5 BACK UP YOUR DOCUMENTS
How to ensure your important files and folders are always recover able when using iC loud
How it’s meant to work
Leave your iOS device plugged in, on a Wi-Fi network, and with a locked screen. It’ll then be backed up to iCloud on a daily basis (typically overnight), thereby keeping your data safe should something horrible happen to your iPhone or iPad.
How to make it work
Backups can be a minefield. Some assume they’re running anyway from day one – as if by magic. And that is what’s supposed to happen on iOS. Only it’s not that simple. Your device must be powered, able to access a network (ideally one that’s reasonably fast), and locked, for backups to occur. Additionally, there must be enough storage space on your iCloud account for the backup.
Backups can rapidly increase in size, though, and will just stop if you lack space. Warnings do appear, but they’re easy to dismiss – which you’ll regret doing should you need to restore from a backup that turns out to be weeks old.
If space is a problem, you can manually manage backup content – as outlined elsewhere on these pages. However, if you’re a long-time iOS user, also examine this area of Settings for redundant backups of older devices. These can often be safely deleted – after you’ve backed up the relevant devices to iTunes first, of course.
Failure on restore
Another snag with iCloud backups is failure on restore, which can be nightmarish when trying to get iCloud data on to a replacement device when you no longer have the old one. At that point, a lot of data and settings might be gone for good. However, you’ll be safe if you periodically back up devices to iTunes, giving you a back-up plan for your backups, so to speak.
But what of the Mac? Well, unfortunately, it’s a little complicated. Desktop and Documents folders synced to iCloud can be synced to other Macs, but that’s not really a backup in the truest sense. You can’t use that data to restore an entire Mac, and it doesn’t account for glitches in the system, such as documents vanishing. So set up a robust back-up system as well. Use Time Machine for ongoing backups you can delve into to grab previous versions of files, Backblaze ($5 per month, backblaze.com) for ongoing online back-up/restore, and SuperDuper (£24, shirt-pocket.com) for safeguarding Mac files saved and synced to iCloud. Have SuperDuper schedule a daily back-up that uses ‘Copy newer’ settings (in Options under the General tab). While this is more ‘archive’ than backup, it will at least ensure everything that’s on – or was once on – your Mac remains retrievable.
iCloud isn’t a magic wand for backups. Use other systems, too, to always keep your data safe.