When iPhones Go Wrong – Restoring From iCloud Backups [iOS]

icloud logo 300   When iPhones Go Wrong – Restoring From iCloud Backups [iOS]Like any Apple product, the iPhone ”just works” right? Unfortunately, we don’t live in a perfect world and regardless of what anyone will tell you, iOS is not perfect. Things go wrong, but luckily there are some great counter-measures and third-party tools to soften the blow.

We’ve spoken about iCloud in the past, covered setting up the core features and even retrieving a lost or stolen phone, but we’ve still not tackled the iCloud restore process. If – like me a few days ago – you’re not too sure how the process works (or whether it works at all), today’s article is for you and your peace of mind.

If you’re wondering how safe your phone’s treasure trove of personal data really is then read on.

Time For A Restore

Something went wrong with my Camera Roll a few days ago. After shooting a quick snapshot from the lockscreen, I couldn’t get my Photos or Camera app to show the Camera Roll without crashing. Multiple restarts later I decided it was probably time to update the phone’s software, over-the-air.

I’m not always the most punctual individual when it comes to updates, and recently I’ve been relying on my phone as more than a communication device. I had been putting off the OTA update to iOS 5.1.1 until I could afford to spend the time fixing any issues that arose.

   When iPhones Go Wrong – Restoring From iCloud Backups [iOS]

Despite my faith in iOS, I had a feeling something might go wrong. I’ve had iTunes restore from backup feature fail on me in the past, so from the outset I was concerned about restoring from iCloud if the worst happened. I wasn’t going to take any chances with my most precious data – photos and videos.

At this point it’s worth pointing out that this iPhone isn’t paired to a Mac or PC in my possession – the PC it was paired to recently died a death. I decided to grab my photos using a small freeware program called iExplorer (previously iPhone Explorer) which is great for grabbing whole folders from your iPhone and exporting them to a destination of your choice. This way I had my photos and videos, even if the OS upgrade caused issues and iCloud couldn’t help.

iExplorer   When iPhones Go Wrong – Restoring From iCloud Backups [iOS]

Then, from the Settings > General > Software Update menu I initiated the update.

…..& So It All Went Wrong….

For the first few hours my phone sat there downloading the full update, prepared the installation and restarted. Upon restart I was presented with a status bar, which started to move very slowly. I left the phone doing its thing for a couple of hours, but soon noticed the status bar flatly refused to move. It had been about 6 hours by this point so I decided it had crashed and held the power and home buttons concurrently to reset the device.

iphone status bar   When iPhones Go Wrong – Restoring From iCloud Backups [iOS]

Unsurprisingly not much happened when the phone restarted, the status bar was back but it wasn’t going far. After an hour of nothing, I figured it was time to “iTunes my iPhone”, so I plugged the phone into a waiting Mac in its current state of stasis and to my surprise it was recognised. I clicked Restore in iTunes and kissed my data goodbye.

restore from itunes   When iPhones Go Wrong – Restoring From iCloud Backups [iOS]

Eventually the phone restarted and asked me for an Apple ID, permission to use location services and whether I wanted to use iCloud or not. Sure I did, but the option to restore wasn’t there – instead I was invited to “set up iCloud”. Fearing for my cloud-based backup, I decided to master reset the phone without connecting it to a Mac, hoping that the option to restore from iCloud would appear this time.

The Silver Lining

It turns out master resetting your phone from the Settings > General > Reset > Erase All Content And Settings menu does indeed reveal the Restore from iCloud option. Seeing some light at the end of the tunnel, I chose the most recent backup and went to bed. I’d been at this all day, and was looking forward to getting my phone back in the morning.

restore from icloud   When iPhones Go Wrong – Restoring From iCloud Backups [iOS]

Imagine my frustration then, when I woke up to that same static progress bar that caused the problems in the first place. Accepting that the iCloud backup had indeed failed, once again I gave the iPhone the iTunes treatment. After this I reset it again to reveal the Restore from iCloud option, crossed my fingers and chose an earlier iCloud backup taken about 24 hours prior to the one I had already tried.

iphone restored   When iPhones Go Wrong – Restoring From iCloud Backups [iOS]

This process takes hours. Hours and hours and hours. It was 4 hours before my phone restarted and when it did things were looking good. Everything was there, from my backgrounds to stored Wi-Fi passwords, but it still took several more hours for apps to restore and a long, long time for my Camera Roll to download. My Internet connection isn’t particularly slow, so this was pretty surprising.

Eventually my phone was back to its old self and running the latest version of iOS.

Conclusion

So what did I learn? A few things:

  1. If you’re going to restore or update your iOS device then you’d better have some spare time to babysit it through the process just in case things don’t go to plan.
  2. The option to choose an older iCloud backup is a Godsend should your most recent one fail.
  3. If all of your iCloud backups fail then it pays to have a failsafe backup, though you probably won’t need it.
  4. Restore from iCloud puts your phone back the way you left it provided you have enough iCloud space to backup everything. Never again will you have to “start again” with an iPhone, even if you buy a new one.

Have you restored from iCloud yet? Did it go to plan? Any nightmares? Reveal all in the comments.

Image Credit: iPhone Status Bar (dahlstroms)

The comments were closed because the article is more than 180 days old.

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90 Comments -

0 votes

Laga Mahesa

You mentioned hours and hours for the restore process. Was that due to the internet speeds or something else?

I have zero faith in my internet – 6Gb and rarely down, but the international links are glitchy, so relying on a service overseas (ie, any cloud service) is a big no-no for me, so I’ve developed an iTunes sync OCD with bells on. :p

Dropbox is the only cloud service I use, but only for convenience – everything is duped daily to a flash drive.

0 votes

Tim Brookes

It wasn’t due to Internet speed, no. I can get over a megabyte down (ADSL2+) but I am in Australia so the distance between me and the backup server probably couldn’t have been further away. I’m guessing that played a part!

This is also why I’m so anal about using things like iExplorer to make local backups.

