HT4859: iCloud: Backup and restore overviewLearn about iCloud: Backup and restore overview
Currently Being ModeratedNov 20, 2012 7:46 PM (in response to JH Inquiry)
Your contacts aren't included in the iCloud backup because they are stored in your iCloud account. Unfortunately, when you delete contacts on one device that is sharing your icloud account, they are also deleted on all other devices sharing your account. (That's what iCloud does; sync changes across all devices sharing the account.)
Unless you have them backed up somewhere else, you won't be able to recover them.
Currently Being ModeratedNov 20, 2012 8:49 PM (in response to randers4)
Many thanks for your response. Just to confirm...if I didn't have my contacts backed up some place other than iCloud, I'm out of luck? I wish this was more transparent in the iCloud settings. When I did a restore from an iCloud backup, it referenced contacts as being one of the items being restored?? Thanks again for your help.
Currently Being ModeratedNov 20, 2012 9:00 PM (in response to JH Inquiry)
You're welcome, and you are correct. I agree that the support document on iCloud backup (http://support.apple.com/kb/HT4859) isn't very clear on this, but you will note that it says:
"Device settings (for example: Phone Favorites, Wallpaper, and Mail, Contacts, Calendar accounts)"
In other words, it is saving settings related to your contacts in the backup, such as your recent call list and your call favorites list, but not the actual contacts. Just like when it says "Mail" it means it is saving your mail account settings, not your actual mail.
The data you see on icloud.com isn't included in the backup in order to reduce the size, which is important when you're backing up over wifi. It is assumed to be safely stored in your iCloud account. Of course, that doesn't help when your contacts are accidentally deleted from your account.
I recommend that people always back up their contacts separately (by, for example, using an app like My Contacts Backup). Another tip is to always import your photos to your computer for safekeeping (see http://support.apple.com/kb/HT4083). Even though camera roll photos technically are included in the backup, many users nevertheless seem to not recover them when they restore their backup.