How to protect your iCloud data by Advanced Data Protection

In today’s digital world, security and privacy of personal data have become major concerns for many people. With data breaches and hacking attacks happening more frequently, safeguarding sensitive information is crucial. One way Apple users can enhance the security of their data is by enabling Advanced Data Protection for their iCloud account.

Advanced Data Protection adds an extra layer of encryption to iCloud data, making it much harder for unauthorized parties to access the information. When enabled, certain iCloud data – like your photos, notes, contacts, calendar events – are protected by end-to-end encryption. This means only you can access the data on your trusted devices where you’re signed into iCloud. Even Apple cannot decrypt the information.

In this comprehensive guide, we will walk you through everything you need to know about Advanced Data Protection for iCloud and how to set it up.

Advanced Data Protection

What is Advanced Data Protection?

Advanced Data Protection is an optional security feature introduced by Apple in iOS 16, iPadOS 16, and macOS Ventura. It allows users to protect their most sensitive iCloud data with end-to-end encryption.

End-to-end encryption means that the data is encrypted on the user’s device before it is transmitted to iCloud storage. The encryption keys used to encrypt and decrypt the data are stored only on the user’s device. This ensures that no one, including Apple, has access to the encryption keys needed to decrypt the data.

With Advanced Data Protection enabled, certain categories of iCloud data will be encrypted end-to-end. This includes:

  • Photos
  • Notes
  • Voice memos
  • Reminders
  • Safari bookmarks
  • Siri shortcuts
  • Call history
  • Device backups
  • Messages backups (requires iCloud Backup enabled)

So essentially, the most private and personal data types stored in iCloud will have an added layer of security that prevents unauthorized access. Even in the event that Apple’s servers are breached, the encrypted data would remain safe and inaccessible.

Advanced Data Protection uses a technology called CloudKit Extension File Provider. It enables third-party apps to seamlessly integrate end-to-end encryption while still taking advantage of iCloud’s syncing capabilities across devices.

What are the benefits of Advanced Data Protection?

There are several key benefits that Advanced Data Protection for iCloud provides:

  • Stronger data privacy – Sensitive iCloud data is protected with end-to-end encryption, meaning not even Apple can access it. This gives users greater control over their privacy.
  • Enhanced security against hacking – The data is encrypted on-device before being stored in iCloud. So even if Apple’s servers are compromised, the encrypted data remains secure.
  • Peace of mind – Users don’t need to worry about their most personal iCloud data being seen by prying eyes, whether Apple’s or malicious actors.
  • Seamless user experience – Advanced Data Protection works in the background. Users still enjoy the convenience of having data seamlessly sync across devices while getting the security of end-to-end encryption.
  • Control over security levels – Users can choose which data types they want to protect with Advanced Data Protection. The level of security can be customized.
  • Built-in security – Advanced Data Protection is integrated into iOS, iPadOS, and macOS. There’s no need to install any additional apps or software to enable it.
  • Interoperability – Apps can integrate end-to-end encryption with iCloud using CloudKit Extension File Provider. This allows apps to work seamlessly while giving users the assurance of encryption.

Advanced Data Protection grants iPhone, iPad and Mac users much greater control over the privacy and security of their iCloud data. For those concerned about protection of their personal information, it provides peace of mind.

How to protect your iCloud data by Advanced Data Protection

How Advanced Data Protection works

Advanced Data Protection relies on a combination of data encryption, key management, and authentication mechanisms to secure iCloud data:

  • Each user’s device generates a set of asymmetric encryption keys – a public and private key pair. The private key remains stored locally on the user’s device while the public key gets uploaded to iCloud.
  • When the user enables Advanced Data Protection, their device uses the public key downloaded from iCloud along with their local private key to generate encryption keys for their iCloud data.
  • The iCloud data is encrypted on-device before it gets uploaded to Apple’s servers. Each data category gets encrypted with a different key.
  • To decrypt the data, the device retrieves the encrypted data from iCloud along with the public key. It then uses the private key stored locally to decrypt.
  • For additional security, Advanced Data Protection uses a hierarchical system to encrypt the asymmetric encryption keys. The public key is encrypted with an Apple public key while the private key is encrypted with device-specific keys.
  • User authentication through Touch ID, Face ID or passcode is required to access the encrypted iCloud data. This ensures that only the user can access their private key on the device.
  • If the user signs out of iCloud or disables iCloud Backup, all encryption keys are wiped from the device. The data remains encrypted in iCloud Storage but can no longer be decrypted without the keys.

