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After doing a factory reset (or when setting up a new windows phone for the first time) it prompts me to restore from backup if I desire. Is it possible to do this over a wifi connection though? At the point when it asks me I haven't had a chance to get into settings to connect to any wifi networks so isn't it going to use a chunk of my data allowance (which is fairly small) to restore the backup?

Alternately, is there a way to trigger the restore from backup without doing a factory reset?

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Had almost same problem. You had a chance to set your Microsoft Account with 3G and just after those steps go to the WiFi settings and chose one.

The amount of data it will use in 3G with those steps will be as little as possible.

The is no way to use WiFi before all those steps.

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