As long as he didn't sync/backup again AFTER the restore and losing the contacts, etc., it's possible that they still are in the backup made BEFORE restoring. To get them back, he'll have to restore the backup:
1. Disable automatic syncing on connectioin in iTunes Prefs > Devices > Disable....
2. With iTunes open, connect the phone.
3. Right-click the device tab on the left side of the iTunes window and select "Restore From Backup."
Well, I tried the restore from backup before posting this, but didn't disable automatic syncing before doing that
The restore from back up resulted in no changes. Is all lost? I don't understand why the back up before restoring didn't take. The software prompts the back up, which I did and after restoring it should have just restored everything the way it was? The only thing different about this situation is that he had never backed up the phone on the computer prior to doing this initial back up. Is there a file on the hard drive of the computer where the back up can be retrieved?
Did you sync before the Restore?
If yes, click on the iPhone holding the Alt key, just like modular said, choose restore, just like modular said, then you get a window with a list of the available backups, then choose one of before the restore, everything like Modular said.
If you did not sync regularly, in iTunes (automatic sync off), on the Info page in the Advanced section (on the bottom of the page), check what you want to copy from the computer, then sync.
You do not have to uncheck that afterwards because it will only this time overwrite with everything on the computer.
...He never synced or backed it up but continually added photos and contacts...now his settings, text messages and contacts are all gone.
Contacts are NOT part of the iPhone backup. Only the contact favorites are part of the backup. If they were not synced to a compatible address book or cloud service, they are gone.
Photos in the camera roll and text messages should have been part of the backup, assming the backup completed properly prior to the update.
Since the phone had never been synced to that computer previously, it's difficult to say what you selected when you were presented with the dialog box by iTunes when you first plugged it in, but I'm guessing that a backup was not done at all. You either told it to set it up as a new phone, or chose to restore it from an existing backup, probably the former. In that case, it would not actually have been backed up.
The data is more than likely gone for good.
THIS IS AN SCANDALOUS!!! ALL THOSE PICTURES LOST!!!
Yesterday I instaled iCloud on my iPhone and again, more than 1200 pictures LOST!!! (neather on my iPhone, nor on my iTunes. LOST!!!)
What's going on there??
Mr. Mac, you should do something about that. This is very disapointing...
I lost some of my conctacts and my notes too!!!
WE NEED AN EASY SOLUTION FOR THAT!!!
I have the same issue, with the exception I was on the phone over an hour with Apple to do the restore because of other phone issues. I followed his instructions and when the backup started we ended the call. I found after it finished it had import 4 contacts from a hotmail account I have. None of my previous phone contacts. He did indicate it would restore those, it would just not restore any of the apps from the Apple store. I've been on hold this morning trying to get assitance, but no luck yet.
Same issue here. Updated the wife's phone from 4.x to 5.x. everything went smoothly, all her photos were there, but the contactes were gone. So I did a restore and now 500 photos are gone. I thought it made a back up from today? The back up folder shows it was modified today but tthe only back up is old, hence the loss. I guess it's my fault for not properly backing up but I thought iTunes was performing a full back up/restore. It seems there's always something lost when working with iTunes.