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HomeScience/TechnologyHow to turn on Apple's encrypted iCloud backups on your iPhone

How to turn on Apple’s encrypted iCloud backups on your iPhone

Apple has just released software updates for iPhone, iPad, and Macs that help keep your information on the company’s servers even more private.

For the first time, you can encrypt Apple Photos, Notes and iCloud backups – including iMessage conversations – that are stored in the cloud. That’s thanks to an optional end-to-end encryption setting called Advanced Data Protection.

Apple’s encryption turns your data into code that you must decipher with a key, and now the key for backups only exists on your device – not in Apple’s data centers.

If you sign up for this, most of what you upload to iCloud is accessible only to you. And in the event of a hack of Apple’s iCloud, most of your data would be protected, according to a statement released by Apple on Dec. 7.

Apple can’t even access the data when it’s stored on the company’s servers. And law enforcement officers with a warrant wouldn’t be able to access it either, which has caused friction between Apple and the FBI.

Since Apple no longer has the keys to recover your data, you’ll need to set up an alternate recovery method, such as a recovery contact or a recovery key, in case you lose access to your account. In other words, once you’ve set up Advanced Data Protection, you’re responsible for recovering your data in case you lose your device. No more going to the Genius Bar to restore a backup in the event of a cloud disaster.

Here’s how to set up end-to-end encryption for your iPhone’s iCloud backups.

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Set up end-to-end encryption for iPhone

Before you begin, make sure your iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, and Mac and HomePods are all updated with the latest software. On an iPhone, which needs to be updated to iOS 16.2 first, you can do this by opening Settings, then tapping General > Software Updates. Your phone will download the update and will need to reboot before it is complete.

  • Now that everything is updated, go to Settings > iCloud > Advanced Data Protection.
  • Tap “Account recovery” or “Advanced data protection” to continue.
  • A notification will appear letting you know that you are responsible for your data recovery.
  • Tap ‘Set up account recovery’.
  • This will prompt you to add a recovery contact (or generate a recovery key, but more on that later). Apple suggests choosing someone you trust to help you regain access to your account. Remember: Apple has no access to let you back in.
  • You will then be prompted to send a message to that recovery contact letting them know they have been selected. The person who asked you must approve the request.
  • The other option, if you don’t want to entrust all your iCloud data to anyone else, is to set up a recovery key. This is a 28-character code that you should keep in a safe place so that you can restore your backups.
  • You will then be prompted to verify your recovery key by typing it in again. Once you’ve done this, your recovery key will be enabled.
  • After enabling Advanced Data Protection, you need to enter your iPhone password to enable it.
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That is it! Just remember, if you haven’t kept your recovery key in a safe place or set up your recovery contact, your data is pretty much gone.

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