How to Back Up Your iPhone Contacts

Jun 14, 2012 - 15 Comments

backing up iPhone contacts For many of us, our contacts list are the most important part of our iPhones and what we care most about backing up. It’s easy to re-download apps and adjust settings, but it can be very difficult to rebuild a large contact list of names, email addresses, and phone numbers if you lose it. For that reason you may want to be sure the address book is being backed up so that all of your contacts are preserved in case you need to restore them, here is how to do this.

Back Up iPhone Contacts With iTunes

iTunes will backup the contacts from an iPhone by default unless you have disabled it, you can make sure this happens by doing the following:

  1. Connect the iPhone to the computer and launch iTunes
  2. Select the device from the left-side list, and click on the “Info” tab
  3. Verify that “Sync Contacts” is checked
  4. Adjust any specific settings as necessary
  5. Right-click on the iPhone name in the device list and choose “Back Up”

The final step performs a manual backup with iTunes and stores that backup on the local computer.

Backing Up Contacts with iCloud

If you use iCloud as your backup solution, and you really should, contacts will be synced and backed up to iCloud automatically. This is turned on when using iCloud by default, but you can verify it is configured and then force a backup by doing the following:

  1. Launch “Settings” and tap on “iCloud”
  2. Verify the iCloud account is set up and that “Contacts” is turned ON
  3. Enable back up of Contacts to iCloud

  4. Scroll down and tap on “Storage & Backup”
  5. Tap “Back Up Now”

This initiates a manual backup to iCloud which contains contacts and all other data you have configured. This is often considered preferable to using iTunes backups alone because anything stored within iCloud can be backed up from virtually anywhere that has internet access and without using a computer.

Remember that if you just want to share a contact with someone else, you can send contacts from iPhone to other devices in the form of a vCard very easily.

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Posted by: Paul Horowitz in iPad, iPhone, Tips & Tricks

15 Comments

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  1. Edward says:

    I’d rather back up only my contacts without everything else, can we do it separately?

    • Michael says:

      Hey Edward

      I think you can only do the contacts with iCloud. However if you want a more complete address book, you might want to check out connex.io. Disclaimer: I work for the company. Our service cleans, completes, syncs and up-dates your contacts for you automatically and across many services and devices (including social media). So you connect once, and you never have to worry about your contacts again.

      If you have any questions just let me know.

      Best

      Michael

  2. pk says:

    You can also use Address Book natively, or even Gmail if you sync with Google

  3. Matt says:

    I used copytrans contacts to download my iPhone contacts directly to my PC and store them for backup.

    I have an older iPhone 3G and unfortunately could not use the iCloud as a method for backup.

  4. Alx says:

    I only back up via iTunes and in the occasion in which I don’t want to restore to the full backup as I need to keep other data from my phone as well I just use iPhone Backup Extractor, I extract the data I need from the created backup and then import it to my phone, pretty easy and not as complicated as it might sound:). You can do the same for your contacts.

  5. Calvin says:

    backup to iCloud.. i am doing it now, but it says eta.. NINE HOURS !!!

  6. RC says:

    Thanks for the steps, I am new to Apple iPhone 4S and I was able to backup my contacts with your steps.

  7. Marissa says:

    Im trying to back up my contacts via itunes and icloud, but it says, that i have to get outlook.

  8. Mero says:

    I did already the back up to Icloud then all my contacts disappear from my iphone and when i turn the contacts off again from icloud ,didn’t bring my contact back.
    so does any one can help me here please

  9. simonsurfer says:

    whats better? back up contacts to iCloud or Gmail? I found by backing up to gmail some contacts are lost or incomplete (especially home addresses in contacts)…

    also tried copytrans and its not free…/free back up of only a miniscule 50 contacts after that u have to pay…

  10. Neetuchugh says:

    Back up now

  11. fred says:

    The article is wrong: contacts are not backed up via iCloud….but they are constantly synced in iCloud if the option is enabled.
    http://support.apple.com/kb/ph12519
    “Your iOS device backup only includes data and settings stored on your device. It doesn’t include data already stored in iCloud, for example contacts, calendars, bookmarks, mail messages, notes, shared photo streams, My Photo Stream, and documents you save in iCloud using iOS apps and Mac apps.”

    • Itna says:

      Fred, syncing to iCloud is basically the same as backing up to iCloud, meaning it stores a copy in iCloud. Also, if you backup your iPhone to iCloud, it backs up your contacts and address book to iCloud.

      So in other words, if you back up your iPhone to iCloud, your Contacts are backed up too. And you can always log into iCloud.com to export them directly from iCloud as a .CSV file for use on Android or another iPhone or Mac or Outlook PC or whatever.

  12. fred says:

    contact are constantly synced…..they are not backed up when you tap “back up now” and the backup does NOT contain your contacts. As a matter of fact when you set up a new iPhone, you already have your contacts on it just by logging into your iCloud account…..before restoring the backup.

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