Advanced Data Protection implements end-to-end encryption using public/private key cryptography. The keys remain exclusively on user devices. And authentication mechanisms ensure only authorized users can decrypt data. This system prevents Apple and malicious actors from accessing the encrypted data.

What data is protected by Advanced Data Protection?

With Advanced Data Protection enabled, the following categories of iCloud data will be encrypted end-to-end:

  • Photos – This includes photos, videos, edits, and Memories in the Photos app. Shared albums are not encrypted.
  • Notes – All notes, sketches, and attachments added in the Notes app are protected. Shared notes are not encrypted.
  • Voice Memos – Audio recordings and transcripts made in the Voice Memos app are secured.
  • Reminders – Reminder lists, reminders, and attachments in the Reminders app are encrypted. Shared reminders are excluded.
  • Safari Bookmarks – Bookmarks, favicon images, and reading lists are protected. Browsing history remains unencrypted.
  • Siri Shortcuts – Personal shortcuts you create in the Shortcuts app are encrypted. Shared and preinstalled shortcuts are not protected.
  • Call History – Call history data including phone numbers and timestamps are encrypted.
  • Device Backups – Full device backups stored on iCloud are encrypted if you have iCloud Backup enabled.
  • Messages Backups – Your iMessage history, SMS/MMS messages and related data are encrypted as part of your iCloud Backup.

So in short, all your personal iCloud data that is only intended for your eyes is secured with end-to-end encryption. Shared data and non-private data is excluded. You can choose to encrypt your device and messages backups for comprehensive protection.

Requirements for using Advanced Data Protection

To use Advanced Data Protection for iCloud, you need to meet the following requirements:

  • Running iOS 16, iPadOS 16 or macOS Ventura – Advanced Data Protection is available only on Apple’s latest operating systems. So you need to update your compatible devices.
  • Two-factor authentication enabled – For additional security, two-factor authentication must be turned on for your Apple ID account.
  • At least one trusted device – To utilize the full benefits, you need at least one trusted device where you are signed into iCloud. This includes an iPhone, iPad, or Mac running a compatible OS.
  • iCloud Backup enabled (optional) – To encrypt your device and messages backups, you need to have iCloud Backup turned on.
  • Sufficient iCloud storage – Encrypting iCloud data takes up more storage space. So you need sufficient storage for Advanced Data Protection.
  • Primary iCloud account – Advanced Data Protection works only with your primary iCloud account, not with additional or shared accounts.

Once the above requirements are met, you can proceed to turn on Advanced Data Protection from the iCloud settings on your iPhone, iPad or Mac. Ensure your trusted devices are updated to the latest OS versions.

How to enable Advanced Data Protection on iPhone and iPad

To protect your iCloud data by Advanced Data Protection, please follow below steps to enable Advanced Data Protection on your iPhone or iPad:

  1. Open the Settings app and tap on your Apple ID banner at the top.
  2. Now select iCloud.
  3. Scroll down and tap on Advanced Data Protection.
  4. Tap Turn On Advanced Data Protection.
  5. Tap Turn On next to each data category you wish to encrypt. These include Photos, Notes, Voice Memos, Reminders, Safari Bookmarks, Siri Shortcuts, and Device Backups.
  6. You can toggle Advanced Data Protection for Messages Backups in the Messages settings under Advanced Data Protection.
  7. Tap Turn On to confirm.
  8. Enter your device passcode if prompted. This passcode or your biometrics will be required to access the protected data going forward.

That’s it! Advanced Data Protection is now enabled for your chosen iCloud data categories. The data will be encrypted automatically before being uploaded to iCloud. You’re all set.

