Setting up an Explorer’s iPhone – Backup and Photos

I knew it was tiring to setup a new iPhone for an Explorer, but I only understood why after I wrote up all the steps and considerations:


I’ve read that iOS 11 might includes some kind of automated iPhone setup — we really and truly need a one click base consideration for a minimal data use and maximal simplicity environment.

The section on Backup and Photos surprised me. I hadn’t really thought about Backup for my Explorers before. It’s not as critical as I’d long thought …

Every book on using technologies emphasizes how important it is to backup regularly. I’m not going to do that. For the iPhone Explorer backup is a good idea, but it’s not absolutely essential.

The reason backup is less important now is that most of an Explorer’s critical data will be “in the Cloud”. It will be on Apple’s servers, which are backed up by Apple. If an Explorer loses their phone and gets a new one, they will still have their Notes and Calendars and Email and Music and Videos 1. The critical information, that must not be lost, is the Explorer’s iCloud email address and password.

There are still reasons to Backup though. For one thing, of that setup work we’ve described in this chapter isn’t in the Cloud! A Guide won’t want to lose that work. Other apps, like games, may not store their data in the Cloud 2. Only a backup can protect their data.

So even though it’s not absolutely essential, it’s still a good idea to backup. Unfortunately the iPhone won’t do a backup over a cellular connection, even for an Explorer with unlimited data. Backup only happens to a device that’s on a WiFi network 3. It will happen automatically for an iPhone that’s locked and plugged in, or it can be started manually (see iPhone User Guide for manual backup directions).

Apple enforces the WiFi-only backup limitation because most iPhones users have limited cellular data plans 4. That limitation means, however, that Explorers without WiFi aren’t getting any backup. The best advice I can give is for a Guide to do a periodic manual backup on a WiFi network. Many Explorers can also learn to do this at a local library, coffee shop, or public WiFi location.

Apple currently provides every customer with 5 GB of free storage for backup and iCloud data. That’s usually enough for a single iPhone — unless an Explorer likes to record videos. Videos, and to a lesser extent still images, are a problem for iPhone backup 5.

The problem is that “Photos” (videos and still images) use a lot of storage. Even if an iPhone has adequate local storage, free iCloud accounts are limited to 5 GB — and once an Explorer hits that limit they may not be able to backup anything else!

There are a few ways to manage the Photo storage problem. I go over them in a later chapter. To start with a Guide or Explorer can simply delete old Video recordings from the iPhone to free up storage. A more aggressive option is to turn off backup of Photos (Videos, images) 6 and also turn off “iCloud Photo Library” and “My Photo Stream” 7.  With these settings iCloud storage won’t be used, but a Guide or Explorer may still need to remove Videos and Images to free up space on an iPhone.



1 There are always exceptions, but this rule is generally true.

2 Many do these days.

3 It’s also possible to backup to a computer using iTunes, see the manual for details. Apple is moving away from using an iPhone with iTunes though.

4 I wish they’d enabled a manual override, but there’s no doubt iPhone settings are already too complicated.

5 In Apple land sometimes Photos means “images and video”, sometimes it means just images. It’s kind of annoying.

6 It’s not obvious how to do this though. See and follow the directions carefully.

7 In Photos & Camera settings, see User Guide.


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