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Setting Up Your iOS Device to Use iCloud Backup: Pros and Cons

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Maintaining a regular and reliable back up of your iPhone or iPad is a strategy you should get into the habit of doing, right from the start. Thanks to iOS 5, you now have several options for backing up your iOS device. In this article, avid iPhone/iPad user Jason R. Rich explains the new iCloud Backup feature and how to use it.
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Prior to the release of iOS 5, if you wanted to maintain a backup of your iPhone or iPad, it was necessary to use the iTunes Sync process. This involved connecting your iOS device to your primary computer using the supplied USB cable, and then running the iTunes software on your computer. The backup files from your iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch were then stored on your primary computer's hard drive.

While iTunes Sync is still very much a viable option for maintaining a backup of your iOS device, Apple's new iCloud service offers another option, called iCloud Backup. Once you establish a free iCloud account, your iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch can back itself up automatically to the iCloud online-based service. Thus, the backup files from your iOS device will be stored online, and become available to you from wherever a Wi-Fi Internet connection is available.

What's Needed to Use iCloud Backup

To use the iCloud Backup feature, your iOS device must have access to the Internet via a Wi-Fi connection. A 3G connection cannot be used, and whether or not a 4G connection can be used is up to the individual wireless service providers. In addition to having access to a Wi-Fi connection, the iOS device must be plugged into an external power source to use iCloud Backup.

Once the iCloud Backup feature is turned on, your iOS device will automatically back itself up once per day. However, at any time you can initiate a manual backup of your device. When iCloud Backup is used for the first time, the backup process could take one hour or more, depending on how much of your iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch's internal storage is being utilized. After the initial backup, however, the time it takes for subsequent backups will be much quicker, because only new or revised information and data will be uploaded to iCloud.

When you use the iCloud Backup feature, the online storage space needed to store your backup files is deducted from the 5GB of free online storage space that your free iCloud account includes. So, if you're backing up an iPhone and iPad (and/or iPod Touch)—plus using some of iCloud's other features for storing files, data, and photos, for example—you may find it necessary to upgrade your iCloud account with additional online storage.

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