If you can't back up or restore your iPhone, iPad, or iPod using iTunes

If you see an alert message in iTunes that your device cannot be backed up or restored, try the steps in this article.

If you see one of these messages or a different message when you try to back up or restore your iOS device using iTunes, try the steps in this article to resolve the issue.

  • "... 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 iTunes for Windows stops responding or your backup never finishes, follow the steps to fix performance issues.

Copy your backup

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

Operating System Location
Mac OS X

~/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. Then 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 can't restore the device because not enough free space is available, 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

You may need to update, configure, disable, or uninstall your security software.

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 your device 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 might 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 your device from 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:

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