One of the scariest things that can happen – when you try to change iPhones, sync contacts or sync to the cloud/backup – is losing contact details. I’ve found myself – very often – losing a few contacts once in a while when I try to sync, update or just restore my device.

Things have become relatively easy with iCloud but if you’re old school, you’ll find iTunes to be a good solution even today. As long as you’ve got a backup of your contacts somewhere, you can restore it on your iPhone and reclaim deleted contacts easily.

How to Recover Deleted iPhone Contacts

As such, there are three ways in which you can have your iPhone contacts backed up:

  • iCloud: which is the most preferred and popular method today.
  • iTunes: an old method which still retains its flavor amongst some of us.
  • Manual Export: probably the most secure and hassle-free method. Something that I’ve used for quite sometime now. Happily.

How to Recover Deleted iPhone Contacts via iTunes Bbackup:

Chances are, you backed up your device in iTunes the last time you plugged the device in. If this is the case, you’re in luck.

To restore a deleted contact on your iPhone, all you do is:

Step #1. Connect your iPhone to the PC/Mac.

Step #2. Open iTunes.

Step #3. Click on Devices tab.

Step #4. Right-click on the iPhone that’s connected and click ‘Restore from Backup…’Restore iPhone Contacts from iPhoneStep #5. Note that this will effectively remove all old information on your iPhone and get the backup data on your iPhone. If you had backed up contacts too in your previous iTunes backup, those will be restored to the iPhone and you should mostly recover that deleted contact now.

How to Restore iPhone Contacts from iCloud Without iTunes:

Of course, with iCloud in town, not everyone is interested in iTunes backups these days. iCloud makes stuff easier to manage although you just need to be a bit careful.

If you have enabled iCloud Contacts sync, in all probability, the lost contact should be up on your iCloud account. To check if this is true:

  • Login to https://www.icloud.com with your Apple ID and password.
  • Click on Contacts.
  • Search your contacts to check if the deleted/lost contact (from your iPhone) is still visible here.

If yes, you can now recover that lost contact easily.

Step #1. Go to Settings → iCloud on your iPhone.

Step #2. Turn off Contacts (if it’s not turned off already.)

Contacts Settings on iPhoneStep #3. When the popup message comes up, press ‘Keep on My iPhone.’

Keep on My iPhoneStep #4. Now, turn ON the contacts again and tap “Merge”; wait for a while.Merge Contacts on iPhoneStep #5. After sometime, you should see the deleted contact back on your iPhone.

Step #6. In case this doesn’t work, all you do is delete your iCloud account (but keep all data) and then re-add the iCloud account by logging in with your Apple ID and password.

Step #7. Merge all data and wait for a while. After sometime, iCloud will have merged all contacts to your iPhone and the deleted one should be back!

.vcf Export:

Perhaps, the safest way to play this game is to sync your contact data to iCloud and make a .vcf copy routinely. To do this:

Step #1. Make sure all contact details on your iCloud account is up-to-date.

Step #2. Open https://www.icloud.com and login.

Step #3. Click on Contacts.

Step #4. Click on the clog (settings) icon on the bottom left and press ‘Export vCard…’

Export Contacts from iCloud as vCardStep #5. Save this file on your hard-disk.

Do this thing once in a month or so and you’ll have a pretty solid backup of all your contacts. You can send this .vcf file as email and then open it on your iPhone to get them back on your Contacts (in case you lose them all).

Yet another way to recover deleted contacts is using Coolmuster, a data recovery software.

All-in-one Coolmuster can help recover everything from your iDevice. No matter how you lost iPhone files and what you’ve lost, you can get them back by those 2 iPhone Recovery modes. “Recover contacts from iTunes backup” and “recover contacts from iPhone directly “.

Here is the step by step guide:

Step #1.  Run the Coolmuster Data Recovery for iPhone iPad iPod and you’ll found all iTunes backup files have been detected and displayed in the main interface. Just select one and backup file and start to scan.Cool Muster iPhone Data RecoveryStep #2.  After the scanning, all found data will be showed on the left, including contacts, messages, camera roll, photos, etc. For lost contacts, you can choose “Contacts” and find those contacts you want back. Then click “Recover” to save them on your computer. Done!Recover Deleted Contact with CoolmusterFeatures of Coolmuster

  • Recover contacts, SMS, calendars, photos, notes, music, and more from iPhone, iPad and iPod within one click.
  • Automatically detect all iTunes backup files on computer.
  • Recover lost data due to iOS upgrade, factory reset, jailbreak, virus attack etc.
  • Regain lost data when your iPhone is inaccessible, stuck in Apple logo, black/white screen of death or when you forget the device password etc.
  • Support all iOS series product including iPhone 6/5/4, iPad and iPod.

Visit Coolmuster.com for more information.

Besides these, you can also use third-party software like Tenorshare & iStonSoft that will let you restore contacts anytime. Even the deleted or lost ones. You can check out our review of Tenorshare software here and the review of iStonSoft here.

