Can you retrieve old backups from iCloud?

Yes, it is possible to retrieve old backups from iCloud, even if you have deleted them or they are more than 30 days old. iCloud stores multiple versions of backups over time, so you can restore from an older backup as long as it exists in iCloud’s version history.

How long does iCloud keep backups?

iCloud stores backups for up to 30 days. After 30 days, iCloud will automatically delete a backup to save storage space. However, iCloud also retains multiple versions of a backup over time. So even if your latest backup is deleted after 30 days, you may still be able to restore from an older backup.

For example, let’s say you backup your iPhone to iCloud every day. On January 1st you create backup A. On January 2nd, backup A is replaced with backup B. On January 3rd, backup B is replaced with backup C, and so on. Even though each successive backup replaces the previous one, iCloud still retains older copies for several weeks.

So on February 1st, even though your January 1st backup (backup A) is now over 30 days old, it may still be available in iCloud as a previous version that you can restore from.

How to retrieve an old backup from iCloud

To retrieve an older iCloud backup that is more than 30 days old, follow these steps:

  1. Go to Settings > [your name] > iCloud > Manage Storage > Backups on your iOS device
  2. Look for the name of the device you want the old backup for under “Choose Backup”. Tap on that device name.
  3. You will see a list of backup dates. Tap on the date of the old backup you want to retrieve.
  4. Tap “Restore” to download and restore that older backup to your device.

This will allow you to restore your device from that older iCloud backup, even if it is more than 30 days old.

Which backup versions can you restore from?

As mentioned previously, iCloud retains multiple older versions of your device backup over time. However, there are some limitations:

  • You can only restore from backups up to 45 days old. Anything older than 45 days is automatically deleted from iCloud.
  • The number of backup versions retained depends on the amount of iCloud storage space you have. If you have more storage, iCloud keeps more backup versions.
  • Only the latest 10 backup versions are guaranteed to be available for restore. Older versions may have been deleted.
  • The timeframe for keeping backup versions can vary. Apple does not provide exact details.

So while you can retrieve backups older than 30 days, there is no guarantee how far back in time the backups go. The best thing to do is manually check the backup list on your device to see the actual versions available.

What happens if I restore from an old backup?

When you restore your device from an older iCloud backup, it will revert your device back in time to the state it was in when that backup was created. This means:

  • You will lose any data/changes made after the backup date you are restoring from
  • Any apps, photos, messages, settings, etc. on your device will be replaced with the versions from the old backup
  • Your device storage will look just like it did on the backup date

Essentially, restoring an older backup lets you “go back in time” with your device’s data and settings. This can be useful if you want to retrieve lost data or revert your device to a previous state.

However, keep in mind this will overwrite your current device state. So any new data and changes since the backup will be deleted. You should only restore from an older backup if you’re OK with reverting your device back to that point in time.

What data can you retrieve from an iCloud backup?

An iCloud backup contains most of your iPhone or iPad data. This includes:

  • Messages – iMessages, SMS texts, attachments
  • Photos & Videos – Camera Roll album contents
  • Contacts – Names, phone numbers, email addresses
  • Calendars – Events, reminders, notes
  • Settings & Preferences – WiFi networks, wallpaper, notifications settings
  • App Data – Content and settings for apps
  • Home screen and folder organization
  • Apple Watch backups (if paired)

However, some content is NOT included in an iCloud backup, such as:

  • Media content synced from iTunes, like music, movies, books
  • Data already stored in iCloud, like iCloud Photos, iWork documents
  • Touch ID and Face ID settings
  • Apple Pay information and settings

So when you restore from an older iCloud backup, you can retrieve the data it contains like messages, photos, and app data. But some exclusions like music and Touch ID will not be part of the old backup.

Should you restore from an iCloud backup?

Here are some things to consider when deciding if you should restore an older iCloud backup:

  • You should only restore if you need to recover lost data or revert your device’s state back in time.
  • It will overwrite your current device data, so you’ll lose any new data and changes.
  • Make sure the backup is reasonably recent to avoid losing too much current data.
  • Check which backup dates are available before deciding which one to restore.
  • Consider alternative ways to recover specific lost data if possible.
  • Back up your device before restoring an older backup in case you need to undo.

Overall, restoring an iCloud backup is a powerful way to retrieve an earlier version of your data. But it involves tradeoffs, so weigh the pros and cons before overwriting your current device state.

Can you restore certain data from a backup?

Unfortunately, you cannot directly restore only certain data from an iCloud backup. When you restore an iCloud backup, it will restore the entire contents from that point in time to your device.

However, there are a couple alternative options if you only need to recover specific data from a backup:

  • Retrieve photos/videos – You can log into and browse your iCloud Photos library online to download individual photos or videos that have been backed up.
  • Restore app data – For app data, you may be able to restore the app’s data from an iCloud backup without restoring the entire device. Contact the app developer to see if they offer this capability.
  • View messages – You can also log into to view and search your iCloud-synced messages online to retrieve specific conversations.

While these options only restore select data, they avoid overwriting your entire device if you only need a few pieces of content from a backup.

What are the risks of restoring from old backups?

There are some risks to keep in mind when restoring iOS devices from old iCloud backups:

  • You will lose any new data or changes to your device since the backup was created.
  • If the backup is very old, you may lose data, settings, or device compatibility.
  • Older backups may contain outdated or vulnerable versions of data and software.
  • Malware or other issues could be restored along with the backup data.
  • Partial or incomplete restoration can lead to software instability or crashes.
  • Device may experience compatibility issues or errors restoring older backups.

