With Apple’s Special Event being live tomorrow, and with iOS 9.3 most likely being released shortly after, it’s worth taking a look at how you should prepare your device for the feature-packed update. Before installing the update, it is recommended that you have a backup of your data. This tutorial is going to walk you through backing up your iOS device and how to perform a software update when available.

First things first, let’s discuss the two different methods of backing up your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch. You have two different options: Backing up to iCloud or backing up to iTunes.

1. Backing up to iCloud. If you have iCloud set up, iCloud will automatically back up your data whenever your device is charging, locked and connected to Wi-Fi. To check to see if you have iCloud set up to backup, first make sure you are connected to a Wi-Fi network by opening up Settings. Then tap on Wi-Fi. Then scroll down until you see iCloud and tap on iCloud.

iOS 9.2.1 iCloud Settings

Then press on Backup. Then you want to make sure iCloud Backup is turned on by seeing the green circle. If not, press the white circle to turn it on.

iOS 9.2.1 iCloud Backup

Now you have your iOS device set to backup to iCloud. For the most part, doing an iCloud backup is hassle-free. On occasions, there might be some difficulties performing an iCloud backup. Reasons that it can be difficult include: having an inactive email address as your iCloud account, using someone else’s Apple ID for your iCloud account, or your iCloud is full and no longer has room to back up. The links will take you to articles that will walk you through how to resolve those issues that you might experience.

2. Plugging the device into your computer. You can back up your iOS device by plugging it into iTunes on your computer. Just like with an iCloud backup, you want to be connected to the Internet in most cases. You can do this on a Mac or a PC. The Mac already comes with iTunes installed. The PC does not come with iTunes and you are able to able to download iTunes off of Apple’s website. Before connecting your iOS device to iTunes, you are first going to want to make sure that you have your computer authorized for your account and that you are logged into your iTunes account. To do this, you are going to click on Store from the top of the drop down menu. Then click on Authorize This Computer and sign in with your Apple ID. Then again click on Store and then click on Sign In.

Authorize iTunes and sign in in iTunes 12

Once you have done that, you can plug your device into iTunes using a USB cable.

On a Mac, if you updated to Photos and are using iCloud Photo Library, Photos will not open up because the pictures are automatically uploaded and stored in the cloud. If you are using Photos and not using iCloud Photo Library, you do have to open up the Photos app for the first time to import the pictures. In the upper left hand corner, you can check off Open Photos for this device, so you don’t have to open Photos every time you want to import pictures from your device onto your computer. Then press Import in blue in the upper right hand corner to import the pictures. If you are not using Photos and are still using iPhoto, it starts to open because it detects the iOS device as a camera. You are able to easily import the pictures from your iOS device to your Mac by pressing the Import Photos button in Blue in the upper right hand corner.

On a PC, it will be different to import the pictures onto your computer depending on what OS you are running. For Windows 7 and Vista, follow these instructions, and for Windows 8 and 10 follow these instructions.

After you deal with your pictures, you can go back to iTunes. These instructions will be the same on both a Mac and a PC, except that the buttons might be located under a different drop down menu on the PC. In iTunes click on your iOS device. The iOS device can be found in in the upper left hand corner denoted by an icon of it.

Before backing up your device, I recommend transferring any of the purchases you made on your iOS device from the iTunes Store, App Store or iBooks Store. To do that click on File, Devices then Transfer Purchases.

iTunes Transfer Purchases

After it is done transferring the purchases, you are now ready to back up. You have two different methods: The easiest one to find is directly in the center of the screen that says Back Up Now; and the second method is to click on File from the drop down menu, then Devices, and then Back Up. When you press back up, it gives you the option to encrypt your backup. There are a couple of reasons why you might want to encrypt your backup. Encrypting your backup saves any Health and Activity data from the iOS device and Apple Watch, your passwords, and HomeKit data. If those things are critically important for you then you are going to want to encrypt your backup. However, when encrypting your backup you have to create a password specifically for that backup. Make sure you know and store the password somewhere safe, because without the password there’s no way to recover that iTunes backup.

encrypt backups in itunes 12

Up at the top in the center of the progress bar, you are able to monitor the status of your device while it is backing up.

Check status update of iOS device backing up in iTunes 12

If you see the Apple in the center of the LED status bar, that indicates that your iOS device is done backing up. However, I would recommend double checking and make sure that the backup was indeed a successful backup. To do so, click on the word iTunes in the upper left hand corner of the screen from the drop down menu. Then click on Preferences.

iTunes 12 preferences

Then click on Devices at the top. If your backup was successful, you will see the name of your device as well as the date and time the backup completed. If you did encrypt your backup, there would be an icon of a lock next to the date and time.

iTunes 12 check for backups

Now that you have your iOS device successfully backed up, you will be ready to upgrade to iOS 9.3.  Stay tuned for a walkthrough of iOS 9.3 alongside the software’s release as well as several more how-to articles in the coming days.

There are two different methods for updating your device to iOS 9.3. With both of these options, you do have to be on a Wi-Fi network.

1. Over the Air (OTA) Update. To do an OTA update, go into Settings and then General. Then you would press on Software Update.

Software update in iOS 8

2. Plug the Device into iTunes. You can plug in your iOS device into the computer and do the update through iTunes. Above the Back Up button you used earlier to back up the iOS Device is the Check for Update button. Click that and then it will update.

That is how you backup and update your iOS device. Stay tuned over the next couple of days for how-to articles on the new features of iOS 9.3.

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