0 votes

Oscar Rainford

Yeah, I tend to make backups in iExplorer just in case.

0 votes

Tim Brookes

Yep, the way I thought about it – I can re-download apps, set up my phone again and even try to remember my to-do list but I’m not willing to take the chance with photos!

0 votes

Luda Yoda

Does anyone know how to go about transferring a backup of an iPhone from a PC to a Mac? Can I just use icloud?

0 votes

Tim Brookes

If you have set your phone to backup via iCloud (Settings > iCloud > Storage and Backup) then you don’t really need to worry about it. Once you have authorised your Mac you should be able to make a backup of it there as per usual and should anything go wrong in the meantime all your important data (Camera Roll, Contacts, Messages etc…) is saved to the cloud.

Put it this way, you could master reset your phone and then restore from iCloud and your phone would be virtually the same provided you’ve backed everything you care about up. Even your apps will download again, and the springboard will be setup exactly the way you had it.

0 votes

Joe Shapiro

I have a very fast, reliable internet connection. I get 50-100Mbps download speeds with 3ms DNS lookups. So I thought I’d be in good shape doing a restore from iCloud. Not so fast! I’m on my third attempt. Each previous one has failed with either a network error or something like “couldn’t complete.” And then it starts from scratch. No restartable download? C’mon Apple! You’re assuming you can get a perfectly clean connection with no resets or interruptions for hours? That’s, well, just plain stupid.

Did I mention I backed up to iTunes? Yup. I hit Sync and iTunes took its time backing my phone up. But the backup seems to be either missing or inaccessible. I had my phone set to back up to iCloud so I presume this is the reason. Still, I’d think either iTunes would not do the backup or it would offer it up when I tried to restore. Seems to be giving me the worst of both worlds. Geez.

0 votes

Tim Brookes

This comment was basically the reason I wrote the article in the first place. Had my phone restored with no problems in the hour or two I’d expect it to download around 4GB then it wouldn’t have been much of a talking point.

Turns out it’s really not so much plain sailing as hit and miss, good luck and stick with it! You’ll find that your Camera Roll, apps and other personal data will have to download after your phone comes out of iCloud restore mode too.

Thanks for sharing!

0 votes

iWhore

Syncing your phone is not doing a backup. Syncing is syncing, Backing up is backing up. To backup, you don’t click sync, you right click on the name of the phone under “Devices” in the left hand column, that gives you a pop up. in the pop up you’ll see “backup”.

0 votes

Mike

Depends. If you have your iOS device set to backup to iCloud automatically…then iTunes will not backup when you click “Sync.” But if you have it set to backup to your PC…then clicking “Sync” will also make iTunes backup your iOS device.

0 votes

Melly

Am restoring from iCloud backup. Didn’t experience any problems with the restore process, but the re-downloading of apps… *hangs head in despair* I have an excellent wifi connection, yet It’s been NINE hours and most of my apps are still “waiting”, and my camera roll is only halfway done. And to make things worse, whatsapp refuses to prioritize download! ICloud may be a godsend but user beware!

0 votes

Tim Brookes

Apparently tapping an app that is downloading prioritises it. Have you got a particularly big app downloading maybe?

I remember how long it took for the full restore process to complete on my 16GB iPhone 4, so I’m guessing if you have even more storage it’s going to take ages. Your Camera Roll might also be downloading videos and such, which is undoubtedly going to be slowing down the app downloads.

0 votes

Melly

The prioritize option works for everything except whatsapp. Or maybe its working but going really slowly? The status bar for whatsapp also seems to reset every once in a while. Also the entire process stalled sometime when I went to bed so nothing was accomplished overnight. Hard reset seems to jumpstart the process again though. Hopefully whatsapp will start loading properly after the camera roll is done. But if it doesn’t, is there a way to sync only (and retain chat history of course) from iTunes?

Thanks so much for the article btw!

0 votes

Tim Brookes

As far as I’m aware, the only way to natively restore from iTunes is to disable iCloud backup which can’t be done retroactively. So if you’d like to enable this you’ll have to make sure backups take place locally, rather than just having iCloud backup for you every night when your phone is plugged in, locked and connected to Wi-Fi.

In short, it’s probably more hassle even when you consider the wait that iCloud puts you through. You can still manually backup via iTunes by plugging your phone in and choosing backup, but you can’t automatically backup to both.

0 votes

Julia P

i just replaced my iphone (because the screen was cracked) and i was at the apple store and the backed up everything on icloud, and i plugged my new iphone in the computer and not everything is getting backed up from my old iphone to my new iphone. i used to have 2000 pictures and now i only have 600. i dont know what to do! i syned it 10 times and not everything is comming back. not even some of my contacts, apps, and music is going back to my new iphone.

0 votes

Tim Brookes

Your Camera Roll should backup in its entirety to iCloud, though I’m not sure if videos are included in this. Did you ever plug your old phone into your computer, sync and copy the photos across?

You shouldn’t be backing up from your computer if you used iCloud to back up your photos. When you have iCloud backup enabled, local backup is disabled by default – you simply can’t do both (unless you do it manually, which unless you specify carefully enough will restore ALL your purchases and fill up your phone with old apps you probably don’t want).

If you have a copy of those 1400 or so missing photos then I’d cut your losses, make sure they’re safe and start afresh on your phone – you haven’t really lost anything, the photos are still in your possession. Otherwise you could always try master resetting the phone as per the article above to reveal the “restore from iCloud” feature. Of course if you used that in the first place (I’m confused because you said you plugged your phone in to a computer) and it only restored 600 then it won’t be any better second time round.

Hope you manage to sort it, or at the very least have a backup of your photos!

Tim

0 votes

Kelsey

My iPhone was set up as a new iPhone already. How can I restore from iCloud now without completely resetting it again?

0 votes

Kelsey Mizeur

My iPhone has been activated as a “new” phone rather than from an iCloud backup. How can I now restore the phone with my iCloud backup?

