For the most part, you’ll discover that your iPhone is a well-made and extremely reliable communication, productivity, and organizational tool that can safely and securely store your data, files, and content. However, as with any high-tech device, things can go wrong, and when (not “if”) they do, you’ll definitely want to be prepared in order to avoid having your important information lost or accessed by unauthorized people.
Built into iOS 7 are a handful of features and tools designed to safeguard your data, files, and content, as well as safeguard the iPhone hardware itself. Let’s take a closer look at what you should be doing right now to help minimize the negative repercussions if your smartphone is accidentally damaged, lost, or stolen.
Take Advantage of the iCloud Backup Feature
iCloud Backup is used to automatically create a backup of your iPhone, where the backup files and your related data are stored online within your password-protected iCloud account.
When turned on, iCloud Backup creates a backup of your smartphone once per day, everyday, provided that the iPhone is turned on, in sleep mode, and is plugged into an external power source. Because the backup files are stored online, if you ever need to restore your iPhone, this can be done from anywhere there’s a Wi-Fi Internet connection.
In addition to or instead of the automatic daily backup, at any time it’s possible to manually create or update the backup files in order to ensure that all of your most recent information is stored remotely within your iCloud account.
The iCloud Backup feature only needs to be turned on once. To do this, launch Settings, tap on the iCloud option, and then from the iCloud Control Panel menu, scroll down and tap on the Storage & Backup option.
Near the bottom of the Storage & Backup menu, turn on the virtual switch that’s associated with the iCloud Backup option. Then, to create an immediate backup of your iPhone, tap on the Back Up Now button that becomes active near the bottom of the Storage & Backup screen.
Creating the initial backup of your smartphone could take between 15 and 30 minutes (possibly longer), depending on the storage capacity of your phone, how much data is stored within it, and the speed of your Internet connection. For subsequent backups, however, only the changes made to your iPhone are backed up, so the backup process only takes between 1-5 minutes.
You’ll know that the backup is complete when under the Back Up Now option, the time and date of your last successful backup is displayed and the current time and date (within a few minutes) is shown.
To fully utilize the iCloud Backup feature, be sure to also turn on the iCloud functionality for Mail, Contacts, Calendar, Reminders, Safari, Notes, Passbook, and Documents & Data, in order to ensure all of your app-specific data is continuously synced and backed up to your iCloud account. This too is done from the iCloud Control Panel within Settings.
If you actively use the Pages, Numbers, and/or Keynote apps (also known as the iWork for iOS apps), you’ll need to turn on iCloud integration for each of these apps separately. To do this, launch Settings and then scroll down to the listing for Pages, Numbers, and Keynote. One at a time, tap on each option. Then, from the menu for each app, such as Pages, turn on the virtual switch that’s associated with the Use iCloud option.
Once your iPhone is automatically maintaining a backup, you can restore your smartphone as it’s going through the iOS 7 activation process by selecting the Restore From iCloud Backup option.
The alternative to using iCloud Backup is to use the iTunes Sync process to back up your smartphone. To use this feature, you’ll need to use the white USB cable that came with your iPhone to connect the smartphone directly to your primary computer that’s running the iTunes software. Or, turn on the iTunes Wireless Sync feature when using the iTunes software, and then make sure your iPhone (using Wi-Fi) and your primary computer are linked to the same home (wireless) network.
The main drawback to using iTunes Sync to back up your iPhone is that the backup files are ultimately stored on the hard drive of your primary computer. Thus, if you ever need to restore your iPhone, you must be close to your computer, which can be difficult if you’re traveling or somewhere where your computer isn’t.
How to Upgrade Your iCloud Account So It Offers More Online Storage Space
A free iCloud account comes with 5GB of online storage space that can be used to store your iOS mobile device backups (iCloud Backup files), as well as other data, documents, and files. If you use up this storage space, you can purchase additional iCloud online storage space.
To do this from your iPhone or iPad, launch Settings, tap on the iCloud option, scroll down and tap on the Storage & Backup option, and then tap on the Change Storage Plan option.
If you plan to maintain backups for multiple iOS mobile devices within your iCloud account, upgrading to more online storage space will probably be necessary. Plan on spending $20/year for 10GB of additional storage (15GB total), $40/year for 20GB of additional storage (25GB total), or $100/year for 50GB of additional storage (55GB total).
Keep in mind, the online storage space needed to store your photos and iTunes Store purchased content is provided by Apple for free.
Turn On and Use the iOS 7s Passcode Lock Feature and/or Touch ID
It’s possible to prevent unauthorized people from picking up your iPhone and using it, or accessing the data stored within it. To do this, you’ll need to activate the Passcode Lock feature.
On the iPhone 5S, the more high-tech approach is to turn on the Touch ID sensor so a valid fingerprint scan is required to get past the Lock Screen and/or make iTunes Store, App Store, iBookstore, or Newsstand purchases.
