How to Transfer Everything from Old iPhone to New iPhone 5s or 5c the Easy Way

Sep 21, 2012 - 75 Comments

Did you just get a new iPhone? Do you want to move everything from the old one to the new one? No sweat, we’ll walk you through the two absolute easiest and most pain free methods to migrate everything from that old iPhone to the brand spankin new iPhone 5s or 5c. Transferring everything from iPhones is a lot like migrating iPads, so if you’ve done that before you’ll be in familiar territory. If this is all completely new to you, don’t worry because it’s very easy.

How to transfer everything from old iPhone to new iPhone

Transfer Data from Old iPhone to New iPhone with iCloud

This is by far the easiest method and it doesn’t require a PC or Mac, but it relies on having iCloud set up on the original device. If you don’t have iCloud set up or you have a slower internet connection, jump to the iTunes method below instead.

  • Back up the old iPhone manually with iCloud by opening “Settings, tap “iCloud”, navigate to bottom and tap on “Storage & Backup”, then tap “Back Up Now”
  • Boot the iPhone 5 and walk through the easy setup, choose either “Restore from iCloud Backup”
  • Wait until the new iPhone restores from your old iPhone backup, this can take a while depending on the size of your backup, how much stuff you have on the iPhones, and the speed of your internet connection
  • When finished, your new iPhone will have everything from the old iPhone and you’re ready to go!

Is that easy or what? If you don’t have iCloud or your internet connection is slower, the iTunes method below is also quite easy.

Migrating an Old iPhone to New iPhone with iTunes

Don’t have iCloud setup? Or maybe you don’t have enough iCloud storage to backup to it? No big deal, you can use iTunes to perform the migration. You’ll need a Mac or PC though, so it’s not quite as automated as the aforementioned iCloud method, but it’s still extremely simple and it may even be faster for some users who have slower broadband connections.

  • Back up the older iPhone with iTunes by connecting it to the Mac/PC via USB, launching iTunes, then right-click on the iPhone in the iTunes sidebar and choose “Back Up”
  • Wait for the backup to finish, then disconnect the old iPhone from the computer
  • Now turn on the new iPhone, and at the “Set Up iPhone” screen, select “Restore from iTunes Backup”, tap Next, then connect the new iPhone to the computer
  • Select the most recent backup you just made from the restore menu in iTunes, then click “Continue”
  • Wait, and when the transfer is finished the iPhone will reboot itself and everything from the old iPhone will be on the new one and ready to go

If you’re impatient and just want the fastest way to migrate everything over and don’t mind connecting it to a computer, iTunes is the way to go.

I Already Used the New iPhone, How Can I Get Back to the Initial Setup Menus?
If you couldn’t wait to start using the new iPhone before restoring it with your previous data, all you need to do is restore it to factory settings and then it will reboot back into the initial setup screen, letting you follow the two guides outlined above. To do that:

  • Open “Settings”, tap on “General”, tap on “Reset”, then tap “Erase All Content and Settings”
  • Let the iPhone reboot, it will be erased completely and you can then follow the procedures outlined above

Any questions? Let us know, otherwise enjoy your new iPhone!


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Posted by: Paul Horowitz in iPhone, Tips & Tricks


» Comments RSS Feed

  1. Paul Bahre says:

    All of this information comes with the new iPhone, especially if you bought it from AT&T. What I want to know is how do I get my MP3’s that I have on the old phone and get them moved over to the new phone with out having to hunt and peck through my whole iTunes selections (Thousands of Thousands)

  2. RandomGamerRGYT says:

    Hello!!! I’m just wondering something;
    When I transfer my data (on Iphone 4) to my new iphone 5, will my game-progress be deleted? Or saved?
    Plz answer.

  3. cm says:

    just activated a replacement phone and my apps didn’t transfer. HELP!!!

    • Pau says:

      Be sure you use an encrypted backup on the first iPhone (with iTunes) or use iCloud.

      Then use that encrypted backup as the new iPhone backup to restore from in the transfer.

      That will move your apps, your data, etc. Good luck!

  4. mayinjune says:

    I think it’s not the best way to use iTunes and iCloud.