To minimize risks, avoid restoring extremely old backups from many months or years ago. Review the backup content first and be selective in what data you restore. Also, maintain current backups as a precaution in case issues arise.

Can you restore iCloud backups to a new iPhone?

Yes, you can use iCloud backups to transfer data to a new iPhone. When setting up a new iPhone, you will have the option to restore from an iCloud backup during the initial setup prompts.

The steps to restore an iCloud backup to a new iPhone are:

  1. Turn on your new iPhone and proceed through the initial setup prompts.
  2. On the Apps & Data screen, tap “Restore from iCloud Backup”. Sign in with your Apple ID.
  3. Select the desired backup from the list of available backups.
  4. Allow the restore process to complete. Your phone will reboot and restore the backup.

This will transfer over your old iPhone data like photos, messages, settings etc to your new device. You can restore either your latest iCloud backup, or older backups if available.

How to make backups last longer in iCloud

Here are some tips to extend how long your iCloud backups are retained before being automatically deleted:

  • Purchase additional iCloud storage – More storage allows iCloud to retain more backup versions.
  • Create backups less frequently – Daily backups eat up storage faster than weekly or monthly.
  • Delete old backups you no longer need from the iCloud list.
  • Disable iCloud Photo Library – This uses a lot of storage space, so disabling it can allow more room for backups.
  • Remove unneeded apps and data from your device to reduce backup size.

Also, be sure to check your iCloud storage usage occasionally and delete old backups that you no longer need. This helps avoid running into the storage limit which causes older backups to be removed by iCloud.

Can you download iCloud backups to your computer?

There is no official way to directly download a copy of an entire iCloud backup to your computer. However, there are some limited workarounds:

  • Photos/videos – You can download your iCloud Photo Library contents to your computer via
  • iCloud Drive files – Files stored in iCloud Drive can be downloaded to your computer through iCloud for Windows or macOS.
  • iTunes backup – You can create an encrypted iTunes backup which is downloaded locally rather than stored on iCloud.

But there is no method provided by Apple to simply download an entire iCloud backup as a single archive onto your computer. Any offline backups will have to be created via iTunes.

Does deleting a backup from the list remove it from iCloud?

Yes, if you delete a backup version from the list in your iPhone or iPad settings, it will permanently delete that backup and remove it from iCloud storage. However, keep in mind:

  • Your latest backup cannot be deleted – The most recent backup is always kept.
  • Deleted backups may still exist temporarily – It takes time for the actual files to be purged from iCloud after deletion.
  • Backups may be kept longer if device is offline – iCloud can’t purge backup files until your device is online again.

So deleting old backups from your list is a way to free up iCloud storage by removing those archived versions. But be cautious not to delete a backup you still need, as they will be permanently gone from iCloud after deletion.

Can you choose which data gets backed up to iCloud?

There is no way to selectively backup only certain types of data from your iPhone or iPad to iCloud. iCloud backups are always complete device backups containing your settings, app data, messages, photos, and more.

However, there are a couple ways to limit the amount of data in your iCloud backups:

  • Turn off iCloud Photos – This prevents photos and videos from being included in the backup.
  • Delete apps – Removing unused apps and their data can significantly shrink backup size.
  • Turn off Messages in iCloud – Backups will not include your iMessage history if this is disabled.

While you can’t pick and choose what gets backed up, minimizing unnecessary data on your device does help reduce your overall iCloud backup footprint.

What is the easiest way to create a manual iCloud backup?

The quickest way to manually trigger an iCloud backup from your iPhone or iPad is:

  1. Go to Settings > [your name] > iCloud
  2. Tap iCloud Backup
  3. Tap Back Up Now to initiate a manual backup

This will immediately perform a full iCloud backup of your current device state. The backup may take time to complete depending on the amount of data being backed up.

You can also create manual iCloud backups using iTunes on a computer. But the above method lets you manually backup anytime directly from your iPhone or iPad.

How can you tell when an iCloud backup was created?

To see details on the date and time a particular iCloud backup was created:

  1. Go to Settings > [your name] > iCloud > Manage Storage > Backups
  2. Tap on your device name
  3. You will see a list of backups with their timestamp below each one

This allows you to view the exact date and time each of your iCloud backups was created. You can use this to determine how recent a backup is, which can be helpful when deciding which one to restore from.

Can you restore from an iTunes backup instead of iCloud?

Yes, you have the option to restore your iOS device from either an iCloud backup or an iTunes backup (for Windows or Mac).

There are a few key differences between iTunes vs. iCloud backups:

iTunes Backups iCloud Backups
Stored locally on your computer Stored in the cloud on Apple’s servers
Can be encrypted for extra security Always encrypted by default
Manual backups whenever you plug into computer Automatic wireless backups to iCloud
Full backup files can be transferred between computers Cannot download iCloud backups to a computer

So iTunes backups give you local copies and control, while iCloud backups offer convenience. You can use either one when restoring your iOS device.


Restoring an iOS device from an older iCloud backup can be very useful to recover lost data or revert settings and system state back to a previous point in time. As long as the backup version still exists within iCloud’s retained history, you can restore it to your device, even if it is more than 30 days old.

However, this process does involve some tradeoffs and risks. Be very cautious before overwriting your current device state, and only restore older backups when truly needed to avoid data loss. Additionally, take steps to preserve important backups by managing your iCloud storage usage and backup schedule.

Overall, retrieving older iCloud backups provides valuable data protection. But it is a powerful tool that is best used selectively and with care.