iCloud synchronizes your contacts and calendars to any device connected to it: MacOS, Windows, iOS and the web. However, when you accidentally delete something from your address book or calendar and want to get it back, Apple doesn’t make it easy. There’s no undo function on the iPhone or the Web. I recently had this problem when I tried to fix duplicates, and they weren’t actually duplicates. The best way to recover this information is on the web.
Backup Your Current iCloud Contacts or Calendars
This step isn’t required, but it’s a smart idea to back up any information before you make a change. The best way to do this is from your Mac. In your Contacts App go to File-> Export-> Contacts Archive. It’s the same for Calendar. Back up that information by going to File-> Export-> Calendar Archive.
If you back up up from the Web, it’s a little more complex. From the iCloud Home screen, pick Contacts. Find the gear icon in the bottom left-hand corner of the screen. Click on it and then select Export vCard… to download a backup of that information.
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There’s an App for that! We covered an app that lets you backup your contacts from your iPhone.
Backing up Calendars from the web is pretty darn complex and has some security risks. You need to back up each calendar one at a time. From the iCloud Home screen, pick Calendar.
For each calendar listed, you’ll need to share it publicly. Click the broadcast icon next to the calendar name. That brings up the Calendar Sharing Info pane. From there check Public Calendar to share it with the world and then click OK.
I know, this is a terrible way of doing it, so try to back up another way. After you share the calendar, Apple gives you a long URL that starts with webcal:// followed by the location of your calendar. Copy that URL in a new window or tab and replace webcal:// with http:// to start the download of your calendar.
That creates a .ics file download for that calendar. Then immediately stop sharing your calendar. Clunky, but it works if you don’t have access to a computer to backup your calendar.
With calendar sharing, either on the web or on the desktop, note with whom you are sharing that info with. If you do an iCloud restore that sharing info is lost.
Want to backup more iCloud stuff? Apple has a full guide for Mac, Windows and the web.
Restore a Backed Up Version of Your Contacts or Calendars
From the iCloud Home screen click on Settings. On the bottom of the screen under Advanced you’ll see Restore Contacts and then under a separate link Restore Calendars and Reminders.
With Contacts, when you click on of those links, Apple gives you a list of recent backups. Click on the backup for what you think is the correct latest version and select Restore. Apple warns you that everything in contacts will be replaced. Fortunately, they back up your current version in case you want to undo the restore.
Need to restore files from iCloud?: Here’s our guide for recovering deleted iCloud files.
The Calendars information works the same to restore the data. The entire data in your calendar is overwritten with your backup. There are a few annoyances with the backup of your calendars. The sharing information isn’t backed up. You’ll need to invite people to share your calendar again.
If you have meetings on your calendars with invitees, those members of the scheduled event will be notified the event was cancelled and then rescheduled. That’s why you need to check your sharing info when backing up your calendar data.
Depending on how much you’re restoring, it could take awhile. I had 3,500 contacts and it took about 15 minutes. I knew it was done when I got an email from Apple. After a few minutes, that data transferred down to all my devices.