How to save and back up your Health data on Apple WatchSource: Joseph Keller/iMore

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 and later, 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 Mac 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 creating encrypted backups with your Mac is a bit of a different beast. Here's how to do it.

How to back up your iPhone or iPad manually in macOS Catalina

In macOS Catalina, backing up to iTunes is no longer an option, as that app's functions have now been split into the Music, Podcasts, and TV apps. The device backup feature, meanwhile, now resides in Finder on Mac. Here's what you need to do to back up there.

  1. Connect your device to your Mac.
  2. Click the Finder icon in the dock.
  3. Click on your device under Locations in the Finder sidebar.

    Click Finder, click deviceSource: iMore

  4. Click the checkbox next to Encrypt Local Backups if it's not already checked.
  5. Click Back Up Now to manually initiate a backup.

    Click checkbox, click Back Up NowSource: iMore/ Rene Ritchie

How to create an encrypted backup in iTunes on macOS Mojave and earlier

  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 iconSource: iMore

  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 checkboxSource: iMore

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

    Click Back Up NowSource: iMore

Option 2: Sync with iCloud

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 want to make sure both your iPhone and your Apple Watch are updated to at the latest versions of iOS and watchOS, respectively.

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

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.

Updated March 2020: Updated for iOS 13 and macOS Catalina. Serenity Caldwell contributed to an earlier version of this article.

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