Sunday, October 30, 2011

Using iCloud to Restore deleted iPhone photos and videos

Say you've done something silly, like delete some photos or videos from your iPhone. How do you recover them? You can read the iCloud: Backup and restore overview, but it's missing a few details.

Step 0: Set up iCloud Backup. That is, in Settings > iCloud > Storage & Backup:

Image from
http://support.apple.com/kb/HT1766


Obviously, you have to do this before you lose any data. This is by far the best way to do it, because your data will be backed up every night. This is because the iCloud backup runs daily, when your iPhone is:
  • Connected to the Internet over Wi-Fi
  • Connected to a power source
  • Screen locked
This means that an important part of your backup process is to charge your phone every night where it can get Wi-Fi.

Step 1: Make sure that you've got something to restore. You'd hate to erase all your settings and data and find out you don't have anything to restore. A good way to make sure you have something to restore is to make sure you don't do any more backups. That means don't plug your iPhone into a power source and allow the screen to lock while you're connected via Wi-Fi; it just might cause the next backup to happen. iCloud stores 3 backups, but you don't want to push your luck.

Once you have iCloud backups, your last backup is visible on your iPhone via Settings > iCloud > Storage & Backup > Manage Storage > Device Name.

Image from
http://support.apple.com/kb/HT4859

Notice that Emily's iPhone was last backed up at 5:34 PM, and the backup is 3.5 GB. Also note that the Camera Roll wants to take 1.4 GB of space. This is a good sign; it probably means that her Camera Roll fits in the backup. Another clue is that the Next Backup Size is only 18.3 MB, which is the new information to back up, and most of her pictures are already in the backup. In any case, it might be a good idea to go to Step 1.5:

Step 1.5: Import photos and videos into iPhoto. It's likely this is the most important content you have. If you're using Photo Stream, your photos should be all safe, but none of your videos are uploaded into Photo Stream. Make sure you get a copy of them, but don't bother deleting them once iPhoto is done importing. That will be the next step.

Step 2: Now is the point of no return; you're going to erase your iPhone. More information about this procedure is available on Apple's Support site: iOS: Understanding 'Erase All Content and Settings'. You do this by tapping:

Settings > General > Reset > Erase All Content and Settings


It will first ask you for your unlock PIN (if set), and then ask you twice with a big red button if you really, really want to do this. You have to decide how much you trust your iCloud backups to get everything back that you didn't backup otherwise.

Step 3: Restore from iCloud Backup in Setup Assistant. After you choose Erase All Content and Settings, your iPhone will reset itself, show a boot screen with an Apple logo, and a progress bar, etc. Once the reset is complete, Setup Assistant will begin. It will ask you what language and region you use, and you can set up Wi-Fi (which you must do to restore).

Finally you arrive at the screen you want to see:

Image from
http://support.apple.com/kb/HT1766

The answer is obvious. Select Restore from iCloud Backup. You then enter the iTunes username and password that you used to create your iCloud backups. Then you're asked to agree to the Terms and Conditions.

Finally you are on the Choose Backup screen; note that you can select Older Backups if necessary. The total number of backups for any device will not exceed 3. Select the appropriate backup and tap on Restore.

Step 4: Wait for your backup to complete. Note that once the progress bar is done, that doesn't mean everything is restored, just enough to get things going. Once settings are restored, the phone will reboot, show you an Apple logo and a progress bar again, and then you can start using your phone again.

But you're still not done...

Step 5: The iPhone will tell you "Restore is complete."

It will then proceed to ask you more questions. If you had a lock code it will ask you to recreate it. If you had logged into FaceTime it will ask for your password again. You may also have to re-enter passwords in other apps.



What you're probably most interested in is the restore of your Camera Roll. Just go to the Photos app, and you can see in your Albums page that it's downloading your photos and videos back into your Camera Roll:



You can check to see if the restore is complete by going to: Settings > iCloud > Storage & Backup again.


68 comments:

  1. Excellent post, this was really helpful!!!

    Thanks!

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  2. Camera roll doesn't take up 14 GB. its 1.4 GB. look at it carefully. Zoom in!

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  3. Fantastic well done and thankyou. Andrew

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  4. Thanks Anonymous, I didn't look carefully enough. I've updated the post.

