How to automatically backup iPad data without a pc or mac?
May 6, 2013 6:43 AM   Subscribe

I want to replace my mother's aging laptop with an iPad. My only concern is making sure her photos and documents are backed up, online, without her having to think about it, ever. Is there an effortless way to make sure all of her data gets backed up and can be restored in case of emergency? Dropbox seems like an option, but that's not really backup as much as sync - files only last 30 days if they get removed from your device. I'd prefer to have true backup than can be restored at any time. Thanks
posted by subpixel to Computers & Internet (11 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
This is exactly what iCloud is. Just set her up with an iCloud account and all of her apps & data are backed up every time she plugs it in with wifi in range. Restoring from backup is literally as easy as typing in a username and password during new-device setup.

The one caveat is that you will have to check to see if each app is set up properly to back things up with iCloud; certainly all of Apple's apps are, so your photos, Pages docs, etc will definitely work perfectly.
posted by Tomorrowful at 6:47 AM on May 6, 2013

iOS can be configured to back up to iCloud, Apple's cloud service, via wifi. The backups are available for restores.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 6:48 AM on May 6, 2013

I should also add that the iOS backup to iCloud is free.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 6:49 AM on May 6, 2013

Best answer: You'll want to use iCloud, which will backup her iPad automatically every time she's on a wifi network. If you want to never think about it, then spring for more storage, as the free 5gb just won't cut it.

Also, re Dropbox, you can pay a small annual fee for its Packrat feature, which will enable you to recover deleted items at any time.
posted by thejoshu at 6:50 AM on May 6, 2013 [1 favorite]

Free for the first 5 GB. Apps, books, Photo Stream (her first 1,000 photos), and music purchased through iTunes don't count against that total.
posted by alms at 6:51 AM on May 6, 2013

Best answer: I can't believe so many people think iCloud backs up all your photos when it clearly does not:

"The iCloud backup only backs up your camera roll. Any albums created from camera roll don't contain actual photos, but only contain links to the photos in camera roll and hence are not backed up. Photo library albums, containing photos synced from your computer to your phone, are also not backed up as these photos are assumed to already be on your computer. Photo stream photos aren't really backed up in iCloud either. They are only temporarily held for 30 days, allowing you time to save them on any device connected to your photo stream. After 30 days, they are removed from photo stream but will remain on any device that has already received them until photo stream is turned off the device."

So, in my mom's case, iCloud will not backup any of the thousands of photos that already exist in her iPhoto library, even after I put that library on her iPad.
posted by subpixel at 6:51 AM on May 6, 2013 [1 favorite]

I know that the Dropbox Andoid app will automatically upload all photos taken, but I'm not sure if that is an option on iOS.
posted by Broken Ankle at 7:08 AM on May 6, 2013

Since the Camera Roll photos are backed up via iCloud, why not add the other photos to your camera roll (you can select them; share; add to Camera Roll)?
posted by mazola at 7:20 AM on May 6, 2013

Having what you are calling a "true backup" that can be restored anytime is difficult (impossible??) without a PC or MAC . I need to know first what you mean by "documents" are you referring to (aside from photos which you mentioned) music, mail, any data at all stored with any application , other sorts of documents ? If you could itemize what exactly you wish to save then perhaps a solution could be found. Currently neither iCloud nor dropbox (even with packrat) fit your assumed requirement of having everything (such as mail for example) on the ipad backed up and available for more than 30 days. Narrowing down what you wish to backup may provide direction for a more correct answer.
posted by Podkayne of Pasadena at 7:53 AM on May 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


If you want to completely eliminate your mother's computer, you could run the iCloud control panel on your computer w/ her login and have it save all of her photos on your computer. This will save all photostreams that she has access to on her iPad.

You could have her use a photo app that handles the backup of the photos. I think that Flickr will do this, as will Google+, Dropbox, Facebook, MyShoeBox, and perhaps Camera Awesome.

Also, in terms of Dropbox, if there is no computer involved, then wouldn't it save the files forever, since there's no sense of a mirroring the content directly on the iOS devices.


If she listens to a lot of music, then I'd sign her up for iTunes match so that all of her music is easily accessible in iCloud. You could also do similar with the Google and Amazon offerings if you didn't like iTunes match of some reason.

Everything else
For everything else, I think that iCloud would be sufficient. You may not be able to use the free tier forever, but it will back up everything except photos and music. At least, that's been my experience.

Perhaps that helps?
posted by reddot at 12:58 PM on May 6, 2013

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