Once upon a time, backing up the content on my iPhone and iPad used to mean regularly tethering them to my iMac. It was something of a laborious process, but necessary. Then iCloud showed up, and everything started to back up magically on its own. It was easy.
Set it and forget it. That’s progress, right?
But removing the chore of physically backing up my digital life also eroded my awareness of the details needed to ensure that my precious data was being properly backed up in the background.
Over the past couple of years, I must admit I haven’t thought about this much. And during the same period, my 11-year-old son effectively became the primary user of the family iPad.
(Minecraft, photo taking, videos of our cat)
How I Lost all of my Son’s Photos and Videos
Everything was working great, until it wasn’t, and the family IT guy was called in to help the iPad out. I quickly realized the iPad needed some real support and brought my iPad’s problems to the experts. It was decided to wipe the iPad, give it a fresh start… and then reload all of its data that was safely backed up in iCloud.
Except all of the iPad’s data wasn’t being backed up. When my iPad completed its restore, all of my son’s photos and videos from the past few years were gone.
You might imagine I was a tad disturbed by this. And I may have become slightly catatonic when it was determined that the little setting to back up the iPad’s Photo Library to iCloud had not been activated.
It’s a rookie mistake. And while a huge part of me wanted to push blame elsewhere, it was ultimately my responsibility.
My son handled the loss much better than me. (He immediately began shooting new photos and videos of our cat.) He was also especially relieved that his many Minecraft worlds survived the iPad’s wipe.
Simplicity and Complacency
So, life goes on in the Lester home. My son hasn’t complained about his lost photos and videos. All seems normal.
I tell myself that this cautionary tale is a good lesson for my son to help him understand the importance of properly backing up his future digital files.
And it’s a painful reminder for me how simplicity can create complacency.
On the positive side, I’ve got better backup systems for the content in the remainder of my Apple hardware.
All this said, it’s probably a good idea to occasionally check any device’s settings for its iCloud backup plan. (Don’t just set it and forget it.)
Here’s how to do that.
How to Back Up Correctly to iCloud
To create a full backup of what’s on your iPad via iCloud, you first need to pay for enough iCloud storage to handle it. My family’s Apple devices are collecting sharing the 200 GB iCloud+ storage plan. ($2.99/month)
Then, you’ve got to tell your iPad what to back up. This is how to find the right setting for your Photo Library:
- Tap “Settings”
- Tap your name and face on top
- Go to “iCloud”
- Tap “Manage Storage”
- Tap “Backups”
- Tap your device’s backup
- Tap “Choose Data to Back Up”
- Look for “Photo Library” on top…
- Slide the digital switch to the green setting!
Then, do the same for everything else you want to back up to iCloud.
Easy, right? But, you’ve got to do it.
Finding Peace with my Mistake
It’s been a few weeks since the ‘Lester iPad Incident’, and I’ve remained unsettled. Sure, I can attribute my error to the flaws of humanity and this human in particular. But I know I would feel better if it made more sense.
And then I figured it out…
A couple years back, I wasn’t paying for an iCloud storage plan. So, of course, the free 5 GBs of iCloud storage wouldn’t be enough for my son’s photos and videos. And so they sat there in the iPad, unprotected.
When I finally upgraded to the 200 GB storage plan, I didn’t consider my son’s media on the iPad, and I didn’t update its iCloud storage settings to finally include the iPad’s Photo Library. (Forgetful daddy)
I had also chosen not to activate iCloud Photos, which would sync the photos to mirror images in iCloud as opposed to generating a backup file. That’s because I had wanted to keep my son’s digital media in a separate ecosystem from my own.
Looking to the Future
I think it’s time to properly recognize my son’s digital media creation and generate a child account for my son to use on the iPad. He needs his own digital space.
Yes, my son is growing up, and I need to keep up with all of his developing interests.
(More present daddy)
But it’s not only about flicking a couple of digital switches and paying for cloud storage. You’ve really got to own, organize and properly back up your digital content.
It’s a life-long endeavor and an important reminder for children of all ages.