How to Back Up an iOS Device to Computer When iCloud Space Runs Out or is Unavailable

May 28, 2012 - 7 Comments


You can continue to create local backups of iOS devices even if you rely primarily on iCloud backing up iPhone and iPad and for storing those iOS backups. This is a really useful technique if an iPhone, iPad, or iPod ran out of iCloud storage space and you don’t want to deal with managing it manually at the moment, or you’re just temporarily without internet access and want to make a quick backup to the computer. This works for switching a backup location to a local computer on a Mac or Windows PC.

How to Switch iOS Backup Destination from iCloud to Computer in iTunes

Here is how you can switch the backup location of an iOS device from iCloud to the local computer in iTunes on Mac OS and Windows versions of iTunes.

  1. Open iTunes
  2. Connect the iPhone, iPad, or iPod to the computer (Mac or PC) using a USB cable
  3. Select the iOS device, then under the “Summary” tab look for “Backup” and check the radio box next to “Back up to this computer”
  4. Back up to computer - iOS device setting in iTunes

  5. Click “Apply”
  6. Right-click on the device in the iTunes sidebar and choose “Back Up Now”

You can verify the backup is stored on the Mac (or PC) by going to iTunes Preferences, clicking on “Devices” and making sure the most recent backup matches up with the current time and date.

Down the road if you reconnect to iCloud and backup there again you can always delete these local backups directly from iTunes and reclaim the disk space.

When you get iCloud capacity or internet access again, don’t forget to return to the settings and adjust Backup options to “Back up to iCloud” again when you are finished. Otherwise your iOS device will continue to want to backup to a local computer rather than iCloud.

Many users will find that they can’t backup an iOS device to iCloud on the free plan and therefore must pay for larger tiered storage plans for making iCloud backups, but given the importance of the type of data on an average iPhone or iPad that’s usually a worthwhile purchase for more iCloud storage for backing up important data, photos, videos, memories, and all else that is contained on an iOS device.

Remember to always backup your iOS devices, as a failure to backup can lead to permanent data loss!


Related articles:

Posted by: Paul Horowitz in iPad, iPhone, iTunes, Tips & Tricks


» Comments RSS Feed

  1. rachel says:

    I have to save all of my stuff on to my computer due to not having enough storage on my phone. I need to get a new IPhone due to water damage and I am afraid that not all of my stuff will transfer over to my new phone. I have a PC so will i be able to transfer all of my contacts, pictures, and music to my new phone by backing it up to my computer. If so, I do I go about doing that…
    Thank you and please help!!

  2. Meika says:

    How do you backup to an external hard drive instead of a computer?
    My computer disk space isn’t big enough and won’t back up for me?
    Please help.

  3. Harvey says:

    I tried to back up my iPad to my computer and the check mark kept reverting back to iCloud. In the past I’ve had to go into settings and turn off iCloud backup before I could get the device to backup to my computer. Am I missing something?

  4. Gabriel says:

    Well this is interesting, I don’t have that option of “Back Up” when I click on my iPhone name in the sidebar of iTunes, all I have is

    Eject “iPhone”
    Sync “iPhone”
    Transfer Purchases from “iPhone
    Reset Warnings

    I never had this option even prior to trying to follow this step.

    Any ideas? I even tried the reset warnings, still no Back Up, I would like to have a back up on my Mac, since my DSL isn’t unlimited.


  5. Andre says:

    Or you can just right-click on the device’s name in the sidebar and chose “Back Up”. This always backs up to your computer regardless of the Backup setting.
    I think this a better solution for a quick temporary local backup rather than changing a setting back and forth.

  6. booyah says:

    You do not need to do steps 2 and 3. Right-clicking the device in itunes and selecting backup now will always do a backup to your computer, regardless of what is selected on Summary page.

Leave a Reply


Shop on and help support OSXDaily!

Subscribe to OSXDaily

Subscribe to RSS Subscribe to Twitter Feed Follow on Facebook Subscribe to eMail Updates

Tips & Tricks


iPhone / iPad



Shop on Amazon to help support this site