After a crash/reboot I lost all contacts on my iPhone.

I have an iTunes backup, but it is several months old. The iPhone was set to sync with my Windows Contacts list, but it also appears to not have been modified for several months. iCloud wasn't ever enabled.

How can I get (most of) my contacts back onto my phone?

A normal iTunes restores all data types at once, which means loosing all non-contacts data I added since the last backup.

I tried an iPhone recovery tool without any success already (Wondershare Dr.Fone; it has many clones, published across several pseudo-"how-to" sites: Asoftech iPhone Data Recovery; Recovery-Android: "Restore iPhone from Backup" and "Restore iPhone from Backup"; iPhone-iPad Recovery). The tool found no contacts at all, although correctly displayed deleted items of all other types available on iPhone.

Is it possible to either pull contacts only from iTunes backup file and restore those, or just sync my existing (although possibly out of date) contacts from Windows? Are there other tools which have chances to recover directly from iPhone storage, even if Dr.Fone failed? Any other ideas?

2 Answers 2


I found how to make iTunes restore only contacts, while preserving the rest intact:

  1. run iTunes before connecting iPhone
  2. disable auto-syncing in preferences: Edit > Preferences > Devices > Prevent iPods, iPhones, and iPads from syncing automatically should be switched On
  3. connect iPhone to PC. In iTunes:
  4. on the Sidebar, select your iPhone (press Ctrl-S if Sidebar is hidden)
  5. on the top central menu (Summary | Info | Apps | Music | ...), click Info
  6. scroll the page to bottom, there's Advanced section
  7. switch on: Replace information on this phone > Contacts
  8. click Apply in the bottom right of iTunes window (or right click on iPhone and choose Sync)

These steps wipe the local contact store on iPhone (leaving cloud contact sync alone, if applicable) and injects all the contacts stored in the PC-side data source that iTunes has selected (from Windows Contacts in my case; Outlook on Windows / Contacts on Mac in other setups) and pushes those contacts to the device. It does not load contacts from an iOS backup.

  • 2
    I edited your question to make it clear that you are not specifically wishing to pull from a backup file, and are happy with a contacts only sync. The reason for this is "restore" has a meaning of to erase and then reinstall in iOS and I didn't want people to assume you meant wipe when you meant the opposite of "restore".
    – stuffe
    Sep 5, 2013 at 13:53

If you backup with iTunes and you restored from the backup and the notes were gone, then there is no where to retrieve them from unless you have another backup that contains those notes.

Launch iTunes on the computer and go to iTunes>Preferences>Devices. You will see a window with all of your backups listed in it.

If you see a recent backup that you are certain contains the notes that you need, recover deleted notes from iPhone backup.

If your note is gone from iCloud.com there is only a few ways to possibly recover it.

The first things I would check is a iCloud Backup, a iTunes Backup, or a 3rd party email that may have contained the note. To restore from a iCloud or iTunes backup follow this link. This article explains how to restore a device from either back up.

Note if you have backed up since the note went missing, you will not have the note on the backup. Make sure you do not back up if trying to restore from a back up as this will back up the content without the note.

To get to the "Set up assistant" on an iOS device, you must go to Settings>General>Reset>Erase All Content and Settings. Once the phone restarts, you will be at the "Set up Assistant"

  • If you are serious answering this question, please read it carefully and make sure that you answer it and consider everything written there, and not some other question that I likely didn't ask :-)
    – yurkennis
    Dec 16, 2013 at 10:23

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