The Guide to iPhone Backup Software and Cloud Solutions

Mobile •  Updated on April 1, 2024

iphone backup

Feeling the dreaded storage crunch is a common struggle for iPhone users in 2024. High-resolution media, system data, and old backups quickly eat away at precious space, slowing down your phone.

While backing up to iCloud can help, it’s not always the most convenient or cost-effective solution. Frequent backups can be time-consuming, and limited free storage can lead to expensive upgrades.

But fear not! This updated 2024 guide explores the best iPhone backup software solutions. We’ve tested top options to help you find the perfect fit, whether you prioritize flexibility, automation, or affordability.

Quick notes:

  • Our list covers a range of backup options (free & paid) to keep your data safe and accessible.
  • iTunes and iCloud are solid options, but be aware of storage limitations and flexibility.
  • You can also find the powerful choices with reviews of iMazing (wireless backup), AnyTrans (all-in-one toolkit), Dr.Fone (selective restore), and IDrive (cloud backup).

iCloud or iTunes for backup – or both?

Apple offers the flexibility to backup your iPhone through iCloud or iTunes for backup, or even both, depending on your needs. Here is a quick breakdown for each before proceeding with choosing Apple’s official backup services:

iCloud Backup

iCloud Backup allows you to automatically save the device data to Apple Cloud servers, providing an easy and seamless way to keep backup information secure and accessible.

icloud backup

Here are steps to use iCloud to back up your iPhone:

  1. Start by opening settings on your iPhone by tapping on the Settings app featuring a gear icon from the home screen or the app drawer.
  2. After the Settings are loaded, navigate to your name and tap on it. If you don’t find your Apple ID listed, sign in with your credentials and repeat the step.
  3. Now, you’re listed with different options, from which tap on iCloud to get started.
  4. Doing so displays the iCloud-related options, and to back up your iPhone, tap on iCloud Backup, which is turned off.
  5. After tapping on it, you will notice a dedicated screen for iCloud backup. Now tap on the toggle next to Back Up This iPhone to back up your iPhone automatically.
  6. Alternatively, tap on Back Up Now and tap on back up your iPhone manually.

Advantages:

  • Wireless and automatic, requiring no physical connection to a computer.
  • Convenient for users with a stable internet connection.
  • Accessible from anywhere with internet access.

Drawbacks:

  • Limited to 5GB of free storage, and additional storage requires a fee.
  • It is unsuitable for backing up large data unless extra storage is purchased.

iTunes Backup

iTunes Backup offers a conventional method of backing up iPhone data by connecting the device to a PC or Mac, providing a secure backup solution.

backupnow

Here we listed the steps for it (For demonstration, we have considered iPhone 11 and Finder on Mac):

  1. Ensure your Mac is running macOS 10.15 or higher. Next, open the Finder app to open the backup process.
  2. Connect your iPhone to your Mac/Windows PC using a cable to Finder/iTunes.
  3. If you have established a successful connection, look for the Location section in the sidebar, and you will find your iPhone listed.
  4. With the iPhone listed, navigate to the General tab, then check the option – Encrypt local backup.
  5. After you check the encrypt local backup option, set a password for the backup, and click the Back Up Now button to begin the backup process.

Pro Tip: iTunes offers the flexibility to back up over Wi-Fi and enable it, navigate to the Options, and check the Show this iPhone when on Wi-Fi feature.

Advantages:

  • Storage can be unlimited as you increase the computer’s hard drive capacity.
  • As iTunes backup is a physical backup, it offers control and security.
  • It offers encrypted backups to secure sensitive data.

Drawbacks:

  • It requires a physical connection to a computer, making it less convenient than iCloud.
  • Backups can be time-consuming, especially if you have large data to back up.
  • Regularly connecting to iTunes and manually initiating backups is unavoidable.

Using iCloud and iTunes Backup together

Combining iCloud and iTunes backups offers a layered approach to data security, ensuring multiple backup options to protect the data.

Advantages:

  • Provides comprehensive backup coverage, combining iCloud’s convenience with iTunes’s storage capacity.
  • Ensures data is secure and accessible in multiple ways.

Drawbacks:

  • Managing two different backup systems can be complex and time-consuming.
  • Requires more active management of storage and backup settings on both platforms.
  • This can lead to redundant data storage, potentially occupying significant space on iCloud and the computer.

Considering both, the drawbacks can be countered using iCloud and iTunes to backup. However, handling two backup systems can get tricky, take time, and waste space. Hence, we leave the backup choice to you as it changes according to the requirement.

