How to Restore Lost Contacts on an iPhone: Best Methods

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How to recover lost contacts on iPhone

Very few of us remember the phone numbers of those we talk to nowadays. Personally, the only phone numbers I know by heart are my Mom’s and sister’s.

If your iPhone contacts have disappeared, you can’t talk to your loved ones. There is no need to worry though as there are multiple ways to restore contacts on your iPhone and get them back.

If you can’t find contacts on your iPhone, it’s best to stop using it and try one of the methods below. Continuing to use your device could overwrite the contacts with new data. The contacts are most likely still there, just not visible to you.

Reasons Why Contacts Disappear on iPhone

There are many reasons why contacts may have been lost on an iPhone. Below I will talk about some of the most common reasons why your contacts have disappeared.

Reason Data Loss Description
Purchased a new iPhone If you’ve purchased a new iPhone and your data wasn’t properly transferred over, this could be why you’re not seeing your contacts.
Software issue An issue arose during a software update causing data loss to occur.
iCloud issue Your iCloud account could be configured incorrectly or you might have more than one account and you could have signed into the wrong one.

How to Restore Deleted Contacts on iPhone

Now that we’ve gone over the different situations that you can lose contacts on an iPhone, it’s time to start recovering them. Below, we describe proven ways to restore contacts and provide step-by-step instructions so that you can get your contacts back.

Method 1: Restore Contacts Using iCloud.com

Restoring contacts from iCloud is a great place to start since almost everyone with an iPhone is using the service.

iCloud offers a website version where you can log in and choose to individually restore your contacts from an archive back to your iPhone.

Step 1. Go to iCloud.com and sign in to your account.

icloud

Step 2. Scroll down to the bottom of the page and click on Data Recovery.

data recovery

Step 3. Select Restore Contacts. You will most likely have more than one archive to choose from. Simply select the one you think will have the contacts you’re looking for.

data recovery page

Step 4. When you choose an archive to restore from, your current contacts will be backed up and saved in case you decide to revert back to them so you don’t have to worry about losing any data.

contacts archives

Step 5. Wait for the restore to complete and for your contacts to update. This could take some time depending on how many contacts you have and the quality of your internet connection.

There is also the option to restore from an entire iCloud backup instead of using iCloud.com.

Method 2: Restore Contacts from an iCloud Backup

Our iPhones back up to iCloud every time we plug them in at night and they’re connected to Wi-Fi. This will save all of your contacts should something happen to them. The best part is that you get 5GB of free iCloud storage, which should be enough to store all of your contacts.

iCloud backup is turned on by default which means there is most likely already a backup in place that you can restore from.

Step 1. Create a backup of your iPhone before starting to restore iCloud contacts. This will ensure that if something doesn’t go right during the backup, we can put our iPhone back to how it was right before we tried to restore the contacts. This can be done by going to Settings > tap your name at the top > iCloud > iCloud Backup > Back Up Now.

Step 2. Factory reset your iPhone. To initiate the reset, go to Settings > General > Reset > Erase All Content and Settings. Your iPhone will then reset and you will be greeted by the setup screen once the process has finished.

Step 3. Now we can go through the setup process. You will be greeted by a screen that asks if you want to restore data, and you want to choose Restore from an iCloud backup. Your iPhone will need to stay on and connected to Wi-Fi for this entire process.

Step 4. To restore iPhone contacts from iCloud, look for a backup that was around the date that you last remember having them on your device.

Step 5. Allow the restore to complete, and then check to see if the lost phone numbers are back on your device.

Method 3: Recover iPhone Contacts Using the Music App/iTunes

If you plug your iPhone into your Mac, then it should be backing up. Even if you just plug it in to charge, it should back up to that computer.

You can recover deleted contacts from a backup using either the Music app or iTunes. The steps in both are very similar, so you can follow the walkthrough below no matter what version you’re using. The Music app is the successor to iTunes and both will allow us to recover lost contacts on iPhone.

Step 1. Plug your iPhone into your Mac or Windows computer.

Step 2. Select your iPhone from the drop-down menu on the left-hand side and then click on “Sync Settings…”.

selecting-iphone-from-within-the-music-app

Step 3. Once on the Summary page, select “Restore Backup…”. This can be found from within the General tab. You can also manage backups and back up your iPhone from within this window as well.

restoring-iphone-from-a-backup

Step 4. After clicking the Restore Backup… option, your iPhone will start to restore the lost contacts. This will take some time depending on the size of the backup. Make sure your iPhone is plugged into your computer during this whole process as it can’t be interrupted!

