When you move to a new iPhone you don't want to spend ages setting everything up from scratch to get the same apps, data and settings as on your previous model. That's why restoring from a backup is so convenient: one quick tap and you're good to go.
The same is true if a phone malfunctions badly, or is bricked, lost or stolen. Knowing you can recover your photos, documents and data easily from an iCloud or iTunes backup is very reassuring.
Yes, backups are an essential part of the modern digital life, which is why we put together our How to back up an iPhone or iPad guide. But knowing how to restore an iPhone or iPad from that backup is just as important. Read on for our complete guide.
Restore from an iCloud backup
There are two methods Apple provides for creating backups of your iPhone: iCloud or iTunes. We'll start with iCloud.
If you've already created an iCloud backup then the process of restoring it is quite simple. Be aware, though, that when you restore a backup it will delete all the existing data on your iPhone. So be sure that your backup is as up to date as possible.
Power up your iPhone. Once you're past the Hello screen and the first few steps you will reach a page entitled Apps & Data.
The first option is Restore from iCloud Backup. Select this and you'll be asked to log in with your Apple ID.
Doing so presents you with a list of your iCloud backups. Check the date to see which is the most recent and tap that one. The iPhone will now automatically restore the chosen iCloud backup.
The device will need to be connected to Wi-Fi throughout the process, and it can take a while depending on how much data needs to be restored. It's also likely that you will be asked to log in again so that any purchased items from the App store or iTunes can be downloaded.
When the core elements of the backup are finished you'll be able to use the handset again.
You might notice that apps and other data will continue to download and install in the background. This is perfectly normal, so just let the iPhone sort itself out while you get on with using the device once more.
Restore from an iTunes backup
iTunes might not be the essential part of the iPhone experience that it once was (hence our advice on the best iTunes alternatives) but it's still a great way to create or restore a local backup.
To get your iPhone up to speed you'll first need to plug it into a Mac or PC running iTunes. If you've not connected the device to this particular computer before, you'll see the 'Welcome to Your New iPhone' page.
Click continue and then agree to sync your iPhone to iTunes. With this completed, you will be taken to the device summary page in iTunes, which includes various options for backing up and restoring your device.
In the Backups section you'll see a button marked Restore Backup. Click this.
If Find My iPhone is switched on then you'll see a message telling you that it needs to be turned off before you can proceed. To do this, open Settings on your iPhone and tap your name/face at the top of the screen, then tap iCloud. Scroll down until you see Find My iPhone, tap it, move the toggle switch to off, enter your password to confirm, then return to iTunes on your Mac or PC.
After clicking Restore Backup a popup should appear with the current iterations available. Select the one you want then click the Restore button.
Now your iPhone will run through its automated restoration process. iTunes will let you know when the update is complete, then you can disconnect the iPhone and go about your business with your data safely onboard.