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Apple has announced that iOS 7 will be available tomorrow, September 18th. Before installing the update, it is recommended that you have a backup of your data. This how-to is going to walk you through backing up your iOS 6 device and transitioning it over to iOS 7:

First things first, let’s discuss the two different methods of backing up your iOS Device. 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 6 Settings with iCloud being the fifth item down.

Then scroll all the way down to the bottom and press on Storage & Backup.

iCloud Storage and Backup

Then you want to tap on the Off switch to turn iCloud Backup on.

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 backup your iOS device by plugging it into iTunes on your computer. Just like with an iCloud backup, you want to be connected to Wi-Fi. You can do this on a Mac or a PC. The Mac already comes with iTunes. The PC does not come with iTunes, and you are 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.

Screen Shot 2013-09-12 at 11.57.50 AM

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

On a Mac, iPhoto starts to open up 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.

importing pics

On a PC, an AutoPlay window will appear, because it detects the iOS device as a camera. Press Import Pictures and Videos to import the pictures. Sometimes the AutoPlay window will appear, and other times it won’t. This is all dependent upon your settings on your PC. To enable this setting you would change your settings under Scanners and Cameras.


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 one of two places. It is either going to be located in the upper right hand corner, which is new with iTunes 11, or it will be on the left hand side in the Sidebar as it was in previous versions of iTunes.

iOS device

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, you have two options. The first option is up at the top from the drop down menu: you would click on File, Devices then Transfer Purchases. The second option is you can do a right click/secondary click on the device listed in the Sidebar and then choose Transfer Purchases.

Transfer Purchases from

After it is done transferring the purchases, you are now ready to back up. You have three different methods: The easiest one to find is directly in the center of the screen that says Back Up Now; the second method is to click on File from the drop down menu, then Devices, and then Back Up; the third method is to do a right click/secondary click and click Back Up.

Back up

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

Status Bar

If you see the Black 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, press on the word iTunes in the upper left hand corner of the screen from the drop down menu. Then click on Preferences.

iTunes 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.

completed backup

Now that you have your iOS device successfully backed up you will now be ready to install iOS 7 on September 18th. We will have a full walkthrough of iOS 7 up alongside the software’s release.

There are two different methods for updating your device to iOS 7. 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.

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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. And then it will do the update.

You do have to be patient while your iOS Device updates. Even the logo is different and redesigned while it reboots in iOS 7.

Once that white bar fills across two times, you are able to start using iOS 7.

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When you first turn on the iOS device with iOS 7, Apple welcomes you with a “Hello,” in a variety of different languages. Then slide from left to right to start setting up the device. It will then want you to connect to an available Wi-Fi network. Then iOS 7 asks you if you want to set up Location Services by either enabling them or disabling them. If you do not know what Location Services are you can tap the easy to find and see, blue About Location Services button, and it explains it simply.

Then it asks about how you are setting up the device: whether it’s a new device, restoring from iCloud Backup, or restoring from iTunes Backup.

photo 1

First let’s discuss how to Restore from an iCloud Backup. Then I will discuss the process as to how to set up the device as new.

For those of you who do want to Restore from an iCloud Backup, it works very similar to the process in iOS 5 and iOS 6. There are some new alerts that do pop up, which were not there previously. While doing an iCloud restore you do need to be on Wi-Fi in order for it to download your apps and media. You are always able to leave the Wi-Fi area and it will automatically stop restoring. New in iOS 7 is that it alerts you that you need to be on Wi-Fi in order to continue.

photo 3

Also, while doing the restore it now recommends that you keep your phone connected to a charger.


Instead of doing a restore from iCloud backup, and you choose to Set Up as New, it then prompts you about setting up an Apple ID on the device. If you scroll down further, it explains the benefits and features of using an Apple ID.

It then asks you to agree to the Terms and Conditions. You can either read the Terms and Conditions by tapping on each heading and reading it, have it be sent to your email by tapping on the Send by Email button in blue up towards the top, or press the blue Agree button in the lower right hand corner.

photo 4

There are then prompts to set up iCloud by tapping on the Use iCloud button, or the Don’t Use iCloud button, with a brief description about what iCloud is below it. If you want to learn more about iCloud tap on the About iCloud button.

It then asks about if you want to back up the data to either your computer through iTunes or to your computer. Then it asks about setting up Find My iPhone. When you set up Find my iPhone, it also sets up a new feature: Activation Lock. Activation Lock is a feature that requires your Apple ID and Password to be inserted into iTunes to re-activate your iOS Device. The feature is designed to deter thefts.

New in iOS 7, the system asks you to create a four digit passcode right away. The system is now even smart and does detect if you are wanting to use a simple, easy to guess, commonly used passcode and it has you confirm whether or not you want to do it. The simple, easy to guess, commonly used passcode that I first used was 0000. Previously in iOS if you use a simple, easy to guess, commonly used passcode like 0000 it did allow you to proceed and create the passcode without questioning you. The passcode system in iOS 7 did like my birthday.

