Catalin Nichita
Published by Catalin Nichita,

Updated on September 2017

iPhone data loss is one of the most painful problems of modern times. If you're reading this, you know what it's like to lose photos, contacts, notes or messages. You get that sinking feeling in your stomach. You feel you need to act now, recover them, reduce the damage.

Sometimes you lose access to iPhone data by accident: you drop it in water or someone steals it. Sometimes you make the wrong decision in a split second to delete important information. A lot of things can make your iPhone data unusable or inaccessible.

iOS data loss

Whichever the reason for data loss, this post will help you understand the causes. No matter the cause, in this article you'll find ways to prevent data loss, and solutions for immediate recovery.

Most common causes for iPhone data loss

Whilst precise numerical estimations for each of these causes are difficult to extract, our research looked at 11 common causes, ranging from mistakes (up to 44%) to natural disasters (approximately 2%).

1. A human error is the most common cause for iPhone data loss, and the accidental deletion of iOS data is more frequent than you’d think. A lot of things could go wrong. For example, a wrong iTunes backup file restored on an iPhone or data deleted by mistake. I was in a similar situation, two years ago when I accidentally restored an older iTunes backup on my iPhone. Some users delete their important files by pressing the wrong key.

2. Lost lockscreen passcode can also make the iPhone access impossible. The data is wiped after 10 attempts so it is best to keep the lock screen passcode in a safe place. It happened to one of my colleagues here at Reincubate who completely forgot her pincode after running for 8 miles. A combination of tiredness and panic probably made the situation worse as she attempted 10 combinations in 5 minutes and had to reset and erase her iPhone the very same day.

3. Physical damage is responsible for a lot of iPhone data loss. Has anyone ever dropped their iPhone down the stairs, Or maybe from a 20 story high building while trying to take a selfie? Have you dropped your iPhone 6 in water or in a pool? Surely these types of accidents happen on a daily basis.

See here how you can recover your data from a water damaged iPhone

. The physical damage occurs in a matter of seconds, so it is best to keep your phone into a solid protective case. One of our customers confessed to having popped their iPhone in the washing machine while doing their laundry. Fortunately, the iPhone Backup Extractor was able to recover their data from an iCloud backup.

4. An iPhone lost or stolen also leads to data loss. In this situation, you have a few ways to recover data from the phone even if you don’t have access to your device. This article will show you how to do it.

5. iOS upgrade failure can also make your iPhone unusable and lead to a case of data loss. A cable disconnected by mistake when you perform an update, a power failure or another similar incident could immediately cause your files to be erased or damaged.

6. Replacing the iPhone’s battery results in data loss. This happens because replacing the battery has the same effect as an iPhone factory reset. If you need to replace your battery, make sure that you have a backup file stored in a safe location.

7. Failed Jailbreak attempts can also make your iPhone unusable and you could lose your data for good. It’s best to stay away from these methods or make a backup before starting such a risky procedure.

8. iOS system crashes can also produce data loss. Even if the latest versions of iOS seem to be stable and apparently safe, it is always better to backup your phone frequently or before attempting an upgrade. iOS 10 beta users, beware - this one can affect you!

9. A factory reset procedure will wipe all your iPhone’s content. Sometimes, by mistake, a factory reset procedure is initiated. If you don’t have an iTunes backup file or an iCloud backup, your data is lost forever.

10. An iOS virus attack may affect the iPhone’s functionality causing complete data loss. The iOS environment is protected in a very smart way and if your phone is not jailbroken, you should be fine. However, you’ll be exposed to viruses if you decide to jailbreak it, because some apps can access the system data, corrupting or damaging critical system files. If you want to be sure that you will not be affected by a virus attack, stay away from any jailbreak attempt.

11. Natural disasters occur when you expect less. Fires, floods or other natural unexpected phenomena could make your iPhone unusable and make unaccessible or lose the data they contain.

What kind of data do users want to recover?

Based on a mix of traffic statistics and data provided by Google, we were able to see the level of people’s interest in data loss recovery. Specifically, we were able to understand exactly what type of data people are interested in recovering.

The results are not surprising, but they do show us that everyone searches for solutions differently, some focusing on the type of data they need recovered, others on what lead to the loss of data in the first place (eg: restrictions PIN recovery). Here are the 7 top data categories we found:

  • Restrictions PIN recovery
  • Lost text messages recovery
  • WhatsApp data extraction
  • iCloud data recovery
  • Photostream images recovery
  • Apple Notes extraction
  • Kik messages recovery

How to protect your data

Whilst the list of common causes for data list is quite diverse, one thing to notice is - data can be lost in a second, and often people fall in the same trap of underestimating the likelihood that something bad can happen to them.

In most cases, prevention is the best solution. In other cases, even if you do take all precautions to keep your iPhone safe, you might still have to reply on data recovery solutions like the iPhone Backup Extractor. In all cases, backups are crucial and increase the chances of recovering the right data when you need it.

Want to know what you can do to keep your iPhone data safe? Here are 6 easy steps you can take:

  • Create an iCloud account and associate your device with that account. Create regular iCloud backups, especially before and after making big changes on your phone (before updating to iOS 10 or after taking a lot of photos).
  • Make iTunes backups and keep them in a safe place on your computer or, better, in multiple locations.
  • Activate “Find My iPhone” to be able to track it if it’s lost.
  • Activate a lock screen passcode but be sure you don’t forget the code. Use an encrypted password management system like 1Password or Keepass to save this information.
  • Activate two step verification or two-factor authentication on your iPhone.
  • Be sure that you have a long password for your iCloud account and keep the password in a safe place if it is too difficult to remember it. If your data is lost you can always get your files back if a backup was generated in your iCloud account.

If you’ve lost your data because of one of the mentioned causes but you have an iTunes backup file, or an iCloud account, you will be recover all your data using the iPhone Backup Extractor. Here you’ll find the instructions for the iTunes data recovery and for the iCloud data extraction.

Have you ever lost important data from your iPhone? How did you manage the data recovery? Do you need assistance or help? Our team of experts are ready to find a solution to get your lost data back.

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