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Back Up Your Personal Devices

           No matter how careful you are, there is always a chance your device or computer can be lost, stolen, infected with malware, or simply stop working. Keeping regular backups of the data on your personal devices will give you peace of mind and ensure you don’t lose family photos or important records and assignments. Make sure you investigate all of your options, and keep in mind, some will offer you more protection than others. For example, keeping a disk image on an external hard drive at a different location will protect you from ransomware, theft, and flood and fires, while using cloud storage will protect you from device failure but not other events like ransomware.


Apple Devices: iPads, iPods, and iPhones

There are two ways to backup your personal Apple devices: iCloud or iTunes

  1. iCloud: iCloud offers up to 2TB of cloud storage, with your first 5GB free. Your backups are always encrypted, and you can create and use them on your device from anywhere with WiFi. ICloud backups don’t include data that's already stored in iCloud like Contacts, Calendars, Notes, My Photo Stream, and iCloud Photo Library, Data stored in other cloud services, like Gmail and Exchange mail, Apple Pay information and settings, Touch ID settings, iCloud Music Library, or App Store content. You can find a list of the data iCloud does back up by selecting “Learn more…” on the backup page described below.
    • To backup your device with iCloud:
      1. Log in to WiFI
      2. Go to “Settings”
      3. Scroll down, select “iCloud”
      4. Scroll down again, and select “backup”
      5. Turn on “iCloud Backup” and select “Backup now”
    • To make sure your backup completed:
      1. Go to Settings > iCloud > Storage > Manage Storage, then select your device. The backup should appear in the details with the time and backup size                                     
  2. iTunes: iTunes backup storage depends on the available space on your Mac or PC. You can encrypt your backup, but encryption is off by default. You can create or use your backups from your desktop. iTunes does not backup content from iTunes, iBooks, or the App Store, content synced from iTunes like imported MP3s, CDs, books, or photos already stored in the cloud, Touch ID settings, Apple Pay information and settings, or activity, health, and Keychain data (unless you use encrypted backup.)
    • To backup your device with iTunes:
      1. Connect your device to your computer and open iTunes.
      2. Select your device when it appears on the left bar. If it doesn’t appear, learn more here.
      3. If you want your backup to be encrypted, you need to select Encrypt [device] backup and create a strong password.
      4. Click “backup now”
    • To make sure your backup completed:
      1. Go to iTunes preferences > Devices, and you should see the name of your device and the time you created the backup.



You can backup your Mac using Apple’s built-in backup service, Time Machine. Time Machine runs automatically in the background once you set it up and connect an external drive. Keep in mind that your data won’t be safe from theft or a disaster like a fire unless you keep an offsite backup as well.

Set up Time Machine:

  1. Connect an external hard drive to your mac that is at least the same size as your Mac’s internal drive. If Time Machine runs out of space while making backups, it will simply delete the oldest version of your backup. This also means that if you don’t want Time Machine using your entire drive, you should partition it.
  2. Go to System Preferences > Time Machine, and turn the toggle to On. Chose “Select disk…” and choose your hard drive. You can choose to encrypt your backup and create a password at this step. Your drive must be formatted as Mac OS Extended (Journaled). If it is not, you will be prompted to reformat your drive, which will erase its contents.
  3. Under “Options” you can choose to exclude certain volumes and have Time Machine notify you when it deletes an old backup. Backups will be made every hour.


Android devices:

There are a few different methods for backing up different information from your android device.

  1. Google Backup and Restore - Go to Settings > Backup and reset, and enable “Backup my data.” This will backup your app data, chrome bookmarks, Wi-Fi passwords, and other settings. Then go to Settings > Accounts & Sync > Google. Select your Google account, then select the services you would like to backup to Google’s servers.
  2. Back up Photos and Videos on Android - One of the easiest ways to backup your photos is to save them with Google Photos. This service allows you to upload an unlimited number of standard resolution files or full size files within your Google Drive limit.
  • To set up auto-backup:
    • Go to the photos app on your device
    • Click the three dots at the top right corner
    • Turn the “Auto Backup” toggle to on
    • Make sure you select “Standard Size” under photo size if you don’t want to limit your storage space
    • If you want screenshots, WhatsApp images, and other photos not from your camera stream to be backed up, select the three bars at the top left of the photos screen, select “on device,” and click the cloud next to each group of photos you would like to backup.
    • To delete a photo from your device but not from your backup, navigate to “On Device” as you did in the previous step, select a photo, and click the trash can icon.

                          You can check out more options for backing up your android device here.


              Windows PC or laptop:

              There isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach to backing up your PC, so you should consider the options that are available to you.

              • Use Windows backup and Restore with an external hard drive: This process is manual, so you will have to remember to do it regularly, though one major benefit is that your data will be protected from ransomware and, if you keep the drive offsite, natural disasters. You can learn how to do it here.

              Other Options:

              There are many options for backing up your data besides what is covered in this guide. Here are some additional options:

              1. Cloud Storage -
                1. Google Photos is an easy and cheap way to backup your photos to the cloud. Check out the guide here for more information.
                2. As long as you don’t have too much data to store, you can use a cloud storage service like Dropbox, OneDrive, and Google Drive. You can find a rundown of the best cloud storage services here. Again, keep in mind that cloud storage is not as reliable as some other methods.
              2. Online Storage -
                1. Carbonite, CrashPlan, and BackBlaze are some examples of online backup services. Here is a rundown of some of the best. While online backup tends to be convenient and easy to use, make sure you are aware of the risks you assume when using it. For example, what happens to your data if the company goes out of business?

              With all the backup options out there, you are sure to find the best fit for your needs. A little research and planning now can save you a lot of headaches in the future! For more information about other backup methods and media and what you should be backing up, see here.