I often get asked what the difference is between restoring and resetting an iPhone. I’ve also seen a lot of people seriously mess up their iPhones because they chose the wrong method and/or didn’t follow all the steps. In a previous guide, we explained how to reset your iPhone. In this guide, we’ll explain how to restore your iPhone running iOS 11.
So what’s the difference? Resetting your iPhone is the “lighter” version of formatting your device back to factory settings. A reset can be done directly on the iPhone itself–right in the Settings app–and doesn’t need to be connected to iTunes on a Mac or PC to complete.
When resetting your iPhone you have the option of resetting all the settings on the device to factory default or just the network, keyboard dictionary, home screen layout, and location & privacy settings. These settings are the preferences which make your iPhone yours: network passwords, icon arrangement, system and app settings, and the like.
Restoring your iPhone is the “nuclear” version of formatting your device back to factory settings. A restore will wipe everything from your iPhone–settings, apps, the OS, and even the firmware itself. If you want the iPhone to be as close to the way it was when you first opened it from the box you want to restore it.
When You Want To Reset Versus Restore Your iPhone
Generally, you want to reset your iPhone whenever you are having simple problems with it: it doesn’t join networks it should; you’ve lost control over icon arrangement; your privacy or location settings are a jumbled mess. Resetting your iPhone resets some or all (depending on what you choose) the preferences from your iPhone, which can help resolve bugs or odd behavior on your device.
You want to restore your iPhone if you are selling or giving it away or you are having massive problems with it. Restoring your iPhone will obliterate everything on the device, erasing not only all your data, but the existing OS and firmware from the device. After a restore, the latest clean version of iOS will be installed.
How to Restore Your iPhone
Restoring your iPhone is a bit more complicated because if you do it wrong you can seriously mess up your device. By that, I don’t mean brick your device (doing that is very rare). I mean many times people restore their iPhone without doing a backup first. Then when they go to reload all their data on it they find they don’t have any of that data saved.
Another issue arises when people restore their iPhone without dissociating their Apple/iCloud ID from it first and then sell their device. If you don’t disassociate your Apple/iCloud ID first, that iPhone will forever be locked to your Apple/iCloud ID, which means a future owner won’t have full access to it.
With that in mind, here’s how to restore your iPhone:
1) Choose a backup method. This can be either via iCloud or a local backup on your desktop via iTunes.
• To backup via iCloud go to Settings > iCloud > Backup. Tap iCloud Backup to turn it on. Tap Back Up Now.
• To backup via iTunes connect your iPhone to your Mac or PC via its USB cable. In iTunes choose File > Devices > Backup.
2) Once you’ve backed up your device, now disassociate your Apple/iCloud ID from it. Go to Settings > iCloud, then tap to turn off Find My iPhone.
3) Now you’re ready to restore your device. Connect your iPhone to your desktop via its USB cable.
4) When your iPhone appears in iTunes, click on its Summary panel and then click Restore iPhone.
5) Click Restore again to confirm that you want to restore your iPhone to factory settings. All data and content will be erased.
6) After your iPhone restarts you’ll be asked if you want to set up the iPhone as a new device (do this if you are selling it or giving it away) or if you want to restore it from a backup. If you want to set it up as a new device, you’re done, just follow the “Set Up As New iPhone” steps on screen after the Hello screen appears.
7) If you want to restore your device from a backup you can do so from iCloud or your iTunes backup (depending on where you backed up your iPhone before you restored it.
• To restore from iCloud: After the Hello screen follow the steps in the iOS Setup Assistant until you get to the Setup screen. Select Restore from iCloud Backup. Select the backup you made.
• To restore from iTunes: connect your iPhone to your Mac or PC via its USB cable. In iTunes choose File > Devices > Restore from Backup. Select the backup you made.
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