Wouldn't it be great if iOS fully backed up your data, and did so wirelessly and automatically, without requiring you to plug in and sync? As with many features iOS is lacking by default, you can achieve this goal by jailbreaking. Here's how to set up a fully automated, wireless backup on your jailbroken iDevice.Got an Android device? Set up a fully automated backup using Titanium Backup.
If you're not familiar with iOS' backup process, you're probably wondering why you'd bother with all of this when iTunes seemingly takes care of backup for you. Here are a few good reasons:
- iTunes isn't really backing up everything when you sync your device, but pretty much just the settings on your phone. It doesn't back up your camera roll, your calendars, your address book, and a bunch of other personal data. If you're not syncing any of these things, you're not backing them up.
- You're required to sync in order to back up most of your data, and you can't do it wirelessly — you have to plug in your phone to the computer you sync it to every time.
- You can't schedule backups.
- Finally, if you've jailbroken your iDevice before, and subsequently updated iOS to a newer version, you know that you lose your jailbreak during that update. Jailbreaking again only takes a few minutes, but restoring all your jailbreak apps and extensions can be tedious and time consuming.
The backup system we're going to put into place today solves all of these problems.
What You'll Need
Interested? Before we get started, you're going to need to do a couple of things:
- If you haven't already, jailbreak your iDevice.
- Get a Dropbox account. You get 2GB for free, and you can get more free space through referrals. The 2GB should be just fine for most backup plans, though.
- Purchase and download PKGBackup from the Cydia store on your jailbroken iDevice. Currently it's $US8. If that seems like a lot, consider the time it takes to get all your app settings back in place one-by-one. The time-saving aspect is easily worth $US8 to this writer.
Setting Up PKGBackup
Once you've got everything ready to go we can start setting up PKGBackup the way you want. Start by opening the app. You should see a bunch of options, but to start off we need to go into the Settings panel. You can reach that by tapping the gear icon in the top left corner.
Here's the quick version:
- Click the "Dropbox" tab and link you Dropbox account.
- In the settings panel, turn on they scan packages at startup setting and do not turn on the automatically backup on startup setting. When you're done, press "OK" to accept the settings you've chosen and PKGBackup will automatically scan your phone for things it can back up.
- From the list, choose the category you want by tapping it and then selecting any packages, settings or data you want to back up.
- Tap backup in the bottom right corner of the main screen to initiate backup. It may take awhile so be sure you're on Wi-Fi and can be without your phone for an hour or so (depending on how much you've chose to back up).
That's all there is to it. However, if you need a little more hand-holding through the process, you can find much more detail about each step below.
Step 1: Link Your Dropbox Account
The Settings panel is a little intimidating. It's filled with buttons and switches all crammed onto your tiny little screen. Before you mess with any other settings, the first thing you're going to want to do is log in to your Dropbox account. Your second option in the Settings panel is called Primary Storage. Next to that you'll be able to choose between Addressbook and Dropbox. PKGBackup lets you choose between backing up your data to a file in your iDevice's address book, but we're not going to use that as it limits you to only backing up small bits of data. It also requires you to sync your iDevice to actually perform the backup. These reasons make Dropbox a much better option, so tap the Dropbox tab and you'll be presented with a screen that'll let you log in and link your Dropbox account.
Once you've logged in and your account has been linked, the Drobox tab will change its name to DB Logout. If you click that, the link to your Dropbox account will be severed and you'll have to relink it again. This isn't a big deal, but it's easy to accidentally tap that button and not realise it, so just make sure it reads "DB Logout" if you're ever wondering why things aren't working.
Step 2: Scan Packages At Startup And Other Toggle Settings
Once you've linked your Dropbox account you technically do not need to do anything else. Once you press OK at the bottom of the screen, PKGBackup will scan your iDevice for what you can back up.
