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.

Recover Deleted Contacts in iPhone

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 iPhone

Step 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 iPhone

Step 3: When the popup message comes up, press ‘Keep on My iPhone’

Keep on My iPhone

Step 4: Now, turn ON the contacts again and tap “Merge”; wait for a while

Merge Contacts on iPhone

Step 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 vCard

Step 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).

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!!!