Fix “the last backup could not be completed” iOS iCloud Backup Error
For iCloud users with automatic backups configured, the iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch will backup to iCloud every evening when connected to wi-fi. This usually goes without a hitch, but sometimes you may check the iCloud Backup settings to discover a vague message stating “The last backup could not be completed.” You may also see this backup failed error when trying to complete a manual iCloud backup from an iOS device too.
Given how important regular backups are, this error message can be annoying and distressing, but fortunately it’s usually quickly resolved with a few simple troubleshooting tricks.
1: Reboot the iOS Device and Try Again
Before trying anything else, the easiest and most reliable troubleshooting method is simply forcibly rebooting the iOS device and trying to backup to iCloud again when it boots back again.
- Hold down the Home button and Power button simultaneously until you see the Apple logo signifying the reboot has occurred, then let it boot up again as usual, be sure the iOS device is joined to a wi-fi network when it boots back up
- Return to Settings > iCloud > Backup > and try “Back Up Now”, it should work
This alone worked for me after an iCloud backup had repeatedly failed with automatic backups and after several attempts to start and finish a manual backup, after a quick device restart and trying again, the iCloud backup was well on it’s way:
A reboot is usually all that is needed to resolve this error and get iCloud backups working again. You’ll want to be sure you’re on wi-fi and that the wi-fi network connection is decent, a poor connection can often be the cause of the error message.
Nonetheless, if you’re still having trouble, there’s a few more tricks to troubleshoot.
2: Delete Old iCloud Backups, Reset Network Settings, and Try Again
If you’re going to do this, you’ll want to backup the iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch to a computer first, because you’ll be deleting the iCloud backup. You don’t want a device that is not backing up to have no backup, so again, only delete the old iCloud backups if you’ve made a new backup to iTunes first:
- Connect the iPhone / iPad to a computer with iTunes and backup locally to that computer
- When the iTunes backup is finished, back on the iOS device open the Settings app, go to “iCloud” followed by “Storage”, then “Manage Storage”
- Locate the old iCloud backup and delete it from iCloud
- Clear out network settings in iOS Settings > Reset > Reset Network Settings (this will remove wi-fi networks, meaning you will need to rejoin them)
- Join a wi-fi network again from iOS (be sure the wi-fi network works and has sufficient bandwidth for uploads!)
- Return to Settings > iCloud > Backup > and choose “Back Up Now”
Tedious perhaps, but backups to iCloud from the iOS device should work again.
Finally, if none of the above is working, you may want to try backing up the device to iTunes on a computer, turning off iCloud, then restoring the device from your newly made iTunes backup, this wasn’t necessary for my particular case but in extremely stubborn “unable to complete backup” scenarios it should resolve the problem once and for all according toiDownloadblog. Yes, restoring can be a nuisance, but not being able to backup an iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch manually to iCloud or through automatic backups is even worse, particularly given the convenience of the auto-backups.
For what it’s worth, a similar error can happen on the desktop with Mac and Windows,where an iTunes ‘could not backup’ error message appears sometimes, usually due to a damaged USB cable or corrupt local backup file.
Why does the “The last backup could not be completed error” appear at all?
It’s difficult to know, but backups can fail for many reasons, sometimes it’s just a matter of a bad network connection, insufficient bandwidth, a network timeout, or, as is resolved in the latter troubleshooting steps here, it may be an issue with the existing iCloud backup too.
If you’ve encountered this error message and fixed it on your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch with one of the tricks above, or with another method, do let us know in the comments.