Data transferred via iOS device backups

Q: I am wondering if when you have an iPhone 4 and switch to an iPhone 5 when syncing the two phones does the advanced web data from the iPhone 4 automatically transfer to the iPhone 5? Or once you have the iPhone 5 and start using it does it creates all new data? Thank you so much!

– Shelley

Data transferred via iOS device backups

A: While it’s unclear on what you specifically mean by “advanced web data” the short answer is that as long as you restore your new iPhone 5 from an iTunes or iCloud backup of your old iPhone when first setting it up, all of the settings and configuration information from your old iPhone should be transferred to the new iPhone, providing you with an essentially identical configuration to the old device.

One very important point to keep in mind is that some of your passwords, such as those for your e-mail accounts and Wi-Fi networks, are stored in such a way that they will only be transferred a new device if you are using an encrypted backup in iTunes. These can be restored back onto the same device whether the backup is encrypted or not, but when transferring to a new device you will need to make an encrypted backup by selecting the appropriate option in the iTunes settings for your device. You can find the option to encrypt your backup by connecting your device to your computer, selecting it in iTunes, and looking at the “Backups” section on the “Summary” screen.

Note that the option to transfer passwords to a new device is not available for iCloud backups, so you will need to backup and restore via iTunes if you want to do this. If you restore via iCloud or an unencrypted iTunes backup, you will simply need to re-enter your passwords for things like e-mail accounts and Wi-Fi networks, as well as some third-party applications that use the iOS Keychain to store password information.

Also keep in mind that while the backups made by iTunes or iCloud contain your data from third-party applications, they do not store the actual applications themselves in order to save both time and storage space. The data is restored from the backup, which also includes a list of the applications on your device which are then synced back on either from iTunes in the Cloud if you’re restoring a backup from iCloud, or iTunes on your Mac or Windows PC if you’re restoring a backup from there.

Media content such as music, videos, and books are handled in much the same way—synced from iCloud and or iTunes depending on which backup method you’re restoring from and where the content is actually available.

Third-party applications may also store data in such a way that it is specifically excluded from your iOS device backups. This is normally used for temporary files or caches or data that is otherwise available from a developer’s own cloud service such as Evernote or Dropbox.

For more information, see our article on Transferring Content to a new iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch.