Restore From iCloud Backup Explained

Restore From iCloud Backup Explained

During the setup process of a new or freshly restored iOS device, select “Restore from iCloud Backup” and enter your account information.

iCloud Backup is a wonderful thing. It helps protect your pictures, videos, text messages, and any other data on your iPhone and iPad by making a carbon copy every 24 hours to Apple’s cloud storage. You can check out our article explaining iCloud Backup if you don’t know what it is or how it works.

While iCloud Backup is great, it’s not so obvious how you actually retrieve your data out of it.  We get a lot of questions about this, so know that you aren’t the only one confused!

Here’s how you can restore your stuff from iCloud:

  1. Make sure your device is in an erased state, meaning that it must be reset to factory default. iCloud Restore must happen from the initial setup of an iOS device or after you’ve erased by going to Settings > General > Reset > Erase All Content and Settings or by restoring your device using iTunes.
  2. During the setup, you’ll get to a screen that asks you if you want to A. Set up as New, B. Restore from iCloud, or C. Restore from iTunes. We want to do an iCloud Restore!
  3. When prompted, type in your Apple ID and password of the account you want to restore from.
  4. Select the time/day of the backup you want to restore.
  5. Wait as your phone installs the backup!

That’s it! iCloud will do the rest. Your device will reboot once during the process, then it will load up your home screen where it will start downloading your apps, photos, videos, and anything else you had on there.

A Couple of Notes

  1. You might have to type in any iTunes or App Store account IDs or passwords that you’ve used to download any apps or media at any point in the backup you’re attempting to restore from.
  2. Also, you might have to update your iOS before you can restore. This is because you CAN’T restore a newer iOS backup onto an older iOS system.
  3. You CAN restore an older iOS backup onto a newer iOS system.
  4. This process is the same for any iOS device, including the iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch that supports iOS 5 or later according to Wikipedia.
  5. iCloud backup does not restore any passwords, UNLESS you have Two-Factor Authentication enabled.
  6. iCloud backups are not encrypted unless you have Two-Factor Authentication enabled.

iCloud Restore FAQ

Here are some Frequently Asked Questions about iCloud Backup that we see in our appointments with our clients.

Can I restore an individual file or photo?

  • You cannot restore individual files like Time Machine. It’s all or nothing. 😢
  • [UPDATE: Actually, Apple just released a new feature allowing us to recover individual files! You can read more about this new feature here.]

When can I restore from and iCloud Backup? How to I get my device ready?

  • Your iPhone or iPad has to be in an erased state in order to Restore. You can follow our instructions to learn how to erase your device or put it in recovery mode.

Why does my device say, “You must update the software before restoring from this backup?” I can’t update because I can’t get past this part of the setup!

  • You can’t restore onto older software than the backup was made. This one is tricky: we’ve seen sometimes where someone gets a new iPhone and tries to restore a backup to it and it fails, saying the software was too old. That means the new iPhone had older software from the factory than your old iPhone! You need to put it in recovery mode and do an update first using iTunes or complete the initial setup “As a New Device”, run the update, then Erase All Content & Settings by going to Settings > General > Erase All Content & Settings.

Can I see which photos, videos, or other individual files before I restore?

  • You can’t see individual items before you restore, you can only see the kinds of things stored. For example, you can see, “There are 2GB of photos and videos,” but you can’t actually look at each picture until you do an actual restore. However, you can do a restore to see what’s in the backup, but then start over again if you pulled from the wrong one!

How can I see what iCloud backups I have already and what time they last backed up?

  • To see what’s in your current iCloud Backup, head over to Settings > iCloud > Storage > Manage Storage where you can see which devices are being backed up. Click on whichever device is in question and you can see the latest backup time. NOTE: You can only see the content of the backup if you’re on the particular device in question. Otherwise, you can only see the backup time and size. (Kind of a bummer).

Relevant Official Apple Documentation

iCloud Backup Explained in Layman’s Terms

iCloud Backup Explained in Layman’s Terms

iCloud Backup is a service that carbon copies of all of your data onto one of Apple’s computers every 24 hours. That means all of your data will have a mirror image made every day. It’s pretty amazing.

Ever wonder why your iPhone or iPad keeps saying, “You haven’t backed up in 37 days?” or “Your iCloud Backup cannot complete because you do not have enough Storage?” Here’s our simple explanation to solve this for you.

What Is Backed Up?

According to Apple’s latest documentation on iCloud Backup, here is a list of what is backed up in iOS 10:

  • Purchase history for music, movies, TV shows, apps, and books
  • Photos and videos on your iOS devices
  • However, if you turn on iCloud Photo Library on your iOS device (iOS 8.1 or later) or Mac (OS X v10.10.3 or later), your photos and videos are already stored in iCloud, so they aren’t included in your iCloud backup.
  • Device settings
  • Call History
  • App data
  • Home screen and app organization
  • iMessage, text (SMS), and MMS messages (requires the SIM card that was in use during backup)
  • Ringtones
  • Visual Voicemail password (requires the SIM card that was in use during backup)
  • Health data
  • HomeKit configuration
  • Data for any currently paired Apple Watch

This is a great thing because it means you could lose your phone, drop it in the toilet, or shatter it on the ground and when you get it replaced you will theoretically never be more than 24 hours away from a fresh backup of all of your pictures, videos, text messages, and apps. It’s the same thing as a Time Machine backup on the Mac, just on one of Apple’s storage facilities instead of your own external hard drive.

Quick Note: iTunes and App Store content is not backed up, meaning it isn’t counting against your storage. For apps, iCloud Backup only backs up the data inside the apps, not the apps themselves. The apps themselves are re-downloaded from the App Store. Same goes for content from the iTunes Store: Apple already has a copy in their iTunes server and so they don’t need to back it up again or use your storage.

Here’s the trick, iCloud Backup needs three things to backup your iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch successfully:

  1. Enough iCloud Storage
  2. Plugged into Power
  3. Connected to Wi-Fi

The main reason it needs power and Wi-Fi is so that it won’t drain your battery or data plan to run a backup. Thanks, Apple!

How to Back Up to iCloud

1. Purchase Enough iCloud Storage

To make sure you have enough iCloud Storage, head over to the following locations on your iPhone or iPad.

iOS 7 — Settings > iCloud > Storage & Backup

iOS 8 — Settings > iCloud > Storage

Once you’re there, you will be notified of how much storage you have left in iCloud, along with an estimate of how much more you’ll need. From there, you can purchase additional storage by pressing Buy More Storage.

Plans range from 5GB for free and $20/month for 1TB of storage. That is overkill for most people, so most people will either be on the 20GB or 200GB plans for $1 or $4 a month, respectively. Here is a list of the current storage pricing for your country.

2. Plug Into Power Long Enough to Backup

One common problem that keeps people from doing iCloud Backups is that they never plug their device in long enough to let the backup finish. If you’re the kind of person that plugs their device in 20 times a day for 15 minutes, you may be getting a message that says, “Plug into power to finish your iCloud backup.”

The fix is easy: plug it up when you go to bed every night instead of piecemeal throughout the day.

3. Connect to Wi-Fi

We are a mobile society, so it’s very likely that you are moving in and out of different Wi-Fi networks throughout the day. This can cause your backup to never complete because it never has enough time to finish.

If you have a lot of photos or videos, it can exacerbate the problem because your large backup may take 8 hours to fully complete but you are never in Wi-Fi for more than 1 hour during the day.

iCloud Backup is a wonderful tool to protect the data that you don’t lose the precious photos, memories, or data inside your iPhone or iPad.

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