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iTunes Backup: To this Computer or iCloud Account

Want know what dose iTunes backup exactly include and exclude? Here we list top 6 questions you may be interested in about the iTunes backups: iCloud or Your PC/Mac, which is better?

Back up to where: This computer or iCloud account

When you backup iPhone/iPad data with iTunes, it offers you two options: iCould and Your PC.

If you choose to back up to this computer, iTunes will store all of your iPhone files and identify information to local drive on Windows PC or Mac. See: How to find iTunes' Backups files on computer.

Back up to iCloud account with iTunes

If you choose to back up to iCloud, only the most important data on your device will be backed up to your iCloud account. Note: You need to firstly turn off iCloud Backup on your iPhone, because you cannot create backups using iTunes when iCloud Backup is enabled.

1. What are included in iCloud account

Backups on iCloud account includes camera roll, your accounts, documents, Health data, Home configuration and settings. Every time you sync your iPhone, new contents will automatically add to iCloud, and data that's already stored in iCloud will not sync. Here are the full list:

  • App data
  • Ringtone
  • iOS settings
  • Favorites in Apple’s Trailers app
  • Home screen icon layout and folders
  • Photos and videos in your Camera Roll
  • Wi-Fi connections/Settings, if iCloud Keychain is enabled.
  • Favorites marked in Maps with the share sheet
  • Searches in Maps
  • iTunes wishlist
  • Playback positions in Apple’s Podcasts app
  • Messages including iMessage, SMS, and MMS messages
  • Call history
  • Safari history
  • Memos, Calendar
  • Visual Voicemail password
  • Apple Watch backups
  • Health data
  • HomeKit settings and device

What are included in iCloud account

2. What are included in local iTunes Backup

Backups on your Computer includes nearly all of your device's data and settings. Every time you sync your iPhone, new contents will automatically overwrite the previous contents in backup files. Here is a brief introduction for iTunes backup contents:

  • Photos and images: Camera taken, screenshots, images saves, wallpapers.
  • Media files: Movies, music, videos, ringtones.
  • Messages & Call logs: iMessage, carrier SMS, vioce message, contacts, call history.
  • Application Data: App settings, preferences, data, documents and install profiles
  • Keychain: all account passwords to enter into websites or application, including Wi-Fi passwords
  • Home screen arrangement.
  • Paired Bluetooth devices.
  • Settings: Network settings (Wi-Fi hotspots, VPN settings, network preference.
  • Memos, Calendar, and Booklmark: Notes, voice memos, voicemail taken
  • Calendar accounts, subscribed calendars, events.
  • Safari and map bookmark.
  • Safari history, offline data, browse cache, mail cache/message/attachments, temp files, etc.

After you backup iPhone/iPad with iTunes, your data are stored in backup location. the filenames of iTunes backup are encoded, so they appear as strings of letters and numbers as following picture shows.

What are included in local iTunes backup

3. Which method is much safer

Both two options can keep your data secure.

No one can access to your backups in iCloud, if they have no your Apple ID and password. This is a safe method. With iTunes, it offers encrypted backup, if you want to save Health and Activity data from your iOS device or Apple Watch, you need to encrypt your backup. There's nobody to access your iTunes backups without its password.

Encrypt password

4. What to do when iCloud Storage is Full

Apple provides 5GB of free storage space for an Apple ID. 5GB is more than enough for most people. However, you may meet this condition, you are prompting a notification says: your iCloud storage is full, you can manage your storage by removing some data from the device to reduce the amount of data that will be backed up to iCloud, or you can add more iCloud Storage when necessary.

5. What to Do When Local Drive is Full

If you've been backing up your iPhone via iTunes for years, iOS backups may have taken much space on your local drive. You can move iTunes backups to an external hard drive, or delete the old iTunes backup on your PC or Mac, and then create a new backup for your iPhone/iPad.

To delete iTunes backup, here's how:

Step 1: Access to iTunes' Preference on your computer.

On Mac: Choose iTunes > Preferences.
On Windows: Choose Edit > Preferences.

Step 2: Click Devices. Choose the backup that you want to delete.

Step 3: Click Delete button, then, click OK.

Delete iTunes Backup

6. Which option should you choose?

Both iCloud and This Computer have their advantages, we recommend that one you actual needs.

If you plan to reset your device to factory settings, you had better back up your device through iTunes to you PC or Mac. Luckily, the process is really easy and we have a great how-to guide that takes you through the process.

If you just want to sync the most important data, choose to back up to iCloud, and you can easily restore data to from iCloud account no matter where you are. All you need is a strong Wi-Fi connection.