0 votes

Tim Brookes

You can initiate a master reset as I did. Provided you’ve not really used it much yet (e.g. you have no data you’d like to keep on the phone) then the set-up should be easy. Simply go to Settings > General > Reset (very bottom of the list) and choose Erase All Content And Settings.

When your phone restarts it should give you three options – set up as a new phone, restore from iTunes and restore from iCloud. Choose iCloud and be prepared to wait a while! You can refer to the article above for the rest of the process, but it’s pretty much just waiting around for it to complete unless it fails when you can choose an older backup.

If you do have data on your phone that you would like to keep (e.g. Photos) then connect it to your PC/Mac (make sure “Don’t Sync New Devices Automatically” is enabled in iTunes should you have it) and extract the photos using iPhoto/Windows Explorer. You can also use iExplorer as detailed above.

Hope this helps!

Tim

0 votes

iphone user in trouble

my iphone 4 in ios 5.1.1 is stuffed up i jailbroke it then i restored it to take the jailbreak off now it has retored its in recovery mode and just comes up with the apple sign and a white bar that has no filling in it, it has been stuck like this for a few hours. how do i fix it?!?!?

0 votes

Rui

Hi! My wife’s iPhone is having problems. Last saturday iMessage stopped working. Then I noticed that Facetime were “waiting for activation”, Youtube app does’t start, and iPhone Search doesn’t work (even when it try to locate from my iPhone). All these features were working untill Saturday. Reset iPhone and restore from iCloud would be a good idea if I did it on the day all these tihings stopped working, but meanwhile some automatic backups must have been done when charging battery with wi-fi on… So if I reset iPhone and restore backup from iCloud now, I’ll restore from a backup made when iPhone were already having problems… and I’ll have the same problems. Right?

0 votes

Tim Brookes

I can’t say for sure. In my case, the Photo app stopped opening and I couldn’t access my pictures. Assuming this was something wrong on the OS side, an iPhone restore (I also updated the firmware) fixed it outright. However upon restoring, the phone didn’t like my most recent iCloud backup. So I had to choose an older one (by a day or so, no problem for me).

If you can choose to restore a week old iCloud backup then you should be in the clear. However you will need to contact someone at Apple or do some serious Googling to find out how long iCloud holds on to your backups for. Saying that, you don’t sound like you’ve got too much to lose. I’d restore in iTunes then master reset your phone and restore from iCloud. Be prepared to wait though, the process can take a LONG time to complete (the initial restore takes hours and hours on a speedy Internet connection) then you’ve got to restore your Contacts, Apps, Photos etc… so good luck! Do it overnight, and let us know what happens as it might help someone out!

0 votes

Alexia

As you’ve stated, I’ve been restoring from my icloud backup for hours and hours… all of my contacts, texts, voice-mails have returned and the apps are taking a very long time still… but there are still NO pictures or albums in my photos app :-( there is a photo stream with a weird assortment and selection of about 20 pictures that do not include other pictures taken in the exact time & location… Do I have to stay connected to the WiFi until it says it’s complete, or can it be interrupted/paused for me to relocate? thank you for all of your help…

0 votes

Tim Brookes

If I were you, I’d stay put (or leave your phone at home if you’re going out to work or something). I’m guessing the process can be paused, but then again it takes so long that I wouldn’t take a gamble. If your photos still aren’t there keep waiting, from what I remember mine took a while to turn up.

In the meantime you can check exactly what you’ve been backing up by going into Settings > iCloud > Storage & Backup > Manage Storage then tapping on your iPhone in the “Backups” section and seeing if “Camera Roll” is set to “On”. If it is, you should probably be ok as that’s your entire library of images (not sure about videos) and it will hopefully eventually be returned for you. If for some reason it’s not on (something you will have had to purposely turn off) then no, your pictures won’t be coming back.

Fingers crossed and good luck!

0 votes

Vic

praises to the ”The Silver Lining” part, after 2 to 3 hours of cursing & messing about, i found this read it and its done. Thank you old boy for this update. \,,/

0 votes

Tim Brookes

Glad it helped you out!

0 votes

Jessica

ahh, finally found some people facing similar issues as mine. I am hoping you, now experienced, iCloud restorers can shed some light on my problemo. With a planned attempt to restore my phone, I intentionally backup my device on iCloud. Performed a delete and restore, selected set up as new because of my fat fingers and not thinking about it. Then, when I realized using the option to restore from iCloud backup could only be found in that menu, I started over. But this time, the only backup available was from 8:42 am! Funny, that was just AFTER I restored. I wasn’t quite sure if I was losing my mind about the exact time, so I selected it and moved forward. After the process, my contacts reappeared and my apps. I noticed my photos were not there, nor was my music, or my other email accounts. Hmmmmn, photos and music didn’t bother me, because I have those on my MacBook Air. But wait, where were my text messages? Years and years of messages and blackmail evidence gone (just kidding). But one particular thread of SMS was particularly important to me (for use in a child custody battle). After a panic attack that my iCloud backup was overwritten, and that it would be overwritten any moment, I googled and learned that I could select “Older Backups” during the delete/restore/restore from iCloud options. So I gave it another whirl. Herein lies the PROBLEM: My older backups don’t seem to exist except for ONE from 15 days ago. And while that may seem ok to some, 15 days of text messages yields extensive info when battling my son’s father. So…. I am at a loss. Where on earth would other backups be? Why would iCloud take a 2 week vacation and not give me any previous options for backup? Or where is the one backup that I specifically watched happened as it spun and spun for hours in the corner of my screen? Any advice truly appreciated….

Best regards,

J.
I will have to fire iCloud if I find out it took an unexcused and unapproved leave of absence in backing up my data for 2 weeks. If it is just that I am misunderstanding something or that I did wrong, iCloud will still have a job with me. lol

0 votes

Tim Brookes

Jessica,

Your question is perplexing, and I’m not sure why iCloud won’t offer you a restore option for the last two weeks. It might even be worth contacting Apple to see what they say, though I’m not entirely sure they will be able to help.

