Is your Apple Watch automatically backing up? Mine isn't

Sorry this is so long but I hope I’ve included enough information to encourage other MPU addicts to check your backups. This is what I just posted on Apple communities discussions.

My series 3 Apple Watch was replaced because it froze in June 2018. When I paired the new watch I lost all the new complications that I had created, probably when the series 3 was relatively new. Before I find this happening again I thought I would check my Apple Watch backups to be sure they were occurring. They are not.


I have 7 backups from 2016, 4 from 2017 and only 1 from 2018. This means my current watch has never backed up since 6/3/2018 is the day it froze and I called apple support for a replacement. My new watch was shipped on 6/4/2018. So the 11/17/18 was probably the last working backup since the 6/3/18 backup would have restored my complications if it was any good. I’m assuming that the frozen watch might have corrupted the 6/3/18 backup but can no longer remember what occurred.

Has anyone else experienced this problem? Has anyone else checked to be sure their watches are backing up.

In case you’ve never checked, it isn’t easy to find. Go to Settings>General>iPhone storage>Watch on your iPhone . If you also have TOO many apps you will have to search for the watch icon since they list the apps in order of how much storage they are using. Mine was way down the list at 61.4MB and shows it was last used yesterday but I don’t know if that means a backup was done yesterday or what. I did a manual backup of my iPhone to my Mac yesterday so I am assuming that might be what was done yesterday.

I can’t find any way to force a backup other than unpairing the watch. The applecare person I just called told me it is done automatically, but couldn’t find it on her iPhone either.

My watch is watchOS 4.3.2 iPhone iOS 12

I never knew the Watch could do backups. I found Watch way down the list like you did, but there were no backups listed. So I’m going down the rabbit hole to figure this out. I’ll report back any info I find.

Hm. The last one listed (5 entries in total) for me is April 4 (2018), which is when I still had a Series 0.

However, I restored the contents of that Series 0 just fine to my Series 3 somewhere in May.

Looks like something’s wrong here?

PS: I also see 5 watches (I only have 2) as source in HealthKit…

I did find this info over at and and they say you really don’t backup your watch unless you are unpairing it to move to a new watch. All your data on the watch is backed up via your iPhone because your watch at this point in time is an extension of your iPhone. Another way to look at it is that your watch is just syncing data to your iPhone as you use it.

That may be, but the list of what is supposed to be backed up on “Apple’s backup support document” includes "Clock face settings, including your current watch face, customizations, and order " which is what was not restored so probably not backed up for probably 6 months. And I had restored successfully previously from series 0 to series 1, series 1 to 2, and series 2 to 3. Of course this happened after I had finally spent some time on the clock face customization so that is what I noticed immediately. And since this customization was done on the iPhone why wasn’t it still available when I restored the backup in June on the replacement series 3 watch. Also, why were there 11 backups by 11/3/17, and then none since then except for 6/3/18 when the watch froze. The storage for each backup increased each time which indicates that I had more to backup.

I’m curious to see if anyone else can see backups (other than when unpairing) since last November. And tomorrow when people get new watches whether any recent clock face customizations are restored to the new watch. I guess someone could test this by NOT unpairing their present watch before pairing the new watch to see if they get any clock face customizations made after sometime in November. That would be an interesting and harmless test. They could always then unpair their current watch and start pairing the new one with the most recent backup made when the old watch was unpaired. Wow, that is a mouthfull.

So those backup entries are maybe only the ones when you unpaired?

(seems to match with my data)

Nah, too many and too often. I unpaired just for new watches, maybe 3 times including 6/3/18. How do you explain the other 8 times, each with increasing storage used?

So I tested pairing my new Apple Watch with the iPhone and I was correct. It had not been backed up since 6/3/18 which as I noted above was not a good backup. So in reality it had not been backed up since 11/03/17. (Sorry in my original post I incorrectly had that as 11/17/18). I did have a choice of all 12 backups shown above, for what that was worth.