Using your PC and iTunes to back up
Having a local backup is always a good idea, as it means you at least know that you have a copy that you control, rather than trusting to the all-powerful cloud. (Trust in iCloud was damaged by last year's celebrity photo leak, although Apple hasstated that this was caused by hackers stealing or guessing passwords rather than a failure of Apple's systems.)
Making a local backup is very easy thanks to that old favourite iTunes. Years ago you would have regularly plugged your iPhone into your PC to sync music, but with the advent of iTunes Match it's fallen a little out of favour. iTunes remains a useful piece of software, though, and will give you a complete backup in a matter of minutes. (Read our Guide to using iTunes Match.)
First off, plug the iPhone into your Mac or PC. In the top lefthand corner, under the play controls, you'll see a little icon of a phone appear: click this and you'll be taken to the menu for your device. If you ensure that Summary is selected in the lefthand column, you'll now have three boxes in the main pane, the middle of which is entitled Backups.
There are two main sections - automatic and manual - and the iPhone is usually set to automatically back up to iCloud. If you prefer that each time you connect your phone to the PC it immediately creates a new, locally stored backup, then click the 'This computer' option below.
Moving over to the righthand side of the box, there is the option to create a backup manually. Clicking the 'Back Up Now' button will do exactly that, with the length of time it takes dependant on how full your phone's storage is at that moment. Next to this is the Restore from Backup option, which is where you would head if you wanted to reinstall everything after replacing your iPhone.
You may be asking yourself exactly what is included in the backup. Any photos currently on the device will be stored, as will contacts, calendar accounts, Safari bookmarks, notes, call history, profiles, and several other types of data. Apple has an extensive list of all the things contained in a backup, which you can read here.
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