iPhone iCloud Backup

Yesterday I decided to look at when my new iPhone 6s backed up to iCloud for the last time when I realized that it hadn’t actually been backed up since September 25, which coincidentally was the first day I got this new device.

I imagined it was just a small hiccup in iCloud, and proceeded to manually initiate an iCloud backup by tapping on “Back Up Now” in Settings > iCloud > Backup. At first, it appeared to work fine as it would show the “Backing Up…” status with the usual “Estimating Time Remaining” message. But after a few seconds, the backup would stop and it would show the following error message: “the last backup could not be completed.”

No matter what I’d do, it kept telling me my iPhone backup couldn’t be completed. The problem appeared to be a little more complex than a simple reboot, but I eventually figured it out.

In this post, I will highlight some of the steps you can take if you are seeing a similar error. Although I cannot guarantee it, I’m pretty confident these steps could actually fix most problems related to iCloud.

How to fix error “the last backup could not be completed”

I will spare you the typical suggestions that require to reboot your device or check that you indeed have enough iCloud storage available for your device, because I assume you have already tried that. If you haven’t, you may want to start there. If you have, try the following.

Backup your device in iTunes

Backup iPhone in iTunes

Better safe than sorry. Although this isn’t part of the potential fix, backing up your device on your computer via iTunes is something you should consider doing right away to make sure you do have a backup should something go completely wrong. Not required, but highly suggested. This is actually the first thing I did when I realized my iPhone hadn’t been backed up to iCloud in a week.

Log out of iCloud and log back in

sign out of iCloud

We’ll first assume that the problem is coming from iCloud, and not necessarily from your device, so logging out of iCloud and logging back in could do the trick.

Go to Settings > iCloud, and tap on Sign Out at the bottom. This is kind of a pain in the butt as it will delete all your credit cards on file with Apple Pay on both your iPhone and your Apple Watch if you have one.

I’m not sure what the technicalities between a logout/login are, but it’s been known to actually fix things, believe it or not. I’ll assume it might have to do with some caching on Apple’s servers, but don’t quote me on that.

Although I was pretty hopeful about this, logging out and logging back in didn’t fix anything for me, so I proceeded with the next step.

Reset Network Settings

reset network settings

We previously assumed the problem was from iCloud, but what if it was from your device instead?

To make sure that’s not the case, go to Settings > General > Reset > Reset Network Settings, then enter your password and confirm you do want to reset these settings. This will wipe out all Wi-Fi networks previously saved on your device and start afresh.

Try a different Wi-Fi network

iPhone wi-fi network

If resetting your network settings didn’t work, it might be worth trying to back up to iCloud on a different Wi-Fi network. Try connecting to your neighbor’s network (hello Scott!) or to a coffee shop to see if it makes a difference.

Delete the existing iCloud backup for your device

Delete iCloud backup

This is what did the trick for me. Even though my device wouldn’t backup to iCloud, it seemed to have backed up once on the first day I got the device. I figured that deleting that backup might fix errors associated with it, and indeed it did. I have also heard this was the solution to the problem from several people on Twitter.

Go to Settings > iCloud > Storage > Manage Storage. If you have several iOS devices, you should see all your backups for each device. Choose the device that won’t backup, then tap on Delete Backup at the bottom.

I have also heard from people on Twitter that they were not able to delete their backup from the problematic device, but instead, they had to use another device to delete the backup. If that’s the case for you, and if you own other iOS devices, go to Settings > iCloud > Storage > Manage Storage, then delete your problematic iCloud backup from another device (i.e. your iPad).

For the record, my other iOS devices wouldn’t even show my iPhone 6s iCloud backup at all, but I was successful in deleting the iCloud backup directly from the device anyway.

Restore your device

Restore iPhone in iTunes

If nothing else has worked for you so far, then your last chance is to go thermonuclear on the problem by restoring your iOS device. Some might suggest to simply go to Settings > General > Reset > Erase All Content and Settings, but I’m a firm believer in full restores, meaning that you actually reinstall the software on the device rather than clean everything on that device.

Again, this is my personal preference here, and something that I know works for 99.9% of software-related problems, but I do suggest you plug your iPhone in iTunes, and hit Restore, then set up your device as new, and not from a backup.

If you think that’s too much trouble, then restore in iTunes and set up your device from a previous backup. It might do the trick and save you to reinstall everything on the device, but it might also bring back the exact issue you were trying to fix to begin with, which is why I always recommend a restore and set up as new.

