Much too often, I get a phone call with a plea for help that goes something like this recent one:
I dropped my iPhone and now it’s broken. I can’t get to the Home screen or launch apps or anything. I took the phone to an Apple Store and they said the phone can’t be repaired. I need to get a replacement phone. But that means I will lose all the stuff that’s on the iPhone now, including over a thousand photos. Isn’t there something I can do to save my stuff?
After asking the person a few questions, I confirm what I had already suspected. There is very little hope of data recovery. Certainly there’s not any fast and easy solution. Which is too bad, because it could have been soooo simple.
It turns out that, perhaps in the spirit of “breaking the cord” or perhaps just out of laziness, the user had never synced or otherwise backed up her iPhone to her Mac. All updates and downloads had been handled directly from the iPhone itself. Unfortunately, the person had also never backed up her iPhone to iCloud. She never even enabled Photo Stream. At this point, I break the bad news: “There is no sure way to recover your missing data; in fact, your stuff is most likely gone for good.”
Given how many people fail to back up their Macs, I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised that such failures extend to iOS devices. But I remain surprised. At least with Macs, there is the “excuse” that local backing up requires the purchase of additional hardware, typically an external drive at least as large as the Mac’s drive.