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  5. Thank you! This helped me recover from an OTA 5.0.1 update that put me into recovery mode. Post-iTunes restore, I followed these steps and got my settings back.

    Something strange: as it's re-downloading music, I keep getting pop-ups from my Apple ID user/pass with the username filled in with other people's e-mail addresses. Something Apple needs to fix...

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  6. So when I do this, are my apps supposed to be back on my iphone too? It didn't work for me! :(

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  7. I think you'll have to sync with iTunes and re-download your apps onto your device.

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  8. Never mind!! I had just chosen the wrong backup! It's working now!! THANK YOU!!! :-)

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  9. Just an FYI.. You can get to this same screen for back up, but simply telling it to reset all settings, instead of content and settings. That way you don't have to erase everything.

    Apple replaced my iphone 4 today and my new iphone came preinstalled with ios 4 in which icloud didn't exist. I had to update it to ios 5.01 then go into settings and reset the settings to even get to a prompt about icloud. Had I chosen reset all content and settings, it would have taken it back to factory settings which (from what apple told me) would have been in the icloud-less ios 4 world.

    Something they absolutely need to get fixed, but at least there's a workaround.

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  10. I think you just saved my life! *wipes tears*

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  11. Thank you, this is an excellent post.

    Plugged the phone into iTunes and it sadly erased almost everything from the iPhone, i think it restored an backup taken from the time it was activated wich is a long time ago.
    Used "Reset All Settings" choice, this way it didn't need to redownload all apps, only verified they where there and ok.

    Everything is like it has been at the time of the backup to iCloud yesterday, settings, messages, numbers and photos.
    You don't even know it have been restored exept from a few SMS messages :)

    It took about 30 minutes to restore when i found this page, have searched Apple support pages half a day and nothing.

    iCloud is a great thing but the documentation on it is really bad.

    Thanks!!

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  12. Thank you so much! I just recently had my baby girl and had soo many pictures on my phone..my computer somehow didn't copy them to the folder I had created...before I realized this, I deleted them...thanks to you I have all her first days back...thank you soo soo much for posting this!!

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  13. So just to make things clear eventhough you explained it pretty clearly, i only have the original "photos" and camera apps that came with the hone. I deleted a video before sync'n it to anything will it be restored? Sorry!

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  14. Brilliant thanks. I Too had my phone replaced and it arrived with iOS4. had to upgrade to iOS5 which gave access to iCloud. Then I could follow instruction above. All my Apps, Music , Photos contacts etc are now on my new phone. Thanks

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  15. Hi cp22; short story is, if your data didn't sync up to iCloud, then (obviously) you won't be recovering it. And to answer what I think you're asking, none of this requires special software, it all comes built-in to iOS 5.

    When you first configured your iPhone, you had the option to select iCloud backup; did you do that? If so, the next step is to see if a backup of your video was made; the article suggests you look in Storage & Backups on your iPhone to see if there are any backups. It won't show you a specific file or video, but you can see the time and date of the last backup, and the size of parts of the backup, such as the Camera Roll (which is where a video would be if it was backed up.)

    Good luck!

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  16. ok so I have a Iphone 4 I by accident updated it to IOS5 and didnt back up the pictures would iCloud be able to restore it?

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  17. I too got a new phone yesterday and the guy in apple store backed up everything to iCloud as my itunes had only backed up back in June 2011. I followed your steps and it says 'no back up available'. Am I doomed??? :(

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  18. brilliant ! thanks, Apple is really lacking in making it clear.

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  19. my videos didnt come back. only the pictures :( please help!!!

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  20. Its too good idea to back up..

    Thanks a lot...

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  21. Nice post. Can we view what is backed-up in the cloud. Example, email content,SMS messages,iMessages,etc

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  22. You're awesome for posting this.

    It is still restoring for over 3 hours now. Do you know the length it normally takes? I am past the first part and it is now restoring photos and apps, but it is taking forever! All of my folders with my apps in them just read, "waiting".

    Also, I got a warning that said some of the content was unable restore and if it's in iTunes I can reload it. Could this be what is making it take forever?

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  23. Hi.....

    Please help!! I updated my phone today to the current version of s/w and lost all my pictures. PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE tell me how i can get them back. The last time i did a backup was 3 months ago, this is no good. I did notice tho the phone synchronized before the new s/w was updated. Is there any way this sync backed up my pics so i can retrieve them from somewhere.
    Thanks in advance.....

