On my iPhone and iPad I use Google Apps for syncing mail, calendar and contacts. With iOS 5 I now use iCloud for backup (and for syncing Reminders, Bookmarks and Find my iPhone, none of which I really use). I have no media (music, video or photos) that needs to be synced with the iPhone.

Out of habit, I still sync with iTunes (over Wi-Fi now), but I am starting to question why. In my setup, is there any reason to sync? Backup seems to happen anyway, and Google Apps sync independently and immediately anyway. I sync apps in iTunes, but I fail to see the point of it, since I can now download any app I am missing right on the iPhone.

Is there any reason to keep syncing with iTunes? Are there any bad consequences of completely giving it up?

The one thing I can think of is iOS updates. Will I still need iTunes for those?

5 Answers 5


OS updates will now happen over the air. The only reasons would be to sync a new iPhoto event/album or to sync content that you added manually (ripped CD).

But outside of that, iOS doesn't require syncing.

  • I clarified media to mean music, video and photos Oct 23, 2011 at 11:59
  • 1
    Then you are free of iTunes unless you need to do some serious trickery (DFU mode, etc) Oct 23, 2011 at 12:07
  • False! You should be backing up your data.
    – user588
    Oct 23, 2011 at 13:44
  • @mankoff: Sync and Backup are now two separate functions. Klas is asking about Sync. (Of course he is well-advised also to do Backup, presumably to iCloud.)
    – GEdgar
    Oct 23, 2011 at 14:00
  • Besides having to music, video, and photos, presumably you also have no books, podcasts, ringtones?
    – GEdgar
    Oct 23, 2011 at 14:01

Not everything will be restored and iTunes restoring will be much faster.

According to https://www.apple.com/icloud/features/apps-books-backup.html and https://support.apple.com/kb/ht1766

Previous purchases may not be restored if they are no longer in the iTunes Store, App Store, or iBookstore

And some problems (and successes) are discussed here: https://discussions.apple.com/message/16498054#16498054

  • But I backup to iCloud. If I did a restore of that backup to a new iDevice, wouldn't I get the notes back? Or would it somehow be easier to extract that data from the sync data? Oct 23, 2011 at 14:21
  • You're right, iCloud does backup. I thought it was just sync. I've edited the answer. Still, iCloud might not return everything, and will be slower.
    – user588
    Oct 23, 2011 at 21:10

I've restored from an iCloud backup before, even data in third-party apps were restored. But any apps no longer avaible in the app store will not be restored as app binaries are not backed up by iCloud. But you can always backup locally to the Mac/PC once in a while for the peace of mind.

If you sync your apps with iTunes, you get the ability to rearrange apps and app pages in iTunes. You can also download app updates with iTunes first then sync to both your devices later.

Updating more than a few apps on iDevices can be slow and unreliable. A lot of times large apps (100MB-1GB+) get stuck downloading, and they'll keep the rest of your download queue from downloading and you can't even run those other apps because of the empty download bar and you basically have to reset. And even after you reset, the partial download of the large app with remain in the temp storage (it'll show up as "Other" in your storage usage map in iTunes). The only official way to clear those "Other" storage is do a restore. I myself have PhoneView, so I went into the iDevice and delete those files myself when a couple partially downloaded games took up over 2GB. There are people see it blow up to 5-6GB. Normal "Other" usage should be around 1GB.


Also, be careful when you turn of App sync, it'll ask you if you want to keep apps on your iDevices, click "Keep" or it may remove all your third-party apps and data on the iDevice and have to restore from a most recent backup.

That said, I use iCloud for backup and sync. As a general safety measure, I always perform a local backup in iTunes before I switch any iCloud sync options to/from iTunes.


If a stupid tragic accident happened to your iPod/iPhone/iPad and get another iPod/iPhone/iPad and you happened to sync then you can get all your data back again.


One reason for doing multiple backups is that one can go wrong and also for the cloud your accounts can get messed up due to errors or other people getting your accounts for example see this example of a person having all his Apple, Google and Amazon data being destroyed.

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