  • http://twitter.com/AOapey Ajinkya Sengutuvan

    Hm, I think that Step 4 should read “Right-click on the iPhone icon and select “Restore from Backup” as described here:

    http://www.copytrans.net/support/how-to-extract-iphone-contacts-from-iphone-backup-via-itunes/

    and not “Right-click on the iPhone that’s connected and click ‘Backup’”. Selecting “Backup” will simply backup the currently existing data on the iPhone (i.e. the empty contacts records) and will not delete or restore the iPhone as suggested.

    I’d personally prefer the iCloud method as I really do not trust iTunes and what it coul do to my iPhone.

    • http://www.igeeksblog.com/ iGeeksBlog

      Hey, thanks for the heads up. We’ve got it corrected now. And yeah, the iCloud method is the safest. But some people still depend on iTunes. :)

  • Deb Smith

    Thank you for the detailed help offered here! I feared hours and hours of hunting and telephoning to restore my lost contacts (all of them) following my first sync to the cloud. After about 10 minutes of hunting the web I found you and less than 10 minutes later, my contacts were all returned! Thanks!

    • http://www.igeeksblog.com/ iGeeksBlog

      Deb,

      That’s really great. It’s our pleasure.

      Cheers… :)

  • melodygong gong

    Recover deleted/lost iPhone Photos, Contacts,SMS Messages,video and more from iTunes backup files,with Tenorshare iPhone Data Recovery- http://www.any-data-recovery.com/product/iphone-data-recovery.html you also can Recover Data for iPad and iPod,including video,music,photo and other files.

  • http://www.facebook.com/scottnmcdaniel Scott McDaniel

    If one never signed up with iCloud and never synced with iTunes, and then lost all contacts for some random reason, is there a way to recover them? Have tried to reset it by pressing the power and home.

  • Niti Sharma

    Try this guide and see how it works for you:

    STEP 1:Make sure iTunes doesn’t automatically sync with iPhone when connected.
    STEP
    2:Connect your iPhone to iTunes and Back up by selecting Preferences
    > Backup from iTunes, or right-click on your iPhone and choose back
    up.
    STEP 3:Restore your iPhone by selecting Restore under
    Preferences. Note that restoring the iPhone will restore the previous
    iPhone firmware. Your iPhone will be completely erased after the new
    firmware is installed. So make sure your back up is good!
    STEP 4:The
    final step will be to restore your iPhone from the back up you created
    on step 2. This will allow you to restore any data you have backed up,
    including the “deleted” text messages.

  • Mohri795

    I don’t think you it recovery deleted messages from an ios device.

  • RoseJustin

    You can recover deleted contacts from iPhone from iTunes backup as the following:

    1. Connect your iPhone to your computer.
    2. Open iTunes.
    3. Under “Devices”, you should see your phone, right click on it.
    4. Click on “Restore from Backup”.
    5. Select one of the earlier backups when you had all the contacts and let it install them. You are done!

    Check out the details from this YouTube video guide

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6t4VLPz2Xug

  • Roger

    Hi, I have recently bought a new lab top and tried to update my OS on iphone from 4.0.2 to latest. When my phone synched I lost all my contacts. I have a backup version on my old computer but when restoring it asks for a password. I have a new password for my apple account which doesn’t seem to work. Would the password for the restore backup be a old password or is there any way to bypass this or reset the password so I can restore the backup version?

  • shaz

    hai… i had backup on iCloud but my phone still can get any contact. fyi, for iCloud account i use to my iphone and my ipad. can you help me to solve this problem? i want all the contact numbers… [sorry for my bad english]

    • http://www.igeeksblog.com/ iGeeksBlog

      Have you turned on iCloud -> Contacts? And is the iPhone connected to a stable Wi-fi network?

      If nothing works, do this:
      – Go to iCloud.com on PC/Mac. and login.
      – Click on Contacts and select all contacts.
      – Click on the cog icon on the bottom and export all contacts as vcf. Email the downloaded vcf file to yourself.

      On the iPhone, open the Mail app and click on the vcf file from the
      email. You will have an option to import the contacts to your iPhone.

  • Kyoko Dawn Weber-Sickler

    Best, easiest fix to use iCloud to regain ‘lost’ Contacts!
    Thanks! Love the streamline approach!!!

  • Camille Alysson

    Thank you. Seriously. Thank you. The iCloud retrieval is perfect. Just thank you.

  • suzy

    thanks for the steps to use icloud in restoring my contacts and calendars! It worked great!

  • Ronnie Cat

    The .vcf method worked for me. Other articles had made it sound so difficult and you made it sound so easy, which it was. Thank you!

  • SharonEvans

    Maybe this will help people that stumble across this thread.

    https://discussions.apple.com/thread/3911479?start=30&tstart=0

  • Melissa Anderson Garcia

    Thank you! Facebook deleted all my contacts and replaced them with Facebook contact info that I did not want, and this worked perfectly to restore all my contacts. I’m so relieved and grateful!