You could always try asking this question on MakeUseOf Answers where it is bound to get a bit more attention. Other than suggesting you try the delete/restore process again, I personally can’t think of what to suggest. As the data is very important to you, it probably is worth your time and effort contacting Apple themselves.

Do you have a backup on your MacBook Air? Is it set to backup via Wi-Fi when within range and plugged in? If so it’s possible you might have had backups locally rather than through iCloud, because Apple only lets you run one or the other concurrently. You won’t backup to iCloud if you’re backing up to iTunes, vice versa.

Let us know what happens, what you’ve tried and whether or not iTunes is the culprit.

Best of luck,
Tim

0 votes

Becky

I did not realise I needed to back up my iPhone before this update :(
so when I downloaded it last night and plugged it into iTunes its saying that message about it will erase all data…

Will I loose all my pictures and video’s? :(

0 votes

Tim Brookes

If you chose to restore, but if you already had iOS 5 install you can update without iTunes by going to Settings > General > Software Update. Remember, you can only pair your iPhone to one iTunes library at a time, else all data will be erased.

iCloud keeps everything backed up otherwise, but again if you plugged your phone in to perform the update on an iTunes library that wasn’t yours then data will be erased yes.

Just as a precaution, it’s always good practice to make sure things are backed up before performing OS updates – just in case something does go wrong!

0 votes

rian

my phone has ios5 then when i noticed that it had already an available update for ios6, i immediately update it by going to Settings > General > Software then Update, then advices me that it will take time and be sure to plug the power. so i leave as is my phone with the power plugged in, because i had to bring my child for regular check-up to her pedia. then after maybe 4 hours, i comeback to check the update of my phone, i had noticed that my phone is dead so i tap the power on button then it appears an icon says that it should plug in to itunes, so i open my loptop and check if my itunes is upto date and then plug my phone to my loptop then it says that your phone is in recovery mode and need to restore to be used. my question is what seem to be the problem in my update, why there is need for restore and update again. can i still get my files back from my ios5.

thanks,
rian

0 votes

rian

my phone has ios5 then when i noticed that it had already an available update for ios6, i immediately update it by going to Settings > General > Software then Update, then advices me that it will take time and be sure to plug the power. so i leave as is my phone with the power plugged in, because i had to bring my child for regular check-up to her pedia. then after maybe 4 hours, i comeback to check the update of my phone, i had noticed that my phone is dead so i tap the power on button then it appears an icon says that it should plug in to itunes, so i open my loptop and check if my itunes is upto date and then plug my phone to my loptop then it says that your phone is in recovery mode and need to restore to be used. my question is what seem to be the problem in my update, why there is need for restore and update again. can i still get my files back from my ios5.

thanks,
rian

0 votes

Divya

I HAD THE SAME ISSUE :( IM DEPRESSED…LOST EVERYTHING…ALL THE PRICELESS MEMORIES…

0 votes

Tim Brookes

Check out the instructions above. If you were using iOS 5 with automatic backups enabled, then your data is still there. Complete iOS 6 update via iTunes, master reset, then restore from iCloud and hope for the best.

Patience is key while waiting for the update to restore. There’s no reason your data isn’t there unless you chose not to backup the Camera Roll or disabled iCloud backup altogether (unlikely).

0 votes

Tim Brookes

If you restore via iTunes it should update you to the latest version of iOS and leave your phone looking brand new, with no apps or photos. Then master reset your phone as per the instructions in this article and choose Restore from iCloud. If you have a fairly recent backup then you should find that your data is still there, in tact. I’m not sure about restoring a backup from iOS 5 on a recently updated iOS 6 device, but logic dictates that it’s just a bunch of files and settings and so the version shouldn’t make a huge difference.

Again, first you will need to restore your phone in its entirety. Only then will you be able to master reset and choose Restore from iCloud. The process will take a while (hours and hours) but if you’re patient and leave it on, doing its thing for a day then I’m fairly confident your data will still be there.

Good luck, let us know.

0 votes

Colin

I bought a new iPhone5 today but am keeping my iPhone4 for business use. So I backed up all the data on my 4, and then plugged in the 5 and asked it to restore from iCloud. Here’s my question – I got a panel on screen with a restore progress bar and then when that was finished (a few minutes) an alert that said my phone would restart when the restore was complete. My phone screen is now black and it has disappeared from the menu bar in iTunes. About two hours have elapsed. What I can’t understand is that other posters here have said they can see a progress bar and/or individual app icons during the restore process. Is the fact that I can’t see anything at all a signal that the restore isn’t working? Even when I press the home button of the 5 the screen remains black. Thanks.

0 votes

Wouter

Well, with the new iOS6, I thought it would be a good idea to do a clean install. (I was running a beta version).
Since iCloud is basically made for this I thought restoring my iPhone would be a joy, boy, was I wrong.

So I backed up my phone right before restoring it, when I thought I was all safe to go, I pressed the restore button, after choosing to restore from iCloud all hell broke loose.
It took about 2 hours to restore my data, once that was finished my apps just kept “waiting”, when I tapped a “waiting” app, it went to “loading”, after a while it just disappeared completely.
Downloading my photos took hours, after 2 hours it only downloaded 60 photos…

I thought it was my internet connection so I tried at home where I get 320MBs down, but still the same, I let my phone restore overnight, only to wake up and see half of my apps missing …

Don’t rely solely on iCloud!

0 votes

David

This is happening to my new iPhone 5 right now! All the apps are downloading and then immediately disappearing, taking my folders and probably app data with them! I have no idea what to do.

0 votes

David

Ok, after all the apps acted like they were downloading and then disappeared, the icons reappeared directly on the springboard across a bunch of pages and are downloading again, and sticking this time. I’m hoping this means that all I have to do is remake my folders..

Fingers crossed.

0 votes

Jordan

You said it took hours for your iphone to restart, I have the same problem either that or it’s just not restarting at all. I didn’t know I had to wait so I went through the same process several times. Then I figured I should be patient so I let it restore again and this time I left it overnight when I came back the next morning it still had not restarted and every time I turn it on manually it restarts the entire process. Any advice?

