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Apple Watch: How to back up, restore, and reset

We explain what data is stored and how you can access it

restore your apple watch
restore your apple watch

Backing up your Apple Watch is nothing like you might expect, your settings and data are stored on the connected iPhone, not the smartwatch itself.

This means that those who want to restore their Apple Watch from a backup will restore from the data stored in iCloud (or iTunes) when backing up their iPhone.

So if you’ve upgraded to a new Apple smartwatch and want to sync settings, data, etc. from your old watch, you’ll need to do it on the iPhone you set up the older model.

Below, we’ll tell you not only how to back up your Apple Watch, but what exactly is preserved when you restore it.

How to Backup the Apple Watch

restore your apple watch
restore your apple watch

As we just explained, since Apple Watch backups are tied to the iPhone, knowing how to do this on the connected device is actually the way to back up your smartwatch as well. Here are 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.

If you don’t want to manually back up your watch, there’s another way. 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 the Apple Watch

Before attempting to set up and restore your Apple Watch from the latest backup, make sure you have followed the steps above. 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 it 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.

How to Reset the Apple Watch

If you’re having trouble with your Apple Watch, sometimes the only way to get everything back to normal is to reset it completely.

However, there is actually no option to factory reset the Apple Watch. Instead, the steps below will help you unpair your watch and clear its data, which is basically the same as a factory reset.

How to unpair from Apple Watch

Unfortunately, you can’t simply unpair from the Watch itself – for that, you’re going to need a connected iPhone present.

1. On the iPhone, go to the Watch app and open the My Watch tab.

2. Tap the Watch at the top of the screen.

3. Tap the ‘I’ icon and then hit Unpair Apple Watch.

4. Confirm your carrier settings so that you’ll be free to pair your device to any new iPhone.

How to erase data on Apple Watch

Erase any of your data on the Apple Watch by heading to Settings > General > Reset > Erase All Content and Settings on the device itself.

How to Pair and Unpair

Pairing mode on Apple Watch automatically prompts when an unassigned device is detected near your iPhone.

However, if you have problems – there are some steps you can take.

Of course, you need to make sure your Apple Watch is trying to pair with an iPhone running the latest software, and that it is actually compatible.

For example, the Series 7 requires iOS 15 to be installed on your iPhone, so be sure to update your smartphone ahead of time.

How to pair the Apple Watch

With your Apple Watch turned on, make sure Bluetooth is enabled on your iPhone and the two are in close proximity, you’ll be prompted to place your iPhone camera over the animation moving on the watch face, as shown above. From here, the setup process is as follows:

1. Choose to set up as a new Apple Watch or restore from a backup.

2. Sign in with your Apple ID.

3. Choose your settings. Your Apple Watch will mirror the settings of your iPhone, such as Find my iPhone, Location Services, Wi-Fi Calling, Diagnostics, and Siri.

4. Create or skip making a passcode.

5. Set up cellular (if available) and apps.

6. Wait for the Apple Watch and iPhone to sync and complete pairing.

How to pair Apple Watch to a new iPhone

How to pair Apple Watch to a new iPhone

Maybe you’ve lost your old iPhone, or you’ve just upgraded—for whatever reason, pairing your Apple Watch with a new iPhone is fairly straightforward.

To do this, you’ll again need to make sure your Apple ID is at hand, both devices are able to connect to the same Wi-Fi network, both are at least 50% charged, and that you remember any Apple Watch passcode that was previously assigned to it.

It’s also important to note that these steps do vary depending on whether you still have access to your old device.

If you do still have your old iPhone and want to pair the Apple Watch:

1. Update your old iPhone and the Apple Watch to the latest software.

2. Back up your old iPhone and go to the My Watch tab in the iPhone’s Watch app to unpair your selected device.

3. Begin setting up the new iPhone.

4. Open the Apple Watch app on your new iPhone and follow the pairing steps outlined above – you’ll likely want to restore from backup if picking up on a new iPhone.

5. To make sure your Health data syncs across to the Apple Watch, it’ll have to be turned on in Settings > Your Name > iCloud > Health.

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