Thanks to a third-party app, you can now transfer most of your iPhone's health data to a new device — even if you don't have an encrypted backup.
As Apple has focused more on health-tracking in iOS, we've gotten questions from numerous readers on how to safely move their health data from one device to the other. For most users, our advice has been to create and restore from an encrypted iCloud or iTunes backup: This captures all your health data and safely moves it over to the new device.
But that's not always an option for users who don't want to (or can't) restore from a backup. Luckily, there's now a solution for restoring the majority of your health data in the form of a third-party iPhone app. As discovered by Federico Viticci of MacStories, a $2.99 utility called Health Importer uses Apple's XML export format to help you move your Health data from your old iPhone to a new device. Here's how to do it.
What Health Importer can and can't transfer
While Apple lets you export most data from the Health app, it's missing a few key metrics: Specifically, you won't get records of your minutes of exercise, nor will you be able to transfer your stand (or roll) data. The company doesn't currently let third-party apps write to those categories, so Health Importer can't properly move the data.
Here's what data Health Importer can officially move over:
- Active Energy
- Cycling Distance
- Flights Climbed
- Heart Rate
- Mindful Minutes (Breathe)
- Oxygen Saturation
- Resting Energy
- Sleep Analysis
- Swim Distance
- Walking and Running Distance
In addition, when you use Health Importer, the data points will show up officially as being from that app, rather than the various original apps or devices that recorded that data; tap on an individual bit of information, however, and you'll still see the original creation date and source.
CAUTION: If you have more than a million points of data, Health Importer may error out while trying to restore the archive. I ended up with a partial restore of my information (which had a backup of 1.6 million points of data) when I tried to restore the whole backup, but was subsequently able to use the importer successfully when importing a single source at a time.
If you need access to your full Health record or you have many points of data, we still recommend restoring from an encrypted backup. But if you can go without this information, Health Importer may be the way to go.
How to use Health Importer to move your health data to a new iPhone
Before you start, we highly recommend connecting your new iPhone to a power source.
- Open the Health app on your current iPhone.
Tap on the Health Data tab, then tap on the User icon in the upper right corner.
- Tap Export Health Data. This may take a few minutes depending on the size of your archive.
When finished, save the final export to iCloud Drive.
Set up your new iPhone to your liking.
Note: Once you finish setting up your iPhone, we highly suggest you set your Auto-Lock time to Never under Settings > Display & Brightness for the duration of your data transfer; if your phone locks, it may interrupt the transfer process.
- Open the Health app and set up your basic information.
- Download Health Importer from the App Store.
- Open Health Importer.
Tap on Import.
Select export.zip in iCloud Drive. Health Importer will then prepare the file for decompression.
Note: If your device accidentally turns off during this process, Health Importer may get stuck on a never-ending Preparing screen. To fix this, Delete Health Importer from your Home screen, then redownload it from the App Store and start over from step 7.
- When finished, it'll present you with all your data points, as organized by source. Select the sources you wish to import to your new iPhone (or Select All to move the whole Health backup to your new device).
- The Health Access prompt will appear. Tap Turn All Categories On to allow the app to write to your Health repository, then press Allow.
Health Importer will then attempt to import your data. If you have a big backup, this may take some time.
- Once Health Importer is finished, open the iCloud Drive app.
- Tap Select in the upper right corner.
Find the archive.zip Health file and select it.
- Tap the Delete button in the lower right corner.
Confirm Delete from iCloud Drive.
Note: You don't have to delete your old backup, but we highly encourage it so that your past Health data can't be compromised if an attacker gains access to your iCloud account.
How to use Health Importer to rescue data from a failed Apple Watch backup
Because Health Importer lets you granularly choose what data to restore from your iPhone's Health backup, you can restore just your Apple Watch health data and heart readings if you move to a new iPhone and don't follow the unpair/repair backup steps to the letter.
As we mentioned above, this won't restore your Stand or Exercise hours, but you'll retain your heart rate data, calories burned, and other key data.
Other questions about Health Importer? Let us know in the comments.