Best 3rd-party iPhone backup software

After using Apple’s official backup services, we have felt that iTunes/Finder is reliable. However, it comes with a significant drawback: not having the flexibility to select what to backup.

To address this, we have selected a few software that offer complete flexibility, and here is everything you need to know about them:

iMazing: best for wireless backups

iMazing is a complete backup solution for Apple devices that lets you transfer and manage data like messages, music, files, and data from your iPhone, iPad, or iPod to your computer without using iTunes.

iMazing backup

We have tested iMazing with iPhone 11 running iOS 17.4.1, and as advertised, we had complete flexibility in selecting the desired backup files. The best part about this tool is it lets you set up automatic wireless backups, so you don’t have to remember to do it manually.

Besides its backup capabilities, iMazing also allows the storage of backups on an external drive or NAS. As a result, you don’t have to worry about space running on your computer and can perform as many backups as you like.

iMazing capabilities go beyond the wired connection, offering options for backing up over Wi-Fi. In addition, you get extra tools for transferring content between devices, installing apps, and managing messages.

For us, iMazing felt reliable, and the upgraded interface with on-screen instructions made it easier to use. However, we had issues with setting it to NAS, but we managed to get it done with some struggle.

What did we like?

  • Transfers data without needing iTunes and offers a wireless connection
  • Offers complete flexibility with what to back up and archive
  • Allows storing multiple backups and setting scheduled backups.
  • Allows to save backup files on external drives/NAS to save space
  • It comes with a user-friendly interface and allows to manage apps and messages

What could be better?

  • On-screen instructions could be detailed.
  • Connecting with NAS devices can be made more accessible.
  • It doesn’t include Whatsapp backup.

Availability and Pricing:

Compatible on Windows and MacOS

  • Device License: $59.99, one-time purchase, can connect up to 3 Apple devices.
  • Business License: $150, one-time purchase, can connect up to 3 Apple devices.
  • Family Subscription: $69.99/year, can connect up to 10 Apple devices
  • Business Subscription: $65/year, can connect up to 2 Apple devices

Read full review of iMazing

AnyTrans: best for all-in-one toolkit

AnyTrans is an all-in-one management tool for iPhone, iPad, iPod, iTunes, and iCloud content to transfer, manage, and back up data easily and quickly.

AnyTrans backupmanager

With AnyTrans, you can back up your iPhone data how you prefer, whether wired or wireless. Also, incremental backup and scheduled backup allow you to save space on the PC while having the flexibility to backup according to your requirements.

The best part of AnyTrans is that it allows you to manage 27 types of iOS content. While this is a standard offering seen in prominent tools, AnyTrans stands out because of its wide collection of tools.

For instance, the tools to manage messages, WhatsApp chats, and iOS Apps in batches have made the tool significantly reliable. The iCloud Manager and iTunes Library deserve special attention as these are rarely offered in this segment.

We had no issues with the backup or restore process. While AnyTrans offers everything in one place, it can be confusing and beats the purpose for those looking specifically for a backup tool.

What did we like?

  • It allows both wired and wireless backups.
  • It saves PC space with incremental and scheduled backups.
  • Allows to manage 27 types of iOS.
  • It comes with a wide collection of tools.
  • Reliable backup and restore process.

What could be better?

  • With multiple available tools, it can be confusing if the user tries to back up.
  • It lacks NAS compatibility.
  • It doesn’t offer the flexibility to purchase individual tools.

Availability and Pricing:

Compatible on Windows and MacOS

  • 3 Months Subscription: $35.99, Unlimited devices, 1 PC.
  • 1-Year Subscription: $39.99, Unlimited devices, 1 PC.
  • Lifetime license: $59.99, Unlimited devices, 1 PC.
  • Lifetime license [Family Plan]: $79.99, Unlimited devices, 5 PCs.

Read full review of AnyTrans

Dr.Fone: best for selective restore

Dr.Fone is a versatile tool for managing data that can back up and restore without needing iTunes.

DrFone backup 1

To test the potential of Dr.Fone, we still connected our iPhone 11 running iOS 17.4.1 and started with the backup. The detailed categories, separated according to data, messages, music, files, etc., have made it easier to select what to back up.

With Dr.Fone, you can back up your device automatically and wirelessly once connected to the same Wi-Fi or via a lightning cable. While scheduled backup is reliable, Dr.Fone has taken a step ahead and provided incremental backup. As a result, you can save space by only updating changes from the previous backup.

About restoring, using Selective Restoration, you can preview and choose specific items from the backup to restore to your device without needing to restore everything.

