8.131.52 was the latest version of iTunes.
iTunes is Apple official software for getting files too and from an iPhone, iPod or iPad. If rumours are right Apple will kill off iTunes software at the end of 2019. If Apple kills off the iTunes software I will update this guide in the future.
Disclaimer: I provide no warranty or support for this app, this is what happened to work for me.
Why write a guide on Backing up a mobile phone?
- It’s not that simple an I get asked how to do this almost every week by someone.
- No one thinks to backup up their photos until they fear their phone is lost or stolen.
- I am about to publish a few posts on backing up (development machines, servers etc) with automated software and with free open source software so this post will be handy to link in what data you can back up in that post.
- The last time I wrote an article on backups was in March 2016 and its not that great these days.
Golden rules of backing up.
- Backup to Three different locations.
- Two of the media need to be different.
- One of the locations needs to be offsite
- Test your backups (a backup is only good if you can restore). (from @Daniel15)
- If the backup is encrypted make sure you have the decryption keys. (from @Daniel15)
Backing up the official way (with iTunes)
Apple prefers you just pay them to extend your free 5GB iCloud storage and not worry about backups and not to worry yourself with manual steps.
My wife’s iPhone is always popping up messages saying that her iCloud storage is nearly full and she should upgrade the free space limit.
I know she has 100GB+ images and movies on her iPhone but iCloud has only backed up 4GB of photos and videos. Do not trust any backup statuses unless you can verify all files from a restore.
For the record I use an Android phone (Android backup guide coming soon).
iCloud is a good idea for automatic backup but I prefer to see my photos and backup them up myself. Also, Apple iCloud is not free from troubles. If you want Apple to handle backups then I do suggest you upgrade your iCloud storage from the free 5GB to a more sensible 200GB or more.
Here in Australia Apple charge the following for extra storage.
- 50GB = $1.49 a month
- 200GB = $4.49 a month
- 2TB (2,0000GB) = $14.99 a month
A rough estimate: 50GB is enough to store about 12,000 files (9,000 photos + 3,000 videos) *
- * = based on stats from the backup below (depending on the size an length of your videos).
You can upgrade your paid Apple iCloud backup limit from your iCloud Storage Settings from your iPhone’s settings screen.
IMHO: Apple does make it clear what you are getting before you purchase (but they do not push it enough and people assume their data is safe).
TIP: Please review your existing iPhone data usage and iCloud usage before it’s too late
I don’t want ot pay Apple for more iCloud storage
I like you, I am tight too but I do pay Google $2.49 a month for 100GB backup storage on my Android phone. Google Drive (Google storage is a bit cheaper than Apple).
It is nice knowing your phone is auto backed up.
Install iTunes on Windows (10)
On your Windows 10 computer click the start button. If you don’t have a Microsoft Account go here and create one. Click the start button and type “itunes” (you don’t need to type into a box, just start typing when you click the start button)’.
Then click “iTunes, install app”
If you are logged into your Windows 10 store with your Microsoft ID click “Get” (if not you will need to login to the store).
After you click ‘Get’, iTunes will start downloading.
When iTunes is downloaded Windows will install it. When it’s installed click ‘Launch’
You will need to agree to Apple’s terms of service. Click ‘Agree’
When iTunes opens click “Agree”
Now login to iTunes with your Apple ID (if you don’t have one create one here)’.
Click the ‘Account’ then ‘Sign In’ menu.
Login to iTunes with your Apple ID
Optional: If you have Two Factor Authorisation (2FA) of Apple ID’s turned on (you should) you will need to enter a 6 digit code.
Apple Two Factor Authorisation (2FA) will send one of your other devices a login code that you will need to use to login (confirm you own the account)
TIP: Check out https://twofactorauth.org/ to see what other sites use Two Factor Authorisation (2FA). I use hardware Yubico YubiKeys to protect logins to WordPress, Linux and websites.
Now back to the article, iTunes should be ready to allow us to backup our iPhone.
Before I continue I will click ‘Edit‘ then ‘Preferences‘ menu to view where iTunes will download media too (different ot backup data), not important but I just want ot see if it is not pointed ot my smaller C drive before I backup my phone
I changed the location to a larger S:\Drive’
I was greeted with a message asking me to confirm that I wanted to sync the iPhone that I just plugged in called ‘EllieRose’, I clicked ‘Continue’
On the iPhone I also clicked ‘Trust’ to allow iTunes to talk to it.
I was then prompted to download a software update to the iPhone, It appears this phone is not running the latest software
I was prompted to sync the iPhone to the computer
A backup of the phone was underway.
If the screen above does not appear click the icon below to view the backup and restore iPhone menu.
The iPhone was backing up to this folder on my computer:
I was not prompted for a location to back up so and I will move this backup folder after the backup completes (so my C: drive does not fill up).
