iphone contacts missing issue

iPhone contacts missing: bring them back

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“And suddenly all my iPhone contacts are gone.”

Various iterations of one and the same phrase persistently appear in online discussions as the matter raises a few eyebrows. What causes countless iPhone users to lose contacts so suddenly and so unexpectedly? This article will guide you through possible reasons, ways to prepare, prevent and ultimately tackle the problem of contacts missing from an iPhone device. Read on as we try to set the issue straight, or just choose one of the sections below:

Lost contacts on iPhone

Possible reasons

The loss of contacts can be caused by one or a combination of factors listed below.

  • Software update. After upgrading to a new iOS, you will be asked whether you’d like to use iCloud and sync iPhone data such as contacts, notes, calendars, etc. Users who previously have never synced iPhone contacts to iCloud but willingly or accidentally accepted Apple’s prompt might find iPhone contacts momentarily missing from their address book.
  • iPhone jailbreak. Although not a direct cause, jailbreaking your iPhone could lead to iPhone contacts being lost. Jailbreak allows iPhone users to modify and tweak their iOS devices. It goes without saying that while some tweaks are fun and useful, others could have an unexpected effect on the iPhone and its data. If you own a jailbroken phone, it is wise to back up contacts or your entire device.
  • Cold start. Force-restarting an iPhone should be practiced as a last resort only when the iPhone is frozen or unresponsive. A reset may cause iPhone contacts loss.
  • Spontaneous iPhone restart. If your device reboots for no apparent reason, you might have encountered a so-called random restart problem. A random restart can lead to the loss of iPhone contacts and other phone data.
  • Unknown reason. For better or for worse, sometimes the cause of an iPhone address book’s sudden disappearance remains a mystery.

Contacts missing from iPhone

How to recover all of them

If you have realized that all your contacts are missing and you want to bring your address book back, you need a more fundamental approach. You may also choose to read on if only part of your address book got lost.

Restore iPhone from iTunes backup

iTunes backs up your iPhone every time you sync your device to it, or when you use this app to upgrade to the latest iOS version. Among other settings and data, iTunes saves your Contacts, Call history, Text messages as well as local Calendars and events. You can use iTunes to bring all this data back to your iPhone.

NOTE: if you choose to restore the iPhone via iTunes, the restore will overwrite all the data on your iPhone, not just Contacts.

If you want to proceed with a full restore via iTunes, connect the iPhone to your computer. Once the iPhone appears in iTunes, right-click on its name and select Restore from Backup….

restore missing iphone contacts using itunes

That’s it! The backup has been fully uploaded to your device, bringing back Contacts along with all other data.

If you don’t want to wipe all data from iPhone and would like to restore only contacts from an iTunes backup instead, use the CopyTrans Shelbee Custom restore option.

Download CopyTrans Shelbee

  1. Open the program and connect your iPhone. Сlick on Custom restore, then click on the green pencil icon.
    copytrans shelbee welcome window
  2. Tap Browse and then Default in the newly opened windows. Click OK. After that, you will see iTunes backups stored on your computer. Choose the one you need.
    change default itunes backup folder
  3. If the backup is encrypted, you will have to enter your encryption password. Then click Next.
    enter backup encryption password
  4. Wait until the loading process finishes.
    copytrans shelbee decrypting backup
  5. In the System apps subcategory, choose Contacts. Click Next. You can skip the device encryption process if you don’t want to do it.
    restore only itunes contacts
  6. CopyTrans Shelbee will ask you to choose where you want to save the backup of your device in case something goes wrong during Custom restore. Select the destination folder and click Start.
    choose folder for safety backup
  7. Wait until the restore process finishes.
    custom restore of iohone contacts
  8. NOTE: If the restore fails for some unknown reason, see the troubleshooting steps for when the backup is corrupt.
  9. That’s it! Your device will now restart.

But CopyTrans Shelbee is capable of so much more! This app allows you to:

  • restore selectively any data from an iPhone backup without overwriting all its other data;
  • change the default folder of an iTunes backup;
  • save and restore iPhone apps, even if they are no longer in the AppStore;
  • make an incremental backup that will contain only the latest changes.

Later, when you are ready to restore the data, use the Full restore feature to restore iPhone without relying on iTunes OR click on Custom restore to do something iTunes will never let you do: choose what kind of data you would like to recover. Backups created by CopyTrans Shelbee contain:

✅ SMS and iMessages ✅ contacts ✅ camera roll photos ✅ calendar events and accounts
✅ reminders ✅ notes ✅ apps documents ✅ call history
✅ accounts and passwords ✅ settings ✅ voice memos ✅ Safari bookmarks, cookies and history

Log in to your iCloud to include ✅ apps, their settings and ratings in the backup.

Download for a free trial period

Restore iPhone from iCloud backup

If you didn’t find any backups in iTunes, do not lose heart: there is a great chance the iPhone had been backed up to iCloud. You can recover your Contacts from an iCloud backup anytime.

NOTE: be careful as iCloud will be restoring your entire device. If you would rather choose a safer way, see how to restore Contacts from an iCloud backup without erasing any data.

