How to save and back up your Health data on Apple Watch

When you move to a new Apple Watch or new iPhone, one thing you need to keep an eye on is your health data. Because it's a very private set of information, it's available as an optional set of data to sync to iCloud in iOS 11, as well as via encrypted iCloud and iTunes backups. If you want to move to a new device, however, you'll need to decide how to bring that information over.

Option 1: Back up your health data with an encrypted iCloud or iTunes backup

While the Apple Watch doesn't make a backup in the "true" sense of the word, it does sync Health data to your iPhone's health repository, along with saving watch faces and the like as a package inside of your iPhone backup. To recover your health data, you'll need to make a backup of your Health repository — and that means making an iPhone backup.

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You create encrypted iCloud backups whenever you back up to iCloud with your iPhone, but encrypted iTunes backups are a bit of a different beast. Here's how to do them.

  1. Connect your iPhone or iPad to your computer via USB.
  2. Open iTunes
  3. Click on the device icon in the tab bar.

    Open iTunes, click device icon

  4. Click Summary if you're not already in that section.
  5. Click the checkbox next to Encrypt iPhone/iPad backup. This will allow your Health data to be backed up.

    Click Summary, click encryption checkbox

  6. Back Up Now under Manually Back Up and Restore.

    Click Back Up Now

Option 2: Sync with iCloud

As of iOS 11, Apple offers encrypted syncing of your Health data to iCloud, just as it stores your notes, keychain, and other information. Before you decide to go down this route, however, you'll need to make sure both your iPhone and your Apple Watch are updated to iOS 11.

How to sync your Health data with iCloud

Once enabled, iCloud will sync your health data; if you decide to set up a new iPhone before setting up a new Apple Watch, you should be able to sync that over to your Apple Watch with no problem.

Option 3: Use the iOS local data migration tool

Starting with iOS 12.4, Apple introduced a new way to securely transfer data directly between devices over Wi-Fi or through a direct, wired connection using a Lightning-to-USB adapter. This method is available to you when you use Apple's quick transfer method when setting up a new iPhone.

How to use iPhone-to-iPhone migration

Option 4: Use Health Data Importer to move health data to a new iPhone

If you want, you can export your data directly from the Health app via the Health Data Importer app. You can get Health Data Importer on the App Store for $3.99; it's a great app if you need it, though the other two methods listed above are more reliable (especially if you have a large array of Health data).

  1. Open the Health app on your current iPhone.
  2. Tap on the Health Data tab.
  3. Tap on the User icon in the upper-right corner.

    Open Health, tap on Health Data, tap user icon

  4. Tap Export Health Data.
  5. Tap Export. This might take a few minutes.
  6. Save the final export to the Files app.

    Tap Export Health Data, tap Export, save to Files

  7. Set up your new iPhone to your liking.
  8. Open the Health app.
  9. Set up your basic information.
  10. Download Health Data Importer from the App Store.
  11. Open Health Data Importer.
  12. Tap Import.

    Download HDI, open the app, tap Import

  13. Select from your chosen location in the Files app.
  14. Select the individual sources you wish to import to your new iPhone, or Select All to move the whole Health backup to your new device.
  15. Tap Next.

    Select export file, choose sources, tap Next

  16. Tap Turn All Categories On on the Health Access prompt to allow the app to write to your Health repository.
  17. Tap Allow.
  18. Open the Files app app once Health Data Importer has finished its import.

    Tap Turn All Categories On, tap allow, open Files

  19. Tap Select in the upper right corner.
  20. Find and select the Health file.
  21. Tap the delete button in the lower right corner.

    Tap Select, select export file, tap Delete button

What now?

Once you've set up a plan for restoring your health data on a new iPhone or Apple Watch, you can start the upgrade process. Be sure to follow our guides to restoring your Apple Watch or iPhone from backup, as well as how to sync your Health data.


Have any questions about moving your health data to a new iPhone or Apple Watch? Let us know down in the comments.

Update January 2019: Updated for iOS 12 and macOS Mojave. Serenity Caldwell contributed to an earlier version of this article.

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