Here’s what you need to know
“And suddenly all my iPhone contacts are gone”.
Various configurations of one and the same phrase persistently appear in online discussions and this raises a few eyebrows. What causes countless iPhone users to lose contacts so suddenly and so unexpectedly? The answer may not be that simple.
Read on as we try to set the issue straight. Here are the ways in which to prepare, prevent and ultimately tackle the problem with missing iPhone contacts.
Avoid loosing contacts again! Use CopyTrans Contacts to back up and restore a selection or all of your iOS contacts at once:
What should you know when the iPhone contact list is suddenly lost?
- Top 5 reasons for lost iPhone contacts
- Rescue iPhone contacts via iCloud
- How to recover lost iPhone contacts
- How to avoid losing iPhone contacts in the future
Top 5 reasons for lost iPhone contacts
There is no single reason for iOS contacts to go missing. This can be caused by one or a combination of the below situations.
- Upgrading the iPhone iOS version: for example, from iOS 6 to iOS 7.
After updating to iOS 7, iPhone prompts whether you’d like to use iCloud and sync iPhone data such as contacts, notes, calendars, etc. Users who previously never synced iPhone contacts to iCloud but willingly or not accepted Apple’s prompt, might find iPhone contacts momentarily missing from the phone’s address book.
- iPhone Jailbreak. Although not a direct cause, having your iPhone Jailbroken could lead to situations in which iPhone contacts are lost.
Jailbreak is known for the vast opportunities it provides to iPhone users to modify and tweak their iOS devices. It goes without saying that while some tweaks are fun and useful, others could bring unexpected results to the iPhone and its data. If you are on a Jailbroken phone, it is wise to keep a safe backup of the iPhone contacts via CopyTrans Contacts.
- iPhone reset. Resetting (cold starting), as opposed to restarting the iPhone, should be practiced as a last resort only when the iPhone is frozen or unresponsive. It is possible that a reset causes iPhone contacts to be lost.
- After an automatic iPhone restart. Older iPhone models such as the 3GS have been known to randomly restart. This could lead to loss of iPhone contacts among other phone data.
- Reason not known. For better or for worse, sometimes the cause of iPhone’s sudden address book disappearance is not known.
Quick fix if you just upgraded iOS and the iPhone contacts are gone
If you lost the contacts after upgrading the iPhone’s iOS and if you are lucky enough, the following quick solution will bring back the iPhone contacts.
Simply turn off and then back on iCloud contact sync. To do so on the iPhone, navigate to Settings > iCloud and toggle the Contacts switch from ON to OFF and then back to ON. Next open the Contacts app and tap the Reinstate button on the top left.
Rescue iPhone contacts via iCloud
If you set up iCloud sync in the past, chances are that some or all of the iPhone contacts already exist in your iCloud account. To check whether this is the case, log in to iCloud via a web browser on the PC by navigating to http://www.icloud.com
- Synchronize iPhone with iCloud contacts. To do so, on the iPhone, navigate to Settings > iCloud and turn the “Contacts” switch to ON This will load the contacts you have in your iCloud account to the iPhone.
- Export iCloud contacts and directly import them to phone memory. When logged in iCloud on a web browser, select all iCloud contacts by pressing CTRL + A. Next, to export the iCloud contacts, click on the cogwheel, and select “Export vCard…” The iCloud contacts will be exported to a single vCard (.VCF) file to a PC folder of your choice. You can now use CopyTrans Contacts to import the vCard file directly to the iPhone by following the following tutorial
Salvage contacts via using the iPhone Messages app
Few know about this trick which can recover at least some of the iPhone contacts – the ones with whom you kept in touch more often.
- Run the iPhone Messages app and create a new message
- Start typing the phone number or name of the contact you wish to salvage. If you previously sent a message to the person you have in mind, the name will appear as a drop-down suggestion. Tap the “i” symbol to the right of the auto-suggested entry
- From the next screen you see the number of the person you previously contacted and can create a new contact entry based on this number.
Use the above method to recover the names and phone numbers of the people you recently contacted. Auto-suggestion records are separate from the iPhone contacts database and should still be available even if the contacts are long gone. This is your best chance of recovering iPhone contacts if all else fails.
Sync Facebook and Twitter contacts to iPhone contacts
If none of the above methods of salvaging iPhone contacts works, you can alternatively try and get back some of the iPhone contacts by syncing your Facebook friends’ or Twitter followers’ details.