Step 5. After the restore has completed, the lost contacts should now appear back on your iPhone.

Method 4: Restore iPhone Contacts From a Finder Backup

The Finder offers a convenient and safe way to back up an iPhone to Mac. If you’ve been using this method, then you can restore from a backup and find the lost contacts.

Step 1. Plug your iPhone into Mac.

Step 2. Launch the Finder and then on the left-hand side select your iPhone.

selecting iphone

Step 3. Once on the Summary page, select “Restore Backup”. This can be found within the General tab. You can also manage backups and back up your iPhone within this window as well.

restore from a backup

Step 4. After clicking the Restore Backup option, your iPhone will start to restore the lost contacts. This will take some time depending on the size of the backup. Make sure your iPhone is plugged into your computer during this whole process as it can’t be interrupted.

Step 5. After the restore has finished, the lost contacts should now appear back on your iPhone.

Method 5: Restore Your Contacts Using a SIM Card

While this isn’t as common now, your contacts can save to your SIM card in your iPhone. If you can’t find your contacts on your iPhone or notice that some are missing, then you will want to try importing them from your SIM card. This method doesn’t involve having to restore from a backup to retrieve the lost contacts on iPhone. The process is actually quite easy and only takes a couple of steps.

Step 1. Put your SIM card into the iPhone.

Step 2. Launch the settings app.

Step 3. Scroll down to Contacts.

Step 4. You will then have the option to Import SIM Contacts at the bottom of the screen.

Step 5. Choose to Import SIM Contacts, and the contacts on your SIM card will then be imported into the Contacts app on your iPhone.

Method 6: Restore Contacts Using Data Recovery Software

If you don’t want to restore all of the data from an entire backup, then you can use data recovery software to restore your lost contacts.

Disk Drill is a great choice for this task as you don’t need technical knowledge to operate the software. You can choose to only restore one contact or a couple of them. With the free version of Disk Drill, you can scan your iPhone and preview the files but a purchase will be required to restore your contacts.

Step 1. Download Disk Drill to get started. Open the downloaded installation file and follow the instructions.

Step 2. Connect your iPhone to Mac and launch the application.

Step 3. Under Data Recovery click on iPhone & iPads. Within this section, select your iPhone.

selecting iphone to scan

Step 4. Tap Trust on your iPhone and enter your passcode to authorize Disk Drill to scan your device. Wait for the scan to complete. This can take some time depending on how much data you have.

iphone scan in progress

Step 5. Click on the contacts icon from the list of results.

selecting contacts to recover

Step 6. Click on the Recover button.

Step 7. Choose a recovery destination for the contacts

choose recovery destination

Your contacts will be recovered and you’ll be able to see them in File Explorer.

Method 7: Restore Contacts Using Outlook

If you’re an Outlook user, contacts can be synced to your account. When someone purchases a new iPhone, those contacts won’t show back up unless the account has been signed into.

Let’s take a look at how to add your Outlook account back to your iPhone and get the contacts back.

Step 1. Launch Settings on your iPhone. Then select Contacts.contacts

Step 2.Select Accounts.
accounts

Step 3. Select Add Account.add account

Step 4. Then choose Outlook.com and put in your credentials. You will then have a toggle where you can turn on your contacts to have them sync.outlook

Step 5. Wait for your contacts to sync. This can take some time depending on how many you have.

If you’re using Google, we can also restore contacts from there as well.

Method 8: Restore Contacts Using Google

Google gives you the ability to manage your email, and it can also store your contacts for you. Signing into your Google account could help you find any of the lost contacts that your iPhone is missing.

Step 1. Launch Settings on your iPhone.

Step 2. Scroll down and select Contacts.contacts

Step 3. Select Accounts.accounts

Step 4. Select Add Account.add account

Step 5. Then choose Google and sign into your account. Select Contacts from the list of available items to sync.outlook

Step 6. Wait for the sync process to complete.

Conclusion

The best thing about iPhones is that we’re able to stay in touch with those that we love. Losing the ability to do that can cause frustration and rebuilding that database would take a lot of work and time. There are many ways to restore your lost contacts and get them back onto your device should something happen, this way life can continue to flow smoothly.

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