Alex O'Brien

How to back up your iPad

How to back up your iPad

It's important to have a digital insurance policy should a tech disaster strike.

One way to backup an iPad is to plug it into a computer running Apple's iTunes music software, which makes a complete backup of the tablet and stores it all away in hidden folders.

This is handy if you've bought a new iPad and you're looking to copy across everything from your old iPad, but it's not very user-friendly if you need to dip into the backup to recover a single lost file.

Another way to backup an iPad is to use Apple's iCloud online storage service. The benefit of this is that backups run automatically, uploading to the cloud. You can access and edit individual Keynote, Pages and Numbers files via a web browser on your computer – which could be a godsend if your iPad is lost, stolen or meets with some other disaster.

Apple automatically enables iCloud backups on new iPads, but unfortunately it's not as set-and-forget as you might hope.

By default, you only get 5GB of free iCloud storage, which you can chew through pretty quickly when it's uploading photos and movies. 

What's really stupid is that when the iPad calculates that its next backup will exceed 5GB, your backups stop dead. At this point the iPad doesn't try to back up as much as possible, it doesn't prioritise iWork productivity files or even backup newer versions of files which are already in the cloud. You'd expect better from the likes of Apple.

Trim your iCloud backups

The easiest way to keep your iCloud backup under 5GB is to tell the iPad to stop backing up the photos and videos in the Camera Roll.

To do this, go to Settings, iCloud and disable Photos backup. If this isn't enough to get you under the 5GB limit, then tap on Storage and Manage Storage. Under backups you'll see the name of the iPad, tap here and then tap Show All Apps to see a complete list of apps which are backing up to iCloud and how much storage they're using.

This list can take quite a while to calculate the storage needs for each app. If it seems stuck, start working down the list and disabling backups for apps that you're certain aren't important.

Backup elsewhere

You can back up iPad photos and videos to a range of third-party cloud storage services like Google Drive, Dropbox, Microsoft OneDrive, Flickr and Amazon Cloud Drive – these can work out a lot more cost-effective than iCloud but you'll need to test the apps for a while to be sure they meet your needs.

Another option is to back up the iPad's Camera Roll to your computer or Network Attached Storage drive using an iPad app like PhotoSync or FileExplorer. From here it can be easier to backup those files to the cloud for safe-keeping.

Got any smart tech tips to share? Let us know in the comment section below.

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