You can always initiate this scan manually by opening the Settings panel and tapping the OK button, but if you want it to manually scan your packages at startup there's a switch for that called Scan packages at startup. Turn that on if you want an automatic scan every time you launch PKGBackup. You can also tell it to automatically backup on startup, but I'd recommend against this because 1) backup takes some time and it's not a process you can easily cancel, and 2) it's pretty easy to manual initiate a backup by pressing the backup button at the bottom right of the main screen when you start up PKGBackup. So if I were you, I'd leave that option turned off.
You'll find a couple of other options you can turn on and off if you want, but those aren't really that important. You'll also see backup scheduling options on the bottom half of the Settings panel, but we're not going to look at those just yet. First, let's set up your first backup.
Step 3: Select What You Want To Back Up
If you haven't already, press OK on the Settings panel to return to the main PKGBackup screen. Here you'll find a single rounded rectangle beneath a header of "Installed packages" and it'll list the number of packages you have installed. If you have, say, 15 package installed, it'll probably read "Selected 0 of 15" because you have yet to select any packages.
Before we look at the other settings below, tap the rounded rectangle to select the packages you want to back up. These packages are apps, extensions, and other things you installed when jailbreaking. Some of them you may recognise and others you won't because they were installed by default during the jailbreaking process. In most cases, you're going to want to back up everything. To do that, tap the All Packages on the bottom right side of the screen to list every package. You'll see a square with an arrow pointing to the right up on the top right side of your screen. Tap that, then tap the All button that appears on your screen. This will select all packages. If you want to deselect any selected package, you can always tap the green arrow next to its name. You can also select packages individually in this way.
Once you're finished, click the back button that reads "PKGBackup" in the top left corner of your screen to return to the main PKGBackup screen. That's all you need to do to set up your package backup!
We're not quite done yet if you want to backup more than just your jailbreak packages. You'll also noticed a bunch of options under the Option header on the PKGBackup main screen. These are things like Apple Default Apps, user sources, preferences files, etc. If you want to back up any of these other items, just tap them and select what you want. They'll work pretty much the same way as backing up your packages with one exception: Apple Default Apps. Apple Default Apps just has a series of on and off toggles for your iDevice's built-in app data. Just switch these on or off to enable or disable them for backup and head back to the main screen when you're done.
Step 4: Start Your Backup Once you've chosen all your backup options, you're ready to go. Before you initiate your first backup, be prepared to leave your device alone for awhile as it is going to have to upload all of this data to Dropbox. You're also going to want to make sure you're on a Wi-Fi network because this backup process could easily eat up the allotment on your monthly data plan. When you're ready, tap the Backup button in the bottom right corner of your screen and PKGBackup will perform all the necessary steps.
Scheduling backups is very, very easy, but be sure to schedule a time when you won't be using your device so you're not interrupted. To set your schedule, tap the gear in the top left corner of the main PKGBackup screen to open the Settings panel. On the bottom half of the screen you'll find your backup options. Under repeat schedule you can tap 0 for just once, or choose to back up daily, weekly, or monthly. Below that, set the time of day (in 24 hour time) that you want to back up. If you select weekly or monthly backups, you'll also need to select a day in addition to entering a time. All you need to do is choose one of the day letter tabs at the bottom of the screen to choose your day. If you choose weekly, your back up will occur on that day every week. If you choose monthly, your backup will occur on the first chosen day of that month (e.g. if you chose Monday, backup will occur on the first Monday of every month).
Once you've made your choices, just press okay and your backup will be scheduled. You can feel free to quit PKGBackup if you like as it will initiate backups all on its own.
Performing A Restore
Restoring a backup is very simple and about the same as the backup process. To perform a restore, tap the View Restore tab at the bottom of the screen. You'll then be able to select what you want to restore in the exact same way you were able to select what you wanted to back up. Make your selections, then tap the Restore button in the bottom right corner of the main PKGBackup screen. Restoration may take some time depending on what data you're restoring, so make sure you have enough time to wait as it's a process you definitely do not want to interrupt.
Once PKGBackup has completed the restore, you're all set. You may be asked to reboot your device, depending on what you restored, so make sure you do it if you're asked.