iPhone contacts screenBecause there are multiple ways for you to backup your iPhone contacts, you no longer have to rely on the old school method of keeping a paper address book tucked away somewhere in your sock drawer. Remember when buying a new cell phone meant spending the rest of the day re-entering all of your friends’ phone numbers into the new handset? You don’t have to do that anymore.

After all, the iPhone is a smartphone. It’s smarter than that. Just as you can use the Dropbox app as a great way to back up all the photos you take with your iPhone camera, there are ways to save your contact list from your treasured iDevice. This way, when it comes time to upgrade or you have the unfortunate experience of losing your cell phone, you don’t have to spend the rest of the day trying to find your old phone numbers again.

Backup iPhone Contacts with iTunes

Probably the easiest and most straightforward way to backup your iPhone contacts is to use the default software. You’ve probably already connected your iPhone to your computer before, doing the synchronization thing with iTunes to load up all your music and other digital content. The great thing is that every time your iPhone is connected to your computer, it will automatically create an iPhone backup for you. The steps are very simple.

  1. Plug your iPhone into your computer using the provided USB cable.
  2. Launch iTunes if it doesn’t open automatically.
  3. Select your iPhone from the “Devices” list on the left.
  4. Look under the “Info” tab to find the “Sync Contacts” checkbox. Adjust settings.
  5. Right-click on your iPhone and choose “back up” from the available options.
  6. Allow the software to do its thing.

When the process is all done, you can then choose to “eject” your iPhone and be on your merry way.

Using iCloud for Automatic Backups

Apple iPhone with iCloud

iCloud backup settings (Image source: osxdaily.com)

Part of the problem with using iTunes is that you need to have a physical connection to your computer. These days, it’s better to go to the cloud to expand your iPhone memory and it’s the same is true for backing up your iPhone contacts. More specifically, you can turn to the iCloud. Like iTunes, your contacts should be configured to back up your contacts by default, but you should verify this.

  1. Open the “Settings” app on your iPhone while connected to 3G or Wi-Fi.
  2. Select “iCloud” from the available options.
  3. Verify that “Contacts” is switched on.
  4. Scroll to the bottom to find “Storage & Backup.”
  5. Tap “Back Up Now” to initiate a manual backup of your iPhone contacts to iCloud.

You can also back up other data to iCloud, like your mail. Just have a look at your iCloud settings and adjust them accordingly.

Set Up Google Sync on iPhone

Google Sync for iPhone

Setting up iPhone with Google Sync (Image source: Google.com)

What if you want to move a little outside of the Apple ecosystem for another backup solution? Since so many of us have come to rely on Gmail, Google Calendar, and other Google products, it makes sense to set up Google Sync on your preferred iDevice too. And, yes, this includes the ability to backup your iPhone contacts.

There is an extensive tutorial by Google that outlines the step-by-step directions, including some help with multiple calendars and known issues. There are many steps and it can look intimidating, but it’s actually quite simple.

  1. Open “Settings” on your iPhone and choose “Mail, Contacts, Calendars.”
  2. Select “Add Account” and select “Microsoft Exchange.”
  3. Enter your full Google account email address and password. Leave the Domain field blank.
  4. Tap Next and enter m.google.com as the Server, then tap Next again.
  5. Select the Google services you want to sync: Mail, Contacts and/or Calendars.
  6. Adjust the settings to suit your preferences.
  7. You’re done!

While these instructions are for current iDevices running iOS 3.0 and above, they presumably should also work with the upcoming Apple iPhone 5 as well.

Image credit: petezich / Flickr