I restored both my iPhone and iPad a week or two ago (in order to un-jailbreak my devices), but I chose to restore to using an iCloud backup instead of the iTunes backups I had always used before. The process was pretty smooth overall, but I thought I'd document the process here on iSource […]
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Tips For Restoring From iCloud Backups

 

I restored both my iPhone and iPad a week or two ago (in order to un-jailbreak my devices), but I chose to restore to using an iCloud backup instead of the iTunes backups I had always used before. The process was pretty smooth overall, but I thought I'd document the process here on iSource in case anyone is wondering about how much you can trust iCloud to preserve your apps, data, and settings.

Restoring

The whole process started with iTunes and the Restore button. After iOS 5.1.1 had been downloaded and installed, each of my devices was essentially reset to factory settings. Once I had logged onto my localnetwork I chose to restore from the most recent iCloud backup for each device. Restoring settings took about 40 minutes each time (and this is without the Camera Roll being re-downloaded – I don't back photos up through iCloud). Once settings had been restored, my iPhone and iPad rebooted to the homescreen, at which point I was prompted to enter passwords for all the iTunes accounts associated with the installed apps. Most of them are on my personal iTunes account, but some of them are from my sister's. This is where I ran into my first problem.

Be Careful with iTunes Passwords, or Risk Losing Saved Data

My copy of Fieldrunners 2 chose not to install because I accidentally cancelled the pop-up dialogue for my sister's iTunes password, and downloading the game from the App Store later on yielded none of my saved data. That was hours of gameplay, gone. It was because of this that I chose to restore my iPhone a second time last night, just to make sure I got all of my data back. So be careful about typing in all the right passwords after restoring from iCloud. The pop-ups come up quickly and are easy to cancel accidentally. It seems as though you've only got one shot, so get it right.

Sync Apps with iTunes First (then turn sync off, if you want to)

The fastest way to get all of your apps back on your iOS device is to start with an iCloud backup, but then head to iTunes and initiate a wired sync through your USB cable. Assuming your apps are all in your iTunes library, this will install of your apps over USB, which is handy for two reasons.

The first is that it's much faster than letting your iOS device download apps straight from the cloud. The second is that this is the only way to install older apps like VLC – which will play most any media file you throw at it – that are no longer on the App Store . Once all your apps are synced, you can tell iTunes that you no longer want to sync your apps with it by un-ticking the checkbox at the top of the Apps tab. The only thing you have to do is make sure to click on the Keep Apps button, or everything will have been for naught.

Beware of Unsaved Settings – Not All Apps are Created Equal

Apps like Instapaper, Beejive, Tweetbot, and Evernote worked beautifully after my restore. Apps like 2Do and Reeder did not. These two in particular required me to log in again and restore all of my settings manually. The lesson here is: not all apps are created equal, and not all of them will restore all of your data properly. It's hard to tell which ones are which, but just don't be surprised when you're missing a little bit of data.

Use iTunes Match? Activate It After Syncing All Of Your Music

This one's a lot like the previous tip about apps. If you want to use iTunes Match for easy, automatic syncing of your new music, but also want to make sure your device has all of your music downloaded to begin with, you'll want to sync your iTunes music to your iOS device first. Only once everything has been transferred will you then go to Settings -> Music on your iOS device and turn on iTunes Match. From this point onward, you will no longer have to worry about syncing with iTunes to transfer new music to your iOS device, but you'll have the benefit of having everything loaded already.


These are all the tips I have for restoring from an iCloud backup. If you've got any more advice, give us a shout in the comments!

 

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