Restore Your iPhone From a Backup

close-up of hand moving iPhone apps

Sean Gallup/Getty Images

 Losing the data from your iPhone can happen for lots of reasons, including:

  • Repairs that require you to erase all data on the phone.
  • You may have erased the data (by accident or on purpose).
  • File corruption.

And while losing your iPhone’s data is never a pleasant experience, restoring iPhone data from a backup is a fairly simple task that can have your phone up and running again in no time.

Each time you sync your iPhone, the data, settings and other information on the phone are automatically backed up on your computer. If you encounter a situation in which you need to restore, though, all you need to do is download this back up to your phone and you’ll be off and running again.

Get Started

How to Restore an iPhone

Liane Cassavoy

To begin to restoring your data from the backup, connect your iPhone to the computer that you normally sync it to that contains the backup file (in most cases, this will be your normal computer. If you’re syncing to more than one machine, you should have backups on both computers. Just choose the computer with the backup you prefer).

In the center of the iPhone management screen, you'll see a Restore button. Select that.

When you do this, iTunes will show you a few introductory screens. After them, you’ll need to agree to the standard iPhone software license. Do so and select Continue.

Enter iTunes Account Information

Restore iPhone, step 2

Sam Costello

Now you’ll be prompted to enter your Apple ID (aka iTunes account) information. This is the same account that you set up either when you started buying things from the iTunes Store or when you activated your iPhone originally. No need to set up a new account.

You’ll also be asked to register your phone – fill out the required information to do so. After that, iTunes will offer you a free trial of Apple’s Mobile Me service. Take it up on that offer – or skip it, your choice – and continue.

Choose Which Backup to Restore iPhone From

Restore iPhone, step 3

Sam Costello


Next, iTunes will display the list of iPhone backups that you can restore your iPhone from (in most cases, this will be only one backup, but in certain circumstances, there will be more). Choose the back up you want to use – based on its being the most recent one or the only one – and continue.

Once the proper backup file is selected, iTunes will begin reloading the backed up data onto your phone. The process is fairly quick because it only transfers data and settings, not all your music.

After the process is complete, double check the settings on both your phone and in iTunes for what gets synced to your phone. While the feature is good, it often leaves out some settings, including some music sync settings like podcasts, email sync settings, and other items.

Choose Whether to Share Diagnostic Info

Restore iPhone, step 5

Sam Costello


After the initial iPhone restore is complete, but before your music is synced to the phone, iTunes will ask you whether you want to share diagnostic information with Apple. This is strictly voluntary, though the information will help Apple improve its products in future versions (those concerned with privacy may want to decline this option, as it involves sharing data with Apple about how the iPhone is used). Make your choice and continue.

Sync Music and Check Settings

Restore iPhone, step 6

Sam Costello

After all other items are synced to the phone, music syncs to your iPhone based on the settings of the backup you’re using. Depending on how many songs you’re syncing, this could just take a few minutes or could take an hour or more. When music is done syncing, you’ll be ready to go!

Remember to check your settings to make sure the phone is configured the way you like it, but your phone will be ready to use just the way it was before its data was erased.