How to back up your iPhone before a factory reset

How to back up your iPhone before a factory reset

A factory reset of your iPhone means restoring all settings to the defaults and removing all data stored on it, including contacts, photos, and non-native apps.

Sometimes referred to as a “master reset”, it effectively returns your phone to what it was like when it left the factory (i.e. before any downloads, apps, personalisation, or changes made by you or any other users).

If you are planning to give or sell your iPhone to someone else, especially if it’s someone you don’t know, it’s essential to perform a factory reset to ensure they don’t have access to any of your personal information.

Another reason to complete a factory reset is if you have a technical problem with your iPhone that has failed to respond to other methods of troubleshooting (such as uninstalling an app that’s causing problems, restarting your phone, or installing a new iOS update).

If you have an older iPhone model, sometimes a factory restore can help improve its performance and reduce lag.

Before resetting your phone, it’s vital that you back up all your data in case you need any of it in the future or want to restore it to your phone or another device.

This is especially important for iPhones because unlike Android phones, there’s no removable memory card to rely on.

Preparing your iPhone for a factory reset

Firstly, do a quick check through your phone manually and delete any big apps and files that immediately stand out as ones you don’t need or never use.

This means you need less space when backing up data you really do want to keep, and makes it easier and quicker to browse through your backup files in the long run.

In this guide we recommend using at least one dedicated cloud backup service. This ensures that your data is stored in a reliable, secure way by recognised industry-leading companies, and isn’t reliant on one physical copy which can degrade over time or be lost or stolen.

Prices start from just £3.04 per month, and you can take a find our top 10 iPhone backup choices here.

Taking an iPhone backup before a factory reset

  1. Set aside a few hours to take your backups, making sure you choose an environment with no distractions and a reliable WiFi connection.
  2. Choose a reliable backup service. Note: We strongly recommend having a minimum of two recently completed backups before restoring your iPhone to a factory reset condition. It can be very difficult if not impossible to retrieve all your data after you’ve reverted your phone back to its default state, so having two backups gives you extra peace of mind. Ensure that you pick a plan at least two to three times the size of your phone’s flash storage – usually 8GB, 16GB up to 64GB for the latest models – so that you have plenty of room to work with.
  3. Depending on the backup service you choose, you’ll be guided through the steps needed to complete a backup. This is usually as simple as logging in, connecting to your iPhone and clicking through the wizard to start copying data.

    This is the longest part of the process and could take a few hours depending on the capacity of your iPhone and how much data is being transferred.

  4. Tip: If possible, complete this step late at night or very early in the morning to avoid peak user times and as such transfer your data more quickly.

  5. Wait until you get confirmation that the backup has successfully completed and then safely disconnect your iPhone.
  6. Browse the files uploaded to your cloud backup service, spot-checking a few to make sure they are all there and have uploaded successfully as expected. Once you’re happy that your backed up data is present and correct, you can move on to completing a factory reset of your iPhone safe in the knowledge that you have a secure cloud backup of all your data.
  7. You’re now ready to do your factory reset. On your iPhone, go to Settings, then General, then scroll to the bottom and choose Reset, then ‘Erase All Content and Settings’. The process should complete within about 10 minutes.
  8. That’s all there is to it! Now you know how to back up your iPhone easily and safely before restoring it to the factory default. Take one final look at to compare and find the best-rated cheap professional backup services to protect your iPhone data.

    MAIN IMAGE: William Hook/CC BY-SA 2.0


Jenny is a technology writer, author and teacher based in the North West
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