Then it asks you if you want to use Siri. If you tap the blue microphone it will tell you more about Siri.

The last question you have to answer is whether or not you want to help Apple improve its software by automatically sending diagnostics and usage reports.

photo 1

After choosing whether or not to help Apple with their software you are now ready to use the device.

photo 2Press the blue Get Started button and it takes you to the home page where you will have iOS 7.

photo 3

We will be publishing multiple how-to articles about new iOS 7 features over the course of the next several days, so stay tuned.

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54 Responses to “Getting Ready for iOS 7: How to backup your device and set up iOS 7”

  1. At what time exactly will the iOS 7 GM be available to download? Will it be only one fixed US time (midnight/12pm) or at midnight of all local times? Thanks :)


  2. What time do you think it will be released to the masses tomorrow?


  3. Question. I got a iPhone 5 32GB from Kijiji. It has IOS 7 developers on it. Now seeing as the old iTunes can not be used with this unless i have 11.1 iTunes is there a way i can erase the phone tomorrow & gete the official IOS7 update instead of this one that is on the phone?

    Reason being as its a developers IOS 7, my bars are stuck a 3 instead of full bars where my Z10 & S4 are getting & a few other things.

    Please advice on what to do. Thanks!!!


  4. Ari says:

    i have a question: i was using the iOS 7 Beta on my iPhone 5 since June, now i skipped the GM waiting for tomorrow, so i will be able to do a clean install of the “official” iOS 7. Since iOS 7 Backups don’t work on iOS 6, will i have problem keeping my data during the transition from iOS 7 Beta 6 to the “official” iOS 7 downloaded from itunes? i have to do a backup of my iphone with the Beta 6 installed, so, in other words, after the installation it will be possible to put my backup from the Beta 6 in iOS 7 on the iphone?
    sorry for my language mistakes.


  5. Jon Krastes says:

    Thank you for this article, it helps to be prepared.


  6. John Simon says:

    Any opinions which is the best option: Restoring from iCloud or Restoring from iTunes?


    • I am a fan of backing up to iCloud as opposed to iTunes. Usually think iCloud is easier. Hope this helps!!


      • rahhbriley says:

        I agree Sarah, however for some people, the limited 5gb of free iCloud storage causes issues. To my friends and family that don’t opt to upgrade their iCloud storage but still want iCloud back ups, I teach them the finer points to using Photostream, Dropbox’s Camera Roll backup feature, and that they don’t necessarily need to back up their music as it is saved in iTunes, or at least re-downloadable. The remaining document and app data is generally under their free 5gb cap, and they can still do manual iTunes backups periodically to feel more secure. Just a different angle to approach it from.


  7. If I remember it correctly, iOS 6 came out at noon central time last year right?


  8. Which is better, OTA or via Mac/PC?
    Also, if I do it through Mac/PC should I do a full system restore and then update and restore from backup?


    • OTA is a nice option, but I’ve always found it much fast to do it from a computer. If you have multiple devices to update then you only need to download the software once and then if you have a local backup on your computer, its much faster to restore from that since all it needs to do is transfer the files from the computer to the device rather than downloading everything again.


  9. What if we have corrupt or bad software settings in IOS 6 will those transfer over with an Icloud backup or will a clean version of IOS 7 install? I have some weird quirky things going on like my brightness dims randomly (automatic setting is turned off) and battery drains quickly. The Apple Store Rep told me to wipe my phone and do a clean install to fix those problems… I have delayed doing this because I knew IOS 7 was around the corner. Should I wipe and do a clean IOS7 install or can I restore from icloud?


    • I would do a clean install if I were you.
      I did it from iOS 5 to 6 due to what your describing.
      I would recommend doing it via PC/Mac if possible.


      • Thanks, I will just back up my photos, on my computer. So I will probably lose my text messages, and notes…. Oh well I would rather have my new phone working well.


      • superkratos says:

        You wont lose your notes (on the iOS notes app) has they get transfer using your account. Example, if you have notes on your iPhone they will appear on your iPad (notes app), if you sing in using the same account. So has long has iCloud is enable on your iPhone your notes will transfer automatically without needing to restore. You could also create a photo stream album with all your important photos and them re save them to your phone after restoring and updating it. (in theory)


      • I totally agree and would recommend the same thing.


  10. Craig Hart says:

    One problem iOS 7 is only compatible with iPod Touch 5th gen iPad 2nd gen and later, iPad mini, and iPhone 4 and later.


  11. Why would a user need to restore from backup after installing iOS7? Isn’t the upgrade in place as usual?


  12. Awesome! Thanks much!


  13. Scott Bailey says:

    The current version iTunes 11.0.5 will allow the install of iOS 7 (GM) just once its finished it states that you need 11.1. I would suspect you can do the same with the iOS7 release since GM=release version. So you can actually update it to iOS7 with the current version. Be warned that if you do this prior to iTunes 11.1 release you will not be able to backup, sync or restore using iTunes until 11.1 drops. However if you update instead of restore you wont really need to restore a backup.


