How to Restore Your iPhone or iPad

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Figuring out how to restore your iPhone is a simple process. It's also an important process should you want to sell your phone, create more storage space, or if your phone becomes frozen.

Have any of these things happened to you? If you need to know how to restore your iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch, you're not alone. After researching the process, I have gathered the direct steps you can take to restore your iPhone or iPad when you need.

There are multiple ways to reset your iPod Touch, iPhone, and iPad. The easiest way is to backup, reset, and restore from iCloud. The other option is to do a reset through iTunes. This step-by-step guide breaks down how to restore your iPhone photos from your camera roll, iPhone contacts, and iPhone data using both methods.

First, I will show you how to restore your iPhone to iCloud backup, as long as it's not frozen.

Prepping your iPhone for Restoration

According to Computer World's article on "Why Don't People Back Up Their Mobile Devices?" one in three consumers has suffered digital data loss. If you're an iPhone user who has also suffered data loss, or if you do not consistently back up your services, you should practice backing up your data so you can restore from iCloud or iTunes when you suffer a malware attack or other issues.

Preparing your phone for restoration is a critical first step for iPhone users. You'll want to make sure you have a backup on iCloud or iTunes. What happens when you restore your iPhone is you are erasing all of its data and contents. This means that once you complete the wipe, your iPhone photos from your camera roll, iPhone contacts, iPhone apps purchased from the app store, and more critical data will be gone unless you backup on iCloud or iTunes. Luckily, this is easy to do. Here's a step-by-step guide.

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1. Access the settings feature on your iOS device, then scroll down to the iCloud account option.

icloud settings iphone

2. Once there, you will have the option to choose the items you want to backup. This is an essential first step since whatever you choose to not backup will be gone once you complete the reset process.

To select the items you want to save simply move the button to the right of the bar. Conversely, if you don't want to backup files from say your home feature, you can move the button to the left to disable backup for that app.

icloud drive settings

3. The last step is the most important. Once you've selected all the items you want to backup, scroll down and select the iPhone to iCloud account backup feature (iCloud Backup). This will automatically backup accounts such as documents, health data and more, making it easier to access these items once you recover deleted files to your iPhone.

To complete the process, click on the back up now link. It might take a few minutes to complete this process depending on how much data you want to save.

icloud backup feature iphone

It's important to note if you plan to sell your iPhone you want to disable the find my iPhone feature. You can turn this feature off on the iCloud drive page by clicking on the find my iPhone tab. Once there, swipe left to turn the feature off. Doing this will bring up a screen asking for your Apple ID password. Enter it then click to turn the feature off. Make sure to turn your iCloud drive on for every file or piece of data you want to be backed up.

If for whatever reason, you get a message saying that iCloud storage couldn't backup files and data, you may need to upgrade your iPhone's iOS firmware version. If your iOS firmware version is upgraded (accessible in Settings > General), you might be facing some more serious issues. Apple has an excellent troubleshooting page if this happens to you.

How to Reset and Restore iPhone from iCloud

Once you saved the data you want to access, you move on to the simplest part of the process: resetting your phone. Here is how you do a factory reset on your iPhone:

1. Go settings, then find the General tab. Scroll to the bottom of the screen to choose the reset option.

navigate to the reset button within the general settings

2. On the reset page, you have multiple options. To do a factory reset, you need to choose to erase all content and settings.

click erase all content and settings to factory reset

3. After selecting this feature, your device asks for your passcode. Upon successfully entering the passcode, it initiates the reset process. Normally, it can take up to five minutes for your device to erase all the contents and restore to the original factory settings.

4. You'll know you did the process right when your phone restarts and gives you prompts for setting up your iPhone, similar to the way you did this when you received the phone. What's beneficial about this option is you can set up your phone from a backup iPhone software like iCloud or you have the choice to start fresh with a new account.

If you want to restore your phone, the setup assistant presents you the opportunity to do so by restoring from your iCloud account. This is where you log into your account to complete the setup iPhone process. You can restore iPhone from iCloud storage or iTunes. To use either backup iPhone service, you'll need to log in using your Apple ID and passcode. You can then access your stored information. To complete the restoration process, follow the prompts generated by the setup assistant.

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How to Restore Contacts on iPhone

After going through the setup process, you can import saved data back onto your device. If you are like most, one of the most important to save are contacts. To restore your contacts, you must do the following:

1. Access the settings tab on your iOS device.

2. Scroll down to contacts.

iphone contacts in general settings

3. On the contacts page, click on the import SIM contacts.

navigate to import sim contacts

4. Once you do, it imports the stored contacts.

choose where the sim contacts should be loaded to

5. Upon completion, you have access to all the contacts you stored through iCloud.

Restore Device with iTunes

If you have already connected your iOS device to a computer via USB cable, use the same one to complete this process. Otherwise, connect your iPhone, iPad or iPad Touch via a USB cable. Next, open iTunes. If it asks for a passcode, Apple recommends trying another computer you synced the device with. If it doesn't ask for a passcode, it will automatically sync your device to iTunes and complete a backup. Upon completion, click on the restore your device tab.

