How can I recover lost data on my iPhone for free?

Losing important data on your iPhone can be stressful and frustrating. Photos, messages, contacts, notes and other data can disappear for various reasons – an accidental deletion, a system crash, water damage or physical damage to your device. The good news is that even if you don’t have a backup, it may be possible to recover deleted files from your iPhone for free using software tools designed for this purpose.

What are some common causes of data loss on an iPhone?

Here are some of the most common reasons you may lose data on your iPhone:

  • Accidental deletion – You mistakenly delete a photo, message thread, contact, note, etc. These deletions immediately remove the data from your iPhone.
  • iOS crash or update failure – A system crash can cause data corruption. Failed iOS updates can also result in data loss.
  • Water damage – Liquid exposure can short circuit an iPhone’s electronic components and make data recovery difficult.
  • Physical damage – Drops, collisions, bent devices etc. can damage the internal storage chips and circuitry.
  • Stolen device – Having your iPhone stolen results in all its data being lost.
  • Forgotten passcode – If you forget your passcode, you’ll be locked out of your device and unable to access data.

Knowing the cause of data loss can help determine the best recovery method to use.

Can I recover lost data from an iPhone without a backup?

Yes, even without a backup there are still options to recover lost iPhone data. However, backups make data recovery much easier. Here are your options when you don’t have a backup:

  • iPhone data recovery software – Specialized tools are designed to scan your iPhone storage and recover deleted files even if you don’t have a backup.
  • iCloud Photo Library – If you had iCloud Photos enabled, you can restore deleted photos for up to 30 days after deletion.
  • Synced device backups – If you synced your iPhone with iTunes on a computer, there may be backups available to restore from.
  • Cloud service history – Emails or data stored in cloud services like Gmail can sometimes be recovered.

The chances of recovering lost data without a backup depend on what type of data it is and how soon you attempt recovery after the data loss occurs.

What free software can recover lost iPhone data?

Here are some of the best free data recovery apps to use if you’ve lost iPhone files:

1. iMyFone iBypasser – Best Overall

iMyFone iBypasser is a highly rated all-in-one iPhone recovery solution offering excellent free data recovery capabilities. Features include:

  • Recovers up to 15 types of lost iOS data including messages, photos, notes, etc.
  • Allows previewing recoverable data to selectively choose what to restore.
  • Retrieval of data from iOS, iTunes and iCloud backups.
  • Compatible with the latest iPhone models and iOS versions.

iMyFone iBypasser has user-friendly recovery steps perfect for non-techies. It works directly on an iPhone without needing to download computer software.

2. iSkysoft Toolbox – iOS Repair

This suite of iPhone utilities by iSkysoft provides a robust iOS Repair module that can recover 30+ data types from iPhones. Key features include:

  • Recovers messages, notes, photos, call logs, WhatsApp data and more.
  • Allows previewing data before recovering.
  • Retrieves lost data from iOS devices and iTunes/iCloud backups.
  • Easy-to-use data scanning and recovery process.

iSkysoft Toolbox is compatible with the latest iOS versions. The free trial allows recovering up to 10 items per category.

3. EaseUS MobiSaver – iOS Data Recovery

MobiSaver from EaseUS specializes in iPhone data recovery featuring:

  • Retrieve up to 12 types of lost iOS data including contacts, messages, notes, etc.
  • Recovers data directly from an iOS device or iTunes/iCloud backup.
  • Previews found data before restoring it.
  • Straightforward 3-step recovery process.

MobiSaver supports the newest iPhone models and iOS versions. The free trial allows recovering limited amounts of data.

What are the steps to recover lost iPhone data for free?

Here is a general data recovery process to follow with free software tools like the ones mentioned above:

  1. Download and install the program on your Windows or Mac computer, and launch it.
  2. Connect your iPhone to the computer using the original charging cable. The software will automatically detect it.
  3. Analyze the iPhone data by clicking “scan” or “start”. This scans the device for recoverable data.
  4. Preview and select data to recover after the process completes. Files found will be categorized by type.
  5. Recover data by choosing the items you want to restore and clicking a button like “recover” or “get back”.
  6. Save the recovered data on your computer. The location can be chosen.

Follow any additional on-screen instructions from the specific software program you’re using. The recovery tool will walk you through the process.

What types of lost iPhone data can I recover for free?

The free version of most iPhone data recovery tools can restore various types of lost iOS data. Here are some of the most common ones recoverable:

  • Messages – iMessage, SMS and MMS conversations are often recoverable if accidentally deleted.
  • Contacts – Deleted contact names, numbers, emails and birthdays can be retrieved.
  • Call History – Logs of missed, incoming and outgoing calls can sometimes be restored.
  • Photos – Camera photos and screenshots are often recoverable unless overwritten.
  • Notes – The text and media from deleted Apple or 3rd party app notes can be found.
  • App Data – Game progress, WhatsApp messages, voicemails and other app data can restore.
  • Calendars – Events and reminders from your calendar are likely recoverable.
  • Safari History – Deleted webpage visits and open tabs can sometimes restore.