0 votes

Tim Brookes

Did you try restoring an older backup? My first backup failed, stuck for hours without moving and so I chose an older one and that worked fine. Just a thought…

0 votes

Dan Robinson

Ok I need some serious help… I just upgraded both my Iphone and my dads Iphone to the iOS software today. We both have different services (mine verizon his sprint) but every time I get a text message it sends to both of our phones why is this happening???

0 votes

Tim Brookes

Are you sharing an AppleID by any chance? It could be iMessages that are being directed to both devices, not normal text messages.

If you share an Apple ID in order to share apps (i.e. not having to pay for things twice) then know you can pair up to 5 devices to the same Apple ID, though you will encounter problems like this. Also Find My iPhone will allow your dad to track where you are all the time vice versa. Contacts, Notes, Reminders, Photo Stream… everything will be shared.

0 votes

Andy

Try it with the new iOS 6. Seems that it did everything but app. So the apps is not restored/downloaded from backup although the app data might be. I talked with a couple Apple senior adviser. Seem the app itself restore is gone with Steve. Can’t imagine Steve will allow to do that if he is still alive.

0 votes

leigh

did a reinstall on computer some file put into expansion hard drive installed i tunes back on computer synced and lost all my music,exception of the ones i paid for through the i tunes store.tried icloud for back up and it backs up on 2 days what can i do

0 votes

Steve

What a fantastic thread. So much useful data and helpful advice. I haven’t yet resolved my own issue but I will keep plugging away.

I sent in my good old 3GS (32Gb) for repair recently and have been sent a reconditioned replacement. I hadn’t used iCloud until a couple of days before I actually sent the phone in – I had a bit of trouble setting it up but eventually got a backup to work….yes, just the one. I now seem to have forgotten my Apple ID (it couldn’t find my main email address) and when trying to verify by question I must have originally entered my DoB incorrectly when setting up, as it tells me my birthday is incorrect. It looks like I have now managed to create a new Apple ID in ‘me.com’. At least, that’s what’s now showing on the phone….and no iCloud backup, so it seems all my data will have gone. As a non-IT person all this seems very confusing. Losing the contact database is a pain; losing some carefully crafted and irreplaceable Notes about my father’s war experiences is something else. Any constructive feedback would be most welcome.

0 votes

Tim Brookes

If I were you, I’d call Apple. I say this for a few reasons, but mostly because they keep a good record of most customer’s contact details. I moved over to Australia last year and when I went to one of Melbourne’s Apple shops they had my old phone number, Apple ID email and UK address on file and asked me if I wanted to update it. If you explain the situation (you’ve forgotten which email you used for your Apple ID) and whether you still have access to that email account then you should hopefully be able to get your old iCloud backup back. Provide enough details (name, date of birth, past purchases, some more info) then they might let you know what Apple ID email you have associated with your customer records? It’s a long shot, but worth it.

Unless you can rack your brain and remember the email address you signed up for (the same one you use for iTunes if you’ve ever bought any songs – does that help?) then you won’t have any joy. I’m also not sure how long Apple hold on to backups for (could be months for all I know) so the sooner you can do it the better.

Don’t forget any apps you have ever purchased are also tied to that account, so it would be a good idea to try and recover it.

Good luck!

0 votes

TERRY CHANG

Hi everyone,
I recently factory unlock my iphone 4 and i could not restore my data or anything back into my phone. I did not have an icloud account so i could not use it to back up my data into my phone again. However, when i connected my phone with the itune, i could see all my music, notes, photos…still in the itune but i could be able to sync it into my phone (and i dont have icloud acc) so anyone has any suggestions…pls help…

0 votes

jon jon

So I lost an 32 GB iphone 4 and did not have icloud back up enabled, today I bought an 16 gb iphone 5 just to hold me over and will replace it with a 32 or 64 gb iphone 5 when I can find one and return the 16. My problem was I didnt realize I had filled up my 4 so much. I must have had 25 gb of music on it alone. So when I went to restore from back up it started but then said it could not complete the back up since there wasnt enough freespace on the new iPhone. Then the option to restore from back up just went away and it started to just sync instead. Once I get a 32 gb or larger will I still be able to access my old “backup” is there someplace where these backups live on my computer and do they get written over? Thanks

0 votes

Tim Brookes

I’m sorry I’m not sure when it comes to restoring from local backups, as I haven’t done it myself. I’ve used iCloud a few times, but never successfully restored a local backup (when I updated to iOS 5 I tried to backup and restore but iTunes ended up losing all my data, except the Camera Roll which I extracted first).

I’d recommend asking this question over at MakeUseOf Answers which will probably be a lot more help than me.

0 votes

dorit

my iphone was stolen and i had previously had a problem with my apple id and hadn’t backed up to icloud for over a month. now i sorted out my password and can get into my icloud on my pc, i have 4.1GB of data on it but it won’t let me download my pictures since they’re over 30 days old… any suggestions on how to get them?

0 votes

Shelley

I purchased some music from itunes recently and it didn’t transfer to my iphone which is icloud enabled. The music did, however, transfer to both my children’s ipods! Have I inadvertantly changed a setting somewhere on my iphone? I am technology-impaired!! Help!

0 votes

A.Droopy

So, just received my brand new iPhone 5, activated it and restored my last iCloud backup last night and this morning I was curious to find out if the restore was completed.

The surprise came when I found that none of any passcode ever used was able to unlock my phone.
I am looking at a disabled iphone 5 with a passcode restored from iCloud….but not my passcode…..

0 votes

Tim Brookes

Wow that is a strange one. Never heard anything like it, sure you don’t have multiple devices backing up to the same iCloud account? If I were you I’d try the following:

On your old iPhone, disable the passcode. Make an iCloud backup by doing to Settings > iCloud > Storage & Backup > Your iPhone > Backup Now (plugged in, and on Wi-Fi). Once the new backup is complete (shouldn’t take long, it scans for changes rather than uploading huge amounts of data nightly), stick your new iPhone 5 into your computer or Mac, in iTunes choose Restore, agree to wiping the phone and wait till the procedure completes. Then simply master reset the phone and try restoring your new backup by choosing Restore From iCloud when the phone eventually restarts.

