Restore Your iPhone From a Backup

Get important data back onto your phone

close-up of hand moving iPhone apps

Sean Gallup / Getty Images

Data on your iPhone can be lost or damaged in various ways, such as from a repair that required the data to be erased, the data was erased by accident, or files were corrupted. When you lose your iPhone data, restoring iPhone data from a backup is a simple task that will have your phone up and running in no time. The method you choose depends on whether you back up directly to iCloud from the iPhone or back up your smartphone by connecting it to your computer and iTunes with a USB cable.

Information in this article applies to iPhones running iOS 12 or iOS 11.

Restore an iCloud Backup on iPhone

If you set up iCloud Backup on your iPhone to automatically back up when the iPhone is connected to power and Wi-Fi, a current backup is available on the phone, but check first to confirm a backup is there.

Check for an iCloud Backup on the iPhone

To make sure you have a recent backup:

  1. Open the iPhone 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. Check there. You want to use the most recent backup you can find.

Restore the iCloud Backup on the iPhone

After you confirm that you have a usable backup on the iPhone, go back to the Settings screen, then:

  1. Tap General.

  2. Scroll to the bottom and tap Reset.

  3. Tap Erase All Content and Settings.

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

  5. Enter your passcode when prompted.

  6. Tap Erase iPhone and confirm.

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

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

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

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

  11. Select a backup file from the list.

  12. 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.

Restore a 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.

  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. Even if the devices are set to connect wirelessly, a wired connection is required when restoring a backup.

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

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

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

    Final Restore button in iTunes
  6. Enter your Apple ID (aka iTunes account) 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.