Whether you’ve just purchased your second or third Apple Watch, or have wiped your existing device clean, at some point you’ll probably want to restore it from a backup to continue right where you left off, especially if personalizing the device’s many settings all over again isn’t your definition of fun.
A little planning ahead goes a long way toward being prepared so it may be a good idea to learn what is and what isn’t stored in your Apple Watch backup.
Before we get to it, a little backgrounder on Apple Watch backups.
A backup file is created when you unpair the Apple Watch from its connected iPhone. These backups are also part of your iPhone backups to iCloud, assuming they’re enabled under Settings > Apple ID > iCloud > iCloud Backup.
You can use the Apple Watch companion app to restore the wearable device to your last-saved backup point. Restoring erases your Apple Watch and then recreates its content and settings from a backup.
Read my previous article to learn more about backing up and restoring the Apple Watch from a stored backup, if you have one.
Here’s what is, and especially what isn’t stored when you back up your Apple Watch.
Data stored in Apple Watch backup
The following data will be included in a backup file:
- General system settings, such as your watch face, known Wi-Fi networks, brightness, sound and haptic settings
- Dock settings
- Notification settings
- Time zone
- Home screen layout
- Settings for Mail, Calendar, Stocks and Weather
- App-specific settings, such as Maps, distance and units
- Health and fitness data like history, achievements, Workout and Activity calibration data, and user-entered information
- iPhone apps that you installed on your Apple Watch
- Music playlists synced to your Apple Watch
- Synced photo album
- Siri Voice Feedback settings for Apple Watch Series 3 or later
Data excluded from Apple Watch backup
The backup file won’t include the following:
- Bluetooth pairings
- Credit or debit cards used for Apple Pay on your Apple Watch
- Your Apple Watch passcode
Given that fitness calibration data, Apple Pay settings, device passcode and synced music aren’t stored in a backup, restoring your device from a backup would typically entail re-creating those items manually for the uninterrupted experience.
The following tutorials may come in handy:
Where can I find my Apple Watch backups?
Backups take very little space on your iPhone, as evidenced on the screenshot below. You can browse and delete them under the General > iPhone Storage > Watch section of the iOS Settings app.
Just slide a backup at the bottom from right to left and hit Delete. If you delete a backup, you will no longer be able to restore your device from that restore point.
As mentioned before, Apple Watch backups are included as part of your iPhone backups to iCloud, but you can’t view information in them for security reasons.
At the time of this writing, desktop tools like iExplorer, iMazing, Phone Expander and others had not been updated with support for browsing Apple Watch backup data, stored on your Mac or Windows PC as part of iOS device backups created each time you sync your iPhone with iTunes.
More about Apple Watch
Folks interested in getting the most out of their Apple Watch should check out the knowledge base of how-tos, tips and related articles from our rich archive:
If you have a tip you want to share, or are plagued with a problem in a need of a solution, let us know at [email protected] and we’ll do our best to consider your submission for future tips and tutorials.