At least this way you will know if iCloud is definitely restoring the right backup, and hopefully you should be able to get in to your new phone, add a passcode and continue. I must stress again that this is a very odd problem to have, I’ve never heard of it happening before.

Failing this, contact Apple – it’s probably something they’d be interested in hearing about. Let us know what works for you!

0 votes

tommvp

Tim, i recently deleted all my text messages, and i try to back them up by going to itunes backup, but i keep getting an error that says that i dont have enough free space to perform the backup, I have 4gb free space, i have an iphone 4s with os6 running on updated itunes, so can u please tell me how to fixes this error?

0 votes

Tim Brookes

Are you sure it’s not iCloud space that you have run out of? If you go to Settings > iCloud > Storage & Backup it should tell you in there how much iCloud space you are using and how much you’ve got left. If you need to adjust iCloud backup space, turn off some items to be backed up under your iPhone in the Storage & Backup menu. That’s your app data, so if you have Garage Band and have made a few songs that will occupy space, as will save files and so on.

For information about getting your text messages back, check out this MakeUseOf Answers question:

http://www.makeuseof.com/answers/recover-deleted-text-messages-iphone-4/

Bear in mind that iOS 6 incompatibilities might mean you can’t get them back.

Good luck, let us know what works!

0 votes

bern

good day Sir, i experience a problem with my iphone- when i try to reset all setting all the icons turns into white except for newstand,but all of the apps are working well. Could you please help me how to fix this thing. I will appreciate it sir….Thank you in advance..

0 votes

Tim Brookes

I’m sorry I don’t quite know what could be wrong, you could always try restoring your iPhone via iTunes which would reset it in its entirety if the software has become corrupted.

You might get better advice if you ask your question over at MakeUseOf Answers :)

0 votes

Joe Ng

My missus’s iphone 3GS was acting up (ringtone okay but no other tones) and I tried installing the new IOS 6 and it was a huge mistake. Everything slowed down and then it started to crash frequently. Worse of all was that it did not fix the problem. Still no other tones other than the ringtone. Tried just about everything from reinstalling from backup to icloud to iexplorer but after three days, still can’t source the problem, let alone fix it. My missus then took the phone to our regular mobile phone retailer and he told her to get a clean install with IOS 5. Charged her RM50 (USD16) and took an hour to do it and everything was back to normal.

People, stop spending precious time trying to fix it and just get it to someone who has the experience to do it. USD16 is not much (here in Malaysia) and waiting one hour to get it done is better than spending 3 days trying to figure out what’s wrong and yet still unable to fix it.

0 votes

Tim Brookes

I’m not so sure, surely all the vendor would have done is restored in iTunes? That’s pretty much all that could be done with an iPhone, it’s not like a PC or even a Mac in that respect. If it worked out ok, then great I’m pleased for you but I personally wouldn’t recommend others pay for the same procedure.

Saying that, she now has iCloud so restoring in future should (fingers crossed) provide much less of a headache!

0 votes

Barbara Bradshaw

Hi, my friend has not got icloud on his phone he was not able to do the update (5 or higher) which has icloud. He needs to factory reset and we have made a backup on itunes but we are concerned only having one backup and it only being itunes. Do you know if we can load icloud onto the pc and make a backup from his iphone 4 with the cable?? Is this possible?

0 votes

Tim Brookes

iCloud is not accessible without iOS 5. The best thing to do, would be to update the iPhone’s software via iTunes after having backed up all the data your friend wants to keep. I would consider using iExplorer (mentioned above) or similar in order to extract the photos and videos, because you can never be too careful with those files.

Once done, make another backup in iTunes (why not) and choose Software Update. The phone will probably be updated straight to iOS 6 and you can then try restoring the backup you made from within iTunes. Once the phone is back the way your friend wants it, sign up for iCloud in order to begin backing up to the cloud instead. Don’t forget the two are somewhat mutually exclusive – your iPhone will favour iCloud, and iTunes backups will either need to be manually made or set up to use iTunes instead of iCloud. Both locations cannot be used at once.

Note the importance of grabbing your vital files, photos etc. Check for Notes you might want to keep, make sure you have a backup of Contacts – because if (and I say if, because from personal experience it has happened to me) the restore fails and you’re stuck with a blank iPhone you will thank yourself afterwards for being so well prepared.

Good luck!

0 votes

Dawn

I am in the midst of my iCloud nightmare. I have an iPhone 4S, but got a new iPhone 4S. I was under the impression that “restore from iCloud” meant that new phone would look and work like and have all the data that my old phone had…that’s what iCloud advertises, right? For the most part, it worked. Except for 6 game apps. These act as though I am starting over. So my levels are gone, my coins are gone, any in-app purchases are also gone. I do not understand how, if I backed up all the info in iCloud, the games don’t start where I left off on my old phone. Can you help me with this? I still have both phones, so I would like to solve this before sending back my old phone. The favorite games include My Horse and Pet Hotel Story (my daughters apps, which she is very upset about losing…) Any help will be very appreciated!

0 votes

Dawn

I am in the midst of my iCloud nightmare. I have an iPhone 4S, but just got a new iPhone 4S. I used iCloud restore to set up the new phone. Most everything transferred beautifully. All my apps are there. BUT 6 game apps have me starting at the beginning, rather than where I left off. For example, my daughters’ favorite games, My Horse and Pet Hotel Story. These behave as if we are starting the game over, despite having been backed up in iCloud on the old phone. I still have both phones and would like to solve this before I have to send back my old phone. Any help with this would be very appreciated!

