How to Recover Files, Contacts, Calendars and Reminders in iCloud

When iOS 8 was released, there was an iCloud Drive bug that caused many users to lose all of their documents that were stored in iCloud Drive. Apple fixed that issue, but there are still rare problems that pop up that can cause iCloud content to be erased, either through user error or through bugs in the operating system.

Following the iOS 8 iCloud Drive deletion snafu, Apple quietly introduced tools to recover deleted files from iCloud, and more recently, added a way to recover Contacts, Calendars, and Reminders, giving users a way to restore any lost content. This is a little known feature, but it's good to know about if you run into an issue that wipes out content on your iOS device.

The first step is to log into iCloud on the web. These recovery tools are only available through They are not present in the iCloud Settings app on iOS 8 or within the dedicated iCloud Drive app that's available in iOS 9.

To log into

  1. Visit in a web browser of choice, such as Safari or Chrome.

  2. Enter your Apple ID and password.

  3. If you have two-factor authentication turned on, you'll need a trusted device to generate a code to log into iCloud and access the settings.


To access the recovery settings:

  1. Click on the "Settings" app in the main iCloud menu.

  2. icloudsettingspage

  3. Scroll down to the bottom of the page until you get to the "Advanced" section."

  4. advancedicloudsettings
  5. Click on the content you need to restore. Options are files stored in iCloud Drive, a list of contacts, or your Calendar and Reminders.

Restoring files:

Using the "Restore Files" option on brings up a list of all files that have been deleted over the past 30 days. It includes files from apps that support iCloud Drive, such as Pixelmator, Napkin, and Byword.

I deleted a file from the Byword folder in iCloud Drive, and it immediately showed up here.

You can select a single file to restore or multiple files, should there have been a catastrophic event that caused iCloud Drive to be wiped entirely. Check the box to make a selection and click "Restore File." Using the file restoration tool returns the file in question to iCloud Drive in its original parent folder, much like undeleting a photo on iOS.

After clicking "Restore" on the file, it's been returned to the Byword folder in iCloud Drive.

Deleted iCloud Drive files remain available in iCloud for 30 days before being permanently deleted, at which point they become unrecoverable. As a side note, you cannot do a manual permanent deletion with iCloud Drive files as you can do with Photos on iOS -- they're sticking around for the full 30 days.

Restoring Contacts, Calendars, and Reminders:

Apple regularly archives a list of Contacts, which can be restored to an iOS device at any time. Restoring a list of contacts from the archive will replace the contacts on all iOS devices connected to your iCloud account, while archiving the current list of contacts to ensure nothing is lost. Contacts can't be restored one by one -- this is an all or nothing batch operation.

Restoring Calendars and Reminders works like restoring Contacts. Apple frequently creates a backup for the two apps, capturing snapshots for more than a month. Any of these archives can be used to replace a current Calendar or Reminder list, replacing the existing information on all connected iOS devices.

Restoring a Calendar will remove all sharing information, so Calendars and Reminders shared with friends and family will need to be shared again. All scheduled events will also be cancelled and recreated, reissuing all invitations for events.

Most users probably won't need to delve into the Advanced settings that will restore content like this, but it's nice to have a backup should something disastrous occur. It's also useful because it enables people to restore key information to a new iPhone or iPad without having to work from a full backup.

iCloud settings are also handy for immediately signing out of all browsers that are signed into iCloud should you suspect someone has gained unauthorized access to your account and for managing apps that let people look you up using your Apple ID. It also displays all devices you're signed into, offers up a look at available storage, and displays the members of your Family Sharing group.

Top Rated Comments

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39 months ago

How about they allow us to restore messages

iMessages aren't stored on a server once they've been delivered, so that would be impossible.
Rating: 4 Votes
39 months ago

Call me a cynic but, ‘Apple quietly introduced tools to recover deleted files ('') from iCloud’, suggests to me that they are never really deleted.
Now if this were google, the Fanboys would be up in arms about how Evil Google are storing your data to monetize it.

They just like a same way.
Rating: 4 Votes
39 months ago
How about they allow us to restore messages
Rating: 2 Votes
39 months ago

Are you sure? I've had past conversations appear on brand new devices after I've set them up and restored with iCloud.

You restored a backup which includes Messages.
Rating: 1 Votes
34 months ago

It would be very convenient, but I don't think Apple will ever do it due to privacy concerns.

100% sure, the only way I could think that happened is you were previously signed into iMessage on that device and never signed out, so it thought the messages hadn't been delivered yet.

How are messages any more private than, say, emails, calendar data, stuff people keep in iCloud Drive - heck, even photos? My photos are (to me) way more private than simple old text messages. So is my calendar. But Apple already gives us the option to store that stuff in the cloud if we want. I'd like the same option for my messages. Always having access to them would be very much worth it to me.
Rating: 1 Votes
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