How to backup your iPhone contacts

By , May 1, 2013

Lost ContactsEvery once in a while, a friend will ask me what to do when some terrible thing has happened to their iPhone. Usually, it involves the device crashing or freezing. And usually, it involves someone who doesn’t back up their data.

Before I move on, let me just say this. If you don’t back up your data, don’t complain when all 975 images of the past year of your baby’s life have suddenly disappeared from your iPhone. Back that sh#@ up! Don’t be a fool.

If you chose not to use iCloud to back up your contacts, but want to secure the phone numbers of all those ladies you will never call back, there is a way to do it and it is just about the easiest thing you could ever do.

In this tutorial, we will show you how to backup iPhone contacts so you can save them or transfer them to a new iPhone…

First, download My Contacts Backup from the App Store. There are actually a few good apps that do exactly the same thing, but we are using My Contacts Backup in this tutorial.

Then, tap the “Backup” button in the app and follow the instructions.

My Contacts Backup 1

Done.

Now, the great thing about an app like this is that the contacts are saved as vCard files. The vCard, or vcf extension, is the file that makes your contacts look like business cards. The particular vcf files in My Contacts Backup are exact matches for your iOS files. So when the vCard is reopened, it will save exactly like the original, with no formatting issues.

Once you’ve tapped the “Backup” button, an email will be created with the vcf file attached. You can then send it to yourself and use it as backup for all of your iOS devices. All you have to do is tap on the file in your email while using your iPhone iPad or iPod touch. Once it is downloaded, tap it again. You will see all of your contacts listed exactly as they would be on your iOS device. If you have lost your contacts for some reason and need to add them to your device, just tap “Add All Contacts.”

My Contacts Backup 2

If your iPhone ever takes a powder on you, you can be sure to have all of your contacts securely saved in an email file. I even added my iPhone’s contacts to my Gmail contacts so they would be the same.

If you don’t want to save your contacts as vCards, you can also send yourself a csv file that can be opened in Excel as a list. Just change the file extension in the settings section.

You can download My Contacts Backup for free in the App Store. However, there is a paid version for $1.99. According to the developer’s website, the PRO version includes no limits on how many contacts you can backup. However, I was able to backup 824 contacts from my iPhone with no issue using the ad-supported free version.

The PRO version also includes a weekly backup reminder, iTunes file sharing support, Wi-Fi editing, multiple vcf exports, and in-app vCard restore.

My Contacts Backup 3

The only reason you might need the PRO version is if your vcf file is so big that your email service blocks it. The in-app vCard restore lets you use the saved backup file right in the app instead of sending it to yourself through email.

Of course, you could just continue acting like there is no reason you need to back up your data and then freak out when you don’t know your own mother’s phone number to call her and tell her you’ve lost your phone.

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  • http://twitter.com/dogadogan Doga Dogan

    Made in Turkey :)

    • WeAreTheChampion

      Yes, we forgot that iPhone was made by Turkey…by the way …there is
      no phone in the UNIVERSE made by Turkey…even we are in 2013 lol

  • http://www.facebook.com/nasser.cedeno.1 Nasser Cedeño

    mmm Thats OK but I prefer iCloud :)

    • Sentry

      That’s what I would say if I iCloud hadn’t screwed me over more than once with this sort of thing for no good reason. :(

      Now if only they’d make the same thing to backup iCloud notes.

      • Ian

        I can help you there. Open notes, and navigate as far back as possible to accounts. I use Gmail, and my notes appear on Gmail (I just can’t edit them) but there’s iCloud as well that I could use. I just restored my iPod last night (iPod 5 jailbreak gone *sigh*) and my notes came back.

      • http://www.facebook.com/Makavelli.1 Joseph A. Ahmad

        I refuse to use iCloud until all the bugs are fixed. I get duplicates of everything, every single time. But I’m probably just doing something wrong. Who knows.

      • http://twitter.com/klouud Timothy Polumbo

        Notes sync over OSX via iCloud. Works like a charm! – you do have to copy and paste everything into the “iCloud” account rather than the “iPhone” but that is a minor inconvenience at best.

  • Ian

    Life saver!

  • Adil Hussain

    I hate using iCloud tbh, this will be a great alternative!

    Nice post Lory!

    • lorygil

      Thanks! I do use iCloud, but this app is like an extra step in backing up data.

  • http://twitter.com/klouud Timothy Polumbo

    Love using iCloud – I don’t see a reason to use anything else. Plus you can always backup with your computer via iTunes, OSX, or Windows. I know… I know… we want a fresh install of iOS every time we jailbreak or make a major update – but as a backup to a backup… my suggestions will more than suffice. But its nice to know that we can have a backup to the backup of the backup

    • lorygil

      I agree. I like to think of it as a second external hard drive that you switch out every week and take off location in case of a fire. Which, everyone should also be doing. I’m just saying.

  • http://www.facebook.com/musicc.mann.3 Musicc Mann

    Wouldn’t it be great it they made a version of this app for SMS?

  • Rick Hart

    I use verizon backup assistant and icloud

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=689913396 Ohad Hershkovitz

    what’s wrong with just automatically syncing your contacts with gmail?? or is that just for google apps users?

    • Al Iverson

      I just use Gmail to back mine up and it works fine. Gmail has been my home for contacts for years, going back through a couple of different iPhones and a couple of Android phones before that.

  • Falk M.

    “no iCloud required”…?
    How could it. Synching is NOT backing up!

  • http://twitter.com/Moewitter Mhamad Hajj Chehade

    I don’t care about my contacts anymore if someone needs me he can give me a call

  • http://www.facebook.com/umut.topuz.7 Umut Topuz

    My brother got an android device last week and he was using an iphone. this app saved too much time for us. Free version only transfers via email and with that way, we transfered over 300 contacts in about 2 minutes…

  • http://twitter.com/MohamadAmin4 Mohamad Amin

    “but want to secure the phone numbers of all those ladies you will never call back” Haha nice one, Lory!

    • lorygil

      What can I say. I’ve got a smarmy sense of humor. ;)

  • http://www.facebook.com/fmbar00 Fabio Rodrigues

    backandshare works very good for me, and it is compatible with a few androids (not all androids), so you can save on your iphone and download you contacts on an android phone if you ever need, never failed! (withe me at least)

  • livy86

    Very accurate description of what happens when you don’t back up. iTunes makes it easy to keep data safe, backups are stored locally and can eventually be acessed with an iPhone backup extractor if ever needed.

  • Ruth Ramsden

    Thanks its great to know I now have an extra fail-safe

  • Jennie Stevens

    Ive done all of the above but it says ” No Mail Accounts ” Please set up a mail account in order to send email. How do I do this please ??????

  • Naqash

    HELLO FRIENDS is some one is here to answer my question that if i backup my iphone will it save contacts or not ?

  • Nils Lindgren

    Tried this. Did not work. Very little you can do wrong – attach iPhone, open app, press key “Back-up”, watch amazingly fast progress bar claiming to back up 103 contacts, enter e-mail adress, press ‘Send’, receive e-mail with attached file, ope file and find 1 (one) contact in it. Obvious fail is obvious.

  • George Crew

    worked perfectly, much faster than icloud backup

  • Tem Verio

    How about the tool called iAny Manager? I google search find it, have you ever tried this?

  • Rob d’Silva

    If you are to use a third-party program (instead of iCloud which I use most often to backup contacts), why not use CopyTrans Contacts instead?