The free trial versions of paid tools like iMyFone will recover limited amounts of data from each category. Upgrading to the paid version removes any data caps.

What are limitations of iPhone data recovery tools?

While data recovery software can be very effective, there are some limitations to be aware of:

  • Overwritten data is typically unrecoverable. The sooner you run recovery, the better.
  • Heavily damaged devices may hinder the tool’s ability to scan and recover.
  • Some file types like videos and audio files have lower recovery rates.
  • You’ll need to root the phone for the deepest data recovery, but this voids the warranty.
  • Jailbroken device data is harder to recover since file locations and data formats are non-standard.
  • Free versions recover limited amounts of data compared to paid.

The tool’s effectiveness depends on the type of data, damage to the device, time passed since data loss, and recovery method used. But they can still recover at least some lost data in most cases.

What are the risks of using data recovery tools on an iPhone?

While iPhone data recovery tools are generally safe to use when following best practices, there are small risks to be aware of:

  • Privacy – Make sure to not recover personal data you want kept private when syncing your device.
  • Stability – Software tools could tax your iPhone’s resources leading to crashes, though rare.
  • Overwriting – Recovered data should be saved elsewhere before restoring to the iPhone to avoid overwriting.
  • Data Corruption – Substandard tools may incorrectly recover files leading to more data corruption.
  • Malware – Shady apps may infect your system with viruses, spyware or adware.

Your best defense is thoroughly researching apps, reading reviews, only recovering data you actually need, and saving recovered data externally before syncing back to your iPhone.

What mistakes should be avoided when attempting iPhone data recovery?

Follow these tips when using iPhone recovery software to avoid complications:

  • Don’t restore your device from a backup, as this overwrites deleted files you want to recover.
  • Don’t connect your iPhone to iTunes. This may trigger an automatic backup and overwriting.
  • Disable automatic iCloud backups to prevent syncing and overwriting.
  • Save the recovered data externally before restoring to your device.
  • Avoid using your iPhone heavily before recovery, as this overwrites deleted data.
  • Don’t update your iPhone or iOS version before recovery, as this can overwrite files.
  • Don’t attempt recovery on a jailbroken iPhone, as data formats will be non-standard.
  • Avoid letting your phone die, as data could be lost if it suddenly powers off.

Preventing any further data modification or restoration is crucial so recovery tools can effectively identify and retrieve deleted files.

How can I ensure successful iPhone data recovery?

Follow these tips for the best chances of recovering your lost iPhone files successfully:

  • Use data recovery as soon as possible after data loss or deletion.
  • Research apps thoroughly and read reviews to find a trusted program.
  • Disable iCloud auto syncing and avoid using the iPhone heavily before recovery.
  • Close all other apps on your iPhone before running the data recovery tool.
  • Enable Airplane mode on your iPhone to avoid calls interrupting the process.
  • Save all recovered data externally before attempting to restore it to your device.
  • Preview found data to avoid recovering corrupt or unwanted files.
  • Use the original iPhone charging cable for a stable connection during recovery.

The right software coupled with proper recovery procedures gives you the best chance of getting back lost contacts, photos, messages and more from your iPhone.

Can I recover lost data from a stolen or broken iPhone?

Recovering lost data from a stolen or broken iPhone is challenging but sometimes possible depending on the situation:

  • On a stolen device, remotely wipe the device using Find My iPhone. Then attempt recovery from your latest iCloud or iTunes backup.
  • With a cracked screen, recovery software may work if the internal storage is intact. Connect an external keyboard if the display is unusable.
  • For water damage, disconnect power and allow the device to fully dry. Recovery software or professional data recovery services may work if hardware isn’t too corroded.
  • Completely broken iPhones can have the storage chips removed and placed in a working phone to attempt recovery. A professional service is best for this scenario.

While difficult, data recovery is sometimes possible if the storage chips remain intact. But expect limited success if hardware is damaged or components disconnected.


Losing important iPhone data can be aggravating, but recovery is often possible without a backup using the right software tools. Specialized programs like iMyFone iBypasser, iSkysoft Toolbox, and EaseUS MobiSaver enable retrieving deleted messages, contacts, photos and other information from an iOS device or backup. Just be sure to avoid overwriting the deleted files prior to recovery. Follow best practices and recovery can typically regain at least some lost data – all without an expensive professional service. Just be sure to pick a reliable program and proceed cautiously, and you stand a good chance of recouping your lost iPhone files for free.