  5. jobob says:

    trying to restore from backup (backup done today) from 3gs to 5s.
    looks like it wants to work and then ‘when done’ after i tues says wait for the phone to restart, and it does the narrow white horizontal line under the apple – it looks like the resotre is there for a second and then it is back to the hola screen – restore from backup did not hold. no errors given.
    here are the numbers…3gs ios 4.3 to 5s 7.something..using itunes
    what am i doing wrong?

  6. Ceci says:

    Very helpful! Thank you!

  7. Jo says:

    I’m going from iPhone 4 to 5c I have backed up my iPhone 4 but I am getting rid of my 4 today And not getting my new until tommorow! Will this still back up?

  8. Brad says:

    We’ll I did what it said to do then I remmbered I have old restructions on my old phone and don’t remimber the password so I don’t want to mess up my new phone so what can I do?

  9. Chris Gray says:

    Hi. Just got iPhone 5c which is on iOS 7- all my back ups are on IOS 7.1.1 so it won’t let me sync up. Downloaded 7.1.1 onto new phone and then tried erase phone to start again and if course…it’s erased everything so I’m back to square 1!!! Any help gratefully received.

    • PH says:

      Get the new iPhone 5C onto iOS 7.1.1, then restore the iPhone 5C from your prior iOS backup when setting it up (that you had previously made to iCloud or iTunes), that’s all there is to it!

  10. Phil says:

    I followed the instructions above – twice. Didn’t get all my photos or sms across for example. The error message I get is:

    iTunes could not restore the iPhone because the backup is not compatible with the iPhone being restored.

    Going from 3GS to iPhone 5S via iTunes 11.1.3 (8).


  11. tango says:

    My old iPhone is of course on iOs5. The new one will normally be on iOs6.
    Does that make a problem ?
    Do I have to update my old iPhone to iOs 6 before doing the save / restore ??

  12. Jacki says:

    I have a back up and it comes up in devices but i cant put it on my phone please help me?

  13. metoo says:

    I don’t understand why Apple has to make a simple task So difficult. This guide only works if you have “transferred purchases” first, then make a backup

    Then finally restore to your new iPhone.

    The Apple “It just works” slogan absolutely just DOES NOT work for me, actually it never has from many many previous attempts to migrate from iPhon3 to 4 and now to 5

    Why we have to transfer our purchases is a complete mystery to me.. By design a back up and restore makes a backup and restores the full contents, nothing’s perfect i guess..?

    • Arlene Vella says:

      I talked to apple support. They said music is not included in backups. I mean music that was not purchased via apple store. Like music grabbed from my own CDs. That tells me one thing. Apple did not figure out yet, what the concept of a backup is. I am packing my 2 brand new iPhone 5 devices and sending them back. See, Apple wants me to manually handpick 1000 songs out of my 20 000 song library again. That’s what I call pathetic.

  14. Jessica says:

    So I have recently upgraded from the iPhone 4 to the iPhone 5 and since I have been away from my laptop for more than 5 weeks, I have not been able to back up all my old apps, pictures, music, etc. into my new phone. Being this, with the time being away I just couldn’t NOT use my iPhone 5 and so I did, and being this I had a bunch of new photos, notes, apps, etc. Now that I have restored my iPhone 4 info into my new phone, I’m going crazy because I lost everything I already had on my new phone!!!! :( I don’t know what to do! I want all my old stuff with my new stuff together. Is there any way to get it back or no? :(

  15. Sylvia says:

    I followed all of the steps but it keeps asking me for a password. I have tried every password imaginable and it won’t take any. What do I do now?

    • Important says:

      What asks for a password? If the iPhone asks for a password, enter your iPhone password. If the App Store, iCloud, or iTunes asks for a password, enter the Apple ID password

  16. Laura says:


    I just bought a new iphone 5 today. I backed up my 3Gs in itunes and then connected the new iphone 5. I went to hit restore from my old 3GS phone but it refused to let me, saying software on the phone was too old. I then updated to ios 6.1 on the 3GS and updated the software on the new iphone 5.

    It then told me that I’d need to register the iphone 5 as a new phone in itunes and then manually restore. Does anyone know how to do this? I have a new iphone 5 with nothing on it. No contacts, no music, no calendar, no nothing!

    Can anyone help? I can’t seem to find an answer when I google – and short of taking my laptop and both phones to an apple store tomorrow morning, I don’t know what to do!

    Cheers, Laura.

  17. Jim Houghton says:

    I don’t understand. I just bought a new iPhone 5, backed up my old iPhone 4 to the Cloud AND to my computer, and restoring the backup to the new iPhone gives me nothing. My contacts, maybe, but no apps, no configurations, nothing. What am I doing wrong?

  18. Megan says:

    This did not work for me at all. I had to create a new iTunes on my work computer since I did not have my laptop. Does that matter? None of my pictures, contacts or apps are showing up. I did the factory restore and everything.

    I am going from a 3Gs to a 5.

    • Matt says:

      You have to use your old backups, whether they are from iCloud or iTunes, but without your original iPhone backups you won’t be able to bring everything over since it has nothing to read from.

      If your laptop is what you originally backed up the iPhone 3GS to, use that backup to restore the iPhone 5.

  19. Erin says:

    I backed up my old iphone 5 but when i was setting up my new iphone 5, i clicked set up as individual phone, now it won’t let me get any of my pictures from itunes from my old phone, is there anything i can do?

  20. Marc DAntonio says:

    The icloud backup indeed brought over all the application availability via itunes and the contacts came over. No texts. And more seriously disturbingly, NO MUSIC. My entire library is still locked on that old 4s and the 5 has not ONE piece of music transferred over.
    I am not happy because the method for doing this is certainly NOT transparent!!! Some songs I brought over as purchased from itunes and I am not going to go through 200 songs and redownload each and every one. That is archaic and stupid. I also have about 100 mp3 files that I put on myself from various places on the web. These were dropped into itunes and on the 4s were simply synced and brought on. But now with icloud I apparently cannot use itunes sync. It seems to not work. My phone is not available in itunes…
    WHAT IS THE SOLUTION??? Can someone just give a clear and simple answer to what ought to be a clear and simple question? IT almost seems like its a rudimentary thing to ask. It should be automatic and transparent.

  21. Holly says:

    It worked and THANK YOU!!!! Of course, I had to do the “I Already…” portion, but it worked without a hitch. Very appreciative of the help!!

  22. Keza_52 says:

    This may seem like a dumb question but does the backup include the pictures on your iphone or do you have to save them manually?

  23. beshoy says:

    i made a backup from my old iphone , and when i connected the new iphone5 and tried to restore the backup it requested a password while i didnt install any, i tried all possible passwords but non of them worked,i dont know whats going on,plz advise me

  24. alan says:

    I backed up the 3gs and restored to the 5. However none of the apps transferred. Now can’t figure out how to get the apps on the iphone 5 at all without selecting them one at a time.

  25. joe hladek says:

    i backed up my iphone4 to itunes but i only backed up my photos
    i bought a new iphone5 and unfortunately i used my computer and restored the iphone5 from the itunes iphone4 backup and none of my applications or other data was restored -since i did not back them up – only the photos are restored on my iphone 5

    so i then backed up my iphone 4 to itunes and now all contents of the i4 phone are backed up – to iphone 4 owner- however i cant get it transfered to the i5 – owner-
    if i restore the new i5phone to factory and connect to itunes on computer will i be able to restore from my iphone 4 back up??
    or what should i do?

    recap – iphone 4 backed up on itunes – now has all apps and photos and contact
    iphone 5 backed up on itunes only has photos
    thanks for your assistance

  26. Snow says:

    Hey i followed your method, got everything except for my music, any ideas what i did wrong? Thanks

  27. Segun Raymond says:

    Thanks a lot!!! made my life easy!….. simple and easy to follow steps. I used the itunes method so i didnt have to ‘restore factory settings’ which was great!!!. Thanks again!

  28. anthony says:

    this person is a godsend! brilliant!!!! works perfect

  29. Lisa says:

    Great instructions. I had just backed up my old iphone and just needed to reset and wait for the sync up. Thanks!

  30. kris says:


  31. kristen says:

    i just recieved my iphone 5 i activated my new sim transfered number and transfered from iphone 4 to the iphone 5 only proble i have is if i deleted a picture from ihpone 4 and it deleted from the iphone 5 aswel?!! im now scared to delete all the stuff from the iphone 4 for it to do it to the iphone 5 pleaseeeee help???

  32. Vanessa says:

    I did a backup with my old iphone 4 on itunes , now i connected the new iphone 5 with itunes, but no device i coming up. don’t know what to do :(?

  33. Claudia says:

    Thank you so much! This has helped me a lot as I’m trying to transfer info from iphone 4 to iphone 5 for my mum :) Thank you!

  34. olly says:

    i got new iphone 5 today . went to install my old contact texts etc from my old iphone 4 .. ive got all my apps and photos and music …

    but no contacts or texts ?? whats with that? did i miss a step ? do i have to go back and restore to get the contacts on ?? cheers all

  35. Jason Holman says:

    Hello, I’ve recently received my AT&T iPhone5 and I’m trying to restore from backup via iTunes from a iPhone3Gs with 6.0.1(up-to-date as of 11-8-2012.) When everything is finished, my applications and pics are not transferred, only the Audio and ‘Other.’ I’m not sure what the ‘Other’ is, but I’m most concerned with the applications and pics as there are many apps (about 150) So, I don’t want to go through and add them all one by one, I’m not even sure how to do that-at this point. Has anybody else had this issue?

  36. Maureen says:

    Thank you so much!!!so easy & most imp that damn newstand app stayed in its box!!

  37. Snr says:

    You have to sync the apps with your itunes first. Then back up and restore.

  38. OT says:

    Backed up 3G, resored to iPhone 5, got all back, but no apps.
    Why? How to do this right?

  39. Ashlie says:

    I want to put all the data from my iphone 4s on my 1phone 5, but i have already been using my iphone5 so there are pictures and other stuff on it I do not want to have to delete when i transfer everything from the other phone.

    Am I able to take my pictures off of my iphone 5, put them on the computer and then factory reset my phone and use icloud backup?

    I just can not risk loosing any of the items I already have on the iphone5 when i do the icloud backup.. How do i do this?

    • yasmin says:

      HI, i have the same dilemma, just wondering if you found a solution?

    • Walter says:

      Hey Marco!
      Have you tried Image Capture Aplication?
      Just “wire connect” your new iPhone (the one containing the photos you don’t wanna loose) to any Mac, and then navigate to Applications/Image Capture…
      You will figure out the rest! ;-)

      Hope this helps!

  40. Scott says:

    What do I do if the pre-ordered iPhone 5 I ordered, came with a new SIM card, but states, “no service.” I have already reset everything on my old iPhone 4… so now I have service on no phone. Guess I should have waited until the iPhone 5 had cellular service, and not just wi-fi service on my network. Ugh.

    • Jeff says:

      I had same problem. What you do is go to your provider website and access your old phone. There should be a place to change SIM cards. Enter the old 20 digit sim number and the new 20 digit number and proceed. Then reboot both phones and the new one should work.

  41. Renee says:

    Thank you, this worked perfectly! :)

  42. Marcos says:

    Do I need to insert the sim card whem restoring my new Iphone

    • Scotte says:

      The SIM card on your iPhone 5 is different than your previous iPhone 4S, 4, 3G, 3, if you are a part of the AT&T mobile network. Go into a local AT&T store or telephone 611 on your mobile phone, to find out how to get the new SIM card. If you pre-ordered (as I did), it came with a new SIM card (which is smaller) than I had in my iPhone 4.

      If you are with another mobile phone carrier, contact them how you regularly do and find out what you should do with your particular service.

      Hope this helps.

  43. Hank says:

    Will this process make my new phone look exactly like the old one? My wife hates change and doesn’t want to lose anything that is on her old phone.

  44. steven says:

    I’m having a hard time syncing my new iPhone 5 with my old iphone4. Everytime i sync from my most recent back-up photos and text messages from up to 7 days ago show up and nothing newer. i tried backing up several times tonight and restoring my phone from the newest backup but still same problem. as many times as i restore my phone to factory settings and retry still same issue.. PLEASE HELP!

  45. moviebiff says:

    I want to transfer selected files and photos from old iphone to iphone5. can i select the files i want transferred or do i have to transfer everything. thanks.

  46. fiona says:

    my music files did not transfer – can you help or do I need to try again?

    • Luke says:

      My music files did not transfer, either. How do you transfer music files from one iphone to another? You would think it would “just work”. But apple seems to have gotten away from that.

  47. Eric Weiner says:

    I would not restore an iOS 5 onto a iOS 6. Weird troubles will follow.

    Just re-setup. This has saved me from all the issues that get reported when a major OS upgrade is released.

  48. Morgan says:

    This was so helpful! i cracked my screen in my old phone, it still worked but i got a new one. i tried for about 3 hours trying to get everything transferred. i did this and had everything transferred in about 5 minutes. everything on my phone is still loading but its all there and in the same place and everything. thanks so much.(:

  49. Bruce McLeod says:

    Thanks for the easy instructions, used the iTunes method for best speed. Backed up iPhone 3GS/32GB/iOS5, restored to iPhone 5/64GB/iOS6. Initial config, restore and reboot took less than 5 minutes, after reboot App restore also less than 5 minutes. Music, iBooks, & Pictures (~20GB) took about 2 hours, so to answer the question above about time, it will depend on how much data your phone has. One comment though, I can’t imagine iCloud ever being faster than a direct iTunes connection, though possibly more convenient. Thanks again.

    • Alanna says:

      I backed up my iphone 3GS onto iTunes and tried to restore contacts, pics, notes and text messages onto the iphone 5S but an error keeps occurring! Can anyone help and give advice? I’ve followed the above instructions 3 times and still the same result – nothing! Thank you.

  50. Brian Sullivan says:

    I’m restoring from iTunes… Does it really take 9 hours? I’m moving from 4S to 5, both on iOS6. I’m pretty flustered, my service was switched to the 5, but it’s unusable duing restore. So I’m out of communication for 9 hours? Really?

    • Brian Sullivan says:

      Hope this helps someone… I unplugged the phone from iTunes. The phone rebooted itself and had me start the setup process over. I selected restore from iTunes, but this time I actually see the device is syncing my apps, music and photos. (before it was stuck in the “Restoring from iTunes” mode) I’m sure it will be done inside of 30 minutes this time.

  51. Michael Roesch says:

    Hi there,

    great article, thank you.

    One important thing should be added to it: when you use 2-factor-authentication apps like Google Authenticator or the Authenticator, there are special steps required, so that you can migrate those apps as well and use them on the new iPhone. That’s just to make sure, that you don’t lock yourself out accidently.

  52. Ivan Marshall says:

    iTunes 7 and IOS 6 is not allowing the iphone 5 to restore from your latest backups! It gives me two dates in 2008,one date in 2009,and the latest choice is one in 2010. If I allowed it to sync or restore,I’d lose two years of info. My Daughter lost 2 years of info. from an icloud backup that was one day old,and the most recent backup from her MacBook. What do we do to get our most recent backups on the iphone 5? we can’t afford to lose two years of information! I can’t let my iphone 5 sync,and I’ve got to carry my iphone 4 with me,in order to have my Contacts,etc.. HELP!

    • RJ Huff says:

      @Ivan Marshall The current version of iTunes is 10.7.You might have better luck once you have updated iTunes.

    • Adam Kavanagh says:

      Hi, I am having a similar problem, I have backed up my old iphone to itunes and icloud, I then try to set up my new iphone and restore the last backup. The restore dates back to March 2012. I have followed the process three times with the same results (Einstein’s definition of madness, I know!!!).

      Can anyone help?

  53. Lynda says:

    When I synced my new iPhone allof my photos from iPhoto are now on my phone. Can I delete them from my phone?

  54. Franck says:

    My old iPhone is of course on iOs5. The new one will normally be on iOs6.
    Does that make a problem ?
    Do I have to update my old iPhone to iOs 6 before doing the save / restore ??


    • Mike says:

      No. Just updated your iTunes to the latest version. Then you can restore data from old iPhone backup to a new iPhone.

      Note: Restoing data from a backup to iPhone may erased the current data on your new iPhone. If you have data on new iPhone, you can try a 3rd party utility such as Backuptrans iPhone Data Transfer to transfer and merge the data between iPhones.

      Best luck!

  55. lisa says:

    Great thanks! I’d started from an iCloud back-up but was taking forever, so needed to restart- perfect instructions!

  56. Mr Kitty says:

    If you purchased Audiobooks on the phone you’ll need to transfer purchases with iTunes before transferring.

    Audiobooks seem to have fallen through the cracks. They’re not eligible for iCloud redownload, or iTunes Match, don’t download to iTunes on the computer after purchase (and check for available downloads), and aren’t included in backups.

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