How to back up your Apple Watch

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Similar to iPhones, iPads, and iPods, settings and data on your Apple Watch can be backed up and restored should anything go wrong, or you’re just setting up a new Watch from a backup.

Restoring from a backup, if you have any, can save you the hassles of setting up the device anew, especially after having it repaired or erased because you’ve forgotten the passcode or have entered the wrong one six times in a row.

Unlike the existing backup options on iOS devices, the process is slightly different on Apple Watch. In this post, I’m going to explain how you can back up your Apple Watch safely and restore it from a backup point, especially after erasing the device or unpairing it from the connected iPhone.

How to back up Apple Watch

There’s no specific option to force a backup of the Watch, other than unpairing the device from the connected iPhone. Unpairing the devices through the Apple Watch companion app on your iPhone always performs a backup first, without you having to do a thing.

You should make sure to keep the Watch and your iPhone close together as you unpair them because the unpairing process is carried over via Bluetooth.

1) Launch the Watch app on your iPhone.

2) At the top of the screen, tap on your Apple Watch.

3) Tap the “i” icon next to the paired Apple Watch.

4) Select Unpair Apple Watch, and confirm.

Before unpairing the Watch, a backup of all the data on that Watch will be created and synced to your iPhone. From there, that backup will itself be backed up either to iCloud or to iTunes, depending on how you have configured your iPhone.

After it’s been successfully backed up, content and settings on your Apple Watch will be wiped clean and the device set back to factory default settings. This post details unpairing your Apple Watch and its connected iPhone.

What is included in an Apple Watch backup?

A backup file contains the following items:

  • App-specific data for stock apps and settings for stock and third-party apps
  • Your Home screen layout
  • Watch face settings
  • Dock settings
  • General system settings
  • Health and Fitness data, including history, unlocked achievements, calibration data
  • Music playlists
  • Photo album
  • Notification settings
  • Siri Voice Feedback settings
  • Time zone

What’s not included in the backup?

  • Your Bluetooth pairings
  • Cards used for Apple Pay on Apple Watch
  • Apple Watch passcode

How to restore Apple Watch from backup

Restoring your Apple Watch erases the content and settings on it while optionally using a backup to bring back your stored data and settings. When you’re ready, you can pair your existing or a brand new device, and then set it up from a stored backup.

You can pair one Apple Watch to your iPhone at a time.

Step 1: If your Watch is already paired to an iPhone, you must first unpair the Watch and the iPhone. Folks who have set up Apple Watch once before, or are setting up a brand new device from a previously saved restore point, should proceed straight to step two.

Apple Wathc unpair iPhone screenshot 001

Step 2: Turn on Apple Watch by pressing and holding the side button next to the Digital Crown until you see the Apple logo. When asked, choose a language on the device.

Step 3: Open the Watch app on the iPhone and tap Start Pairing. Also, tap Start Pairing on your Apple Watch. I’m not going to detail the full process here, but Jeff has easy to follow instructions on pairing your Watch to an iPhone so check out his tutorial for more information on that.

Start Pairing Apple Watch

Tip: To successfully pair the devices, the iPhone’s Bluetooth must be enabled (flip the Bluetooth switch to ON in Settings > Bluetooth) and the phone must be connected to a Wi-Fi or cellular network. Furthermore, both Apple Watch and the iPhone must be charged and keep close together during the pairing and syncing process.

Step 5: Once the devices are paired, the companion app will offer to set up Apple Watch as a new device, meaning you’ll be starting from scratch, or restore it from a previously stored backup. Tap Restore from Backup in the Watch app on your iPhone and follow the onscreen steps to get to the Wrist Preference screen.

Step 6: Now you’ll pick a wrist (Left or Right), accept terms and conditions, sign in with your Apple ID password, review transferring the iPhone’s settings for Usage and Diagnostics, Location Services and Siri to your Watch and optionally create a Watch passcode.

Step 7: Be patient as your iPhone restores your Apple Watch from a backup, applies the settings and reinstalls any previously installed third-party apps. The length of this process varies depending on the amount of data stored in the backup file.

Voilà, Apple Watch is now ready and you can pick up right where you left off just before the last backup.

More about Apple Watch

If you’re interested in getting the most out of your Watch, check out the knowledge base of how-tos, tips and related articles from our rich archive:

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