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Lost your apps with iOS 5 update? Don’t worry, iCloud has you covered


The nightmare isn’t over. After attempting for hours to update to iOS 5 yesterday, many were met with ulcer-producing frustration. Some people, it seems, haven’t yet had any success in getting the update. And many of those who were able to update – specifically, the ones who were met with an endless string of error messages – found themselves left with another problem: all their apps were gone. Not just gone from their iPhone/iPad/iPod touch, but erased from their computer as well, even though they backed up their device.

This is exactly what happened to me. As I wrote yesterday, I had to put my phone into restore mode before I was able to update my iPhone 4 to iOS 5. And even then, it took about three or four tries before the thing finally stuck. Unfortunately, when you put your phone into restore mode, all your personal data and apps are erased from the device, which is returned to factory settings.

Of course, I had backed up my phone prior to updating, and I double-checked everything was in order before proceeding. But once the iOS 5 update finally when through, my apps were all gone. Not on my phone. Not on my computer. Gone. My contacts were there, strangely. Old text messages, email accounts – all there. Come to think of it, one app did survive the napalm-like sanitation of my phone. Tragically, that app was Google Buzz, which is somehow worse than nothing at all.

purchased-2On the verge of a nervous breakdown, I began searching for ways to restore all my apps. None of the suggestions I found online worked. Thankfully, they didn’t have to; iCloud saved the day.

How to restore all your “lost” apps

  • Open the App Store app on your device

  • Go to “updates”

  • Under updates, a new option appears: “Purchased”

  • Under “purchased,” you can see all your purchased apps, or only the apps that aren’t currently on your device. In my case, none of my purchased apps were on my device (save Buzz). If this is the case for you, I recommend re-downloading from this screen, as the app disappears from the list once you have it on your device.

  • Click on the small cloud icon, and the app will re-download to your device, free of charge. Note: You do not have to pay for apps you’ve already purchased. Re-downloading is free.

While I am truly grateful for this new option, I do wish Apple made it possible to “select all” and download my whole app library in one fell swoop; downloading one at a time is a giant hassle. That said, it is nice to know that my apps are all right there when I need them, which make it stress-free to simply download the apps I want on my device right now, and leave the others for another time.

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Andrew Couts
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Features Editor for Digital Trends, Andrew Couts covers a wide swath of consumer technology topics, with particular focus on…
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