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.

  • Marcus

    This is fantastic.

    • James G

      For privacy reasons, Apple said they won’t store iMessages. I wish they’d change their tune, though. I’d love an iCloud Backup/Sync of Messages between devices – especially when deleting threads, etc.

      They have no problem retaining my email. They should do the same for Messages IMO.

      • Email is insecure and broken by design though so it makes no difference whether Apple stores them or not. Most email sent isn’t encrypted and you can guarantee a computer somewhere is probably reading it. Compare that to iMessage where everything is encrypted and nobody other than the intended recipients can read it.

    • Anonymous

      I feel the same but with mail. The only thing mail app on mac is good for is notifications.

      • Marcus

        I use the Mail app on my Mac & iPhone with just my iCloud email. I use Mailbox for my Gmail account. I’ve always had problems using Gmail with the Mail app.

      • Anonymous

        Really? I haven’t noticed any glitches. But then again i dont use my other accounts often. My main account is icloud.

      • Marcus

        If I delete an email from my Gmail account using Mail on my Mac/iPhone, it won’t get deleted. The email is still present when I login to my account online. It’s really annoying and I wish I didn’t have to use Gmail. The only reason I still have a Gmail is because I can’t use my iCloud address for my Apple ID.

      • 0s1r1s

        You should try Outlook it’s a-ma-ziiiiing!! No, I’m joking. It’s awful. lol. It’s ability to suddenly lose an account is remarkable to say the least; or to refuse to accept a correct password. Maybe Microsoft have improved it in the past few months but I’m not willing to go back to it.

        But it seems I might have to if iCloud keeps up with it’s frakwittery.

  • MadeInNY

    Is there a way to disable this? Some things, once deleted, are best left that way.

    • Marcus

      It will get permanently deleted after 30 days. This is also only available on the iCloud website, so nobody you know will really find out about what you deleted unless they have your password.. It’s much different than deleted photos and videos on the Photos app. It’s more secure from people that you don’t want to see your stuff. Great feature in my opinion.

      • MadeInNY

        Even so, it would be very useful to have a “delete forever, and do it right now” option for the file that you didn’t mean to save to the cloud but did so accidentally when your mac opened the file selector to the iCloud folder you share with your sister-in-law who never did like that you married her baby-sister and doesn’t think you’re good enough for her and is always looking for something to use to convince your wife that you’re a lousy human being and that she should leave you.

      • Kaptivator

        Just have to be more careful…lol. However, I understand your point and agree that, at times, people delete things because they want them gone…NOW.

      • Marcus

        She would have to know your Apple ID password. It’s not like she can just open up your computer and find stuff. It’s stored safe away on the iCloud website and only on the iCloud website. Just don’t save your password in the Keychain.

      • MadeInNY

        I would make the same point if there was no “Empty Trash” option in the Mac Finder. Even though there is need to have my login credentials to get onto my laptop. It’s unlikely someone will access it. Until I can verifiably destroy it, it’s a problem that I can’t verifiably destroy it.

      • Gregg

        Solution: don’t share that folder with her. Heck, for that matter, why would you share ANYTHING with her if that’s how she is? But, that’s a different topic for a different site… 😉

        Dr. Phil

  • James G

    Finally. Give us a proper iCloud Time Machine and I’ll pay for the 1TB iCloud Pricing.

    • Anonymous

      Yeah i agree.

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  • Fake Yankee

    Thank you. You’re a life saver!

  • Gehad Abukhaled

    I need help please!!
    I can’t find an archive to bring back my deleted calendars.
    I just deleted it an hour ago on iCloud and it was gone from my MacBook as well

  • graemecodrington

    I accidentally deleted an iCloud calendar, and am trying to restore. I can’t “because of an error” – that’s all the info iCloud give me. After some searching, I discovered that many people have errors with this iCloud restore solution, and that senior Apple Care consultants are telling people not to use it. Seems Apple really don’t understand, or support, Cloud well enough. That’s disappointing. At least I have my Time Machine backup available. But, cloud is supposed to be the future – I guess its some way off.

  • Mark Cross

    It said that you can restore deleted files dating 30 days back. It showed in my settings only two days and I still couldn´t restore my lost contacts I coincidently deleted. Need your help, any ideas???

  • adolphwhi

    Nice post! The latest iCloud is much more friendly than before. You can backup and recover files from iCloud more and more conveniently. Otherwise, I want to say, some 3rd party software can do more. Like FonePaw iPhone Data Recovery which you can recover files from iTunes/iCloud, and even iPhone/iPad. Nice features.

  • 0s1r1s

    Funnily enough, I DID say “WTF happened to my contacts???” because iCloud totally friggin wrecked them. Suddenly I can’t search for things correctly, I can’t find calendar items, etc. It took me a little to work things out but I can’t say I’m happy with what it’s done.

    Since Apple STILL don’t have a proper category system all of my categories were wrecked. Plus my contacts suddenly got switched around to last name, first name, which is total crap for anyone other than Americans in my opinion.

    This reminds me of when I made the mistake of going to an Android for a year because Apple still hadn’t released a big phone. I only needed to wait 8 months! balls! But my iPhone 4 had died. Outlook and Android integration is utter crap. Nuff said.

    I can see the merits of this but I am not a fan right now. I am in the process of reverting everything back to Outlook only. But, unsurprisingly, there aren’t any guides on how to do this on the internet yet. :-/

  • Lush Rimbaugh

    Didn’t work. iCloud has two empty folders. Desktop and Documents. I no longer have any of those files on my machine. 5 years of work, gone forever. Thanks apple.