While you can backup your iPhone using either iCloud or iTunes, there is a crucial difference between an iCloud Backup and iTunes backup that you need to understand, in order to safeguard the security of your data.
Introduced in iOS 5, iCloud Backup allowed iPhone users to backup the data on their iPhone wirelessly and automatically to their iCloud Accounts. This was seen as a huge improvement over the traditional method of backing up iOS devices by connecting them to a computer using a USB cable.
As you must be already aware, setting up your device for an iCloud Backup is easy – just a matter of a few taps.
1. Tap on Settings > iCloud
2. Next tap on Backup
3. Toggle ON iCloud Backup
As you can see in the image above, manual backups can be initiated by the user at any time by tapping on Back UP Now link.
Once an iCloud Backup is enabled on an iPhone or iPad, it will automatically start backing up the data on your device to your iCloud Account whenever it is connected to a WiFi network.
Apple provides iPhone users with 5 GB of free iCloud Storage per Apple ID, and makes additional iCloud Storage space available for a reasonable monthly fee.
Note: You will be sharing 5 GB space between 2 devices in case you have both iPhone and iPad linked to a common Apple ID.
What is Included in iCloud Backup
The most important part that you need to clearly understand about iCloud backups is that an iCloud backup cannot be considered as a full or complete backup of your iPhone.
A Typical iCloud backup consists of your most essential data as deemed necessary by Apple. This includes all your iMessages, Text Messages, Voicemail, Device settings, App data (but not actual apps), Photos stored in your Camera roll (not anywhere else) and your purchase history (not purchases).
What is Not Included in iCloud Backup
iCloud backup does not include Apps, Music, Books and Movies that you may have downloaded to your device. The primary reason behind omitting these items is to make iCloud Backups fast and efficient.
Your purchased Apps, iBooks, Movies and Music should be re-downloaded from the App Store, iTunes and iBook Store, whenever you decide to Restore your device from an iCloud Backup.
Here it is important to note that an iCloud Backup will not include Apps, Music and Books in case they were not purchased from iTunes. Also, photos that are not stored on the Camera Roll will not get saved during an iCloud Backup.
An iTunes backup is pretty much a complete backup of your iPhone’s data.
You should always go for an iTunes backup in case you want to ensure that everything on your device, including all Apps, Music, Books, call history, Photos and Videos are available as a backup copy on your local Computer.
Unlike iCloud, an iTunes Backup is not automatic, but making an iTunes Backup is not that difficult once you get used to it.
Just connect your iPhone or iPad to a Windows Computer or Mac and follow the instructions: How to Backup iPhone to Computer and iCloud.
As you can see in the image above, iTunes also provides the option to password protect and Encrypt your iPhone Backups.
Encrypted iTunes Backup includes additional data that is not included in a regular backup. This additional data includes all your Passwords, WiFi network settings, Health data and Website History.
Making an iTunes Backup without encryption will require you to re-enter all your passwords, which can be a problem in case you do not remember the passwords.
Note: There is no way to recover your information or turn off Encrypted Backups on your device in case you happen to lose or forget your password.
Get Used to Both iTunes and iCloud
Without any doubt, an iCloud Backup is convenient, automatic and timely. However, it is always a good idea to make an iTunes backup, whenever you feel the need for a complete backup of your iPhone or iPad.
Ideally, you should get into the habit of making an iTunes backup at-least once every alternate month to ensure the security of your data.