If you want to attempt a complete restore from an iCloud backup, here are the steps:

  1. On your iPhone, go to Settings > General > Reset.
  2. Choose Erase All Content and Settings and confirm your choice by pressing Erase now.
    erase all content and settings on your iphone
  3. Your iPhone will restart and then offer you several setup options. The one you need is Restore from iCloud backup. Choose the backup file wisely!
    restore missing iphone contacts using icloud backup

Your iPhone has been restored from the backup. And the contacts have returned! But what if you do not want to replace all data on your phone with the data from iCloud backup just to get contacts back? Then keep on reading, the answer is around the corner.

Restore iPhone contacts from backups without iTunes or iCloud

If your contacts have been backed up to iTunes or iCloud at least once, there is still a chance to save them! But you are probably not sure which service may have a backup of your contacts or whether you have any backups at all. Let us help. We have developed two great programs for that: CopyTrans Backup Extractor and CopyTrans Contacts.

CopyTrans Backup Extractor will automatically find your iTunes and iCloud backups and help you extract the data to your PC. From there, you can import contacts to your iPhone making sure no other data gets overwritten.

Here is how to proceed:

  1. Download and install CopyTrans Backup Extractor. If you need help installing the program, please refer to the installation guide.

    Download CopyTrans Backup Extractor

  2. Launch the program and wait for the backup hunt to be complete. It will take a few seconds. You will then see the list of all the backups available. If you want to see iCloud backups on the list as well, log in to iCloud with CopyTrans Backup Extractor.

    copytrans backup extractor start window

  3. If you’re in luck, there will be a recent backup containing the contacts you need on the list. Choose it and enter the backup password if the backup is encrypted.
    copytrans backup extractor enter the backup password
  4. From the list of items to restore, choose Contacts.
    copytrans backup extractor data type list
  5. Select the folder on your PC where you want the contacts to be extracted to and start the process. Voila! The contacts are waiting for you in the folder you specified. They are now ready to be imported to your iPhone.
    16 contacts extracted result screen
  6. Now, let’s start importing! For that we will need CopyTrans Contacts.

    Download CopyTrans Contacts

  7. Launch CopyTrans Contacts and connect your iPhone. Give the program time to read the device’s info, then click on your device’s name and select Import Contacts in the top-left corner of the app. Choose to import from a file.
    copytrans contacts import contacts button
    import contacts from a file to iphone
  8. Choose the folder you previously extracted your contacts to and select all or part of contacts for the import.
    copytrans contacts select contacts for import
  9. Enjoy your newly imported list of contacts! And do not forget to back up your device from time to time.
  10. copytrans contacts imported result

Contacts disappeared on iPhone

Ways to recover if only part of them is missing

It may very well be that several contacts missing from your iPhone can be restored quickly and with little effort.

Re-sync your contacts to iCloud

Simply turn iCloud contact sync off and then bring it back on. To do so, navigate to Settings > iCloud and toggle the Contacts switch from ON to OFF and then back to ON.

resync iphone contacts to icloud

If you have lost contacts on iPhone after upgrading iOS and if you are lucky enough, the following quick solution will bring them back.

Restore iPhone contacts using iMessages or other messenger apps

Few know about this trick which can help you recover at least some of your iPhone contacts. This will work if you remember what the contact was called and you received at least one message from them. Here is how to:

  1. Run the iPhone Messages app and start typing the name of the contact.
  2. If you have previously sent or received a message from this person, the conversation will pop up. The trick here is that iPhone manages Contacts and Messages separately, and what is gone from Contacts may very well stay in Messages.
    iphone messages autosuggestion

  3. Now click on the contact icon and then on the audio symbol. The phone number will appear right in front of you!
    recover contacts using imessages

Use the above method to recover the names and phone numbers of the people you contacted recently. Auto-suggestion records are separate from the iPhone contacts database and should still be available even if the contacts are long gone. You can similarly recover contacts from WhatsApp, Viber, and more!

These methods can be used as a quick fix if you need some contact urgently. Of course, if you need to recover a missing address book in full or solve the issue of an iPhone deleting contacts, you will need to perform a full-scale rescue operation. Read the next section for more ways to recover deleted contacts!

iPhone contacts disappeared

How to avoid losing contacts in the future

The wisest solution is to back up iPhone contacts regularly. You can do it with our CopyTrans Contacts app. It helps users manage their Contacts, Messages, Calendars, and Notes. The app will allow you to edit, delete, or back up iPhone contacts stored in different accounts. After you first launch CopyTrans Contacts, you can access the backed-up contacts from your PC at any time. You can also import any selection of contacts from the computer back to the iPhone.

Contacts backed up with CopyTrans Contacts are housed offline on the PC and are not uploaded to any servers.

See CopyTrans Contacts in action:

Back up iPhone contacts to PC

manage iphone contacts with copytrans

The verdict: Saving yourself the headache of missing iPhone contacts comes with preventive actions. Backing up your iPhone contacts and other personal data is an important matter that should be taken seriously. We hope that you have now successfully restored your lost iPhone address book.

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By krasimir

Krasimir is an avid marketing aficionado and a tech-support specialist in charge of the English-speaking market. He grew up in Bulgaria and on the island of Mauritius where he became passionate about windsurfing and photography.