iPads are quite different from traditional computers, both in the appearance of their physical hardware, as well as look and function of the software that they run. The iOS operating system is what powers every iPad and iPhone and while it's known for its security and ease-of-use, at times it can be difficult to ensure the data and work you've done on the device is backed up.
To keep things as simple and straightforward as possible, I'll break down data backup into three unique categories:
- Full device backups (apply to student devices only)
- Automatic per-app backups (data synced to the cloud)
- Manual per-app backups (data manually exported off the device)
The first category, full device backups, refers to snapshot of all the apps and data on an iPad. These backups are either performed manually when you sync an iPad with iTunes, or automatically if you're signed in to iCloud. Full device backups are only used for backing up and restoring data on student devices in the event that a device breaks. Staff should rely on the latter two backup options for preserving their data.
To enable iCloud Backups (iOS 10.3 or later):
1. Open the Settings app and tap the accounts section at the top of the menu on the left side (sign in with your Apple ID, if you haven't already)
2. Once signed in, tap "iCloud" to load your iCloud settings
2. The iCloud Backup section (highlighted below) will show whether backups are on or off; tap the section to load additional details
3. From the iCloud Backup section you can enable/disable backups, see the most recent backup, and manually trigger
The second category, automatic per-app backups, refers to specific apps that support automatic saving/syncing of data to the cloud. Most commonly this means saving app data to iCloud Drive or Google Drive. Not all apps support this, but ones that do usually prompt you to enable syncing when you first launch the app. Enabling syncing ensures your data is backed up should anything happen to the device.
Apps that support syncing data to iCloud Drive will appear in Settings-->[Select account at top of the left menu]-->iCloud, under the iCloud Drive section. You'll also want to confirm that the setting to use iCloud is enabled in Settings-->[App], for example, Pages syncing would be enabled in Settings-->Pages-->Use iCloud.
The third category, manual per-app backups, refers to manually copying work from inside a given app to another location, usually iCloud Drive, Google Drive, or even just emailing it to yourself. It's an important (and often overlooked) step to protecting critical projects/documents on the iPad.
I'll outline the process to manually back up work in the Book Creator for iPad app, but most apps follow the pattern of selecting the work to backup + selecting the share (or send to) button + selecting the location to save the work. Many developers maintain specific instructions to backup their apps, so it's always good to check for available instructions online.
1. In Book Creator, I slide over to the getting started guide and select the share button
2. Tapping the share button reveals a list of sharing options--some apps will offer only a single option, in this case we have multiple
3. After selecting the type of file to export, I'm presented with a group of possible save locations. I could simply email the file from here, but I'd rather have it in iCloud, so I'll tap the "Send to..." button
4. After selecting the send to option, I'm presented with the layout of my iCloud Drive files; tapping "Export to this location" at the bottom saves my file to iCloud Drive
That's it, the file is now backed up to iCloud.
- iCloud backups occur automatically overnight, as long as an iPad is connected to a charger and has WiFi internet access.
- Currently iCloud backups can be used to restore select student data from one iPad to another (ie if a device is broken). Data from older applications may be lost in this process, so it's not a catch-all.
- Syncing data to iCloud Drive needs to be enabled on a per-app basis. Once enabled, data should sync automatically
- Google apps like Drive, Docs, Sheets, etc all sync automatically, as that's Google's default.
- On occasion synced iCloud documents may disappear either due to manual deletion or a syncing error. Those files can be recovered by following the guide here.