What Does iCloud Back Up?

If you’re curious as to what exactly iCloud backs up on your iPhone or iPad, here’s what you need to know.

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When you go to back up your iPhone, you have a couple of choices. You can either back up your iPhone right from the device using iCloud, or plug it into your computer and perform a complete backup using iTunes.

The big difference between the two methods is that iCloud doesn’t back up absolutely everything. Apple tells you in the iCloud settings on your iPhone and iPad that the service backs up “accounts, documents, Health data, Home configuration and settings.”

However, that’s not all that iCloud backs up. In fact, there are a ton of other things that get backed up on iCloud that you may not be aware of whenever you perform an iCloud backup.

If you’ve ever wanted to know everything that actually gets backed up when you use iCloud, there’s now a detailed list that provides you with this information.

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If you want to perform an iCloud backup, all you have to do is open up Settings and tap on iCloud. Then select Backup and enable the feature.

If you’re curious what it backs up from your iPhone, here’s a detailed list of everything.

Thanks to David Chartier, he detailed everything that gets backed up on iCloud, and while iCloud doesn’t back up everything on your device (which is why you should still back up regularly through iTunes), it backs up quite a bit more than you might have realized.

Here’s the full list:

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  • Text shortcuts in Settings > General > Keyboard > Text Replacement
  • Signatures in Preview for Mac, under Tools > Signatures
  • Stocks
  • Weather
  • WiFi connections/Settings, if iCloud Keychain is enabled
  • Favorites marked in Maps with the share sheet
  • Searches in Maps
  • Learned Dictionary words
  • iTunes wishlist
  • Playback positions in Apple’s Podcasts app
  • Blocked numbers in Messages and Phone
  • Call history between iPhones, or on iPad and Mac in FaceTime > Audio
  • Safari tabs
  • Safari history
  • Reading position in iBooks
  • VIP lists in Mail
  • Signatures in Mail
  • Favorites in Apple’s Trailers app
  • HomeKit settings and devices

This is all the non-obvious stuff, though. There are also other things that get backed up to iCloud, including purchased music, movies, TV shows, apps, and books, as well as photos and videos in your Camera Roll, device settings, app data, home screen and app organization, iMessage, SMS, and MMS messages, ringtones, and visual voicemail.

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So what does iCloud not back up? Well, of course, everything not mentioned here won’t get backed up, but the important content that doesn’t get included with iCloud backups include music, movies, and TV shows not purchased from the iTunes Store, apps, podcasts and audio books, and photos that were originally synced from your computer (as opposed to photos taken on your iPhone or iPad).

Now, if you want to back up absolutely everything on your iPhone or iPad, which is a good idea if you plan on factory wiping your device, you’ll want to back up your device through iTunes. Luckily, the process is really easy and we have a great how-to guide that takes you through the process.

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If you still prefer backing up your iPhone through iCloud, we also have a tutorial on how to back up your iPhone through iCloud right on your device without plugging it in or opening up iTunes. It’s perhaps the easiest way to back up your iPhone or iPad.

However, we recommend doing both: backing up through iTunes and backing up through iCloud. It doesn’t hurt and it provides a second layer of protection if one of the backups should ever end up missing.