How to enable Advanced Data Protection on Mac

To protect your iCloud data by Advanced Data Protection, please follow below steps to enable Advanced Data Protection on your Mac running macOS Ventura:

  1. Click the Apple menu icon in the top left.
  2. Select System Settings.
  3. Click on your Apple ID name under User Name.
  4. In the sidebar, select iCloud.
  5. Scroll down and click on Advanced Data Protection.
  6. Click the toggle next to each data type you want to encrypt – Photos, Notes, Voice Memos, Reminders, Safari Bookmarks, Siri Shortcuts.
  7. For Device Backups encryption, click Manage Backups under Advanced Data Protection. Then select Encrypt Device Backup.
  8. To encrypt Messages backups, go to Settings > [your name] > iMessage and enable Encrypt Messages.
  9. Click Turn On Advanced Data Protection.
  10. Enter your Mac password when prompted.
  11. Click Turn On again in the confirmation box.

That’s all it takes to enable Advanced Data Protection on your Mac! Your chosen iCloud data will now be secured with end-to-end encryption.

Encrypting existing iCloud data

When you first enable Advanced Data Protection, only new iCloud data added from that point onward is encrypted. Any existing data in iCloud will remain unencrypted.

To encrypt your existing iCloud data, you need to force your apps to resync and upload the data again.

Here is how to do this on iPhone and iPad:

  • Photos app – Go to Settings > [your name] > iCloud > Photos and toggle off iCloud Photos. Wait then toggle it back on. This will reupload your entire iCloud Photos library with encryption.
  • Notes app – Open each note and make a minor modification (like add space). This will trigger a resync.
  • Other data types – Turn off iCloud Drive and then turn it back on. Open each app to force a re-upload of data.

On your Mac:

  • Go to System Settings > [your name] > iCloud > Manage. Temporarily disable synchronization for each app, wait a bit, then re-enable syncing.

Following this, all your existing iCloud data will get encrypted and you’ll have comprehensive Advanced Data Protection.

How to protect your iCloud data by Advanced Data Protection

Managing Access to Protected Data

With Advanced Data Protection enabled, only Apple devices signed into your iCloud account can access the encrypted data. When you sign out of iCloud on a trusted device or disable iCloud Backup, the local encryption keys on that device are removed.

Here are key things to know about managing access:

  • You can access protected iCloud data only after entering your passcode or biometric authentication on the device. This ensures that only you can access the decrypted data.
  • Apps you’ve granted access to your protected data will have access until you manually revoke the access under Settings. Re-authenticate to grant access again.
  • If you lose a device, you can use Find My to remotely wipe the device which removes local encryption keys. This prevents access from the lost device.
  • You can view which devices have access to your protected iCloud data under Settings > [your name] > Advanced Data Protection > Manage Access. Remove access on untrusted devices.
  • If you forget your iCloud passphrase, you will lose access to protected data. Be sure to securely store your recovery key.
  • If you switch off Advanced Data Protection, current data remains encrypted but new data will no longer be encrypted.

Carefully manage access on your devices to ensure only you can view your confidential iCloud data secured by Advanced Data Protection. Revoke access on any lost or untrusted devices.

Restoring or Migrating Data

If you need to restore or migrate your protected iCloud data to a new device, it is important to follow certain steps to retain access:

On iPhone or iPad:

  • If migrating data to a new iPhone or iPad, use Quick Start which utilizes your iCloud Backup to transfer the encryption keys along with restoring your data.
  • If restoring from an iTunes or Finder backup, ensure you backup the existing device first to preserve encryption keys before erasing and restoring the new device.
  • If using third-party backup tools, check they properly transfer Advanced Data Protection encryption keys to the new device.
  • After restoring, confirm access to protected data by entering your passcode or re-authenticating apps.

On Mac:

  • When restoring from a Time Machine backup or migrating to a new Mac, use the Migration Assistant to ensure encryption keys are preserved.
  • If doing a clean install, enable Advanced Data Protection on the new device first before signing into iCloud. This will generate fresh encryption keys.
  • Alternatively, take an encrypted backup of the current Mac using Apple Configurator before erasing the new Mac. Then restore this backup.
  • Verify access after restoring by entering your Mac password when prompted.

As long as encryption keys are successfully transferred, you will maintain access to protected data when restoring or migrating devices. Take precautions when using third-party backup tools.

