We love Apple devices because they “just work,” but for the times they don’t, having a dependable backup is important; Apple Watch is no different.
When to Backup
Preparing for a backup before you hope you had one.
The most common situations one should force a backup of their Apple Watch is when doing a software update, getting a new Apple Watch or new iPhone, or sending in your Apple Watch or iPhone for service.
How to Back Up
If you regularly backup your iPhone, you are also regularly backing up your Apple Watch. There are two ways to backup your iPhone: iCloud or to iTunes on your computer.
iCloud is a wonderful way to backup your iPhone wherever you may be, as long as your account is in good standing, and you have more than enough required storage. You can find out when the most recent iCloud backup was performed from your iPhone:
- Tap “Settings” on your iPhone.
- Tap your iCloud name at the top.
- Tap “iCloud”.
- Tap “iCloud Backup”. (Your backup should say “On”.)
- On the bottom of this screen, you will see “Last Backup:” and a date and time.
If this date and time is not very recent, you can force a backup:
- Connect your iPhone to its charger and connect to a Wi-Fi network.
- Tap “Backup Now”.
- When the backup is complete, the “Last Backup:” should have today’s date and the time the backup completed.
You can backup your iPhone and Apple Watch onto iTunes on your computer, but to get the full benefit (and all your activity data) you must tell iTunes to encrypt your iPhone Backups:
- Connect your iPhone to your computer via your Lightning cable.
- In iTunes, select your iPhone from the upper-left corner of the window.
- On the left, under Settings, select “Summary”.
- Select “Encrypt [device] backup” in Backups.
- Create (and do not forget) a password when asked.
- It will start backing up. Future backups will be encrypted as well.
If you will be parting with your Apple Watch (getting a new Apple Watch or sending yours away to service) you will want to force a backup and remove your personal data from the watch. Conveniently, these both happen when unpairing your Apple Watch.
- Open the Apple Watch app on your iPhone.
- Select your Watch from the main screen.
- Tap the “i” next to your Watch.
- Tap “Unpair Apple Watch”.
- Follow onscreen instructions, may include authenticating with your Apple ID password.
So you’ve backed up your Watch, and now after some event, you need to restore your Watch. That part is simple and built into the same pairing process you did when it was first set up. There are a few things that do not come along with the backup that you will have to set up again:
- Device Passcode
- Paired Bluetooth devices (e.g., headphones)
- Your debit/credit card used with Apple Pay
These things are left out for your security and because some are tied to the hardware of the device, not the software.
That’s it! You planned ahead and had your Apple Watch and iPhone backed up in an encrypted format that saved most of your data, and you were able to confidently use that backup to restore to your Apple Watch. Enjoy your watch with your data!
Apple’s support article on backing up Apple Watch:
Encrypted iTunes backups:
Differentiating iTunes and iCloud backups:
Unpairing Apple Watch:
Setting up Apple Watch: