iTunes: About iOS backups

iTunes can back up your settings, Messages, Camera Roll, documents, saved games, and other data. Backups don't contain content synced to the device, such as movies, music, podcasts, and apps.

iTunes and encrypted backups

You can protect your backup with a passcode using the Encrypt Backup option in the Summary tab. Encrypting your backup will back up your Keychain. This way, your email account passwords, Wi-Fi passwords, and passwords that you enter into websites and some apps will be remembered when you transfer to a new device. Learn how to create and restore from a backup.

When your backup is encrypted, you'll need to enter the password when enabling or disabling encryption or when restoring from the backup.

iTunes Set Password dialog

Warning: Make sure it's a password that you'll remember or write it down for safekeeping. If you encrypt an iPhone backup in iTunes and forget your password, you can't restore from backup and your data will be unrecoverable.

If you can't remember the password and want to start again, you must perform a full software restore and choose set up as a new device when iTunes prompts you to select the backup from which to restore.

Where are iTunes backups stored on your computer

The folder where your backup data is stored depends on your computer's operating system. Make sure the backup folder is included in your data-backup routine. iTunes places the backup files in these places:

  • Mac: ~/Library/Application Support/MobileSync/Backup/
    The "~" represents your Home folder. If you don't see Library in your Home folder, hold Option and click the Go menu.
  • Windows XP: \Documents and Settings\(username)\Application Data\Apple Computer\MobileSync\Backup\
    To quickly access the Application Data folder, click Start, and choose Run. Type %appdata% and click OK.
  • Windows Vista, Windows 7, and Windows 8: \Users\(username)\AppData\Roaming\Apple Computer\MobileSync\Backup\
    To quickly access the AppData folder, click Start. In the search bar, type %appdata% and press Return.

What does iTunes back up

iTunes will back up this information:

  • Camera Roll (photos, screenshots, images saved, and videos taken)
    For devices without a camera, Camera Roll is called Saved Photos.
  • Contacts* and Contact Favorites (You should regularly sync your contacts to a computer or cloud service, such as iCloud.)
  • Calendar accounts and subscribed calendars
  • Calendar events
  • Safari bookmarks, cookies, history, offline data, and currently open pages
  • Autofill for webpages
  • Offline web app cache/database
  • Notes
  • Mail accounts (mail messages aren't backed up)
  • Microsoft Exchange account configurations
  • Call history
  • Messages (iMessage and carrier SMS or MMS pictures and videos)
  • Voicemail token (This isn't the voicemail password, but it is used for validation when connecting. This is only restored to a phone with the same phone number on the SIM card)
  • Voice memos
  • Network settings (saved Wi-Fi hotspots, VPN settings, and network preferences)
  • Keychain (includes email account passwords, Wi-Fi passwords, and passwords you enter into websites and some apps)
    If you encrypt the backup, you can transfer the keychain information to the new device. With an unencrypted backup, you can restore the keychain only to the same iOS device. If you're restoring to a new device with an unencrypted backup, you need to enter these passwords again.
  • App Store app data (except the app itself, its tmp, and Caches folder)
  • App settings, preferences, and data, including documents
  • In-app purchases
  • Game Center account
  • Wallpapers
  • Location service preferences for apps and websites you've allowed to use your location
  • Home screen arrangement
  • Installed profiles
    When you restore a backup to a different device, installed configuration profiles aren't restored (such as accounts, restrictions, or anything that can be specified through an installed profile). Any accounts or settings that aren't associated with an installed profile will be restored.
  • Map bookmarks, recent searches, and the current location displayed in Maps
  • Nike + iPod saved workouts and settings
  • Paired Bluetooth devices (which you can only use if restored to the same phone that did the backup)
  • Keyboard shortcuts and saved suggestion corrections
  • Trusted hosts that have certificates that can't be verified
  • Web clips

* Your contacts are part of the backup to preserve recent calls and favorites lists. To avoid any potential contact data loss, back up your contacts to a supported personal information manager (PIM) or another cloud-based service (such as Gmail or Microsoft Exchange). You can also make a copy of contacts that are in iCloud. Learn about backups in iCloud

Delete a backup in iTunes

If you want to delete a backup created by iTunes, follow these steps:

  1. Open iTunes Preferences:
    • Windows: Choose Edit > Preferences.
    • Mac: Choose iTunes > Preferences.
  2. Click Devices (the iOS device doesn't need to be connected).
  3. iTunes will show the phone number, IMEI, and serial number of the backed up iPhone when you position your mouse pointer over a backup (iTunes shows only the serial number for iPad and iPod touch). You can use this to find the backup you want to delete.
  4. Select the backup you want to remove and click Delete Backup.
    Devices Preferences dialog
  5. Confirm you wish to remove the selected backup by clicking Delete Backup.
  6. Click OK to close the iTunes Preferences Window.

Backups that have a date and time stamp in the backup name are copies of backups created by restoring the iOS device. The date and time in the left column are when the restore-from-backup occurred. The date and time in the right column are the last synced date; this shows how current the data is.

Learn more

Only app data from App Store apps and sync settings will be restored to your device when you do the following:

  • Restore your iPad from an iPhone or iPod touch backup.
  • Restore your iPhone or iPod touch from an iPad backup.

iTunes creates an archived, time-stamped backup when you do the following:

  • Restore from backup.
  • Erase or restore a device you previously backed up and choose to set up as new in iTunes. If you use a different iTunes library (another user account or another computer) and select Setup as New or Restore from an existing backup, iTunes overrides the non-archived backup the next time you connect the device to your primary iTunes library and sync automatically is enabled.
  • Right-click a backup, and select Archive (available in iTunes for Mac only).


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: Aug 27, 2014
  • Last Modified: Aug 27, 2014
  • Article: HT4946
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