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What is the difference between synchronizing and backing up? Synchronization is when your data is an identical match across all of your devices. Services such as iCloud keep data (such as your contacts, calendars, reminders, notes, and other bits of data) the same across all your iCloud-connected devices, including your iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, and computer. It even offers the option to sync pictures too!

For an example of how synchronizing data is different from backing up, watch our video below: 

But what happens when we mistake synchronization for backing up? A common misconception is, “my contacts are backed up on iCloud,” but actually your contacts aren’t backed up by iCloud at all. If a contact is deleted from one device, iCloud assumes you don’t want that contact anymore and deletes it from all of your devices.

But you made an iCloud backup of your phone! You could retrieve the deleted contact that way, right? Unfortunately, iCloud backups do not store items that iCloud synchronizes, so that means Contacts, Calendars, Reminders (and all of the other items that iCloud synchronizes) would not be part of a restored backup.

This is why Connectech strongly recommends using a backup service like Time Machine. Time Machine is a backup application that stores your data in more than one place, but doesn’t synchronize it. Every hour that a Time Machine-enabled external hard drive is plugged into your computer, it takes a “snapshot” of your Mac’s data at that moment. Because your Mac keeps a local copy of your contacts in its Contacts app, it means we could retrieve your lost contact, put it back where it belongs, and then iCloud will synchronize it with your other connected devices.

This article uses contacts as a simple example, but this concept holds true for many other synchronized items and services, including documents synchronized through services like DropBox or OneDrive, and important Calendar or Notes data through a mail client. If you have questions about how to synchronize your data for convenience, and how to back up your data for safekeeping, please contact us and we’re happy to help.