0 votes

Tim Brookes

Ok well, you should be able to restore in-app purchases no problems from within each app. So things you have paid for should be still there, albeit behind a “Restore Purchases” button somewhere within an app. If it was in-game currency, then I’m not sure why the game wouldn’t have an online login system which you connect to that keeps track of your progress and balance. So, if it’s extra content to play through, re-download it (contact the app developer for instructions, or poke around the settings menu) and if it’s currency then I’m really not sure.

You can define exactly what iCloud backs up under the Settings > iCloud > Storage and Backup > iPhone menu, and if you take a look there now you might find that those 6 apps were not included for backup. If they were, that’s very odd because the data should in fact have downloaded. You can turn on/off apps under this menu, so make sure anything you want to backup is switched on. Again, for games that use login systems it shouldn’t make a huge amount of difference.

If the data isn’t downloading and you’ve selected it for backup I really don’t know what to suggest, as it should have downloaded your save data.

Let us know what you find out, I hope you can at least get your purchases back!

0 votes

Jez

We recently had an employee leave so wiped his iPhone on 5.1. When it restarted it automatically started downloading all his iCloud info. Should this happen? It is a repeatable process with our IT team. This begs the question – what happens if you lose your phone and someone resets it – they can get your iCloud data??

0 votes

Tim Brookes

No that shouldn’t happen. Wiping the phone using iTunes to restore software should leave you with a new phone paired to the PC or Mac you just used to wipe it. Master resetting the phone from the Settings menu should leave you with a brand new phone as if you’ve just walked out of the Apple store. It should ask you whether you want to set it up as a new phone, restore from iTunes or restore from iCloud.

If you choose iCloud it should ask you for login credentials, because the phone would have no idea who the data belongs to and would require an email and password combination. If the phone is paired to an employee email account, i.e. pressofficer@yourcompany.com and you entered that for the Apple ID during setup, then I can see why maybe iCloud might have started to restore some data.

If it was his personal data, on his personal Apple ID, with his personal payment details and email accounts associated with it then someone would have to know the email for the Apple ID he used and the password he chose too.

Strange!

0 votes

Jez

Appeared to happen after wipe command sent from ms exchange. The phone was wiped and started from factory scratch but downloaded from iCloud with no credentials being entered. Like the phone had retained its iCloud id somehow. Another separate phone wiped in the same way then refused to load anything from app store or iCloud and still has an outstanding apple support case ongoing. My personal belief is that iCloud has grown too quickly, has too much data running through it and is riddled with bugs. You just have to google it to see this is the case. They will gradually get ironed out over time.

0 votes

Barbara Bradshaw

Hi Tim, thanks so much for your reply – great suggestions. I have already asked my friend to get iExplorer. Once we have grabbed the data I want to save it in a folder on my desktop but also transfer it to iTunes library. Once we have updated the phone through iTunes would I be able to sync the phone since the data is in the library or would you still recommend backup through iTunes and if data is missing how do I get the saved data from my desktop back onto my phone? Thanks again.

0 votes

Tim Brookes

I would always recommend a backup in iTunes, though I have limited faith in them because of the problems I’ve experienced restoring in the past. You can never have too many backups, and it should only take about 15 minutes to backup essential data.

If you already intend to copy the data you recover through iExplorer over to your iTunes library then I’d assume it would be easy enough just re-syncing the phone afterwards in order to put the data back on. I’ve personally never done so, instead after “starting again” with my phone I like to keep the photos safely on a hard drive and use the available space on the empty phone as an excuse to take lots of pictures.

My main concern here is contacts – do you have a backup of the contacts already? Are they perhaps from Gmail or Outlook? I don’t think there’s a straightforward way to export iPhone contacts from the phone, though if you’ve got the PC that the phone is sync’d to nearby this method should work: http://www.trickyways.com/2010/06/how-to-export-iphone-contacts-as-csv-file-in-windows-7/

If things go wrong, you can’t backup/restore your contacts and so on then all is not lost. Provided you have a recent backup in iTunes there is software that lets you extract data from backups. Something like Wondershare (I don’t think it’s free, but it works) will do the trick: http://www.wondershare.com/disk-utility/extract-contacts-from-itunes-backup.html

I don’t think you’ve got a lot to worry about with all the precautions you’re taking. Make some backups, extract your pictures and see where the contacts are living and where they’re from. If everything fails, pick apart your iTunes backup andr restore the data manually. Then set up iCloud on the new device, and never worry about having to do all of this ever again, right? ;)

Good luck, keep us posted!

Tim

0 votes

Kiwi

I had the same problem, except that when i tried to restore from itunes (did not had icloud at that time), it has put the first save of my iphone, now i lost every new contact, new photos etc… What can I do?

0 votes

Tim Brookes

Do you mean it restored an older backup, not your most recent one?

You could try restoring and choosing the latest backup, if so.

0 votes

Kiwi

Yes, but the fact is that, for a reason i can’t explain, the last sync did not work and i only have one old backup left…

0 votes

Tim Brookes

Well I guess you should try restoring that backup. You could always try extracting the data from the backup, though there’s no real guarantee it’s there.

I mentioned Wondershare before, though it’s not free, it will extract what it can: http://www.wondershare.com/disk-utility/extract-contacts-from-itunes-backup.html

I don’t see why it would be in the backup and not copy across though, so this is just speculation and I’d guess it probably won’t work still :( sorry.

0 votes

ToEasyto

Hi- can anyone help? I tried to back up my iPhone on iCloud but battery ran out with few minutes still left. In shop they said I probably got most of the content ang gave me instruction how to restore from iCloud. When started the set up, the iCloud didn’t list any available set ups. So choose between new and iTunes.
Have I lost all my data?? Old phone is dead- unable to charge so left in the shop.

0 votes

Tim Brookes

Doesn’t sound good. What do you mean when you say you tried to backup your phone via iCloud but the battery ran out? iCloud has been out now for about a year, so surely you have had backups running for months? If the latest backup didn’t complete, it shouldn’t be a problem because you can just restore an older one from last week or something – right? I also don’t understand why you left your iPhone in the shop, did Apple give you some money for it?