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  24. Hello Jared !! Your post is great but perhaps it´s a bit late for me. I did a backup in iCloud last saturday, including camera roll, but I did the backup not in my house so step 1.5 go away. Now I want to restore everything but photos are missing.

    I`ve checked in iCloud settings and appear 2 Gb for camera roll and says that the current backup is from last saturday.

    Are there any form to recover my photos ? Thanks for your help.

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  25. This post saved my life!! All my pictures are back :) THANK YOU

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  26. you saved my life, im effing happy, thank you so much!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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  27. I'm trying to back up my iPhone, but it seems take long time and didn't move on..... what can i do? i rally want my photos back!! pls help me!!!

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  28. still can't backup, anyone can help me?? u guys can do? i want my photos back!! pls help !!

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  29. Thank you very much!! Muacksss!

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  30. Thank you so much!!! Total lifesaver!!!

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  31. This didnt not work for me since my icloud ID was a part of iPhone & ipad and when i did a hard boot and selected restore from iphone " it gave the back up session associated with ipad!!" and nothing was installed!!

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  32. Thank you for the info. Unfortunately I realized I needed to recover from an earlier time. Evidently when icloud backs ip up, it re-writes? But the info is still helpful.

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  33. Hey just wanted to tell you , i found a way to restore your icloud backups
    without the need of a pc and a restore
    It has to be jailbroken though and you need ifile
    But you dont need a pc and your jailbreak won't be gone =)

    1. Go to /var/mobile/Library/Preferences
    2. open the com.apple.purplebuddy.plist
    3. change the properties of
    RestoreChoice, SetupDone, SetupFinishedAllSteps
    from 1 to 0
    4 respring your device

    It will take you to the setup screen, right to the restore choice after a wlan has been selected
    there you can choose from the 3 latest backups your device has uploaded to the icloud

    If you choose a backup , it will restore all backuped data
    and evreything installed before will stay on your device too
    except for the data in the backupo of course, those will be overwritten , if exist.

    wsanted to share this with you because i searched on google for way too long needing to restore my backuped data and didnt ofund a way without a restore or itunes

    and of course i didnt want my jailbreak to be gone

    com.apple.purblebuddy is the identifier of the setup.app
    if your wondering,
    its pretty logical that this works if you keep in mind resetting the settings will bring you back to the setup screen, but it still toook me a lot of time to figure this out =)

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  34. oh I'm so hoping this works!! I deleted photos and videos from my phone yesterday thinking that the iCloud stuff saved on my computer was complete. I didn't see that it didn't include videos. I'm hoping to God that the videos are recoverable!! Thank you for this post!

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  35. Bummer. Didn't work. It got some, but not all. I'm really confused about where the others could be. I backed up to a point several days before I deleted. How could they not be there? I'm beginning to doubt that the icloud backup is foolproof.

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  36. Hi Jill, sorry to hear it didn't work. For the restore the work, the data must (obviously) be backed up. And your iPhone would only be backed up if it was both connected to power and on WiFi.

    In addition, you only get 5GB of free backup per-account. If you've exceeded that space, I don't think you'll get anymore backups. And if you're sharing an iTunes account with someone else (which is necessary to share songs, apps, etc.) you will be sharing that 5GB. You can always buy more space...

    Also, when you restore the backup, you'll see the date of the backups that are available. Is the latest backup newer than the latest video you lost?

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  37. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  38. Got home from a camping trip yesterday and "thought" I copy all 200+ pics to my computer, so I deleted them from the iPhone. Went to view them from the computer and only 4 were copied, any way to retrieve them? I'm sick over this. I can see a way to undo, I left the computer on and phone plugged in all night. Been paying for and downloading this restoring programs but they appear to be ripoffs.

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  39. Will I cloud restore all sms mgs that are currently on my I phone, obviously not the ones that have been deleted but the current ones, This is important because I have to reset the I phone due to problems but do not want to lose the mgs

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  40. Thanks so much for your time to post this!

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  41. Something strange happend. At time it opened I got all my contacts but after few seconds they started to seem as unknown numbers and when looked at contacts I found out that it erased them all. Can someone explain this?

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  42. How can I restore something that has been deleted over 2 weeks ago? I need those videos and pictures of my fiance who had recently passed away back.

