We have a new OS arriving for the iPhones and iPads tomorrow, and OS 10.9 (Mavericks) is due out sometime this fall. This is a perfect time to remind you all to back up your data. Apple tests its releases extensively, but installing a new OS on any device is a fairly robust process and you should always be sure to back up completely before attempting it.
On the computers, a physical backup is always a great thing to do. External hard drives are no longer prohibitively expensive even in larger sizes. We carry Lacie, Seagate and Western Digital drives, ranging from about $109 for a WD 500gb drive to $229 for a 1tb Lacie Rugged drive. You can also get Apple’s Time Capsule, which is a combination wireless router and a wireless hard drive that will allow multiple computers in your home to backup wireless to one drive. These are $299.95 for the 2TB version and $399.95 for the 3TB.
Apple’s Airport Time Capsule
Hard drive prices vary based on connection speed and size, and just as we try to match computers to your needs we also try and match drives to what you need. If you’re performing a backup on your desktop and you’re going to leave the hard drive plugged in all the time, you may not need the ultra-fast thunderbolt connection, for example.
Your computer has a built in backup program called Time Machine, which makes it very easy to perform backups. When you plug in a new hard drive, your computer will ask if you’d like to use it for time machine backups — simply click yes and the computer will take care of the rest. Time Machine keeps hourly backups that it then condenses into daily and then weekly backups, and it allows you to browse past backups to restore specific files without having to restore the whole system. It’s automatic, as long as the hard drive is connected, and it will happen in the background without you noticing (with the possible exception of the first backup, which can be a long one! We usually advise doing it overnight when you don’t need to be on your computer).
On your iOS device (iPhone/iPad) you have two main options for backups — either physically connecting your device to your computer or utilizing the iCloud backup. We prefer iCloud backups just because they’re automatic. I’ve personally used my backups to set up new devices and have found it a fairly easy and exact process; aside from game progress on games that don’t sync online, and having to re-enter my email passwords, everything came back fully.
To set up your iCloud backup, tap the settings button on your device and choose iCloud. Scroll to the bottom of these options and tap on Storage and Backup. At the bottom of the next screen, make sure the slider for Backup is set to on. Your iPhone or iPad must be connected to wifi in order for the iCloud backup to take place. By default, the device will backup when it is connected to wifi, plugged in to charge, and the screen is off (i.e., it has gone to sleep). You can force a backup by tapping backup now on the storage and backup screen, as well.
To backup to your computer, connect your device to your computer with the sync cable (normally, what you use to charge it — unplug the usb end from the wall block and plug it into your computer’s usb port). iTunes will open up, and you’ll see your device appear either in the sidebar if you have it visible or along the top of the iTunes window. Click on your device, and on the summary tab and choose “backup now.” You can see when your last backup was done by clicking on iTunes on the menu bar along the top, choosing preferences and then choosing the device option in the window that opens up.