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Sync And Back-up With iTunes

In a previous post, I covered the inner workings of iCloud. I explained that iCloud consists of both syncing and backup services. You also learned the difference between the two services. If you need some clarification on the topic, I encourage you to check out, Syncing and Backing Up With iCloud, prior to venturing too far into this post.

In this post we will cover how iTunes syncs and backs up your iOS devices, what data is synced, what data is backed up, where this information is stored, and I will include some important pointers about syncing using iTunes. Keep in mind, this isn’t a step by step tutorial but instead, it’s meant to work in conjunction with, Syncing and Backing Up With iCloud, to help you make the decision on how to best protect your data.

iTunes is a software Apple has created for both Macs and Windows computers. A lot of us know the software as a music management type software, but it is also instrumental in the communication between your iPad, iPod or iPhone, and the computer itself. Once you physically plug the iOS device into the computer and open iTunes, the name of your device will appear on the top bar of the window.

Once you click on your device’s name, a summary window pane will appear divided into three separate boxes. The first box gives you information about the hardware you have connected. You can also check for software updates here. One thing to look out for is the Restore button. This is not the same as Restore From Backup, that you’ll find in the next window. Choosing the Restore button wipes your device clean. If you have the choice, you want to be sure you have a backup before hitting Restore.

The second box is for backups. Here you have the option to choose which method you would like to use to automatically back up your information. Keep in mind, if you choose to use iCloud as an automatic backup, you are still able to manually save you information using iTunes. You simply need to choose the Back Up Now button. You also have the option to encrypt your iTunes backup. This is important because unlike iCloud, iTunes doesn’t require a password to restore your information to your device. If you choose this option be sure you write down the password for later, otherwise you will be out of luck.

The iTunes backup includes the the following:

• Photos and Videos in your Camera Roll
• Device settings
• Application data
• Picture messages, texts and iMessages
• Visual voicemail messages

If you ever need to check if there is a backup for certain devices, or if you need to delete old backups; you can find them in your iTunes preferences under devices. While an iTunes backup doesn’t include as much as iCloud, some things missing such as apps, are included in syncing through iTunes instead.

The data you’re able to sync with iTunes includes:
• Contacts (as long as you’re not using iCloud)
• Calendars (as long as you’re not using iCloud)
• iTunes purchases
• Photos
• Documents and other App data

Before you plug a device in for the first time there is one thing I recommend doing. There is a setting in your iTunes preferences under devices where you’re able to prevent iPods, iPads, and iPhones from syncing automatically. This allows you to ensure you know exactly what will be happening during the process so I highly recommend checking this box. Once you’re ready to sync, you will use the bar at the top to navigate through the different categories to choose what you’d like moved to your device. This helps ensure you’re not moving your entire photo library or every movie from your computer to the device. Keep in mind that nothing is final until you choose the Sync button.

I hope this post has helped to clarify what syncing and backing up using iTunes entails. I recommend checking out my post, iCloud or iTunes, where I explain why I use both methods and why one method might be better than the other. If you need any further assistance, don’t hesitate to contact me so we can set up a time for us to make sure your data is as protected as possible.


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