Setting up a smart home is a lot of work.
From naming accessories to creating a complex set of automations, it would be annoying to loose that work and need to start over.
With Controller for HomeKit you can create backups of your setup and restore them if needed.
To get a deeper understanding of the process checkout the how-to guides.
The free BASIC version of Controller for HomeKit offers a test mode that allows you to experiment with the feature. Backups created in test mode will be deleted after 10 minutes.
When creating a backup you can decide between a complete backup or a partial one. The complete backup contains all the accessible HomeKit data from one home. A partial backup is created from a selected set of automations or scenes.
In general this feature can save and restore the following HomeKit data:
- Name of the accessory
- Names of their services
- Selected service type (fan / lightbulb / outlet)
- Room the accessory is assigned to
- Service groups
Sadly there are some limitations for 3rd party HomeKit apps that limit this functionality a bit, depending on your setup.
The following things can be set up with the Apple Home app exclusively:
- Using selected actions instead of scenes within automations
- Using shortcuts instead of scenes within automations
- AirPlay actions within a scene
- Support for HomeKit TVs. Using them within scenes and automations.
Additionally all customization settings within Apple Home are not part of HomeKit itself. That includes favorites, symbols, the sorting of elements and more.
As these parts of a HomeKit setup are unknown to the app, they cannot be included in a backup.
The reliability of HomeKit is far from perfect. Over the course of the last years and iOS versions there were several issues and bugs that could destroy parts of a setup or even require a full reset.
- Disappearing of automations and scenes.
- Setup suddenly resets to a prior state weeks or months ago.
- Often unavailable accessories that need to get reconnected.
- “Loading accessories and scenes” view in the Home App.
Most of these issues are due to iCloud synchronization problems. Sometimes a simple restart of the device is enough. Some suggest to log out from iCloud and log in again, which can have further consequences and should not be decided that quickly.
With a complete backup you can restore up to 100% of your HomeKit setup, depending on your usage of the limited parts mentioned above. You can customize the restore process to fit your needs.
In winter the smart home gets equipped with thermostats and complex automations to ensure warm rooms while saving energy costs. During the summer they are not needed, their scenes and automations clutter a setup with unused elements for months. But in summer the garden got a smart irrigation system to water the crops. Maybe the shades got more complex automations too.
This is where the partial backups are very useful. As they contain only selected parts of a setup, they are lightweight and easy to restore. You can remove the accessories, scenes and automations if they are not needed and restore them later on.
Setup experiments or accidental changes
Many smart home owners love to optimize their setups. They experiment with adjustments or repurpose accessories in different rooms. As we all know, the result can be a “not so smart” home.
Can you remember all the things you have changed and their prior state?
With a complete backup the changes can be viewed and restored easily. You can browse through it and see the difference between the backup and the current state. The selective restore actions allow fine tuned reverts.
Moving a HomeKit setup to a different Apple ID
There are different motivations to move a HomeKit setup to another Apple ID. Apple does not offer this functionality so you have to reset and rebuild your setup from scratch.
However a backup can be moved over to another Apple ID and can be very helpful to restore the setup there. <guide for migration>
Move WiFi accessories to a new network
Most HomeKit accessories are connected over WiFi or Bluetooth. Advantages of WiFi based accessories are faster reaction times and more reliable updates of their current state. But they have one big disadvantage many people are not aware of. The network they are connected to has a SSID (name) and a password. If you change one of them, all your accessories get disconnected. HomeKit currently has no feature to migrate accessories to another network. You need to reset every single accessory and add it back again. During that process an accessory gets the new credentials of your network. The underlying problem is the same as in some other use cases. The removal of an accessory removes it completely. When adding it back again, service groups, scenes and automations will not get restored.
The restore mechanism identifies accessories by their serial number. After migration all accessories to your new network, you can browse your complete backup and restore the missing parts again.
Replace a broken accessory
A smart home is a composition of many smart accessories and additional execution logic. If an accessory breaks, you will remove it from your HomeKit setup. This removes its services and characteristics from all service groups, scenes and automations. Afterwards you install a new accessory that replaces the broken one. For HomeKit this is just another accessory, it will not add this accessory back to those service groups, scenes and automations.
A backup can be helpful here as well. After the broken accessory is replaced, you can manually assign the new one to the old one inside a backup. You can then browse through your backup and restore the missing parts. <link to detailed how to>