What does Apple restore do?

Apple restore is a process that erases all data and settings from an iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch and installs the latest version of iOS. It essentially restores the device back to its factory settings.

When to use Apple restore

There are a few common situations when you may want to restore your iOS device:

  • You’re experiencing software issues or bugs and want a fresh start.
  • You forgot your passcode and need to reset it.
  • You want to wipe the device before selling or giving it away.
  • You suspect the device has malware and want to do a clean install of iOS.

Restoring deletes all data and settings, so make sure to back up your device first if you want to preserve anything. An iCloud or iTunes backup allows you to restore your data after the restore process is complete.

How to Apple restore using iTunes

If you use a Mac or PC, you can restore an iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch using iTunes with the following steps:

  1. Connect your device to your computer using the USB cable that came with your device.
  2. Open iTunes on your computer.
  3. Select your device from the list of devices in iTunes.
  4. Click Summary or Settings in the sidebar.
  5. Click Restore [device]. This restores your device and installs the latest iOS version.
  6. Follow the onscreen setup prompts to restore from a backup or set up the device as new.

Important notes about iTunes restore

  • Restoring deletes all data and settings, so back up first.
  • You need the latest version of iTunes.
  • Your computer may need to be authorized with your Apple ID.
  • Internet connection required to download latest iOS software.

How to Apple restore using Finder

If you use a Mac with macOS Catalina or later, you can also use Finder to restore your device:

  1. Connect your device to your Mac using the USB cable.
  2. Open Finder and select your device under Locations in the sidebar.
  3. Select General > Restore [device].
  4. Follow the prompts to restore from backup or set up as new.

Important notes about Finder restore

  • Same as iTunes – restoring erases data, so back up first.
  • Need macOS Catalina or later.
  • Internet connection required.

How to Apple restore from iOS settings

You can also restore your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch directly from the device settings with these steps:

  1. Open Settings > General > Reset.
  2. Tap Erase All Content and Settings.
  3. Enter your passcode if prompted.
  4. Tap Erase [device] to confirm and erase all data.
  5. Follow the setup prompts to restore a backup or set up as new after the restore.

Important notes about iOS settings restore

  • Back up device first to preserve data.
  • Need to connect to WiFi and power source during restore.
  • Device will download latest iOS version.
  • Can take 15 minutes or longer to complete.

What happens during an Apple restore

When you restore through iTunes, Finder, or the iOS settings, here is what happens behind the scenes:

  1. iOS downloads a clean copy of the latest OS version.
  2. The existing OS is deleted from the device.
  3. The clean iOS is installed on the device.
  4. Any data and settings are erased.
  5. Device reset to factory default settings.

Essentially, it wipes the device clean and gives you a fresh start. This can resolve many software issues you may be having.

What data is deleted during a restore

Restoring erases all user data and settings from the device. This includes:

  • Apps and games
  • Music, photos, videos, and other media
  • Contacts, calendars, notes
  • Settings and preferences
  • Home screen layout and app organization
  • Messages and call history
  • WiFi settings and passwords
  • Anything else saved locally on the device

Any data stored in iCloud, iTunes, or other cloud services will remain intact. You can restore cloud data after the restore process.

Will a restore delete everything?

Yes, restoring your iPhone, iPad or iPod touch erases all locally stored data and resets settings. However, it does not delete data stored in the cloud, such as:

  • iCloud backup data
  • iCloud photos
  • iTunes backup data
  • App data synced to cloud services

You can restore data from an iCloud or iTunes backup after the restore. So while it deletes everything on the device itself, your data is recoverable from the cloud.

Should I backup before restoring?

Yes, it is highly recommended to back up your device before restoring. This allows you to recover your data after the reset.

You have two backup options:

  • iCloud backup – Backs up data wirelessly to Apple’s cloud servers.
  • iTunes backup – Backs up data to your computer when connected via USB.

Enabling backups ensures you don’t lose your data permanently after a restore.

How to backup your device

Here is how to backup your iPhone, iPad or iPod touch before a restore:

iCloud backup

  1. Connect to WiFi and power source.
  2. Go to Settings > [your name] > iCloud.
  3. Tap iCloud Backup > Back Up Now.
  4. Wait for the backup to complete.

iTunes backup

  1. Connect device to computer with USB cable.
  2. Open iTunes.
  3. Select device > Summary.
  4. Click Back Up Now.
  5. Wait for backup to finish.

How to restore data after a restore

Once your device has been restored, you’ll have the option to set it up as new or restore data from a backup. Here’s how to get your data back:

Restore iCloud backup

  1. After restore, select Restore from iCloud Backup at setup.
  2. Sign in with your Apple ID.
  3. Choose desired backup.
  4. Wait for data to download.

Restore iTunes backup

  1. After restore, choose Restore from iTunes Backup at setup.
  2. Connect device to computer with USB cable.
  3. Open iTunes and select device > Summary.
  4. Click Restore Backup.
  5. Select desired backup.
  6. Wait for data to transfer.

As long as you have a recent backup, you can recover your data and settings after restoring your device.

Can I select what data gets restored?

Unfortunately, no. An iCloud or iTunes restore recovers all data as it was at the time of the backup. You cannot pick and choose individual apps, settings, etc. It’s an all or nothing process.

However, you can selectively restore data from the cloud after the device setup:

  • Download individual apps from App Store
  • Import desired photos from iCloud
  • Enable desired iCloud data syncing for Contacts, Calendars, etc.

So while the device restore itself is all inclusive, you have options for selectively restoring cloud data afterwards.

Will a restore fix [common issues]?

Here’s a quick rundown of whether a restore is likely to fix some common iOS issues:

Issue Will Restore Fix?
Frozen screen Yes
Apps crashing Often
Slow performance Usually
Battery life problems Sometimes
iPhone overheating Possibly
WiFi connection issues Likely
Error messages Very likely

As you can see, restoring your iPhone, iPad or iPod can resolve many common software issues. Like hitting a reset button, it wipes the slate clean for a fresh start.

When should I avoid restoring?

While restoring is generally safe, there are a couple situations where you’ll want to avoid it:

  • You don’t have a backup – Never restore without a current backup. You’ll permanently lose all data.
  • Your issue is hardware related – Restoring won’t fix physical device problems like a cracked screen.
  • You have an iOS update issue – Restoring will install the latest iOS, which may not resolve an update installation issue.

Unless you have a backup, are certain the issue is software related, and know the latest iOS version is not problematic, you may want to avoid a full restore.

Can I restore without losing data?

Unfortunately, there is no way to restore iPhone or iPad software without potential data loss. A standard restore erases all local data.

However, remember that cloud data can be recovered after the reset. So make sure you have enabled backups.

Also, for iOS 15 or later, you may have the option to do a “soft reset” which preserves some data. But for any major software issue, a full erase and restore is usually required.

Summary and conclusions

To recap the key points about Apple restore:

  • It erases all data/settings and installs latest iOS version
  • This can fix many common software issues
  • Always back up to iCloud or iTunes before restoring
  • You’ll have the option to restore your backup after
  • Allows you to start fresh if you’re having problems

Overall, restoring your iPhone, iPad or iPod touch is an effective troubleshooting step if you’re experiencing major software issues. Just remember to back up first and you’ll be able to recover your data afterwards.