Dr.Fone felt easy to use, thanks to the intuitive interface. While everything worked as advertised, the ability to manage Whatsapp chat is an added advantage. However, the lack of NAS compatibility could be a downside if you’re running low on storage.

What did we like?

  • It can back up automatically and wirelessly.
  • Incremental Backup saves space by only updating changes.
  • Selective Restoration allows for the choice of specific items to be restored.
  • User-friendly and intuitive interface.
  • Supports managing Whatsapp chat.

What could be better?

  • It doesn’t support NAS.
  • WhatsApp backup comes with Dr.Fone – Full Toolkit.

Availability and Pricing:

Compatible on Windows and MacOS

  • Fone Basic: $39.95/year, $49.95/Perpetual, and $59.95/year for Business plan.
  • Fone Full Toolkit: $99.95/year and $115.95 for a Perpetual plan.

Read full review of Dr.Fone

CopyTrans: best for free data transfer

CopyTrans offers its services through different software curated according to a specific purpose.

CopyTrans

As we look specifically into the CopyTrans software, we have tested it by connecting our iPhone 11 running iOS 17.4.1 to realize it is developed to easily import, back up, and transfer music from your iPhone or iPad to your PC or iTunes.

The best part of these software is that it offers one-click transfer irrespective of the file type. CopyTrans tools are arguably the best, with a straightforward interface and minimal options for those looking for a tool that is easy to use.

While CopyTrans works as advertised, the biggest drawback of CopyTrans software is that you must download it according to the file type – photos, videos, music, and other data.

What did we like?

  • It offers a straightforward interface and minimal options.
  • It allows effortless importing, backing up, and transferring music and other files.
  • It offers software tailored to specific data like photos, videos, and music.
  • It is free of cost.

What could be better?

  • While it offers different software, it can be a downside for those looking for a complete toolkit.
  • It isn’t available on MacOS.

Availability and Pricing:

It is Free and compatible only with Windows

Best cloud backup & storage solutions for iPhone

After using iCloud to back up our iPhone, it is easy and reliable. While you have options to manage which apps are using iCloud, it lacks the flexibility to select a specific file. Also, after using the allotted free 5GB of cloud data, we had to purchase an iCloud plan, which was expensive.

As a result, we have tried several apps to find the best cloud backup and storage solutions. Here is everything you need to know about them:

IDrive: Best for affordable, cross-platform backup

IDrive is an exclusive mobile backup solution for iPhone, iPad, and Android devices. It is a great alternative to iCloud, as it offers you the flexibility to select the desired file for backup, be it photos, videos, contacts, and calendar events.

idrive iphone

All backup files can be accessed without restrictions, and you can share them for collaborative access. Regarding usability, the files are organized well according to the timeline, and the interface is straightforward.

The best part of IDrive is its cross-platform compatibility and real-time sync. As a result, you can back up data from various devices under one account. We have backed up images on our iPhone XS to test its potential and successfully restored them to our Google Pixel 6.

While everything seems great, it can be complex for iPhone/iPad users who got used to iCloud as there isn’t any seamless integration with Apple’s services.

What did we like?

  • Offers flexibility to select the desired file of choice to backup
  • Comes with cross-platform support and real-time sync
  • Easy organize and a straightforward interface, no need for learning
  • Comes with restore capabilities
  • Has a free plan (10GB), and the plans are affordable compared to iCloud

What could be better?

  • Doesn’t offer direct integration with Apple services
  • The backup needs to be done manually, except for photos

Availability and Pricing:

Available for Mac, Windows, iOS, and Android

  • Free plan – $0 (10GB Data)
  • iDrive Mini – $9.95/month or $2.95 per month – year plan (100GB)
  • iDrive Personal – $69.95/year (5TB)
  • iDrive Team – $9.95/month or $69.95/year (5TB)
  • iDrive Business – $49.95/month (1.25TB) or $69.95/year (250GB)

pCloud: Best for flexible backup and file management

pCloud is a complete mobile backup solution for iPhone, iPad, and Android devices. It is a complete solution because its features aim to get you all covered.

To test its potential, we have installed it on our iPhone XS running iOS 17 and noticed it is easy to use with the intuitive interface featuring Search and Filter.

pcloud iphone

The backup on pCloud is straightforward and offers the flexibility to select photos, videos, contacts, and calendar events for backup. There are no restrictions on uploading and downloading as long as you have the allocated space with the plan.

Apart from these, pCloud offers exclusive collaboration with different users and platforms with real-time sync. While encryption is a standard offering on all apps listed in this compilation, pCloud goes beyond by offering client-side encryption.

