I know quite a few iPhone users that upgrade their smartphone once every few years, often coinciding with the two-year contract they locked into with AT&T or other carriers. For some reason, a lot of these people seem to think that transferring all of their content over to the new iPhone is a daunting task. In reality, the process is actually fairly simple. Read ahead for step-by-step instructions on how to restore an iCloud backup on a new iPhone.

Note that these instructions were prepared using an iPhone, but the steps are identical if you use an iPad, or iPod touch.

You will first want to backup the old iPhone. For this guide, we will be using iCloud backup. If you have over 5 GB of music, photos, apps and other data to backup, you will want to use iTunes backup. For that, we’ve prepared a separate guide on how to setup a new iPhone from an iTunes backup. You’ll need to have a Mac or PC and sync cable handy for that method.

Back up your old iPhone or iPad in iCloud

Step 1: Tap on the Settings icon on the Home screen of your iPhone or iPad.

Step 2: Tap on your profile at the top, then tap on the iCloud menu.

Step 3: Scroll down and select the Backup option.

iCloud backup now

Step 4: Make sure iCloud Backup is toggled on and tap Back Up Now.

How to restore an iCloud backup on a new iPhone

Now that you have backed up your current iPhone to your iCloud account, you can begin the process of setting up your new iPhone from an iCloud backup. This is only possible through the iOS Setup Assistant, which is only available during the initial set up. If you have already played with your new iPhone and set it up, you will have to erase everything on it to bring it back to factory settings.

To do so, tap on Settings > General > Reset > Erase All Content and Settings to get to this screen. Any data on the new iPhone will be erased, so make sure you properly created a backup following the steps above.

Step 1: Complete the initial steps in iOS Setup Assistant for language, country and so forth.

Step 2: When you reach the Set Up iPhone screen, tap on Restore from iCloud Backup.

iCloud setup 1

Step 3:  Sign into the same Apple ID that you stored your iCloud backup on.

Step 4: The new iPhone will begin restoring all data, such as apps, contacts, music and so forth. This can sometimes be a lengthy process that takes 20 minutes or longer, so you might want to make sure your iPhone or iPad is plugged in.

If you followed the steps above, you should have successfully transferred your data from the old iPhone to your new iPhone. If you are sure that your data has been backed up, you are now safe to erase everything on your old iPhone. Tap on Settings > General > Reset > Erase All Content and Settings, and the old iPhone will return to the “Welcome to iPhone” screen on the iOS Setup Assistant. You can then sell or gift the iPhone to someone else.

  • Diego Milano

    I always wondered if restoring a backup would transfer unneeded information like a Windows restore would do. In other words, isn’t it cleaner to do a fresh-new install and re-add everything instead of restoring a backup? Just wondering. Hopefully someone can chime in and confirm.

    • If you haven’t jailbreaked, backups should be very clean. iOS/OS X has a tidy directory structure, and only backs up useful settings/contents.

      Jailbroken is another story, you have to check backups for unwanted files. Since tweaks have unlimited access to the entire file system, it is very likely that their irrelevant files might go into backups. Well behaved tweaks should only have their preferences to be worried about: ~/Library/Preferences

      • Jonathan

        Jailbreak stuff do. I’ve restored to a jailbroken back up, and reinstalled some tweaks, and some I haven’t installed for months, and they all still had their settings configured from last time I left it.

      • Chris Winebrenner

        Was that a backup from Mac/PC or a restore from iCloud?

      • Jonathan

        iCloud, but iTunes would probably have the same effect.

    • Jonathan

      I often do that, instead of restore from a backup, especially if my “other” is built up pretty high. I always notice my device working faster.

      If I did jailbreak, nor have a lot of apps/photos on it, I wouldn’t worry about it and just restore from the back up. You probably wouldn’t even notice the difference if you did a clean restore with this situation.

