Is there a difference in terms of how the iPhone's settings and state are compared between setting up a new iPhone using a transfer from a previous iPhone and setting up a new iPhone using an iCloud restore-from-backup?

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    Is this a more theoretical question or are you trying to solve a practical problem? – nohillside Oct 25 at 12:07
  • Well, I'm working on the "missing Health and Fitness data" bug that is bothering a lot of iOS14 and watchOS7 folks. It is also under active discussion on the Apple forums, but the conversation there is less technical and more pure, white-hot rage... – Gabriel Perdue Oct 25 at 12:46
  • +1 while we generally like a bit of detail, what you tried, what’s up, sometimes a simple question is both better for us and for the site. You are not alone to wonder what’s really happening and I have my theories that I can’t confirm directly without jailbreaking or finding a log that confirms the cleanup process – bmike Oct 25 at 13:14
  • I also found this discussion in the thread of rage over in the Apple forums: discussions.apple.com/thread/251806066?login=true&page=64 from F_E_C_V on page 64. – Gabriel Perdue Oct 25 at 15:07

In the past, I don’t think it mattered but in iOS 14 and watchOS 7 I am finding the iCloud backup to be the best option due to a bug or migration failure that I and several others here experienced.

Apple says it’s fine to do an encrypted backup to a computer, and that will work, but the unpairing of the watch and validating the backup to iCloud was what helped me restore all my data. If you are about to transfer device to device, I recommend unpairing your watch and checking the date of the iCloud backup if you can.

It’s not entirely clear if Apple does some cleaning once the data is in iCloud or if the mechanics of the restore step and the repairing step re-runs a data migration step that fills in the gaps. Presumably, that would also run if you transferred device to device but for some reason Apple only mentions computer and iCloud setup in the support articles and when I talked with support and engineering about my issue before these articles were published.

So far, iCloud has bailed me out three times ( shelf and two friends) and we did make a computer backup, but didn’t try them first. I set up two fast Macs with content caching that saves/serves iCloud data so iCloud restored fly for me and happen faster than a new backup to the same computers over USB. I could see the opposite direction wing much faster for other setups, so my solution might not be optimal for all, but it works well for me.

I would not rely on direct migration to fix this and would do what Apple says, on the original device if possible and work with Apple support if you fail to fix it after one go.

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  • Doesn the OP talk about migrating data directly from an old phone to a new one, without relying on a backup? This gets offered as a migration option when setting up a new phone. – nohillside Oct 25 at 13:20
  • Yes, I tried to say don’t do that so I’ll tack that on again at the end. It shouldn’t matter, but I believe it does in this case @nohillside hopefully someone with direct experience trying that can confirm it fails or works. I didn’t entertain trying it on my phone as iCloud works best for me with Finder backup as my fall back in case iCloud doesn’t work the first time. – bmike Oct 25 at 13:22
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    Ah. My sons used the direct migration approach recently without problems but then they don‘t have a Watch or use Health data. – nohillside Oct 25 at 13:34
  • Bingo. To test this I would want to have a watch and phone with health data on the old os and test unpairing the watch before initiating the direct transfer/migration. I would guess basically no one unpairs their watch before they transfer hence the need to force that before a backup and restore. – bmike Oct 25 at 13:39

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