The best part of pCloud is its file versioning capabilities, where you can restore to previous versions and rewind to see all the earlier versions. Next, the added trash functionality further enhances the experience by offering restoring flexibility.

What did we like?

  • Access and manage files across any device
  • Allows restoring and rewinding previous versions of files
  • Offers flexibility to select the desired file of choice to backup
  • No upload and download restrictions
  • Comes with cross-platform support and real-time sync

What could be better?

  • The plans and features are curated more for PC users
  • The auto-upload is limited to photos and videos
  • Can be complex for users looking for just backup and restore features
  • Monthly subscriptions are available only for Business

Availability and Pricing:

Available for Mac, Windows, iOS, Linux, and Android

  • Individual Plan: Starts at $49.95/year and $199/Lifetime (500GB)
  • Family Plan: Starts at $595/Lifetime (2TB)
  • Business Plan: Starts at $9.99/month and $7.99 per month – year plan (500GB)

Icedrive: Best for selective file backup

Icedrive is another straightforward mobile backup solution for iPhone, iPad, and Android devices. With Icedrive, you can manage cloud storage on various devices, offering a straightforward interface for easy data management.

Icedrive iphone

To test its potential, we installed it on our iPhone XS running iOS 17 and were able to perform the backup with the flexibility to select the desired file to upload.

While using Icedrive, we noticed that it focuses more on the document viewer and the media streaming capabilities. As advertised, we could view all popular document and vector formats directly within the app. Also, the built-in media player allowed us to stream video and audio files directly from the cloud.

The best part of Icedrive is its file sharing, which allows us to share files and folders directly with friends, family, and colleagues through the app. While everything was up to expectations, the downside we noticed was that there were not enough features to cover everything completely.

What did we like?

  • Offers flexibility to select the desired file of choice to backup
  • Comes with cross-platform support and real-time sync
  • Reliable Document viewer and built-in media player
  • Has a free plan (10GB), and the plans are affordable compared to iCloud

What could be better?

  • Doesn’t offer direct integration with Apple services
  • The backup needs to be done manually, except for photos

Availability and Pricing:

Available for Mac, Windows, iOS, and Android

  • Free plan – $0 (10GB Data)
  • Lite – $4.95/month or $3.99 per month – year plan (100GB)
  • Pro I – $7.99/month or $5.99 per month – year plan (1TB)
  • Pro III – $14.99/month or $10.99 per month – year plan (100GB)

Google Drive: Best for free cloud storage

While the above apps are reliable, if you’re looking for a more prominent cloud service that offers a free plan and an alternative to iCloud, you must consider checking out Google Drive.

googledrive iphone

Starting with Google Drive to back up our iPhone XS running iOS 17, the first thing that caught our attention was the 15GB of free space across Google Drive, Gmail, and Google Photos, three times more than Apple’s free 5GB space.

Google Drive is flexible in selecting the desired files, and while it supports most files, the app data cannot be backed up. The best part of Drive is cross-platform compatibility and real-time sync, and you can use its exclusive strong collaboration features.

Why should I consider Google Drive over iCloud?

  • Offers 15GB of free storage, compared to iCloud’s 5GB, providing more space for files, photos, and documents
  • Can be accessed from any device, including iOS, Android, Windows, and Mac, offering greater flexibility
  • Strong collaboration and sharing capabilities, allowing multiple users to edit and comment on documents in real-time
  • Seamless integration with Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides for creating and editing documents online

What is Google Drive lacking?

  • While accessible, it lacks the deep integration with iOS and macOS that iCloud offers
  • With more features and tools, it can be more complex to navigate and manage compared to iCloud backup

Google Drive Vs. iCloud Pricing

While Google Drive initially offered more free storage, iCloud’s paid plans became more affordable per GB as you increased the storage size, especially at the 200 GB level. However, from the 2 TB plans, both services offer the same cost efficiency.

Note: We have considered the US pricing, and as the offering varies according to region, the above observation was made for reference.

The bottom line

Considering the necessity of backing up iPhones frequently, we have tested multiple software programs and presented this compilation. If you’re looking for an official approach and are okay with using iTunes, irrespective of the lack of flexibility, go for it.

However, if you’re unhappy with iTunes and are looking for the best solution that features flexibility, check out iMazing for its wireless and automatic backups and compatibility with storage devices.

If you’re looking for a wide collection of tools, AnyTrans is the best pick. On the other hand, Dr.Fone is straightforward with its selective and incremental backup options. Finally, IDrive or pCloud is for those seeking a specific cloud backup purpose.

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