Disabling Advanced Data Protection

If you wish to disable Advanced Data Protection in the future, here is how to turn it off:

On iPhone or iPad:

  1. Go to Settings > [your name] > iCloud > Advanced Data Protection.
  2. Tap Turn Off Advanced Data Protection.
  3. Tap Turn Off again in the confirmation message.
  4. Enter your device passcode.

On Mac:

  1. Go to System Settings > [your name] > iCloud > Advanced Data Protection.
  2. Click Turn Off Advanced Data Protection.
  3. Click Turn Off again.
  4. Enter your Mac password.

Once disabled, any new iCloud data will no longer be encrypted. Existing encrypted data remains encrypted. To decrypt it, you would need to temporarily turn Advanced Data Protection back on.

So those are the basics of disabling the protection and decrypting data if required later on. Best practice is to leave it enabled for optimal privacy.


Troubleshooting Common Issues

When first setting up Advanced Data Protection, there are a few common issues that may come up. Here is some troubleshooting guidance for these:

Cannot enable Advanced Data Protection

This is typically because two-factor authentication is not enabled for your Apple ID. Go to Settings > [your name] > Password & Security and make sure two-factor authentication is turned on.

No data gets encrypted

First, check that Advanced Data Protection shows as on for your chosen data categories under Settings. If so, do the steps outlined earlier to force your existing iCloud data to re-upload and get encrypted.

Can’t access encrypted data

First, make sure you are entering the correct passcode/biometric to unlock the device. Also confirm Advanced Data Protection is still enabled for that data type and you are signed into iCloud. Check trusted devices under Advanced Data Protection settings.

Missing data

This can happen if you start fresh without transferring encryption keys from your old device to the new one. Try disabling Advanced Data Protection temporarily which may allow access if the data is still there.

Insufficient iCloud storage

Encrypting data takes up more storage, so you may hit your limit. Check your storage usage under Settings > [your name] > iCloud > Manage Storage and upgrade if needed.

Keeping Apple’s troubleshooting advice in mind will help resolve most common Advanced Data Protection issues. Contact Apple Support if you cannot resolve a problem.

Best Practices when Using Advanced Data Protection

To get the most out of Advanced Data Protection for iCloud and bolster your security:

  • Encrypt all your sensitive personal iCloud data including backups. The more encryption, the better.
  • Use a strong alphanumeric passcode or password rather than a biometric alone to authenticate access.
  • Store your recovery key somewhere safe like a password manager so you can access encrypted data if you ever lose your account password.
  • Enable two-factor authentication and use strong, unique passwords for your Apple ID account.
  • Only grant Advanced Data Protection data access to apps you fully trust. Revoke access if you delete an app.
  • If you lose a device, immediately use Find My to wipe it remotely so it loses encryption keys. Also remove its access under Advanced Data Protection settings.
  • Whenever transferring data to a new device, use Apple’s first-party tools like Quick Start and Migration Assistant to preserve encryption keys.
  • Periodically review devices with granted access under Advanced Data Protection settings and remove any unknown or disconnected devices.

Following these tips will ensure you get maximum security from Advanced Data Protection without compromising on convenience and accessibility.

How to protect your iCloud data by Advanced Data Protection


Advanced Data Protection for iCloud provides Apple users with a powerful tool to take control over privacy of their cloud data. By leveraging end-to-end encryption, it ensures sensitive iCloud data remains fully inaccessible even to Apple.

This guide has provided a comprehensive overview on how Advanced Data Protection works, the benefits it provides, which data types it secures, how to enable it, and some best practices for usage.

With breaches and unauthorized data access becoming ever more common, Advanced Data Protection finally brings peace of mind to iPhone, iPad and Mac users. It lets them rest assured knowing their most private notes, photos, voice memos and other personal data in iCloud stays fully encrypted and can only be accessed on their own trusted devices.

So if you use iCloud and care about your privacy, be sure to turn on Advanced Data Protection after updating to iOS 16, iPadOS 16 or macOS Ventura. Follow the instructions in this guide, work through any initial troubleshooting, and take advantage of this additional layer of security for your sensitive iCloud data.