iCloud Advanced Restore

Apple quietly added on Thursday a new feature to iCloud.com that lets you restore deleted files, contacts, calendars, and reminders. Available from the Settings tab of iCloud.com, this feature archives your deleted iCloud files for 30 days, as well as versions of your contacts, calendars, and reminders at various intervals, making it an easy back up plan in case something goes wrong.

To access this advanced feature, users can navigate to https://www.icloud.com/#settings, login, and scroll to the bottom of the page, where the various options will be available.

How is this helpful?

There are several instances where this feature would come in handy:

  • you accidentally deleted all your contacts
  • some bug in a third party app deleted all your iCloud calendar data
  • your iCloud data somehow got corrupted (never heard of that but still possible)

This new restore feature will be very handy in case any of your data gets deleted by you, or by someone else, whether it was accidental or intentional.

Because the data is not backed up on a daily basis, the usefulness of this feature is still limited, which I assume is intentional. Apple likely wants people to use this as the very last option to recover data rather an actual backup solution per say.

Restore Files

This option loads all the iCloud documents that you have deleted for the last 30 days. After 30 days, the documents will be permanently deleted.

iCloud Restore File

To restore a file, simply select it and click Restore File. The file will be immediately added back into iCloud Drive, ready to be worked on again.

Restore Contacts, Calendars, and Reminders

The procedure to restore data from the Contacts, Calendars, and Reminders apps is the same. These tabs load various backups of their respective data and let you easily restore data across all your devices for the chosen backup date.

Restore iCloud Contacts

Apple notes that the archive of data you select will push that data onto all of your devices (ie. Mac, iPhone, iPad), and will save and archive the current version as a separate version.

Looking at my account, I can’t seem to find a pattern to how often these versions are archived, but the oldest ones go back to July 8.

With documents and data moving away more and more from physical devices onto the cloud, this move makes lots of sense. Until now, if people accidentally deleted their iCloud contacts for example, they would have been lost forever. This new feature is a nice fall back for those “WTF happened to my contacts?” moments we’re all hoping we’ll never have.

There is apparently no way to opt out of having your data archived this way yet, which will likely infuriates those concerned about their privacy, but I assume it’s an option Apple will add sooner than later.