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  43. I have a question but I think is quite obvious that my problem can`t be solve...I backup my new Iphone 4S today with my previous Iphone 4 and the problem is that in the new 4s I had some photos...whan I did the backup all my new photos werw deleted and instead of them my old photos from my Iphone 4 were there...I didn`t have a iCloud account...do you think I have a chance to recover my new photos?

    Thanks!

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  44. Sooo I'm kinda lost... I deleted a few videos today on the 24th... It says my last back up was on the 22nd... If I tried to recover my videos could I recover them??

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  45. Excellent tips, well, what if i had not back up my data in icloud before? please...

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  46. Thank you so much for this awesome tutorial! You made the whole process so easy!

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  47. I restored my iphone from icloud but it used back up from march 2012. how can i get a restore a back up from aug 2012?

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  48. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  49. I restored my previous backup. How I can restore my current backup? Help please.

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  50. Another big thank you from me. My phone crashed whilst updating to iOS 6 and I had to restore my phone. iTunes didn't recognise the phone as mine, but as a new phone. I was starting to panic a bit. However, a bit of googling and I found this extremely informative and easy to follow page.
    My phone is currently restoring all my photos - could take a while!
    From reading other peoples questions - you have to have backed up in iCloud to restore from iCloud! Doh! Even I get that. And obviously choose the correct device (if you have more than one device linked to your iCloud account). Go through the process slowly and carefully and you will have success like me :o)
    Thank you, thank you.

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  51. Thanks for your help! My photos are not back on my iPhone, but they are on the iPad (and they weren't there before this...)

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  52. pictures arnt downloading but everything else is ?

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  53. Hi, i have some problems getting back my photos from camera roll on my iphone 4. I have camera roll enabled in icloud and with 750Mb used for backing up photos from camera roll, but when i restore my iphone using icloud backup i get back everything except the photos i had in my camera roll. I need some help with this, please. Thanks.

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  54. Hi, I bought an iphone 5 a few weeks ago. It had some issues, so I brought it to the Apple Store. The Genius Bar switched it out for a new phone. They backed up the old phone via iCloud and downloaded it to the new phone. Once all of my information finally transferred, I noticed my pictures were gone. After hours of trying to figure it out, I noticed the "camera roll" option was not selected during the initial backup. I toggled the switch to on, and backed up again...still no pictures! I see both backups (the one from the apple store and the one for "this device") but there are no options for the one done at the Apple store. PLEASE help me understand if and how I can retrieve my priceless pictures :-(

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  55. What you're probably most interested in is the restore of your Camera Roll. Just go to the Photos app, and you can see in your Albums page that it's downloading your photos and videos back into your Camera Roll:
    coque iphone 4

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  56. I have browsed along and came upon your blog. ihone is very common. I want to buy iphone5. http://www.convert-avitomp4.com/product.html

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  57. This was a really useful post! Thanks! I have a question and I am afraid I know the answer. I am following your instructions and the last 3 backups on my iCloud are all from the last 3 days. I deleted the photos weeks ago (well before the last 3 back-ups)... am I out of luck?

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  58. Hi.
    is there any way to recover the deleted data for icloud so I can back up it again to my apple devices? because accidentally erase them when I inter icloud to manage some data. regards

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  59. My camera roll is back...Thank you so much!!!

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  60. Thanks a ton! Saved me hours of digging through useless support info on apple.

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  61. I used Dr.fone to recover my lost photos on iPhone.
    watch this video,

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=EeT4d69goVQ

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  62. What if you haven't synced photos with iCloud?

    If you have back up your photos with iTunes, you can restore from the backup.
    Check out this guide:Recover iPhone Photos with iTunes Backup

    If you have no backup for your data on iPhone, iPhone data recovery software is your last shot! I used Tenorshare iTunes Data Recovery and it worked well. Give it a shot! Get it from http://www.any-data-recovery.com/product/iphone-data-recovery.html

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  63. Not unless you have backed up your phone to iCloud or iTunes.
    If you just deleted them from photostream they could still be in your camera roll.
    Read more about How to Recover Deleted Photos from iPhone.

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  64. Nice article about iPhone photo recovery

    I got your tips to restore deleted iPhone photos and videos from iClound.
    However, one of my friend didn't backup files with iCloud before, is there any way to recover photos from iPhone without iCloud?

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