If you’ve got an iPhone or iPod with a dead screen, that’s not so awesome, but usually it can be repaired without replacing the whole device. But…not always. You want to be on the safe side and make sure there’s a backup, ideally on a computer, before the device is repaired (or replaced).
To check if there’s a current iCloud backup: If you have another Apple device also signed in to the same iCloud account, tap Settings > iCloud > Storage > Manage Storage, and then the backups are listed at the top, and tapping into them reveals the most recent date. If it’s less than 24 hours, I usually consider that good enough.
To check iCloud backups on a Mac, go to Apple Menu > System Preferences > iCloud, tap the Manage button, tap backups, and you can see your backups. If you’re not already signed in, you can do so in the iCloud system preference, or create a new user just for this single purpose in the Users & Groups system preference.
If you don’t have a current iCloud backup, or you want to be extra careful, you can back up to iTunes on a computer. But…your iPhone or iPad is locked. To unlock it, to be able to back up to iTunes on a computer, you’ll need:
Plug the “camera adapter” into the device, and into that connect the USB hub. Then attach the USB hub to wall power. Plug in both the keyboard and the Lightning cable that attaches to the computer.
You’ll be able to type the passcode to unlock the device, and then on the computer, open iTunes, click on the icon for the device, and then click “Back Up.” (If you instead choose “Encrypt backup,” it will save passwords, so I recommend that; use your computer password, when prompted, to keep things simple, and save it in your keychain.)
Now you can go get the dumb thing fixed.
Photo by Warren R.M. Stuart, through Flickr Creative Commons.