There’s a chance you could probably have sold it for some money, because fixing iPhones is somewhat of a hobby for some people and there are a lot of dud units on eBay. I’d recommend calling the shop back asap and asking if you can have your phone back. If anything, you might get $50.

As for your data… do you have any local iTunes backups? Did you only recently setup iCloud? How long did you let it backup for? Backing up several GB of data can take a long time, days on some connections (also depending on how far away from Cupertino, CA you are). If you have a local backup you could try restoring that or using something like WonderShare to extract your data from the backup file.

Let us know what happens!

0 votes

ToEasyto

For some reason, the iCloud backup was originally switched off and I only switched it on in the shop when there was no much battery life left. The download almost finished ( 8 mins left) before the telephone run out of power.
I had an accident and the charging cable melted while in the phone so the phone couldn’t be charged any more. I used iTunes to synch it and got most of the data back, but lost the pics from the last few months – we had a little baby recently.
I say lost, but this incomplete download is taking space on iCloud and at the same time It doesn’t appear in he lists with downloads.

0 votes

Tim Brookes

Ok so if pictures are your main concern then you should try Photo Stream which keeps at least 30 days of photos. If you have a Mac it’s as easy as enabling the setting in System Preferences > iCloud, then starting iPhoto and choosing Photo Stream.

If you’re on Windows then download the iCloud Control Panel from here: http://support.apple.com/kb/DL1455

Then you should find at least some of the photos (last 30 days) will download locally. Obviously it’s not ideal, but it’s a start. The other thing you could do is try restoring from iCloud again. I understand it’s a lot of hassle to master reset your phone again, but as far as I’m aware iCloud uploads incrementally, so there’s no such thing as a “complete backup file”, and you should (again, in my mind – in a perfect world) be able to salvage at least something? Still, Photo Stream might work so give that a shot.

Keep us posted!
Tim

0 votes

chrissy

I just bought the new blue ipod touch and icloud saved all BUT my music that I didnt purchase from itunes >:\ Now I have to manually add all the songs from my itunes library and make my playlists over again >.<

0 votes

Mandy

My iTunes match went wacky when updating my iPhone 4 to i0S 6 so I finally decided to restore. I’ve got the same problem – stuck on about 10% with the apple logo overnight. I’ve tried two different backups to no avail. Bummed that I’m going to have to make backup of backups from now on.

0 votes

Jacob

I came across your article, as I was having all sorts of trouble restoring my iPhone 4 backup to my new iPhone 5 through iCloud.

The end result was that backing the old phone up using the computer option, and restoring from that was definitely the way to go. Personally, I’d back up to the cloud AND to the computer once a week or so, just to cover all bases.

Trying to restore from iCloud was a painful, slow and inaccurate process. Photos were missing, apps corrupted etc. I too am in Australia, with a decent connection, but it still just took forever.

Anyway, in case anyone else comes across this – back up to computer and restore from that, if you’re upgrading your phone!

0 votes

Morgan Murphy

I have to get a new iPod because my current one’s lock button (the top one) is jammed. I have 2,506 photos in my Camera Roll and I honestly do not want to lose them. When my iPod is plugged into my laptop in iTunes I have it set to “Backup to iCloud” I haven’t done anything else with it. Does this mean that when I get my new iPod when I log in with my apple id, it will transfer my pictures, or what will happen? Do I need to do anything with my pictures?

0 votes

Tim Brookes

As long as you have enabled the backup feature then you should be fine. Do you have apps installed? I’m thinking 2,500 photos must take up quite a lot of space. Do you have apps backing up to the cloud too?

If in doubt you could always connect the iPod to your PC/Mac and choose “Backup Now” to make a local backup first!

0 votes

Vivien Goh

I backed up my iphone4s to iCloud before restoring the backup on my new iphone 5. To my horror, my 2500 photos were duplicated and now I have 5000+ photos. The restore took 2 days and it is still duplicating photos for, with a blank space for the duplicate photos next to the actual photo. Anyone else has the same problem, and how did you solve it?

0 votes

Tim Brookes

I have never heard of this… it’s really odd, you should perhaps contact Apple and ask them why it might be happening?

Aside from that, grab a copy of all your photos so they’re safe and start again maybe! That or try restoring an older backup?

Let us know what happens and whether you fix the problem.

0 votes

Oliver

Hey,

I fixed the problem. I got this problem by using the @me.com adress. If I try to restore the iPhone with the new @icloud.com adress the problem doesn’t appear again.

I hope it can help someone in future

Thanks

0 votes

Tim Brookes

Thanks for letting us know, I’m sure it will help someone out!

0 votes

Vivien Goh

Yes it worked! And this time, the restore was easier, I went to bed and when I woke, it was all done. No duplicate photos! So doing the restore using the new iCloud email worked!

0 votes

Olaf Lieser

==> Great Speed-Up since IOS-6 <==

(and Thank You for the article!)

I had my iphone stolen — config from my old iphone-4 was restored to a new iphone-4S within 1 HOUR.

Tim, I've got the impression Apple read your article and fixed the one thing not working: Speed. I believe the introduction of IOS 6 brought about some changes in the icloud universe.

I may have been lucky that the newest backup worked instantly in my case. Otherwise, I followed your steps (reset as described; than backup via icloud; actually never touched itunes) – and it worked just fine.

As we all know, the most personal data is critical in a backup/restore situation — that was restored first – automatically (within 20 minutes, including some 400 photos), while all the apps were still loading.

So, Thank you again. The "peace of mind" thing worked in my case, for sure.

Now the only damage I suffered is the $$ value of my used iphone4.
Still "Ouch", but I will get over it…

0 votes

Eugene

So, my two cents on this topic. When I tried to restore from my last iCloud backup it didn’t work out, it said that the phone is restored but I didn’t see any app or document. The phone was blank.

Next time I tried to use one of previous backups and it worked for me. The resolution is Apple’s got tons of bugs =).