  • Janiece McLean

    Thank you!!!!

  • dersvey

    This really works well.

    It helps me to restore iPhone contacts successfully easily and freely.

  • Jessica

    I have had my phone randomly delete all of my numbers 3x in the last 2 months. I have to manually enter the contacts from my existing text message feeds. It also doesnt let me add contacts within the contact app. I tried the merge iCloud it deleted all of my contacts? When I login to iCloud on my computer all of the contacts are there….but not on my phone. HELP

    • http://www.igeeksblog.com/ iGeeksBlog

      Check if you have restrictions enabled. (disable them, if yes).

      Try
      disabling ‘Contacts’ switch under Settings -> iCloud. Then, use the
      .vcf export method to get all your contacts onboard. See if that
      prevents contacts from being deleted.

      Aside: I am assuming that
      you’re not using multiple iCloud accounts. If you are, that could be an
      issue too (although in theory, it shouldnt).

  • Sahithya

    Thanks a ton! My contacts disappeared at a really crucial time yesterday and I just managed to get them back with your suggestions. Turning icloud on and off and resetting didn’t work for me despite trying several times. The vcard method was a winner!

  • Aras

    It worked!!! The iCloud solution…I’m so happy ^_^ I actually had to delete the iCloud account first and re-add it. Thanks!!!

  • nikhil

    plz help

    i was unaware of what i cloud is.

    then, in the settings, in iCloud section, i disabled the contacts icon and when it asked for ‘Keep on My iPhone/Delete from MY Phone, I by mistake chose the delete one. Now i am missing my very important contacts. plz help, its urgent.

    thanks with all regards

  • Eva

    THANK YOU! Finally got my contacts back after their extremely mysterious escape. Does anyone know why they got deleted in the first place?

  • dennychen

    Actually, when we delete a contact from iPhone, the contact doesn’t get deleted really, it still stay somewhere on our phone but is difficultly detected by our eyes. It’s because the deleted data is technically marked for deletion by the operating system and hidden so that they become invisible to us.
    Do you know how to retrieve deleted contacts on iPhone? As is known to us, when we have no previous backup to restore, the only way to retrieve deleted contacts on iPhone is by using a third-party iPhone data recovery tool. Maybe you can follow the guide below: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3hDtHkp5eng

  • Arcturus

    Just bought Tenorshare iPhone Data Recovery for $110 AUD, perfect tool for recovering everything you’ve lost from an iOS device.
    You can use it on two more computers.
    First two people to email me at dreamcatcherrecovery@gmail.com for the software, 90$ AUD off, will get the email and registration code for it.
    A timeless tool to cover you for any mistakes in the future.

  • hugowright

    You have a another simple, easy-to-use tool to do that.
    FonePaw iPhone Data Recovery, support all iOS device and recover deleted contacts from iOS Device, iTunes/iCloud backup.
    The recovered contacts contain address book, email, phone number and more.

  • s

    Thanks so much! The icloud method worked perfectly. I tried the itunes method and kept getting messages that I didn’t have enough room to restore… any ideas why? And any ideas why this happens in the first place?

    Thanks again — super helpful and well-written.

    • Anna

      Hey my name is Anna how did u get u contacts back mine will not come back I have tried multiple things

  • kala

    I lost some of my contacts on the iphone. I do use icloud for my back up and I could find some of the lost contacts there, however for whatever reason all my contacts on my iphone are not backed up. I need a way to merge the contacts from icloud and not replace everything on my iphone from icloud. I tried to use the steps laid out here but I did not get the merge option. Please advise

  • kala

    I lost some of my contacts on my iphone. I do back up to icloud every day. However when I log in to icloud to review my contacts, I only see my deleted contacts and not all contacts. How do I recover just the deleted contacts from icloud. Also, what do I need to do to ensure all my contacts are backed up to icloud? Please help

  • Serene

    Hi I don’t know if you reply but why do my numbers always disappear and come back on?

  • Elise Marie

    I just wanted to post a HUGE thank-you to this person. I also needed my contacts at a crucial time (something came up and I need to call co-workers to ask if anyone can take my shift) and THANK GOD for this. So grateful, and now that I’ve been scared half to death, I’m gonna start regularly backing my stuff up. Lesson learned ^_^

  • J.S_5s

    just because you have a copy of all your contacts in icloud, does not mean that if you accidentally delete a contact on your iphone you can recover it using icould. NO Sir that does not work, because if something happens to your contacts on your iphone the exact same thing happens to your contacts on your icloud, so you must have a saved file of all your contacts like that .vcf file somewhere safe that is not synced to your iphone. and update it every once in a while. This iphone business is not as user friendly as everyone says it is, if that was the case, there would not be millions of people searching the net on how to do things.

  • eveeve

    Thanks for sharing.

  • Losty

    you are amazing. simple. elegant. easy. thankyouuuu<3

  • Vxkvonnrr

    Good blog !