How to restore your iPhone or iPad from an iCloud backup

How to restore from an iCloud backup

If you're upgrading, replacing, or restoring your iPhone, iPod touch, or iPad, using iCloud can get you back up and running in no time. Unlike restoring from iTunes, you don't need to plug right into the specific Mac or Windows PC that holds your iTunes library. All you need is a Wi-Fi connection and some time. We've even done it right at the Apple store, right after swapping out our iPhones and iPads. It's simple once you know how.

How to set up your new iPhone, iPod touch, or iPad with iCloud

When you turn on your new iPhone, iPod touch, or iPad, you'll be greeted with a Lock screen that simply says "iPhone", "iPod" or "iPad". That's where we start.

  1. Swipe to unlock to start setting up your iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad. iPad swipe to setup
  2. Choose your language. Your iPhone, iPod touch, or iPad will show you the most common languages for the area in which you bought it, but you can tap the downward arrow icon to see all the choices. Tap the blue Arrow button to continue.iPad setup language
  3. Choose you country or region. Again, your iPhone, iPod touch, or iPad will show you the region where you bought it, but you can tap Show more... for additional options. Tap the blue Next button to continue.iPad setup country or region
  4. Choose whether you want to globally enable or disable location services. Location Services use GPS (on an iPhone or iPad 3G/4G), cell-tower triangulation, and Wi-Fi router mapping to determine the approximate location of your iPhone, iPod touch, or iPad . This feature is used for turn-by-turn navigation (like Navigon, check-in games (like FourSquare), social networks (like Facebook), geo-tagging (like in the Camera app), and utilities (like Find my iPad), etc. Unless you have a particular need to globally disable it, you'll want to turn on the Location Services feature at this point. You can change your mind or selectively disable or enable these services later on in the Settings app (e.g., turn off your Camera app’s geo-tagging, but leave on TomTom’s turn-by-turn navigation). Tap the blue Next button to continue. iPad setup location
  5. Choose your Wi-Fi network. Even if you're on 3G or LTE, your iPhone or iPad wants Wi-Fi because there may be a lot of data to move around and blasting through your data cap on setup is no fun. Enter your network password and tap the blue Next button to continue.iPad setup wi-fi network
  6. Wait for Apple to activate your iPhone, iPod touch, or iPad . This could take a few minutes.

How to restore your iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad from an iCloud backup

If you have an old iPhone, iPod touch, or iPad and need access to your old data quickly, or dread the idea of starting from scratch again, you have the option of simply restoring your new iPhone, iPod touch, or iPad from a backup of your old device.

  1. Choose restore from iCloud backup.Restore from iCloud backup iPad
  2. Enter your Apple ID to login. (Enter your full email address as the username.) Tap the blue Next button to continue. (If you change your mind, you can logout of iCloud, or login under a different account later.)Setup iPad login Apple ID
  3. Agree to the terms and conditions of service by tapping the blue Agree button on the bottom left.Setup iPad agree to terms and conditions
  4. Confirm your agreement by tapping the Agree button.Setup iPad agree to terms and conditions (again)
  5. Choose your backup. You'll see your Latest iPhone/iPod/iPad Backup listed. This is usually the one you want to choose. You'll can also see older backups, and backups of your other iOS devices on the same iCloud account.Choose your iCloud backup

A progress bar will show you an approximation of how long it will take to download your backup. Once it's done, your iPhone, iPod touch, or iPad will reboot.

Once your iPhone, iPod touch, or iPad reboots, all your previous settings will be back in place, and you'll be asked to re-enter all your passwords (as a security measure, iCloud will not restore passwords).

Once that's done, your iPhone, iPod touch, or iPad will start re-downloading all your apps. You will need to stay on Wi-Fi for any file larger than 50MB to re-download.

How to get more help with iCloud

If you still need help with setting up, backing up, restoring, or updating your iPhone, iPod touch, or iPad, or any other iCloud feature, head on over to our iCloud Forum and ask away!

Have something to say about this story? Leave a comment! Need help with something else? Ask in our forums!

Allyson Kazmucha

Senior editor for iMore. I can take apart an iPhone in less than 6 minutes. I also like coffee and Harry Potter more than anyone really should.

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Reader comments

How to restore your iPhone or iPad from an iCloud backup


How long dose a backup stay in the cloud? I want to sell my iPhone 4 now and buy a new iPhone in October, so I want to know if i will find the backup then.

The back up will stay in iCloud for a long time. I don't know exactly how long, but I returned to a 3GS back up after about seven or eight months.

Well, with all this news on iCloud hacking, donno what to say I won't go anymore with iCloud, I would use iTunes or I would use iTunes as well, it's safer to keep track of your data and if something happens you have anytime 3rd party software to access the encoded backup data (I personally found iPhone Backup Extractor at with which I'm happy but there are also others).

It's more a bit disappointing how the title of the piece is restoring an iPad from iCloud but the video is the exact *opposite* of that.

I feel like I was tricked into wasting a few minutes of my time watching the video, (which most people will probably watch first as I did), only to find out at the end that the video explicitly advises you *against* doing what the article is about, and that you then have to read the article and forget the video.

I just had to do this for my wife. Here's the whole story. She had her iPhone 4 stolen the other day, and like the rest of use, all pics of our kids where on there. I failed to enable all the free security measure's apple offers (find my Phone, remote wipe capabilities...), either way, when it was stolen it was immediately turned off by the ahole so I'M not even sure tracking would have help. Any way, long story short, I gave her my iPhone 4s, logged as on her and her iCloud backup, which was taken just the day before loaded and the majority if her picks where back. Now I hope my current iCloud backup will remain available until October, when we are due for a Verizon Upgrade.

I was anti-Apple until I got my own iPhone 4s in November, but due to this incident, I am even more pro-Apple... (for now)

Question about it redownloading apps. If we've setup our pages how we want them with certain apps on certain pages and grouped together with certain apps, will it restore all of this as well when it redownloads the apps? Or will it annoyingly just download all of them to one page in a random order?

GREAT QUESTION! About three weeks ago I did my first iCloud Restore on my iPhone 3GS just because I was having a lot of issues and figured it would clean house. It worked BEAUTIFULLY! Phone has been running better and everything. ALL settings, brightness settings, all notification settings, app settings all restored. Here is the weird part...all my folders AND apps all restored!! I was so happy and surprised! Now...yesterday (because for some reason my phone has been disconnecting from data like every hour for no reason and kept required a reset) I decided to try again to see if it would help. NOPE! Nothing saved this time!! Well, all the settings did, of course, but the app and folder placement all defaulted to some terrible random order. This is so ANNOYING!! Oh well, too bad, guess I gotta go find a new way to organize my homescreen because there is no way I will remember that. I know, 1st World Problem, but still!

I have a question: When I plug iPhone 4, v. 5.1.1 into an outlet, I get the "Connect to iTunes" screen, but when I plug it into iTunes, the Apple logo keeps flashing and re-appearing, interval of about 30 seconds. Furthermore, while plugged into the outlet, if I leave the "Connect to iTunes" screen open for about a minute, it restarts. I think the problem is the battery: am I correct?

Having the same problem. iCloud login has an old apple id and can't change it. Also can't use the password for the old id. As a result I can't use iCloud or reset the phone, because of find my iphone using the same id. Hoping this will be resolved soon.

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