How to Restore Your iPhone From a Backup

Get important data back onto your phone

The data on your iPhone can be lost or damaged in lots of ways: from a repair that required the data be erased, an accidental deletion, or if files were corrupted. When you lose your iPhone data, restoring iPhone from a backup is a simple task that will have your phone up and running in no time.

How you do the restore depends on whether you back up your iPhone directly to iCloud or if back up your phone to iTunes on your computer. This article explains how to restore your iPhone no matter how you back up.

Information in this article applies to iPhones running iOS 11 and higher.

close-up of hand moving iPhone apps
Sean Gallup/Getty Images News

How to Restore iPhone Using an iCloud Backup

If your iPhone automatically backs up to iCloud when the iPhone is connected to power and Wi-Fi, restoring it is easy and wireless. Before you start the process, make sure that you've got a backup in iCloud.

How to Check for an iCloud Backup on the iPhone

To make sure you have a recent backup:

  1. Tap Settings and tap your name.

  2. Tap iCloud.

  3. Select Manage Storage.

    APple ID, iCloud, Manage Storage buttons in iOS Settings
  4. Tap Backups.

  5. In the Backups section, tap the iPhone entry to display the date and size of the backup.

    Backups, This iPhone, Last Backup in iOS Settings

If there is no entry or it is an old backup, you may have backed up the iPhone to iTunes on a computer at some point (more on that later in this article). You want to use the most recent backup you can find.

Need instructions on how to back up your iPhone? We've got articles focused on how to back up iPhone 6 and 6S, iPhone 7, and iPhone 8.

How to Restore an iCloud Backup on the iPhone

After you confirm that you have a usable backup stored iCloud:

  1. Go back to the main Settings screen.

  2. Tap General.

  3. Scroll to the bottom and tap Reset.

  4. Tap Erase All Content and Settings.

    General, Reset, Erase All Content and Settings in iOS Settings
  5. Confirm and tap Erase Now.

  6. Enter your passcode when prompted.

  7. Tap Erase iPhone and confirm.

    Erase Now and Erase iPhone buttons in iOS Settings
  8. Enter Your Apple ID password and tap Erase.

    It's probably obvious, but: this step erases all of the data on your iPhone and will replace it with the backup from iCloud. It's possible you'll lose any data that's not backed up.

  9. The Apple logo and a progress bar appear on the screen. Wait for the progress bar to complete.

  10. When the iPhone restarts, sign in to iCloud with your Apple ID.

  11. In the Apps & Data screen, tap Restore from iCloud Backup.

  12. Select a backup file from the list.

  13. Follow the on-screen instructions to complete the Restore process.

It only takes a few minutes before you can use the iPhone, but hook it up to power and Wi-Fi and leave it hooked up until it has downloaded your photos, messages, and other backup files, which can take hours or days with a slow connection, depending on how much content is backed up to iCloud.

How to Restore an iPhone Backup From iTunes on a Computer

When you sync your iPhone with iTunes on a computer, the data, settings, and other information on the phone are backed up. To restore a backup for your iPhone:

  1. Open iTunes on the computer that you use to back up the iPhone.

  2. Connect the iPhone to the computer using a USB cable.

  3. Click the iPhone icon to open the iPhone Summary screen.

    iPhone icon in iTunes
  4. In the Backups section, click Restore Backup.

    Restore backup button in iTunes
  5. Select the backup you want to use from the list iTunes presents — there may only be one option — and click Restore.

    Final Restore button in iTunes
  6. Enter your Apple ID information to begin the backup restoration. This is the same account that you set up when you activated your iPhone initially.

iTunes reloads the backup data onto your phone. The process is relatively quick because it only transfers data and settings at this point, not your music, apps, and images. Then, the process of downloading your purchased music, movies, apps, books, and photos begins, which can take a long time depending on the amount of content on the iPhone.

While restoring a backup, you may see a message to turn off Find My iPhone. Go to Settings, tap your name, then tap iCloud. Turn off the Find My iPhone toggle switch. Turn it back on after the backup is complete.