  14. Yes people…lets back up our devices and prepare for the phenomenon that is: a more colourful version of IOS6.


  15. James McKay says:

    I just want to thank for such a thorough and accurate step-by-step process!

    What a great service you provide.


  16. Excellent article with great tips! Thank you!


  17. what about the need for itunes 11.1? It hasn’t been released yet and you need it cause ios 7 is not compatible with anything before it.


  18. Hi, apple will still signin the iOS 6.1.3 (iPhone 4S) after the iOS 7 release?
    If yes, for how long they will keep the signin?


  19. Cody Frisch says:

    So both methods require WiFi? So you’re telling me I can’t update by plugging my iPhone into my Mac Pro (that doesn’t have WiFi) plugged into an ethernet port on my Airport Extreme?

    (please note sarcasm – I’m tired of the assumption WiFi is the only way anyone connects to the Internet. In fact my iPhone and iPad are the only Wifi devices I use – computers are all hard wired for performance, reliability and to keep WiFi working great for those devices that actually need to use it. Wired internet isn’t dead, thankfully.)


  20. look for the is article in a keynote or powerpoint format


  21. meant to say looking for this How-To in a keynote or Powerpoint format


  22. Frank Malloy says:

    Great article!

    Confused about the Apple ID, though. I apparently have multiple Apple IDs – one that I use for iTunes purchases, and my iCloud Apple ID that is used for backups. I can log into each one using I would like to merge these into only one, but apparently that is not possible.

    So when the iOS7 install happens and it asks me for the Apple ID, which do I use?


    • Correct. You are not able to merge Apple IDs, and the likelihood of Apple ever doing that is slim to none.

      When you get to the sign in with the Apple ID, below filling it in, there’ll be a button that says something along the lines of “have different apple ids for iCloud and App Store,” press that button, and it asks you for your Apple ID for each one.

      Hope that helps. Thank you for liking my article!


  23. Ashish Goyal says:

    I am using the iOs7 gm and i could ot take the back up after that as I did not have iTunes 11.1 so now if i update to iOS7 official version will all the data from my iPhone be erased or what and will the dev gmversion differ from the general public release


  24. Thank you for step by step detail Sarah Guarino. I have question when you set up as a new device how do you get the transfered apps back and I have downloaded asphalt 8 when it was available for free with my apple id and vlc and ibooks comic flow and a free game are downloaded with my brothers id. So after I set my ipad mini as new device and follow the process how do I get these apps which I have downloaded back that is what I wanna know. I am new to these and my ipad mini is just two weeks old and is running ios 6.1.3 .


    • Your welcome Guatam Shetty!!!!!!

      In the App Store, all the way at the bottom in the white bar tap on the purchased button 2nd from right. Then press the cloud button for the apps you want. Once you are done downloading them, you can log out of your account by being in the App Store, on the Featured Page, in the white bar all the way on the left hand side and then down at the bottom of that page, sign out, sign in with your brother’s Apple ID


      • darrenquek87 says:

        Hi, what if I had not back up and install ios 7 directly from my phone, and it enters recovery mode: connect to iTunes, the question is how should I back up all photos and data? Plssss help in need :((((


  25. I deleted 3gb worth of emails in order to make space for iCloud backup. Mail on webapp is now completely empty, including trash. But iOS still saying 3gb of emails exists and not allowing iPhone back-up. Any ideas?


  26. Is there any Possible way to stop the Software update from continuing if you have already started it ?


  27. wafihs55 says:

    What if i don’t update my application first? And how long does it take to finish the update?


  28. Ruth Ang says:

    I updated my software and it deleted all my contacts. I restored from my iCloud and the contacts are there for a few minutes and then disappear again. How do I get my contacts back?


  29. On my iPhone 4s: Settings> Mail, Contact, Calendars> Accounts, I have listed Hotmail (as well as iCloud). Should I delete the Hotmail account and replace it with Outlook?


  30. batmannana says:

    I need some help :(
    I didn’t have anything in iCloud when I got my 5s, so I skipped the set up new phone from iCloud step. Today I did a back up from my old phone (4) and tried to figure out how to retrieve the items on my new phone. I don’t want to restore, how do I get the pictures I put in iCloud?
    Also, an extra off topic question: I added my hotmail account to my mailboxes, and I can only access the inbox and trash folder. I can’t seem to get the custom folders or junk mail. Any help?


  31. Blair Slavin says:

    1… I believe it is suppose to be iOS8 – and second…it is no where near Sept 18, and your article says ‘Tomorrow’ iOS7 will be released. Something is wrong in 9-5 mac