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Back Up Apple Health Data (and Other Settings)

iPhone Backup

If you’re backing up your iPhone to iCloud Backup, then those backups are encrypted and include the Health app’s data.

If you’re backing up your iPhone to iTunes on your computer and you are not encrypting that backup, then your Health app data is not being backed up. And neither are your saved passwords, Wi-Fi settings, or Web site history.

While Apple doesn’t make this clear enough in my opinion, the fix is fairly simple.

  1. Connect your iPhone to your computer
  2. Start iTunes if it isn’t running already.
  3. Select your iPhone in the iTunes interface.
  4. In the Summary panel for that iPhone, located the Backups section.
  5. Ensure that This Computer is selected.
  6. Click to place a checkmark in Encrypt iPhone Backup.
  7. Click Sync to initiate the backup.

IMPORTANT: During the sync process, you will be prompted for a password for your encrypted backup. Do not forget this password. You cannot recover the backup without the password.

Now check that your backup completed successfully.

  1. Click the Edit pull-down menu.
  2. Click Preferences…
  3. Click the Devices tab.
  4. Look for the entry with your iPhone’s name. Check that the date coincides with the most recent backup. And ensure that a lock icon is present on that line entry. The lock means that backup is encrypted.

Backing Up Your iPhone Contacts the Right Way

IDrive

If you have your iPhone set to synchronize your contacts to iCloud, Google Contacts, or another service, then you should realize that those contacts are likely not backed up. They’re just synchronized, which is very important. But it’s just half of what you need. You need your contacts backed up, too!

When a contacted is deleted or altered, it is sync’d with, say, iCloud. You will not be able to recover the previous state of that contact. For example: Let’s say I change Jesse’s phone number and tap Done. The contact is sync’d to iCloud. Then I realize that his number didn’t change, but I don’t remember the old one. Unfortunately, iCloud won’t let me recover that old number. And I’m in a lurch, because now I don’t have Jesse’s correct phone number any longer.

So what can you do? Get an app or service that will back up your contacts.

During my research I noticed there are several solutions will only restore all of your contacts and others that allow you to download them from a Web site in spreadsheet form so you can enter them back in manually (??!). These are less than optimal.

The best solution I found was IDrive. It backs up your contacts to the cloud and allows you to restore all or individual contacts when you need them. You can also view them in the cloud on IDrive’s Web site.

You need to create an IDrive account, and you get 5GB of free storage (which should be more than enough for your contacts). You can earn more storage by installing their desktop and mobile apps and inviting friends to join. You can also use IDrive to back up more items than just your contacts, such as pictures, videos, and calendar events.

IDrive on iOS

Overall, IDrive is a good service. And it’s excellent for free, reliable contacts backup.

IDrive on the App Store (FREE)

Maintain Your Photo Album When You Use Multiple Devices

Numerous Tiled Images

Many of us have a camera in our smartphones. We also have point-and-shoot cameras or DSLR cameras for high-resolution shots with optical zoom. Digital pictures are great, but collecting them into one location can be a challenge.

Goal: Create an annual photo album

My family collects all our good shots into an annual photo album, which is actually a folder on a computer hard drive that gets backed up regularly.

We have a Panasonic Lumix camera that serves us very well. Getting the pictures off its SD card, reviewing them, deleting the turkeys, and saving them to the album is a fairly easy process.

The challenge is getting the album-worthy shots off our iPhones. Along with capturing priceless moments, we take odd pictures of products while we’re shopping to keep as reminders or to share with each other later. We save the funniest Facebook pictures to our camera rolls. We’re not interested in keeping these for posterity. More on this in a moment.

Several apps are available for iOS, Android, and Windows Phone that will automatically upload your camera roll to cloud services. Some are better than others, of course. DropBox’s app includes this functionality, but it can only upload when it’s running. And when the iPhone auto locks, the upload process is suspended. Amazon offers Cloud Drive Photos for Android and for iOS. It is similar to DropBox, but it prevents auto lock during uploads (Nice!). The problem with these cloud backup services is that they upload everything, including the unimportant pictures like the one’s I mentioned a moment ago.

A Thoughtful Approach

I put some thought into this and created a strategy that I hope works for us … and maybe for you, too.

I decided to create a cloud-based folder structure for the current year’s photo album, and I created it in Microsoft’s SkyDrive service. The iOS app allows me to selectively upload photos from my camera roll. And just for kicks, I created a folder for my favorite funny images from Facebook, too.

With this approach, my wife can also upload the best pictures she takes from her phone. Once the photos are uploaded, they are synchronized to my desktop. So I have the photo album locally and backed up in the cloud. Our photos are collected in one place, and they’re safe without too much effort.

I’m hoping this strategy works well for us. Hopefully, you can adopt it or adapt it to your own needs. Share your own insights or strategies in the Comments section.

Create a Strategy for Backing Up Important Files

Globe Atop Hard Disk Drive

The vast majority of people overlook a very important part of their digital lives: Ensuring their important files, music, photos, and videos are safe.

To do that, these files must be backed up. That means they must exist in at least two different physical places. One set of files on you computer’s hard drive (for daily access and use), and another set on a different hard drive. This second set can be on another disk in the same computer or on a portable disk drive (portable USB drive or maybe a thumb drive).

The safest approach, though, is to have a set that exists outside of your home. This protects your digital files from catastrophic events like fire or flood.

The idea is a simple enough, but implementing this can be a thorough pain in the neck.

Fortunately, online backup service are better and more affordable than ever. There are many solutions with varying degrees of complexity. Power users may enjoy the level of granularity associated with Amazon S3 (cloud storage infrastructure) and a third-party solution like CloudBerry or Jungle Disk, but normal people don’t want to dedicate that much effort and planning. They just want the data backed up.

Trustworthy and comprehensive online backup solutions are not free, but they’re not out of reach, either. Vendors like CarboniteMozy, and Backblaze offer fine solutions for one or more computers with generous or unlimited storage. I useCrashPlan for my remote backup needs. All of these offerings provide a free trial so you can test them and find which works best for you.

The premise is simple. You download and install an application. Configure its settings for things like what files to backup and when to back them up (overnight? whenever there are changes?). Then the application uses your Internet connection to upload your files to the vendor’s servers. This can take many hours or even days, but it happens in the background. You will just need to leave your computer on during that time. Many vendors also offer free mobile apps so you can retrieve your backed up files on the go.

I strongly advise everyone to find some way to back up their important files, especially pictures. Hard drives are replacing our photobooks, and hard drives fail (and can be damaged by fire and water). The cost of this insurance is cheap compared to losing those priceless pictures and videos you have on that fragile hard disk.