Still not working? Unfortunately, I’m not sure there is anything else you can do on your own, and it might be time to visit an Apple Store and meet with a genius. Hopefully you won’t have to get to that point.

If you’ve had problems with iCloud, please make sure to know what solution fixed the issue.

  • Corey Moore

    Mine had that error during opening weekend… As did my mother’s 5C. Signing in and out of iCloud, deleting the backups and resyncing worked for me. I also backed up via iTunes just to be safe.

  • Frank Thrashmetal

    someone happened ? to download ios via itunes, or download apps or update, takes long time, example: to me, download software ios 9.0.2, takes about 48hrs !!! update facebook app: like 2 hrs !! my internet is ok ( example: downloading a video from mega 700MB, takes less than 8 mins ) thanks,

    I appreciate your comments

  • Juan Genao

    That was happening to me on the previous 9.1 beta, but the 2 latest updates seem to have fixed the problem.

  • Isaac Reyes

    Hey guys, sorry this post might seem out of place but I need some help. So I have a TMOB unlocked 6s Plus. I connected this phone to MetroPCS’s network and have been experiencing issues since launch day. My phone can make/receive phone calls, send texts, and browse the web. But, I can not view visual voicemail nor send picture messages (MMS). In settings, it shows Carrier 21.0 and Network is MetroPCS. Is there any way to fix this issue? Is there a way to manually install a carrier update for MetroPCS on my 6s+? Any help is appreciated, thank you.

    • George

      I would contact metropcs.

    • Gotombb

      I’m having those same issues right now. The MMS and Group Messaging field is not there. I was at Apple for 3 hours and on the phone with Apple and Metro PCS for 3 hours also. Did you ever get it fixed?

  • Brandon Higgins

    We’re having this problem on an iPhone 5s trying to upgrade to the 6, but need the backup.

  • johnsm

    I’m having issues with Backup on iOS9.. only fixed after I DELETED the backup and did a manual backup

  • miss batool

    didn’t apple resolve that issue with iOS 9.0.2?

  • Joe Meta Data

    Deleting the backup worked for me, but, it would not allow me to delete the backup from my device. If you’re on OS X (on a Mac), then utilize iCloud there, “manage your storage”, and delete the back up that way instead. If you don’t have access to a computer, then try signing out and signing back in. This usually works. I would even go as far as to say, anytime you restore from iCloud to sign out and sign back in, just as a good measure.

  • Rob_Huska

    I had the same issue. iOS 9 fixed it for me.

  • Steven Gouws

    Deleting the back up and then rebacking up worked. Thanks for the advice.

  • Robert

    I’ve been having the same problem, but in my case, the source / cause is installing El Capitan on my iMac. Immediately after that happened, my iPhone doesn’t properly sync to iTunes. It freezes on step 6 of 7 – importing photos – and says that the sync cannot be completed because my Photos library is not available.

    At that point, my iCloud back up stopped working properly too.

    I deleted my iCloud backup and then tried again via iCloud…success. As soon as I tried to backup to my iMac via iTunes again in El Capitan, I got the “Photos library not available” message again, and iCloud backups immediately began to fail. Definite cause and effect in my case.

    I can only assume the problem will persist for me until something in El Capitan / iTunes is addressed…

    • Christine Infanger

      Same here. It’s maddening. Now I have no iCloud backups as I’ve deleted them. I don’t want to restore as that seems a bit drastic so I’m hoping Apple fixes this soon.

  • Razick Rilshad

    I have the same problem

  • Razick Rilshad

    I had the same problem ios 9.0.2 fixed the problem

  • I had this problem either. But I solved going to iCloud on settings, manage iCloud storage, deleted the backup that was there and created a new one.

  • Carlos Neira

    Hey someone have this problem: I can transfer my purchases from my iPhone to my pc (my idevice is on 9.0.2 doesn’t work) but with iOS 8.4.1 is all just fine ;/

  • My Thoughts

    Much easier fix for the iOS 9 backup issue:
    Rename your iPhone in Settings > General > About > Name

    The backup will then complete successfully.

    • Sky Evans

      Didn’t work for me.

      • Null Cull

        I was unable to delete the latest backup, but after renaming my iPhone, I was able to delete the latest backup and create a new backup.

  • Kaptivator

    Thanks! Deleting the back up worked.

