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Summary:

Getting a new iPhone 5s or iPhone 5c? Here are the easiest ways to migrate all of the data and settings from your old one.

Apple iPhone 5S 3 colors
photo: Apple

If you already own an iPhone and you’re planning to upgrade to the iPhone 5s or the iPhone 5c, you probably want to carry your old data and settings along with you. Thankfully, there are two fairly easy ways to do this.

If your soon-to-be-old phone is running iOS 5 or later and you have an iCloud account, use iCloud. It’ll let you store your data and settings in the cloud, then wirelessly beam it back down to your new phone. If you’re running on older version of iOS or you don’t have access to a solid wireless internet connection to back up your data with iCloud, then iTunes is the way to go. It’ll still let you keep your old data and settings, but requires you to use a cable and transfer everything through iTunes.

And if you’ve decided that you’re just going to stick to your old phone for the time being, but you want to freshen it up with iOS 7, check out how to prepare your iOS 6 device for the iOS 7 update.

Note: If possible, do not turn on your new phone until you’ve taken the steps to back up your old one. If you’ve already activated your device and set it up as a new phone, you can tap on Settings > General > Reset > Erase All Content and Settings to restore it to factory settings. Just keep in mind this will erase all of the content and settings on your phone.

iCloud login

iCloud

  1. Tap on Settings > iCloud > Storage and Backup. Make sure iCloud Backup is switched to on.
  2. When connected to both a power source and Wi-Fi, iCloud will automatically back your phone up once a day. To trigger it to back up manually, tap Back Up Now. (Note that you will need to be connected to a power source and Wi-Fi.)
  3. Once you’re all backed up, turn on your new phone and complete the setup assistant. When you reach the screen that says Set Up iPhone, choose “Restore from iCloud Backup” and select the backup of your old phone you wish to use. Note that you will need to know your Apple ID and password in order to do this.
  4. Wait until your phone has been fully restored before you use it. It will restart when ready.
  5. Connect your phone to iTunes to sync any data that wasn’t stored in your backup (like apps, music and video). You can check which data is synced through the syncing tabs in iTunes.
  6. Once backed up, you will still need to provide passwords for your email and voicemail, along with other synced accounts.

iTunes

iTunes

  1. Make sure you have the latest version of iTunes installed on your computer, and the most recent version of iOS installed on your phone.
  2. Connect your phone to your computer using a USB cable. Click the File menu in iTunes, then select Devices > Back Up, and click on Back Up Now.
  3. To make sure the backup is complete, open the iTunes Preferences menu and click on the Devices tab. The name of your phone and the time of backup should appear. Once verified, disconnect the phone from your computer.
  4. Once you’re all backed up, turn on your new phone and complete the setup assistant. When you reach the screen that says Set Up iPhone, choose “Restore from iTunes Backup” and select the backup of your old phone you wish to use.
  5. Connect your new phone to iTunes, select the backup of your old phone, and click Continue.
  6. Wait until your phone has been fully restored before you use it. It will restart when ready.
  7. Keep your phone connected to iTunes to sync any data that wasn’t stored in your backup (like apps, music and video). You can check which data is synced through the syncing tabs in iTunes.
  8. Once backed up, you will still need to provide passwords for your email and voicemail, along with other synced accounts.
  1. .. And How Safe is Backed up Data in iCloud From NSA?

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    1. Probably not at all, so the wise course of action is not to put “in the cloud” anything you don’t want the NSA to see. You know, like your instructions on how to make an atomic bomb, or the contact information for your fellow operatives in Al Qaeda.

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    2. It doesn’t matter if it’s in the iCloud or not… they can see it right on your phone if they want to.

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      1. Haha yes and now they will have all of our fingerprints as well! I do wonder if the fingerprint thing will help with iphone theft

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  2. wow, Excellent post. I will surely transfer data of my old phone to new one :D
    Thanks for the great post ;)

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    1. Thanks, James. Glad you found it helpful.

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  3. I can’t find the Setup Assistant. They did it at the store but my info didn’t download. How to I get to the Setup Assistant to try it again?

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  4. is there a way i can back up just a few things and not everything off my previous phone?

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    1. iPhone Data Transfer can help. You can choose to transfer only messages, contacts, notes, clalendars or bookmarks between iPhone. All these data will be merged perfectly on your new iPhone 5S or iPhone 5C. http://android-iphone-backup-transfer.blogspot.com/2013/12/copy-data-from-iphone-5-4s-4-3gs-to-iphone-5s-5c.html

      Best luck!

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  5. Will this keep all game data/progress (using the itunes way)? I set-up my 4 from a 3GS backup and only the core things were copied over (messages, phone numbers etc)… I don’t know what I did wrong…

    Cheers

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  6. if I forgot to backup what should I do?

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  7. Whenever you backup to the iCloud, does this save text messages at all? We purchased the new 5c but didn’t do a full backup to our computer recently. So, we’re attempting to find a way to restore our text messages, if that’s possible. Great post!

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    1. It restored mine. I used icloud to backup iphone 4s and restored it to iphone 5s. It has restored everything except my camera roll, photo folders from computer, and music.
      Although now it has been several hours and it says it is not complete yet. It seems like it is all finished, I have access to everything.

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    2. Tony Robbinson Monday, November 25, 2013

      Airdisk Pro – free to try and transfers the files via a wifi network either from mac/pc to iDevice and/or between iDevices…
      http://gg.gg/r1v7

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  8. CloudFuze is the ultimate app to manage multiple cloud storage services over multiple devices.With CloudFuze you can sync multiple accounts of Google Drive, Dropbox, Box, SugarSync and FTP at one point and access Over IOS mobile devices.

    http://www.cloudfuze.com/

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  9. Leon Williamson Sunday, September 29, 2013

    Besides using iTunes and iCloud service, here’s also a solution for transferring apps from iPhone to iPhone: http://www.leawo.org/tutorial/how-to-transfer-apps-to-new-iphone-without-losing-data.html

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    1. If you still have the old iPhone, you can follow this tutorial on how to transfer SMS text messages from old iPhone to new iPhone 5S directly on computer. All text messages will be merged perfectly.
      http://www.backuptrans.com/guides/transfer-iphone-sms-from-iphone-5-4s-4-3gs-to-iphone-5s.html

      Hope it helps.

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  10. After using the restore from backup on iTunes, I got everything except my ringtones, I went to sync with iTunes, it said it will erase all content because it was synced on another computer. What do I do?

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