Managing iOS device backups in iTunes

Managing iOS device backups in iTunes 1

While iCloud backups provide a certain degree of convenience, many users will quickly go beyond the free 5GB of storage that Apple provides. Unless you’re already paying for more iCloud storage, or willing to shell out for a larger plan just for backups, you’ll be happy to know that iTunes still provides a handy alternative to keep your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch backed up to your Mac or PC, and in fact even has a key advantage over iCloud for transferring data to a new device.

Managing iOS device backups in iTunes 2

Recent versions of iTunes have added a couple of useful tricks for managing your iOS device backups in iTunes. You can see a list of all of the device backups that are currently stored on your computer by going into your iTunes Preferences and choosing the Devices tab. As before, you can get more information on each of the listed backups by hovering the mouse pointer over them, and you can remove individual backups from here. Right-clicking on a backup reveals that iTunes has a couple of other useful tricks up its sleeve, however: you can open the backup folder in Finder or Windows Explorer — useful if you wanted to copy it somewhere else or transfer it to a new computer, for instance — and you can also choose to mark a backup as “Archived.” This second feature freezes and saves the current backup so that iTunes will make an entirely new, second backup the next time around. Should you need to later restore your device, you’ll be able to choose from any of the available backups, archived or current. This can be particularly useful for taking a “snapshot” of your device’s state before making any big changes.

  1. Well, I’ve done this many times in the past, so it should still work fine, as long as you make sure the folder names remain the same, all of the data in the folder is copied over, and everything is placed in the exact same relative location. I’ve even done it going from Mac to PC and vice-versa without any issues.There are no database or registry entries that catalog the backups; iTunes merely checks the ~/Library/Application Support/MobileSync/Backup folder (on Mac, can’t remember the Windows location off-hand right now), and includes anything it finds in there that is in the proper format, reading the “Info.plist” and “Status.plist” files in the backup folder to determine device information and backup state, date and time. In fact, you can even duplicate an existing backup folder, with any name you like, and iTunes will happily pick it up as an extra backup.

  2. But is it sufficient to just copy the contents of the backup folder to a new/different computer, and use it there? I did this once in the past, but the iTunes on the new computer didn’t “pick it up”.

  3. Your story caught my eye as I make a habit of backups. I am looking for a workaround as my new iOS 9 iPhone 6s will not sync to my laptop running 10.6.8. Don’t laugh, forced to run as Thousands in software I can’t replace for my work. Apple said sorry, I could partition to run new software but not easy to keep network happy switching back and forth. Would really like to have phone and iPad Air2 work with iTunes to work as it should plus backup.

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