Podcasts – Sync With iTunes Or On The Go? [iOS Tips]

To sync or not to sync, that is the question.

To sync or not to sync, that is the question.

Cult of Mac reader, Josh K, asks:

If I download a podcast episode when I am out and about, then get home and sync my iPhone, I find when it is finished syncing, whatever episodes were downloaded have been removed. And I have to either download them again or manually sync them.

How can I make this process easier or stop the phone taking the recently downloaded episodes off every time I sync?

Unfortunately, there’s no simple fix for this one, so you’re going to have to choose, Josh: either sync via iTunes or manage podcasts on your iPhone. I’m not able to find a solution which lets you do both. Here’s what I recommend.

My first thought was to use iCloud, but that won’t help back up podcasts.

If you look over at the Apple Knowledge Base article on iCloud backup, you’ll notice that while you’ll get unlimited free storage for all your purchased music, movies, TV shows, apps, and books, and up to 5 G free storage for photos and videos, device settings and app data, home screen and app organization, Messages, ringtones, and visual voicemails, iCloud does not back up Podcasts, audio books, media not purchased via iTunes, or photos synced from your Mac.

Which leaves us with two options: either sync via iTunes and manage it that way, or turn off podcast sync via iTunes and just manage your podcast consumption with your iPhone.

Personally, I don’t use iTunes sync any more, at all, if I can help it. I use iCloud to back up all the stuff mentioned above, and I manage my podcasts via my iPhone or iPad. That way, I never have to worry about one overwriting the other when syncing. Add to that the ability to stream podcast episodes, and I honestly see no reason to store them on my Mac at all.

While this isn’t a “do this, then that” sort of an answer, I do hope it clears up any confusion on how podcasts are dealt with between iTunes and on-device syncing.

  • disqus_sw8Eumv7Kx

    I prefer to manage my podcasts on my phone as well, but then, as you said, the podcasts are not backed up. This means that if I ever want to restore my phone via an iCloud/computer backup, I’ll lose all of my podcasts. Any thoughts on avoiding that loss?

About the author

Rob LeFebvreAnchorage, Alaska-based freelance writer and editor Rob LeFebvre has contributed to various tech, gaming and iOS sites, including 148Apps, Creative Screenwriting, Shelf-Awareness, VentureBeat, and Paste Magazine. Feel free to find Rob on Twitter @roblef, and send him a cookie once in a while; he'll really appreciate it.

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