The Definitive Guide: How to Back Up Your iPad Device

Data is the most crucial part of our life. It is a special collection of us and everything we do. From our social accounts to contacts, emails, media collection, and much more, it hosts most of what our life is.

Besides, our device also contains our work-related data, bank details, and much more, which will cause harm if lost. Apple and many other companies have realized this problem and hence developed ways to prepare a backup of our data to recover it in case of loss.

But why do we need backups? Like we use our phone, and it’s all fine. Now, say you are using your iPad, and it falls and breaks; the repair will most probably delete all your data. Also, if your iPad gets stolen, the possibilities are that your data will stay secure thanks to Apple’s first-grade security, but you won’t be able to access it if you don’t have a backup. Moreover, if you are switching to a new iPad, you will need a backup to get the old data in the new one.

To help you in this task, here is a detailed solution on how you can quickly backup your data in various ways.

Quick jump to:

Back-up iPad with iCloud

iCloud is a classic cloud service developed and maintained by Apple. It was created to sync and back up data from one device and then restore it to the required device.

The backup process is simple since it always runs in the background and keeps syncing data with the cloud server. Apple iCloud is connected with your Apple ID, and it keeps uploading the selected data without hampering the task at hand.

How to back up data on iPad using iCloud

Mostly, iCloud backups are on by default. But no worries, we will also deal with turning it on manually. You can also choose files and folders you want to back up, which saves a lot on cloud space.

The steps back to up are:

  1. Open Settings on your iPad.
  2. Click on your Apple Account ID; this will show many options on the left screen.
  3. Tap on the iCloud option.
  4. For the apps you want to add to the backup, use the Toggle switch and turn them on.
  5. Tap on the iCloud Backup option and turn on the toggle switch next.
  6. Now tap on the Back Up Now option to backup the data to the cloud.

With this, the backup is completed. You can also edit the iCloud settings according to your requirements anytime you want.

What to do if you have run of your iCloud storage

Ever faced pop-ups like “This iPad cannot be backed up because there is not enough iCloud storage.” or notifications like “The last backup could not be completed because of storage limit.” This happens because you have because you have exhausted your iCloud space.

These issues are very common, given that iCloud offers only 5GB of free space. If you are seeing the error message then you will want to double-check how much storage you have left.

  1. Open Settings on your iPad and go to your account info.
  2. Click on the iCloud option. Now you will see the amount of free space in your iCloud.
  3. Tapping on the Manage Storage option will give you an advanced overview of the occupied space.

You can free your space by deleting files that are no longer critical, or might need to consider purchasing extra storage space.

  • Stopping Irrelevant Backups

Photos and videos usually take a large part in backups, so you need to disable Photos backup to free up space. To do this go to Settings -> Profile -> iCloud -> Photos and disable iCloud Photos. Besides, you can also toggle off irrelevant apps and files backup and choose only the necessary ones.

  • Buying Extra Storage

You can always consider buying extra cloud storage when you are out of storage. iCloud offers extra storage plans priced at: @0.99/month for 50GB, $2.99/month for 200GB, and $9.99/month for 2TB extra space.

Back-up iPad with Finder

The Finder app is like the new iTunes for macOS Catalina and more recent versions. iTunes was split into several apps, and its features for music, files, and podcasts got separated, so now Finder is used to managing backups. However, you can still use iTunes in Windows and macOS Mojave or older versions.

How you can use Finder to prepare backups of your iPad

  1. Connect your iPad to your PC via USB cable.
  2. Open the Finder app on your macOS’ from the dock options.
  3. Go to Location -> iPad from the sidebar.
  4. Go to the General tab and select the Backups section.
  5. Check the box that reads, “Back up all of the data on your iPad to this Mac.”
  6. Click on the Back Up Now button to start the process.

Note: If you wanted to encrypt your iPad backup, you can check the box labeled Encrypt [device] backup. You’ll then be prompted to create a password specifically for that backup.

Should I encrypt my iPad backups?

Backups always contain the data you have on your device, in this case, your iPad, and to keep it safe, you should always consider encrypting your backup; by this, you make sure that only you can access the backup file.

Moreover, enabling the encrypting option lets you backup Keychains, call history, and browsing history. Simply said, you should always encrypt your backups. However, it is very important that you remember your keycode/passcode to decrypt the backup else, you will lose it forever. Keep this in mind.

Back-up iPad to Mac/PC/External Drive/NAS with 3rd-party tools

iCloud and Finder offer backup facilities, but they are not so straightforward with the options provided and don’t provide features that you might love to have with data backups. All this provokes the use of 3rd-party transfer and backup apps like iMazing, Dr. Fone, EaseUs MobiMover, etc.

How to back up data on iPad using iMazing

Out of all the other 3rd-party software, iMazing is the best overall for backing up iPad data. Moreover, it is not limited to just that; its features will blow your mind, and it is straightforward to use. Let’s see the steps to do so:

  1. First, Download and install iMazing on your macOS or Windows PC.
  2. Connect your iPad to your computer via USB cable and launch the iMazing app.
  3. You will need to give “Trust” permission on your iPad screen for the first time.
  4. iMazing asks you to create a backup right away, which you can do by clicking on the Back Up Now option or choosing the “Later” option for another time.
  5. Click on Back Up Now, and you will see the detailed backup options.
  6. Here, you can choose the apps, files, or other data you want to backup or select all the options for a complete backup.
  7. After making the selections, press the Back Up button.
  8. Please wait for the process to complete; once it’s finished, click on Done, and that’s it. Now you can disconnect your device.

Note: Make sure your device stays connected throughout the completion of the process. Disconnecting in between will either cancel the operation or corrupt the backup file.

Where to find your iPad backups, and how to move them onto external storage?