      • Dan

        I’m having a bit of trouble understanding your comment but I am genuinely interested. Are you saying that if I restore a ‘jailbroken’ backup over a fresly installed iOS 8, the iPhone will not be as responsive?

        I would like to restore and install a fresh iOS but I don’t want to lose my game progress/text messages

      • Jonathan

        Correct. A lot of jailbroken “stuff” will be left behind, and very well may slow your device down. When I switch to stock iOS, I restore clean, or from a backup that isn’t from a jailbroken state.

        This is my setup:
        I have 2 backups.
        iOS 7.1.2 that is from a jailbroken state
        iOS 8.0 beta x, that is clean and NOT from a jailbroken state.

        Does that help?

      • Dan

        Yeah I understand what you’re saying, sadly I have no backup from a non jailbroken state.

        My main preoccupation is that if I restore now, I’ll lose game progress and text messages, I see no other way than simply restoring from a jailbroken backup and taking the risk

      • Jonathan

        iBackupbot can export your messages into an Excel format. Game progress might be retrieved it it’s synced through iCloud.

        There’s no risk in restoring from a jailbroken backup, just may not get full speed performance. 😉

      • haerondir

        you can always download ibackupbot and restore only the things you want, instead of restoring the whole backup

        that’s what I did

      • Dan

        thanks for the tip, i’ll look into, although was hoping not to have to pay for software

      • haerondir

        it’s got a free trial, you don’t need to pay at all

      • Dan

        oh yeah? I’ll check it out when I get home, figured the trial wouldn’t have all the functions

    • Messiah

      Always best to start fresh then you can sync with iCloud for Documents only. (Notes, Calendar, Pages, etc).

      • pegger1

        That doesn’t pull settings/history/etc. that is saved in apps.

      • KsbjA

        And photos and messages, which are very personal and important to many people. Photos will be stored in iCloud starting with iOS 8 and OS X 10.10, though. Not sure about messages.

  • This will be the first new phone that i won’t restore from a backup. Backup’s contain a lot of randomness from multiple upgrades and phones. Time to start fresh again!

  • Julio M.

    One question, might be dumb but I’ve always wanted to do a fresh install but carry over all my messages only. Is there a way to do this because as far as I know the only way is to restore from backup.

    Also, if i restore from backup, i can still get all my contacts, notes, etc. through iCloud right?

    • sdhn

      This should help

      http://www.idownloadblog(dot)com/2014/03/06/how-to-back-up-restore-sms-messages/

      Replace (dot) with .

      It’s lengthy, and you probably won’t have enough time to get iOS 8 first (in an hour)… but you can wait a day, right?

      • Julio M.

        Lol, I literally googled this a couple minutes after posting and that was the first thing that popped up, thanks sdhn

      • sdhn

        haha me too! 😀 no problem bud

      • Julio M.

        Really late reply, but I was able to haha, thanks man

  • Lorde

    Restoring from iCloud backup haven’t worked for me… I tried it before upgrading from the 4S to the 5, and 5 to the 5S. All just lagged out and hung. I think the cable/iTunes method is the fastest and most reliable.

  • vergilvsdant

    when is the ios 8 launched? no specific time yet?

    • haerondir

      ios 8 is released today

  • Kaz

    Just updated to 8.0 on my 4s and I cannot find ‘back up now’ for the iCloud it is no longer with storage??

    • MartyEdwards

      settings, iCloud, backup, backup now

      • Kaz

        Thank you I did find it last night, just the 8.0 is set up a little different

      • MartyEdwards

        You’re welcome. I had to explore around myself to find it. Glad you got it.

  • Claire Sullivan

    I’m getting as far as choosing a backup, I’m selecting the 1 I need and it’s giving me “cannot restore backup”

  • Baron Gomez

    i want to install apps on my i phone 5s but is messing up help me guys

  • Brian Chaput

    Thanks! Instructions so much better then apple.

  • Jimmy Mad Dog Mantis

    Thanks