Choosing whether to restore iTunes or iCloud backup
Ask iLounge offers readers the opportunity to get answers to their iPod-, iPhone-, iPad-, iTunes-, or Apple TV-related questions from a member of the iLounge editorial team. We'll answer several questions here each week, and of course, you can always get help with more immediate concerns from the iLounge Discussion Forums. Submit your questions for consideration using our Ask iLounge Submit Form. We reserve the right to edit questions for grammar, spelling, and length.
Q: I need to restore accidentally deleted notes. My most recent iCloud backup was a month ago, however, my most recent backup on my Mac is a year ago. I need the iCloud backup restored. When I go to restore via iTunes, it doesn’t specify whether to restore from the Mac backup or iCloud. How can I make sure it’s the iCloud?
A: Although iTunes will provide you information on the date and time of your last backups to both iTunes and iCloud, it actually doesn’t otherwise have anything to do with your iCloud backups—these are handled directly by iOS on your device via a Wi-Fi connection, rather than through iTunes.
So in other words, restoring a backup from iTunes on your Mac will only restore the backup that was made by iTunes on your Mac, since iTunes doesn’t handle iCloud backups.
Unfortunately, to restore your iCloud backup, you will need to erase your device, as the only way to access an iCloud backup is through the iOS setup assistant. You can do this by going into the Settings app, and choosing the “Erase all Content and Settings” option found under General, Reset.
Note that restoring the iCloud backup would overwrite everything on your device anyway, since iCloud and iOS don’t provide any partial restore functionality. Further, unlike with iTunes backups, there are no third-party tools readily available that can allow you to access your iCloud backup directly—you must restore it to an iOS device first.
That said, if you have access to another iOS device that you can more easily erase, you may prefer to restore your iCloud backup onto that device and then extract the data from there. Note that this works even if the other device is a different model or class of device—from an iPhone to an iPad or iPod touch, for example, as long as it is running the same version of iOS that the original iCloud backup was made with.
If you need to use your only iOS device, then your best option is to make a backup directly to iTunes by connecting your device to your computer and clicking the “Back Up Now” button. You can then erase your device and restore it from iCloud, recover the missing data, and then restore your more current backup from your computer using iTunes.
For more information, see our articles on Restoring from a previous iCloud backup, Retrieving data from an old iCloud backup, and Transferring Content to a new iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch.
- Will removing a credit card from Safari also remove it from Apple Pay?
- Can I mute Handoff calls coming into my Mac from my iPhone?
- How do I keep my iPhone calls from ringing on my Mac?
- Why doesn’t Traffic show up on my Today Notifications Screen?
- Why doesn’t my iPhone reconnect to Wi-Fi after I turn it on?
- Why can’t I see the iPad-style landscape view on my iPhone 6 Plus?
- Apple releases PowerBeats3 Wireless earphones
- Apple Pay launch in Japan encounters major problems
- Apple releases iOS 10.1, tvOS 10.0.1, watchOS 3.1
- New details about Apple Watch Nike+ exclusives, availability
- Apple’s website hints at possible Apple Pay launch in Germany
- ConnectSense Smart Outlet adds power monitoring, reduces price
- Automatic releases new Automatic Lite version of car monitoring accessory
- Apple releases fourth tvOS 10.0.1 beta
- iOS dev finds unimplemented one-handed keyboard in iOS code
- Apple sends out press invites for ‘Hello Again’ Oct. 27 Mac event
- Bowers & Wilkins P3 Series 2 Headphones
- Incase Icon, Pop, and Textured Snap for iPhone 7/7 Plus
- Philips Hue Motion Sensor
- Bowers & Wilkins P9 Signature Headphones
- Tech Armor FlexProtect and Shock Flex for iPhone 7/7 Plus
- SwitchEasy Flash and Fleur for iPhone 7/7 Plus
- Blue Microphones Raspberry Mobile Microphone
- Incipio Haven for iPhone 7 and Reprieve Sport for iPhone 7 Plus
- Mophie Hold Force Magnetic Case System for iPhone 7
- Speck Presidio and Tech21 Evo Tactical for iPhone 7
- Instant Expert: Secrets & Features of watchOS 3
- Instant Expert: Secrets & Features of tvOS 10
- Instant Expert: Secrets & Features of iOS 10
- Inside the betas: iOS 10 Photos gets Advanced Computer Vision
- Inside the betas: iOS 10 Music app delivers ‘clarity and simplicity’
- Inside the betas: iOS 10 Maps gets a major redesign
- Inside the betas: iOS 10 shakes up the user experience
- Inside the betas: watchOS 3 promises a real speed boost
- Inside the betas: A sneak peek at what’s new in tvOS 10
- Filling the Gap: A look at third-party HomeKit apps