If you performed a factory reset on iPhone which erase all your content or if you bought a new iOS device ans want to copy all content from old iPhone to new iPhone, you may want to restore iPhone from backups on computers. iTunes is the official iPhone management tool. It can help you back up or restore iPhone easily, including the Settings app data, like Email settings, Calendar account, Safari data, SMS, contacts, notes, photos and videos, etc. To do that, simply follow below outlined instructions.
What content can iTunes Backup or restore?
iTunes can back up various settings from the Settings app data, including Mail accounts and Calendar account settings (but not the actual emails or Calendar events), Safari bookmarks and AutoFill data, contacts, SMS and MMS messages, Notes items, voice memos, and photos & videos from the Camera Roll, apps’ data (but not the apps themselves). iTunes will not backup your music, apps, these can be downloaded from App or iTunes store any time you like. Photos synced through iTunes will not be backed up. You can find extra iPhone backup & restore tips at the bottom of this page to see workarounds for those data that can’t be backed up or restored.
How to Manually Backup & Restore iPhone in iTunes?
Step 1. Connect your iPhone to computer
Connect your phone to computer through USB data cable comes with your iPhone. Run iTunes on your PC or Mac if it did not start automatically. iTunes differ in appearance across different versions. You can download the latest version of iTunes from this link.
Step 2. Backup iPhone in iTunes
iTunes can automatically back up your iPhone to computer when connected. However if you have disabled iTunes auto backup or sync. Navigate to the iPhone device >> Settings >> Summary page, then scroll down to the Backup section, you will see a screen like this:
Under the Manually Back up and Restore section, click Back Up Now button to back up your iPhone data to computer through iTunes.
iPhone iTunes Backup Tips:
iTunes will automatically create backups and save them in the system drive in Windows, sometimes when you need more space in the system partition, you may follow this quick tips to change iTunes backup directory to another drive and folder on PC. In this way, you can keep more space for free for Windows system files and high performance of the Windows system.
Step 3. Restore iPhone from Backups in iTunes
Right under the Manually Back up and Restore section, you can also find a Restore Backup …. option. Click on it you can then get a pop-up dialogue as below.
Now you have the chance to choose a backup to restore. This will restore only the contacts, calendars, notes, text messages, and settings, not the iPhone firmware. If you have synced multiple iOS devices to the same computer, you can switch among the different backups in a drop-down menu. You can click to expand the list and select the backup for the iPhone you like to restore from. Its last backed up time will be displayed beneath.
You will get a prompt in iTunes saying ‘Restoring iPhone from backup….‘. On iPhone screen, you will see the ‘Restore in Progress‘. When the restore has completed, your iPhone will restart. Do not touch the USB data cord or unplug the phone from USB when the phone is restarting.
Can we preview data in iTunes backup before restore?
You can’t view iPhone iTunes backup files in iTunes. If you like to view files, such as photos, contacts, messages, in iTunes backup file, you can refer to this guide to view iPhone iTunes backed up data on computer. In this way, you can make sure iTunes backup has the lost files you want before you restore iPhone.
Find My iPhone must be turned off before your iPhone can be restored through iTunes. You can disable Find My iPhone from Settings > iCloud Settings.
Easier iOS backup & restore solutions
iTunes backup will be complete backup of all compatible file types and data. You do not have the choice to choose only the files you want in the backup file. So does the iTunes restore. iTunes will restore all content from its backup file to your iOS device connected, you do not have the option to selectively choose to restore part of the backup content to iPhone, iPad or iPod touch. If you only want to back up, transfer certain files or file types from iPhone to computer and transfer them back from computer to iPhone or to another iOS device, you can refer to this iPhone to computer backup guide.
Update: this article was originally published in 2014 and has since been updated. The new iPhone to computer data backup solution has been added in a recent update in Sep 2017.
Sometimes however you have already made backups of your iPhone through iTunes or iCloud, if it is the case, will you still be able to restore any selected data from iTunes backup or iCloud backup to iPhone iPad or iPod? Fortunately you can still achieve that with the assistance of certain data extraction and recovery tools. Please check out this tutorial to download any data from iCloud to iPhone, and these instructions to export any data from iTunes backup file.
iPhone Backup & Restore Troubleshooting
Many iPhone users have already realized that both iTunes and iCloud have their own advantages and disadvantages in iPhone backup and restore. For example they are lack of the option to partially backup or restore you data. They will overwrite existing content on iPhone during the restore. You won’t be able to install a backup that uses a later version of iOS than the device you’re trying to install it on. If you upgraded your phone to a higher iOS version, such as from iOS 6 to iOS 7, iOS 7 to iOS 8, you can restore a backup from a older iOS version. However iOS does not support restoring a backup from a newer version of iOS to a device using an older version of iOS. You may encounter other problem as well, such as iTunes backup file corrupted, can’t be found, can’t be restored, or you have deleted iTunes back up files on computer, your iPhone has not even been backed up using iTunes, the latest data on iPhone has been deleted before backup, your iTunes backup was encrypted and you lost its password.
If you have any of these troubles, you can try iPhone data recovery. This tool can recover photos & videos, Safari Bookmarks, call history, contacts, SMS messages, reminders, notes, WhatsApp chat history, Facebook Messenger messages, etc. These solutions can help you recover your iPhone data with or without backups. They are great alternative to iTunes backup and iCloud backup.