How to Encrypt Your iOS and Mac Backups

Unfortunately we live in a world where the want and need for secure devices is paramount. In the event of hardware theft, validating that your data will be inaccessible is always a great first step for enhanced security. In this article we will cover the necessary steps to take to encrypt the backups of your iOS device in iTunes and how to encrypt macOS backups in Time Machine.

How to Encrypt a New iOS Backup

An encrypted iOS backup is much better than a non-encrypted backup. An encrypted backup will keep passwords, history from the Web, and fitness data that otherwise would not be carried over. Here is how to do it.

1. On your Mac or PC in which you sync and back up your iOS device, launch iTunes. If you typically back up your iOS device to iCloud, your data is already encrypted on Apple’s servers.

2. Once iTunes has launched, connect your iOS device to the Mac or PC.

3. Click on the iDevice icon near the top left of the window next to the music drop-down menu.


4. Now, under the backups box, select “this computer” as the backup location.

5. Select the box labeled “Encrypt iPhone backup.”

6. You will now be asked to create a password. Keep the password simple enough to remember but not easy enough to where anyone that gains access to your computer could guess it. If you lose or forget this password, there is no recovering it! Unlike passwords created and entered on online services, this password stays local. That is of course unless you also select the box labeled “Remember this password in my Keychain.” iCloud’s Keychain holds all passwords pertaining to your devices; this way you can access it on any device you are signed in to with your Apple ID.

7. Click “Set password.”


8. Wait for the backup and encryption to complete. That is it!

How to Check If Previous iOS Backups Are Encrypted

1. Click iTunes next to the Apple logo in the top-left corner of your display and select “Preferences.” An alternative option is to press Command + , on your keyboard.


2. Here, click the “Devices” tab. A list of backups will be present.


3. If a lock icon appears next to a backup’s name, this means your backup is encrypted. If not, follow the previous steps to create a new, encrypted backup, then delete the old one. Unfortunately, due to a recent iTunes update, the ability to encrypt a past backup has since been revoked.

How to Encrypt Mac Backups

On Mac, backups of your data to an external hard drive or AirPort are done by using Apple’s Time Machine.

1. Launch Time Machine which can be found in the Launchpad’s “Other” folder.

2. In Time Machine Preferences, select the disk in which you wish to back up your data. Also, be sure the disk is plugged in and mounted or connected to your network, otherwise it will not appear in the list of disks.


3. Check the box labeled “encrypt backups.”


4. Again, be sure to create a strong but memorable password. Again, these passwords cannot be recovered!

That is all there is to it! Your encryption will now start. This can, however, take some serious time. In my experience, the encryption of a 1TB drive took a total of about two-and-a-half hours. The more data you have, the longer this process will take.

Conclusion and Final Thoughts

What other tips do you have to keep your data protected from any potential theft? Let us know in the comments. Finally, let us know if you have any issues getting encryption set up for either iOS or Mac backups.

Corbin Telligman
Corbin Telligman

I'm a junior at UT Dallas, a tech enthusiast, an adreneline junkie, and a coffee fanatic.

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