How to recover lost iPhone contacts
The iPhone address book is gone for good and you cannot salvage enough iPhone contacts via the means above? A fundamental solution is to have the iPhone contacts restored from a previous backup.
Restore iPhone contacts via iTunes
iTunes backs up some of the essential contents and settings of the iPhone upon each sync and upon using iTunes to upgrade to the latest iOS version. Among other settings and data, iTunes backs up the following:
- Call history
- Text messages (SMS/MMS/iMessages along with attached pictures and videos)
- Local calendars and events as well as calendar accounts sourced via the CalDAV protocol
Let’s restore iPhone address book via iTunes backup
- Run iTunes and connect the iPhone to your computer
- Once the iPhone appears in iTunes, right click on it from the left-hand side pane and select “Restore from Backup…”.
Restore iPhone contacts via iCloud backup
iCloud backs up almost exactly the same iOS data as iTunes. To be able to restore from an iCloud backup, you must have previously set up iCloud as a means of backing up iOS data. Having enabled iCloud backup and syncing iPhone contacts to iCloud is NOT one and the same.
To restore the iPhone from an iCloud backup:
- Go to Settings > General > Reset, then tap “Erase all content and settings”.
- Next, in the Setup Assistant, proceed to “Set up your device,” tap Restore from a Backup, and then sign in to iCloud
- Proceed to “Choose backup,” then choose from a list of available backups in iCloud.
You can alternatively restore from iCloud backup via iTunes. To do so:
- Run iTunes and connect the iPhone
- From the Summary tab make sure that “iCloud” is selected and click “Restore Backup…”
How to avoid losing iPhone contacts in the future
To avoid losing iPhone contacts again, ensure to regularly back them up. There are numerous methods for doing so.
iTunes provides a way to backup iPhone contacts and other data – such as messages, call data and more – directly to the PC. iCloud, on the other hand, offers to store a backup of the iPhone contacts and data in Apple’s servers.
- The inconvenience posed by both iTunes- and iCloud-based iOS backups is the inability to look through the backed up data before restoring it to the iPhone.
- It is also impossible to restore only certain iPhone information – such as contacts – and to keep all the remaining iPhone data and settings intact. iOS backups operate on an “all or nothing” basis and restore everything back to the iPhone.
- Finally, iCloud-based backup is not everyone’s cup of tea as some folks are not ready to upload personal iPhone data to an online server.
Backup iPhone contacts using CopyTrans Contacts
CopyTrans Contacts is a PC tool which allows a meaningful backup of individual or multiple iPhone contacts to the computer. The advantage of saving iPhone address book with CopyTrans Contacts is that you can access the backed up contacts at any time on the PC. You can also directly edit and/or import any selection of contacts from the computer back to the iPhone.
Contacts backed up with CopyTrans Contacts are housed offline on the PC, are not loaded in third-party online servers and are, therefore, kept away from prying eyes.
See CopyTrans Contacts in action:
iPhone apps which can help you backup iPhone contacts
“ExcelContacts” is an iPhone app which allows transferring contacts to Excel (.xls file). The app in turn sends the Excel file containing the iPhone contacts to your email address so you can download the address-book file to the PC.
“My Contacts Backup” is a popular iPhone app which operates in a similar way to ExcelContacts. This app offers more flexibility giving you a choice between CSV and vCard when exporting iPhone contacts. Recuperating the contacts on the PC happens, again, via sending the CSV or vCard file via email.
IS Contacts Kit – an iOS app which allows backing up iPhone contacts in vCard or Excel format. You can also use the tool to transfer contacts to Gmail or Outlook. Sending the backup contact files to the PC occurs via email or via a Dropbox account.
“PhoneCopy” – this app provides a different approach to backing up iPhone contacts, as it syncs them to an online server. Creating an account with PhoneCopy is, therefore, a condition to use the app. The app is also available for Android phones.
iPhone apps for contacts backup – pros and cons
The advantage of the above iPhone apps is that the lite versions are sufficient in most cases for iPhone contacts backup. The cost of the full app versions is accessible.
A notable disadvantage, however, is the lack of clarity over how private the backed-up iPhone contacts remain and whether the contact files (sent to your email) are not hosted in any other way at third-party servers. In the case of PhoneCopy, creating an online account which contains and syncs with personal iPhone data is a prerequisite for backing-up iPhone contacts.
The verdict: Saving yourself the headache of disappearing iPhone contacts comes with preventive actions. Backing up one’s iPhone contacts and other personal data is an important matter which should be taken seriously. We hope to have also provided some useful tips on how to try and salvage a lost iPhone address book.