To turn on the Passcode Lock feature, which only needs to be done once, launch Settings and tap on the General option. Then, scroll down and tap on the Passcode Lock option. From the Passcode Lock screen, tap on the Turn On Passcode Lock option. It’s displayed near the top of the screen.
When prompted on the Set a Passcode screen, enter the four-digit passcode of your choice. Make sure this is a code you will remember, but that is not too obvious, such as your birthday, “1234,” “4321,” or “1111.” Re-enter this custom passcode when prompted.
Now, anytime the iPhone is turned on or woken up from Sleep Mode, the Lock Screen will appear. However, to get past the Lock Screen, the correct passcode must first be entered.
As you’re setting up the Passcode Lock feature, or anytime after, it’s possible to customize this option. Instead of using a four-digit passcode, you can set and use a more complex and longer alphanumeric password of your choosing. To do this, from the Passcode Lock menu within Settings, turn off the Simple Passcode option, and create a more complex password.
Also from the Passcode Lock screen, you have the option to turn on the Erase Data option. When turned on, if someone enters an incorrect passcode (or password) 10 times in a row, all of the contents of your iPhone will automatically be erased. You can later restore your device from an iCloud Backup or iTunes Sync backup.
If you want to further protect the contents of your iPhone, it’s possible to block access to Siri, Voice Dial, Passbook, and/or the Phone app’s Reply with Message feature from the Lock Screen. To do this, from the Passcode Lock menu within Settings, turn off the Voice Dial, Siri, Passbook, and Reply with Message options.
Turn to the Find My iPhone Option If Your Phone Is Lost or Stolen
While most of us are very conscientious when it comes to keeping track of the whereabouts of our iPhone, it is conceivable that a smartphone could be lost or even worse, stolen. Should this happen, the Find My iPhone feature of iCloud could come to your rescue. However, for this feature to work, it must be turned on before your device is lost or stolen.
To turn on the Find My iPhone feature (which only needs to be done once), launch Settings and tap on the iCloud option in order to access the iCloud Control Panel. Then, turn on the virtual switch associated with Find My iPhone.
If you find that your Smartphone has been misplaced or stolen, go to www.iCloud.com/#find, and log in using your Apple ID/iCloud username and password. Then, click on the Find My iPhone app icon within the browser window.
As long as your iPhone is powered on and has Internet access, iCloud will be able to track its whereabouts and display its exact location on a detailed map. At this point, you’re given a handful of options to lock down, erase, or locate your device.
Upon logging in to the Find My iPhone feature and seeing your missing phone’s location on a detailed map, you can remotely control your device and have it generate a tone to help you find it if it’s in close proximity—hiding under a sofa cushion or car seat, for example.
You also have the option to lock down the phone and remotely activate the Passcode Lock feature. Or, you can opt to remotely delete the contents of your phone, to ensure an unauthorized person can’t access your data.
Yet another option is to remotely send a text message to the device that will display on the Lock Screen, asking that the phone be returned. With the Passcode Lock feature turned on, only a knowledgeable iPhone thief will be able to reset your iPhone and re-activate it.
However, new to iOS 7 is the Activation Lock feature of Find My iPhone. If you discover that your iPhone has in fact been stolen, once you turn on the Activation Lock feature, it becomes extremely difficult for a thief to reset your iPhone and then re-activate the device with a new account. Thus, the Activation Lock feature has become a built-in and viable deterrent for would-be iPhone thieves.
Should you attempt to use the Find My iPhone feature when your missing or stolen iPhone is powered off, is in Airplane mode, or does not have Internet access, be sure to set up this feature to alert you as soon as Find My iPhone automatically locates your device after someone turns it on or allows it to connect to the Internet.
Add Privacy When Surfing the Web with Safari
Like all web browsers, the iOS 7 version of Safari maintains a detailed History folder of all websites you visit. At the same time, Safari can also automatically store cookies from websites that contain details about your web surfing habits and preferences related to specific websites.
To create a more private web surfing experiencing using Safari, at any time when using this web browser, tap on the Bookmarks icon that’s displayed near the bottom-right corner of the Safari screen, and then tap on the Private option that’s displayed near the bottom-left corner of the Bookmarks screen.
Upon turning on this Private option, Safari will no longer maintain a history of your web surfing activities. To further customize your web surfing experience and turn off Safari’s ability to store website-specific cookies, launch Settings and tap on the Safari option. Then, turn on the virtual switch associated with the Do Not Track option. Also, tap on the Block Cookies option and select the Always option.
By taking proper precautions and using common sense, it’s possible to protect your iPhone and the content stored within it, and to prepare yourself should something bad happen. To protect your iPhone hardware investment, it’s also a good strategy to invest in AppleCare+ or third-party iPhone insurance, from a company like Worth Ave. Group (www.worthavegroup.com).