  • Tim Chaten

    Here is my horror story that is still not fixed – since July my 6 Plus refused backup to iCloud, discovered iTunes backup also fails (disconnects from iTunes error) – phone was replaced by Apple last week as Genius Bar thought it was bad NAND flash, setup as new iPhone, it now once again refuses iCloud or iTunes backup, removing iCloud account gets iTunes backup to work 1/4 of the way through before it errors out with disconnect error – something in iCloud that isn’t a part of the backup (photos, iCloud Drive) – some file must be screwing with the backup and getting pretty upset that all of the watch data is just going to be lost because I can’t backup anymore.

  • blmesk

    5s, tried logging out of iCloud from all devices numerous times, as well as rebooting. kept getting an error message that the backup could not be deleted from the iPhone. finally deleting the existing backup from another device worked for me, thank you!!

    • Neal Millman

      Well I had the same issue of my iphone 6s not backing up and getting the message, “the last backup could not be completed.” I talked to two
      different “level 2” Apple technicians for hours and they were unable to help me either. But after two weeks of trying many different things, I finally got it working yesterday. I had previously tried deleting all my old backups which didn’t help. So yesterday I decided to delete the most recent backup as well and that solved the problem. It’s been backing up just fine ever since!

      • Burban

        What happens if it says this iPhone was last backed up never??? so I cannot delete the bad back up because it shows none. but then in another area it says it was last backed up to the cloud in Oct. 23rd. It also says it can’t back up because not enough iCloud storage but there is 20 gb available.

  • Dusty Warden

    Signing in and out of iCloud on the iOS device remedied the situation immediately…
    Thank you!

  • Marcques

    Signing out of iCloud and back in fixed the issue. Thank you kindly.

  • Adan

    I have done all this, but the total of my back ups is 1.9GB and I am told I have 1.3 GB left when it should be 3.2GB. Thinking about it, I probably have had this issue. Anybody know how I can contact Apple to ‘reset’ iCloud, please?

  • Msz O

    Just got my 6s & I did everything up until a hard reset but something said to just try using a separate password from my Apple ID for my MBA. Once I changed it, I tried the backup and it worked! Thanks for all of the suggestions!

    • Burban

      What is a MBA???? maybe that would fix my problem if I knew what it was

      • Msz O

        Sorry, MacBook Air.

      • Burban

        Thank you! I have a Macbook air so I will try that if nothing else works. so far nothing has and i think Ive exhausted all my avenues.

      • Msz O

        I hope it works for you!

  • Rìzvan Bukharì

    nothing is working to fix on my ios 9.2

    • pxl1228

      same here

    • Trooper311

      Same for me. Nothign works. Called Apple and said it was a known issues and to use iTunes to backup. Went to the Apple store, same deal. What gives?

  • Trooper311

    None of this worked for me.

  • ali

    I’m having same issue for my iPhone 6plus, I’ve been to apply store in leeds and they have told me I need to call 01132511000, which I did and the guy on the phone told me to first allow him to see my screen and then told me what to do from they, we deleted previous backups after first backing up on iTunes just incase.
    then we updated software through iTunes which took over an hour and then tried backup from wifi,, still not fixed. been having this problem over 2 months still no fix

  • Daimon B.

    Deleting my latest backup fixed this issue. I think this problem occurred after I installed beta software and then reverted back to the latest (non-beta) version of iOS.

  • Andy Grall

    I had to delete the backup from a different device and then log out of iCloud and log back in to get it to work.

    Thanks for the tips.

  • Mel

    Thank you! This post was very helpful! I spent hours trying to fix this issue and the info in the post worked perfectly!

  • Traci Reed-Chazen

    Your last fix was the solution. Had to go to new device (iphone5), log on with Apple ID, delete the old backup (which just happened to be incomplete), reboot (soft boot) original device (ipod5thG), and then the back up worked famously. Thank you SO much for the legwork on this project. I appreciated your time spent to help me!
    Traci C.

  • Jaymee

    How do you restore iTunes and iCloud on the device if you have a Chromebook? Since a Chromebook isn’t compatible with iTunes.

  • Brian Preble

    Unfortunately, none of these suggestions fixed the problem, nor will anything else. I tried a manual backup to iTunes by connecting the iPad to my PC with a USB cable, but I’m not sure that worked either. It seems to have completed, but I can’t actually see the backup file, and iTunes no longer transfers installed apps to the computer. Was this a “improvement” in iTunes 12?

    I am unable to delete the iCloud backup, as I only have one IoS device, and it simply does not work on my iPad Air 2.

  • Opinionated2

    Won’t deleting backup from iCloud in step 4 also delete the back up from step 1?

  • Steven Aldridge

    Way too much work, Apple makes everything so difficult.

  • Steven Aldridge

    Every fix ends up with a total system reset, pretty pathetic.