Backup, wipe, restore: Speed-up your iPhone/iPad and gain storage

26 October 2015, 06:00

It sounds too good to be true, doesn’t it? What if there was something that’s entirely free of charge that you could do in the space of around 30-60 minutes that would:

a) Possibly make a slow iPhone/iPad more responsive and faster; and
b) Free-up gigabytes of space of the device’s storage capacity?

Well, there is something you can do, and it’s a well-known trick that the power-user community’s been using for a few years:

    Backup, wipe, restore.

In other words, backup the iPhone/iPad (and Apple Watch, if you have one associated with the phone). Wipe the device. Then restore it from the backup. All this might sound a little circular and perhaps like a waste of time, but it really does pay dividends. It’s essentially the equivalent of reinstalling the operating system on desktop computers.

Note that after the restoration has finished you’re required need to setup your iPhone/iPad as if you’ve just taken it out of the box brand new – reconfigure Touch ID, for example, and reconfirm your Apple Pay cards. However, all your device’s data – apps, app settings, photos etc – should be restored from the backup.

Here are the steps to follow:

  1. If you’ve an Apple Watch open the Watch app on your iPhone, tap the Apple Watch entry in the list, and then tap Unpair Apple Watch. Then select the backup option. Don’t continue the steps below until the backup is complete.
  2. Attach your device via USB, then navigate to its settings screen within iTunes on your Mac/PC by clicking its icon at the top left in the icon row.
  3. Under the Backups heading, ensure Encrypt iPhone/iPad Backup is selected, and enter a password when prompted. If you already have this option selected, click the Back Up Now button.
  4. Your iPhone will be backed-up to your computer immediately. It’ll take around five minutes.
  5. Leave the iPhone attached via USB, and on the iPhone itself open the Settings app then navigate to General > Reset > Erase All Content and Settings. You’ll need to enter your device passcode, then your Apple ID password, and also confirm that you want to deactivate Find my iPhone.
  6. Once the device has been wiped, the iTunes screen on your computer will change to show a Restore option. Wait for the iPhone to revert to the setup “Hello / Hola!” screen, and then click to restore within iTunes. It will again take around five minutes. Follow the instructions that subsequently appear to restore your Watch too.

After restoration is complete, you’ll need to enter your Apple ID password on the iPhone a few times, and you should ensure that Find my iPhone has been reactivated in the iCloud section of the Settings app. If you get an error about iTunes being unable to restore all your apps, just reboot the device (once restoration has finished), and then tap the blacked-out icons to start them downloading.

On my iPhone 6 Plus I gained 1GB of storage space.

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