Create and delete iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch backups in iTunes

iTunes can back up your settings, Messages, photos and videos, documents, saved games, and other data from your iOS device.

What iTunes backs up

  • Photos (photos, screenshots, images saved, and videos taken) and Saved Photos (in devices without a camera).
  • Contacts* and Contact Favorites. (You should regularly sync your contacts to a computer or cloud service, such as iCloud.)
  • Health (only if you have an encrypted backup).
  • Calendar accounts, events, and subscribed calendars.
  • 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 a 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'll need to enter these passwords again.
  • App Store app data. (Minus the app itself, its tmp, and Caches folder.)
  • App settings, preferences, and data, including documents. (PDFs downloaded directly to iBooks on an iOS device are not included in the backup. To back these up, go to File > Transfer Purchases.)
  • 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, such as accounts, restrictions, or anything that can be specified through an installed profile, aren't restored. 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.

Encrypted backups

Protect your backup with a passcode using the Encrypt Backup option in the Summary tab.

This option also backs up your Keychain, including your passwords for email accounts, Wi-Fi, websites, and some apps. If you restore this backup on a new device, your Keychain will transfer to the new device too. Learn how to create and restore from a backup.

When your backup is encrypted, you'll need to enter the password when you enable or disable encryption or when you restore from the backup.

Make sure that the password you use is one that you'll remember. If you encrypt an iPhone backup in iTunes and forget your password, you won't be able to 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 your backups are stored

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 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%, then press Return.

  • Windows XP: \Documents and Settings\(username)\Application Data\Apple Computer\MobileSync\Backup\

    To quickly access the Application Data folder, click Start, then choose Run. In the search bar, type %appdata%, then click OK.

Delete a backup

If you want to delete a backup created by iTunes:

  1. Open iTunes Preferences:
  2. Click Devices. (The iOS device doesn't need to be connected.)
  3. iTunes will show the phone number, International Mobile Equipment Identity (IMEI) number, and serial number of the backed up iPhone when you position your mouse pointer over a backup. (Only the serial number will be shown 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.
  5. Click Delete Backup.
  6. When prompted, confirm that you want to remove the selected backup by clicking Delete Backup.
  7. 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:

  • 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:

  • 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.)

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