After clicking this tab, it takes you to the setup screen. From there, click on the restore from iTunes backup to restore iTunes backup files. This option takes you to all the devices you have stored on iTunes. You can select your iTunes backup files from size and date. If you do not have your apps backed up, you may need to simply re-download them from the App stores.

Restore Device with iPhone Backup Extractor

If your restore from backup doesn't work for any reason, there is software out there to help. For example, you can download an iPhone backup extractor to recover deleted videos, photos, messages, call history, notes, contacts, and more from both iTunes and iCloud backups. You can also go to our guide on how to backup your iPhone for step-by-step instructions.

Restoring your iPhone is a good idea in the case your device has been infected with a virus.

How to Restore a Jailbroken iPhone

If you want to restore a jailbroken iPhone to its factory settings and get rid of the jailbreak, there are several things you'll need to do.

1. Make sure you iTunes is updated and your info is backed up if necessary.

2. Turn off Find My iPhone by going to Settings > iCloud > Find My iPhone. Turn the switch off.

3. Connect iPhone to the computer via io device cable.

4. Select your iPhone.

5. Go to Summary > Restore iPhone. Click Restore again.

What Happens if I Forget My Apple Passcode?

As part of its security protocol, Apple locks an iOS device if you entered the wrong passcode six times in a row. If this occurs, you might have a message on your iOS device's locked screen that says, "iPhone is disabled." In the event this occurs, here's what to do:

Erase the Device

Apple states the first thing you should do is to erase your device. Unless you made a backup before the device locked, you won't have a way to retrieve your data. While unfortunate on your end to lose all the information stored, it's an important safeguard if someone steals your iPhone and tries to unlock it to access your data. You can erase your device's data several ways the first of which is to use iTunes to remove the passcode.

Use iCloud to Remove the Passcode or Restore Your Phone

If you remember your login information for iCloud, this is an easy way to erase your device. To do this:

  • First, go to
  • From here, select the open find my iPhone tab.
  • This requires you to enter your Apple ID and password. If you forgot your Apple ID or password click on the Forgot Apple ID or password link and follow the prompts.
  • Upon successfully logging on, click on your device.
  • Next, choose the Erase iPhone button located at the bottom right of the page.
  • This will take you to the confirmation page where you click on the red button reading erase iPhone to wipe it.

This will default the phone to its factory settings, enabling you to use your device again.

Use Recovery Mode

In the event you forget your passcode, didn't sync your device with iTunes or set up the find my iPhone feature, you'll need to use recovery mode to restore your iPhone by putting it in DFU mode (Device Firmware Upgrade). You can do this by:

  • Connect your device to a laptop or computer with an iO device.
  • Force it to restart by pressing and holding the sleep and home buttons (or power button) concurrently. Holding down the power button (home) and sleep button works for the iPod Touch, iPhone and iPad models from 6S and earlier. If you have an iPhone 7 or 7s you need to press and hold the sleep/wake and volume down buttons concurrently, according to Apple. In both cases, don't release the hold when the Apple icon appears. Instead, wait until you see the recovery mode appear on your device's screen. Then you'll be in DFU mode.
  • Next, iTunes sends a message stating there's a problem with your device. With the message, it gives you prompts to restore or update your device. You'll want to click on restore.
  • The restore process can take up to 15 minutes. Upon completion, your device defaults back into factory mode, where you can access it the same way you would when you first received the device.

Restoring your iPhone is a good idea in the case your device has been infected with a virus. For specific tips on how to remove a virus from your phone, and to see step-by-step instructions, you can check out our how-to guide.


Ultimately, there are several different ways to learn how to restore your iPhone. Along with restoration tips, we wanted to address any problems you might encounter during this process. If you know of someone who wants to restore their iPhone or is who is experiencing problems accessing their iOS device, be sure to recommend this article to them.

Be sure to do a factory reset on your phone if you plan on selling it or giving it to a someone else. You can read our in-depth comparison of the best sites to sell your used cell phone.

You don't have to rely on iCloud to backup your data. You can check our comparison of the best cloud storage services to find a better alternative. If all else fails, you can always keep a hard copy of your iPhone's data by backing it up onto a USB or hard drive.

If recovering your phone doesn't fix any problem with your phone, you might have a serious issue on your hands. If Apple can't fix your device, you may need a new one. We've set up a chart so you can compare iPhone deals.

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