Backing up the Apple Watch is quite different to how you might expect, with your settings and data stored through your connected iPhone, and not on the smartwatch itself.
That means those who want to restore an Apple Watch from backup will be doing so from the data stored in iCloud (or iTunes) when the iPhone is backed up. So, if you have upgraded to a new Apple smartwatch and want to sync the settings, data and more from your old Watch, this will need to take place from the iPhone you set the older model up with.
Related: Apple Watch tips for beginners
Below, we’ll not only tell you how to back up Apple Watch, but also exactly what’s carried over when you restore.
How to back up your Apple Watch
As we just explained, since Apple Watch backup is tied to the iPhone, knowing how to perform this on the connected device is actually the route to backing up the smartwatch, too. Here’s the steps to backing up the iPhone through iCloud, and, in turn the Apple Watch:
1. Go to Settings on the iPhone.
2. Tap the top section, which includes your Apple ID and iCloud settings.
3. From here, tap iCloud and scroll down to iCloud Backup.
4. This will give you the option to turn on automatic iCloud Backup – which we would recommend – and also the option to manually back the device up then.
5. Once you’ve backed up the iPhone, the latest settings and data on your Apple Watch will be included in the backup.
There is an alternative method, if you don’t want to perform a manual backup of your Watch. When you unpair your Apple Watch, the iPhone will automatically take a backup of the settings and data. Then, when you come to pair a new device, you’ll be able to sync over this backup.
How to restore your Apple Watch
Before attempting to set up and restore an Apple Watch from the latest backup, ensure you have followed the steps above first. If you’re confident that you have a recent backup of watch data and settings (via the iPhone backup), all you need to do is simply go through the Apple Watch setup process.
1. Cycle through the setup screens, which include holding the iPhone so the Apple Watch is visible in the camera’s viewfinder, selecting language, choosing the Watch’s orientation and making a passcode.
2. You’ll then be asked to either set up the Apple Watch as a new device or to restore from an old backup.
3. Select the option to restore from backup. If done correctly, this should be the latest backup performed from the iPhone.
What’s stored and what isn’t in an Apple Watch backup
Most of the general system settings are saved when you perform a backup of your Apple Watch via the iPhone, though here’s a complete rundown of what exactly will be restored:
- System settings – such as how you set up brightness, sound, haptic feedback sensitivity, Siri and notifications.
- Built-in app’s history – for example, your setup for Mail and Calendar.
- The Apple Watch’s home screen layout.
- Your current watch face, customizations and saved faces.
- The order of the dock, and whether this is sorted by favorites or recent apps.
- Playlists and albums synced from Apple Music to Apple Watch.
- Time zone.
- Apple Photos you synced across.
- Apple Health and Fitness data, including workout history, achievements and the Apple Watch calibration data used to improve accuracy. For this, you need to restore from an iCloud backup or an encrypted iTunes backup.
Not everything is backed up, however, with some data and settings omitted from the above selection. They include:
- Bluetooth pairings.
- Credit or debit cards using Apple Pay.
- Apple Watch passcode.