- C:\ = 500GB drive (faster SSD)
- S:\ = 2,000GB Drive (slower Magnetic)
The iTunes iPhone backup is now complete (it took about 2 hours).
Now that the iPhone was backed up iTunes the Operating System update started to run.
During the update the iPhone was unavailable.
Done, the iPhone had updated it’s operating system in about 30 minutes.
Now lets see how much space I have available on my C Drive.
It looks like the iPhone backup iTunes made was 60GB in size.
Using Windows Explorer I moved the backup from..
(right click drag an drop action in explorer)
It took me about 20 minutes to move the 60GB folder.
TIP: You can (should) also copy this backup folder to..
- A removable hard drive
- Removable USB Flash Drive
- A NAS or SAN Drive
Now this backup is available for me to restore in the future if I need it.
In the case of a restore, I just need to move the backup into the iTunes expected location.
The catch with back-ups made with iTunes is they are useless if you wanted to restore individual files (say to find a photograph or video). iTunes backups are usually tens of thousands of files with random folders and filenames
If you want to JUST backup photos and videos read on.
How to backup just photos and videos from your iPhone.
This part of the guide needs a paid version of the iOS App Photo Transfer App. In Australia, the app is free but to turn it into a full version needed to restore everything (via in-app purchase) it cost $10.99.
This app is well worth $10.99 AUD (it may be cheaper in other countries) to have it push photos an videos from your iPhone to a free companion Windows program (a Mac versions exist too).
Buy the iOS version and install it on your iPhone.
Then download the free Windows version: http://phototransferapp.com/win/
Extract the files from the zip file.
When I run PhotoTransferApp.exe I get an error saying I need to install Adobe AIR run times.
Go to https://get.adobe.com/air/ and download and install the Air run time.
Install the Adobe Air run time.
I installed Adobe AIR and again reopened the PhotoTansferApp.exe and was prompted to allow access to the Windows Firewall.
I was on a home network so I enabled firewall access.
The Photo Transfer App prompted me to ‘Discover Devices‘ and to make sure the Transfer app is running on the iPhone.
Before I clicked ‘Discover Devices” on the Photo Transfer App on Windows I opened the Transfer app (mentioned above) on the iPhone.
On the iPhone I clicked ‘Send‘
The transfer app will ask for access to your photos, you will need to press OK.
On the iPhone again I clicked ”Windows‘
The iOS Transfer app now said I should run the ‘Photo Transfer App‘ on Windows.
TIP: You can transfer over WiFi (if your iPhone and Windows device is on the same WiFi Network) or you can transfer over a USB cable.
Before I started the ‘Detect Device‘ or ‘transfer‘, I set the Backup path location to my S: drive by clicking settings in the bottom right and choosing a folder (as my C Drive is a bit small).
I noticed the port of 57777, I temporarily disabled the whole Windows Firewall just in case it prevents the photo backup.
In hindsight, it was not a good idea to disable the whole firewall, but because I was at home on a safe network I felt safe to do so. Next time I will not disable the firewall and see if this still works.
If you are on an internet cafe, school or university network do not disable your firewall.
I clicked ”Start” then typed ‘firewall‘ and clicked ‘Windows Defender Firewall‘
I turned off my firewall.
I clicked ‘Detect Devices‘ and the iPhone ‘EllieRose‘ appeared on the left. I doubled clicked on the iPhone name and was prompted with an Authorization required message.
I looked at the ‘Transfer‘ app on iOS and clicked ‘Yes, always‘ to allow access.
After 20 seconds I can see photos on my iPhone on Windows.
I selected all camera albums to backup and clicked backup. I prompt to upgrade to the full version will appear, you will need to buy the upgrade.
After the full version if purchased the backup will be allowed.
You can upgrade from the free to paid full version from the main screen of the Transfer app.
The upgrade In App Purchase is $10.99 AUD
When you purchase the In App Purchase you can run the backup again.
Now I could see photos being copied from the iPhone to my defined backup folder.
I went to bed as I knew there were about 100GB of files on the iPhone and this was going to take a while.
In the morning the backup was done.
26,000 files were backed up (over 100GB).
I now had a full iPhone backup made by iTunes and a copy of all photos and videos.
I turned on the Firewall again.
I now had 160GB of backed up photos, videos and phone backup.
Backup your iPhone backups to the cloud
The steps to do this two ways will be added soon.
I will add a section on how you can back up the iTunes and manually synced photo and video backups to the cloud automatically and a more complex but cheaper was for 0.005c per GB.
Watch this post.
How to backup and Android Phone
Article coming soon.
Read the official iTunes/iCloud backup guide from Apple here: https://support.apple.com/en-au/HT203977
Backing up your computer automatically with BackBlaze software (no data limit)
v1.3 Added back blaze article link
v1.2 Added more images (from a phone that does not have the iOS app already)
v1.1 Added an Android heading.
v1.0 Initial Post