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iPhone sync deleted all my contacts

22785 Views 9 Replies Latest reply: Mar 3, 2010 5:41 PM by FormerPCer RSS
Hammer67 Calculating status...
Currently Being Moderated
Mar 1, 2010 5:21 PM
I am less then impressed with the iTunes "sync" feature for my iPhone. Instead of a simple "backup" option, the sync isn't very intuitive.

My dilema...I recently synced my iPhone to back up all my apps and update my song list. On a whim, I decided to check off my contacts sync option (never backed those up before and thought now would be a good time). Well, I assumed that this worked like the apps and just backed up your contacts into iTunes. Nope...now all my contacts are GONE! ***?
Can anyone help me out here? Suggestions? I tried restoring from last backup with no luck.
Intel based PC - Custom, Windows 7, Win 7 64bit
  • neuroanatomist Level 7 Level 7 (31,685 points)
    Currently Being Moderated
    Mar 1, 2010 5:30 PM (in response to Hammer67)
    Normally, contacts are already a part of the backup. Backup ≠ sync. Syncing means syncing with the contacts list on your computer's address book (Mac Address Book, Outlook, etc.). If that contact list is empty, iTunes assumes (wrongly, IMO) that you want the same on your iPhone, and deletes the contacts. Same goes for calendars, although those are not backed up by iTunes. If you have at least one contact/event on your computer and you sync, you get a merge.replace prompt and choosing Merge transfers the contacts from the phone to the computer.

    At this point, since your contacts were erased from the phone and you have none on your computer, and you've synced again to overwrite the one backup iTunes keeps, your contacts may be gone.

    The one possibility is if you have a previous backup saved on an external drive from the last time you backed up your hard drive. (You do back up regularly, right?!?) If so, you can Restore from that by copying it from the external backup to the proper location on your internal drive, then performing a Restore.

    In Vista, the backup is stored at:

    C:\Users\user\AppData\Roaming\Apple Computer\MobileSync\Backup
    17" CD MBP, iPhone 3G, iPodTouch, Mac OS X (10.6.2),  since the ][e
  • Graham Outterside Level 4 Level 4 (2,910 points)
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    Mar 3, 2010 5:34 AM (in response to Hammer67)
    Hammer67 wrote:
    I have to wonder why Apple doesn't provide an easy option to back up your phone.


    It does but as you've found if you tell it to not backup something, and to oevrwrite the backup its not that helpful.

    If you have a Time Capsule and are running Time Machine, you get backups every hour of the iPhone syncs which allows us to go back to pretty much any previous state.
    MacBook Pro 15", Mac OS X (10.6.2), iPhone 3GS 32G
  • FormerPCer Level 2 Level 2 (180 points)
    Currently Being Moderated
    Mar 3, 2010 10:38 AM (in response to Graham Outterside)
    I completely agree that the sync options in iTunes are not at all intuitive and it is very easy to accidentally lose all your contacts. If you use MobileMe as well, the problems can multiply as they can also disappear from apps on other computers that are synced with it.

    I have set MobileMe to prompt me if it is going to make any changes at all to the details on my computer (rather than just if more than 5/25/50% of the data is being changed) to give me some damage limitation.

    The number of entries on this forum about this should prompt Apple to have another look to see if the sync process could be made easier.

    I no longer trust the syncing feature and regularly export my contacts from Outlook (which is synced with my iPhone via MobileMe) to a file and save it on my computer and on an external back-up drive. I have hundreds of contact details built up over years which could all disappear irretrievably in seconds by a slight error in the sync settings or even, in my experience, sometimes when the sync settings are correct.
    Dell 9200, Also iPhone 3G, Apple TV, Black MacBook and iPod Classic
  • Graham Outterside Level 4 Level 4 (2,910 points)
    Currently Being Moderated
    Mar 3, 2010 11:32 AM (in response to FormerPCer)
    FormerPCer wrote:
    I have hundreds of contact details built up over years which could all disappear irretrievably in seconds by a slight error in the sync settings or even, in my experience, sometimes when the sync settings are correct.


    No, they will only disappear if you don't keep a computer backup and thats personal choice, not a computer decision. I am glad however that you are doing a manual backup as that will cover you for 'user error' as well.
    MacBook Pro 15", Mac OS X (10.6.2), iPhone 3GS 32G
  • FormerPCer Level 2 Level 2 (180 points)
    Currently Being Moderated
    Mar 3, 2010 12:09 PM (in response to Graham Outterside)
    Experience has taught me the hard way about how essential it is to back up everything regularly. I am pretty computer literate but not everyone will think/know about exporting Outlook contacts as a .csv file and then backing that up as well.

    MobileMe is supposed to make things easy not just for the experienced computer user but also (if not especially) for those who may not be as familiar. If you look at the number of entries in the MobileMe forum (in itself not a something a novice may post to) from people who have lost their contacts, it looks as if it is having the opposite effect and lots of people are losing data regularly and getting pretty worked up about it.
    Dell 9200, Also iPhone 3G, Apple TV, Black MacBook and iPod Classic
  • Graham Outterside Level 4 Level 4 (2,910 points)
    Currently Being Moderated
    Mar 3, 2010 1:13 PM (in response to FormerPCer)
    FormerPCer wrote:
    I am pretty computer literate but not everyone will think/know about exporting Outlook contacts as a .csv file and then backing that up as well.


    I agree 100% however that kind of selectivity is both unnecessary and complicated. Backing up the hard disc in its entirety is much simpler and effective. Disc space is so cheap, and the programmes so effective its really easy. Programs like "Second Copy" do ALL the hard work but people just don't think about it until they arrive here
    MacBook Pro 15", Mac OS X (10.6.2), iPhone 3GS 32G
  • FormerPCer Level 2 Level 2 (180 points)
    Currently Being Moderated
    Mar 3, 2010 5:41 PM (in response to Hammer67)
    I think that if an IT Manager is having issues, it confirms the point that the syncing process needs to be re-examined by Apple. The popularity of the iPhone means it is used by far more than just the technologically aware and yet their contacts are just as important as anyone else's.

    Whilst most people seem to understand the importance of backing up data, a lot still don't do it often enough or, in some cases, at all. It is also possible for valuable data to be created between back-ups.

    Something must be wrong if a product that aims to simplify the sharing of data between mobile and static devices increases significantly the need to rely on back-ups (as the evidence on these forums clearly suggests iTunes and MobileMe do). I am sure more people that use iTunes/MobileMe have lost data due to confusion or errors during a sync than through hard-drive failure.
    Dell 9200, Also iPhone 3G, Apple TV, Black MacBook and iPod Classic

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