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How to reset and restore your iPhone from an iCloud backup

It’s easy to restore your iPhone, if you have a backup.

Crystal Cox/

  • You can restore your iPhone’s iCloud backup using the Settings app or a computer.
  • To reset an iPhone, you have to erase all its data and settings in the Settings app.
  • When setting up the iPhone again, choose “Restore from iCloud Backup” and follow instructions to restore it.

Even if you’ve been using your iPhone for a while without issues, problems can still suddenly arise. And you can remedy most of them by restarting your iPhone.

But on rare occasions, your problem will run so deep that no amount of restarting fixes it. In that case, you might want to perform a factory reset.

Note: This is the “nuclear option” — a factory reset will wipe all of the apps and data from your iPhone, and return it to the state it was in when you first took it out of the box after purchase.

But since a freshly erased iPhone isn’t particularly useful, you probably want to restore all your apps and data from a recent backup. Here’s how to backup and restore your iPhone. 

Why you should backup your iPhone

Creating an iCloud backup of your iPhone stores data such as settings, photos, videos, messages, and app data, onto iCloud. 

You can use the backup to restore your iPhone in the following scenarios:

  • It’s new. You’re switching iPhones, and you need your old data to be on the new phone.
  • It’s lost or stolen. Your iPhone is lost or stolen and you need the backup to set up a new phone.
  • It’s having technical issues. Your iPhone is acting finicky and you need to reset it to factory settings and then restore it.

How to backup your iPhone on iCloud

Using iCloud on your iPhone is the easiest way to create a backup.

1. Open the Settings app.

2. Tap your Apple ID at the top of the screen. 

3. Tap iCloud.

The Apple ID page on iPhone, with the “iCloud” option highlighted.Tap “iCloud.”

Stefan Ionescu

4. Tap iCloud Backup.

The iCloud screen of the Apple ID settings in the Settings app on iPhone, with the “iCloud Backup” option highlighted.Tap “iCloud Backup.”

Stefan Ionescu

5. Make sure the toggle for iCloud Backup is turned on (it will be green). If it isn’t, tap it to turn it on.

The “iCloud Backup” screen of the Settings app on iPhone, with the toggle for “iCloud Backups” highlighted.Turn on “iCloud Backups” by tapping on the toggle.

Stefan Ionescu

Quick tip: As long as the toggle for iCloud Backup is turned on, your iPhone will automatically create backups if it’s locked and connected to Wi-Fi and power.

6. See when the last successful backup was recorded; if it’s in the last few hours, that might be good enough. If the backup isn’t fresh and you’re connected to a Wi-Fi network, tap Back Up Now and wait for the backup to complete.

How to backup your iPhone on a computer

To back up your iPhone to iCloud on a Mac using macOS Mojave 10.14 or earlier or a PC, you’re going to need iTunes.

1. Connect your iPhone to the computer and open ITunes.

2. Tap the iPhone icon in the top left corner.

The iTunes desktop app, with the iPhone icon highlighted in the top left corner.Select the iPhone icon in the top left corner.

Stefan Ionescu

3. In the Backups section, click Back Up Now to back up your most important data to iCloud. You’ll have to wait a bit for iTunes to finish creating the iCloud backup.

The Summary screen of an iPhone on the iTunes desktop app, with the “Back Up Now” button highlighted.Click “Back Up Now.”

Stefan Ionescu

Quick tip: You can also perform a full backup of your phone as well and save it on your computer. In the Backups section, make sure the This Computer radial button is ticked instead of iCloud.

The Summary screen of an iPhone on the iTunes desktop app, with the “This Computer” radial button highlighted.Tick the radial button for “This Computer.”

Stefan Ionescu

If you’re using a Mac with macOS Catalina 10.15 or later, you won’t find iTunes installed on it, as it’s now called Music. However, you can use Finder to create an iCloud backup of your iPhone.

1. Open Finder on your Mac.

2. Under Locations in the left side menu, click on your iPhone.

The Finder window on Mac, with the connected iPhone highlighted in the Locations section in the left side menu.Click on your iPhone in Finder.

Stefan Ionescu

3. In the Backups section of the General tab, click Back Up Now.

The “General” tab in Finder. The “Back Up Now” button has been highlighted.Click “Back Up Now.”

Stefan Ionescu

Quick tip: You can also create a full backup of the iPhone on that Mac. In the Backups section, tick the Back up all of the data on your iPhone to this Mac radial button and then click Apply in the bottom left corner.

The “General” tab in Finder on Mac. The “Back up all of the data on your iPhone to this Mac” button has been highlighted.You can also choose to create a local backup of your iPhone in Finder as well.

Stefan Ionescu

How to restore your iPhone to factory settings

1. Open the Settings app.

2. Tap General.

3. Tap Transfer or Reset iPhone near the bottom.

The “General” screen of the Settings app on iPhone, with the “Transfer or Reset iPhone” option highlighted.Tap “Transfer or Reset iPhone.”

Stefan Ionescu

4. Tap Erase all Content and Settings. You may need to enter your passcode to continue.

The “Transfer or Reset iPhone” screen in the Settings app on iPhone, with the “Erase All Content and Settings” option highlighted.Tap “Erase All Content and Settings.”

Stefan Ionescu

5. Tap Continue.

6. Your iPhone will take a few minutes to reset to factory settings.

How to restore your iPhone from an iCloud backup

After completely resetting your iPhone, you’ll be greeted with the iPhone’s initial welcome screen. Now it’s time to restore it.

1. You’ll be asked to set up your language, Wi-Fi network, and passcode. 

Note: Make sure your iPhone is connected to Wi-Fi throughout this entire process.

2. On the Apps & Data screen, tap Restore from iCloud Backup.

3. Your iPhone will ask you to sign in to iCloud. Use your Apple ID email and password to sign in.

4. Enter the passcode that Apple sends to one of your other iOS devices. You can also have the passcode texted to you instead.

5. Tap Agree to agree the Terms and Conditions.

6. On the Choose Backup screen, you’ll see a list of recent backups. Tap the backup you want to install.

7. After reviewing the data contained in the backup, tap Continue and wait for the restoration process to finish.

8. Follow the instructions on the next few screens to finish setting up your iPhone.

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