How to back up your data and hand off an old iOS device

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Hold off on iOS 10 for now.
Backing up your data is easier than ever before.
Photo: Ste Smith/Cult of Mac

If you’re planning to get hold of a new iPhone 7 or iPhone 7 Plus in the coming weeks, you’re probably planning to get rid of your old handset — either by selling it or handing it over to a friend or family member.

Before you do that, however, make sure you follow our handy guide so you know exactly what to do to safely hand off an old iOS device.

Back up your old iPhone data

For starters, you’ll want to back up your current iPhone so your personal data is ready and waiting to be transferred to your shiny new iPhone. There are two methods to achieve this.

Back up your iOS data via iTunes

If you’ve got access to a Mac or PC, you can make a backup of your device straight to your computer’s hard drive. To do this, connect your iPhone via USB and open up iTunes. Provided that you’re running the latest version of the software, you’ll find a small iPhone icon within the menu bar. Click on this icon to bring up your iPhone’s details.

iTunes
Backing up’s easy if you’ve got a Mac.
Photo: Luke Dormehl/Cult of Mac

After you’ve done that, you’ll see the option to Manually Back Up and Restore. Click the Back Up Now button and you’ll start copying all of your iPhone’s data to your hard drive.

You can also choose to Encrypt your iPhone backup, which means you’ll have to enter a password to restore your iPhone. If you’ve got the Automatically Back Up option checked, this will begin as soon as you plug in your iPhone to your Mac or PC.

iTunes
It really is incredibly straightforward.
Photo: Luke Dormehl/Cult of Mac

When your new iPhone 7 arrives, all you’ll then need to do is connect it to the same PC via the Lightning-to-USB cable and choose the Restore Backup button. After that, you’ll be able to choose a backup from a list of recent files.

iTunes

Back up iOS data using iCloud

If that sounds all a bit unnecessarily old-fashioned, the second method is much more 21st-century. This option lets you back up all your iPhone’s data straight to iCloud from your device.

To start with, head into your iPhone Settings and choose iCloud.

iCloud
This is the easier way by far.
Photo: Luke Dormehl/Cult of Mac

Scroll down the list until you come to Backup and click on it. If the toggle is switched off, tap it to enable the iCloud Backup.

While quick and easy, be aware that depending on how much data you’ve got to back up, this can munch through your iCloud account storage in a hurry. After a while, you may need to consider paying for more storage — although this is well worth the money if it means hanging onto your data.

iCloud
iCloud Backup is great, although you may have to pay for more storage.
Photo: Luke Dormehl/Cult of Mac

During the set up of your new iPhone, you’ll be prompted to Set up a new device or Restore from iCloud Backup. Choose the latter, and you’ll be able to sign into your iCloud account to begin making your new iPhone just like your old one. Except with, well, all the new stuff.

Delete everything

Once you’ve chosen your means of backing up your old device, of course, there’s one more crucial step to undergo before you can pass on your old iOS device: deleting all its contents.

Fortunately, this is every bit as straightforward. Start by opening your Settings option, selecting General, then Reset, and finally Erase All Content and Settings.

After you’ve done that, sit back and let your iPhone undergo a mind wipe to restore it to a more innocent time when it was a brand new device.

delete
Make sure you’ve done your backing up first!
Photo: Ste Smith/Cult of Mac