Sometimes you might feel the need to transfer your backups to external storage, and you can do this only by knowing the default settings of iMazing. iMazing, by default, saves backups at the following location:

On a Mac: /users/YOUR_USER_NAME/Library/Application Support/MobileSync/Backup

On a Windows PC: C:\users\YOUR_USER_NAME\AppData\Roaming\Apple Computer\MobileSync\Backup

However, you can always change the backup folder to your required folder, knowing where to find it.

To move this backup to external storage, you simply need to cut/copy (depending on your choice) and paste it into your connected external storage. No worries, we will get into the stepwise details:

  1. Connect your external storage to your PC.
  2. Open the folder where the backups are saved.
  3. Right-click on the backup file and click on Copy (Cmd/Ctrl – C) or Cut (Cmd/Ctrl – X).
  4. Open your external storage volume, Right-Click -> Paste or Cmd/Ctrl – V

Now you have successfully moved your backup file to your external storage.

What does not get backed in iCloud, Finder, and iMazing


Though iCloud manages to back up most of the data and settings, it is limited when it comes to specific options. Those options are:

  • Apple Mail data
  • Apple Pay data and settings
  • Lock screen settings such as Face and Touch ID
  • Data that already have a previous backup in iCloud, like Contacts, Calendars, Notes, and Photo libraries.
  • Music Library and the App store settings and details.
  • Data is stored in other cloud services, like Google Drive.

Finder is a very advanced replacement for iTunes. If we talk about backups, it has made the process easy and fast. However, there are things that Finder does not back up:

  • Apple Mail data
  • Apple Pay data and settings
  • Lock screen settings such as Face and Touch ID
  • Data stored in iCloud, like Photos, Messages, etc.
  • iTunes and other Apple Music apps, like imported audios, videos, images, and books.
  • App store data and content.

iMazing is a tremendous 3rd-party tool used to back up iOS devices, and it also helps in transferring data from one device to another. iMazing backs up most of the files; however, some files that it can’t are:

  • Apple Pay data and settings
  • Lock screen settings such as Face ID and Touch ID
  • Data stored in another cloud storage

The pros and cons of each solution

Now that we know how to perform backups using iCloud, Finder, and iMazing, let’s look at each of the pros and cons.

iCloud pros
  • Easier to use since it only requires your iPad
  • Saved on a cloud server, so accessible from anywhere using the internet
  • Easily manage your storage space and cloud space
  • Automatic backup options are available
  • Real-Time syncing to other devices with the same Apple ID
  • Good for backing up documents, notes, and small files
iCloud cons
  • Not much storage space is available. Extra space needs to be bought depending on the backup size
  • Restoring takes time, not as fast as the other options
  • Depends on the internet connection, so backup can even fail if the internet is not working
  • In case of multiple backups, the old backup data is deleted
  • The data that can be backed up is limited. It doesn’t include other cloud services, Music Library, and App Store in the backup.
Finder pros
  • Fast backup completion
  • Fast restoring time
  • Allows the backup of data stored on other cloud services
  • No storage space issue
  • Allows encrypted backups to backup Health data, Wi-Fi details, call history, and website history
  • Since the backup is stored on the macOS hard drive, it is backed up again by Time Machine. So multiple backups are prepared
Finder cons
  • Does not back up files saved in iCloud
  • Does not backup imported audio and video files
  • Overwrites the existing backups
  • Needs USB connection to backup for devices using iOS 5 or below
  • Not much control over backup files being created
iMazing pros
  • Works on both Windows and macOS
  • No Operating system version restrictions
  • Allows automatic backups over Wi-Fi
  • Allows backup encryption for an added layer of security
  • It can be used as an iPad Manager
  • Easy data migration and fast restore functions
  • Full control over backup options
  • No storage space problems; it depends on your external drive
  • Enables the backup of browsing history, call history, and books.
iMazing cons
  • It is a paid software, but still, a great deal considering the features offered.

Final thoughts

There could be many reasons behind backing up iPad data; it could just be to keep your data safe in case of theft or damage or to transfer it to a new device. No matter the reason, the mentioned backup ways will always be helpful.

Your choice of backup type depends on your priority and reason for the backup. Though you are free to choose any way you like, please go through our preferred choice details once to understand which one will be the best option

iCloud – convenient but far from perfect

iCloud is easy to use since you only need to work on your iPad, and with a few taps, you can sync your data. But it is very trapped in backup options and does not allow backing up of many important files. Moreover, the restoring time is slow. The maximum backup you can make for free is 5GB; you will need to pay after that. All this makes iCloud quite laughable, given it was made for this purpose.

Finder – dependable but restrictive

Finder does not provide you the control to choose the files you want to backup, which means that all the available files are backed up together. However, its feature of saving data on the hard drive is appreciative but still doesn’t overrule the fact of limitations on choosing files. Also, it deletes the old backup data when a new backup is made.

iMazing – easy yet powerful

iMazing is the best option you can choose to get out of the limitation of Finder and iCloud. Ironical to its features, it has a simple UI that anyone can easily use. iMazing offers a lot of backup options, and also provides automated backup. It offers rock-solid encryption to keep your data safe. Moreover, it doesn’t delete older backups; instead, it creates a record with the date and time. You also get advanced controls like the ability to save and export Messages. Though it is paid, the features it offers besides data backup are incredibly useful in many scenarios, which makes it a great deal.

We or any other iOS device user would surely advise you to grab this deal and get rid of the other options or end up paying your entire life for iCloud storage.

Meanwhile, here are some other articles that you might enjoy:
How to Recover Deleted Text Messages on iPad (and iPhone)
Top iPad Data Recovery Software for Mac and Windows (Free and Paid)
How to Backup iPad to Computer Without iTunes

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