iOS: If you can't back up or restore from a backup in iTunes


When you try to back up your iPad, iPhone, or iPod touch or restore from a backup, you may see an alert message in iTunes that your device couldn't be backed up or restored for one of these reasons:

  • "... the backup session failed."
  • "... a session could not be started."
  • "... the iPhone refused the request."
  • "... an error occurred."
  • "... an unknown error occurred -1."
  • "... the backup could not be saved on this computer."
  • "... not enough free space is available."


If you see one of these messages or a different message, follow the steps below. If iTunes for Windows stops responding or the backup never finishes, follow the steps to fix performance issues.

Copy your backup

Copy a recent backup and save it to your desktop or an external hard drive. You can find your backup in these folders:

Operating system Location
Mac OS

~/Library/Application Support/MobileSync/Backup/

To find the ~/Library folder on OS X Lion v10.7 or later, hold the Option key and choose Go > Library.

Windows 8

\Users\(username)\AppData\Roaming\Apple Computer\MobileSync\Backup\

To find the AppData folder, click the magnifying class in the upper-right corner, type %appdata%, and press Return.

Windows Vista or Windows 7

\Users\(username)\AppData\Roaming\Apple Computer\MobileSync\Backup\

To find the AppData folder, click Start, type %appdata% in the search bar, and press Return.

Windows XP

\Documents and Settings\(username)\Application Data\Apple Computer\MobileSync\Backup\

To find the Application Data folder, choose Start > Run. Type %appdata% and click OK.

Update your software

Restart your computer and your iOS device

After you restart your computer and iOS device, try to back up again.

Unplug your other USB devices

Keep only your iOS device, keyboard, and mouse plugged in. You need to plug your device directly into the computer.

Free up space

To back up or restore from backup, you need to free up enough space on your hard drive to store the backup or the capacity of the device.

If iTunes couldn't restore the device because not enough free space was available on the device, follow these steps:

  1. Choose Settings > General > Reset > Erase all content and settings.
  2. Try to restore from the backup. You may need to restore from a smaller backup or create a new backup.

Check your security settings

Back up or restore using a new administrator account

Create a new administrator account on your computer and back up using the new account. Follow these steps for Mac OS X or these steps on the Microsoft website for Windows.

If you can back up using a new administrator account, log in using the original user account and follow these steps:

  1. Make sure the account is an administrator.
  2. Check the permissions for the directories where iTunes writes the backup.
    • Mac: Use Get Info to check the permissions on the MobileSync and Backup directory.
    • PC: Contact support for your copy of Windows.
  3. See if there is an issue with the original backup:
    1. Rename the Backups folder.
    2. Open iTunes and try to back up again. Copy your backup before using iTunes Preferences > Devices to delete your backup.

Reset the Lockdown folder

If you can't back up as a new user, try to reset the Lockdown folder. If you reset the Lockdown folder, you may be able to start or save your backup.

  1. Unplug all iOS devices from your computer and quit iTunes.
  2. Reset the Lockdown folder.
  3. Plug in your iOS device.
  4. Open iTunes and try to back up.

Windows: Update your Intel(R) 5 series/3400 series chipset drivers

if the drivers are out of date, Intel chipsets may cause backup or restore issues. If you have one of these chipsets, you can follow the steps to fix issues syncing iOS devices with Intel Chipsets.

Back up or restore on a different computer

If you have another computer, try to back up on it. To restore from a different computer, copy the backup into the backup folder of the new computer. (You may need to create a Backup or MobileSync folder.)

Contact support

If you tried these steps and see the message again, contact Apple Support or your wireless carrier (if you're using an iPhone).

Learn more about backups:

Important: Mention of third-party websites and products is for informational purposes only and constitutes neither an endorsement nor a recommendation. Apple assumes no responsibility with regard to the selection, performance or use of information or products found at third-party websites. Apple provides this only as a convenience to our users. Apple has not tested the information found on these sites and makes no representations regarding its accuracy or reliability. There are risks inherent in the use of any information or products found on the Internet, and Apple assumes no responsibility in this regard. Please understand that a third-party site is independent from Apple and that Apple has no control over the content on that website. Please contact the vendor for additional information.
Important: Information about products not manufactured by Apple is provided for information purposes only and does not constitute Apple’s recommendation or endorsement. Please contact the vendor for additional information.
Last Modified: Apr 16, 2014
  • Last Modified: Apr 16, 2014
  • Article: TS2529
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