How do I transfer or backup or restore iPhone app data?

Mindie June 17, 2011
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My iTunes library that I sync my iPhone with got hosed a while back. The file still works, but the way it’s pointing to music files and all the nested folders that have appeared are obnoxious enough that I created a new library file when we got our iPad a couple months back.

Long story short, I have my iPhone that syncs to a library file I want to stop using on an external drive, and I have my iPad that syncs to a new library file I want to keep on the Time Machine. I’ve given up on transferring all the music-related metadata (ratings, play counts, last played dates, etc), so don’t worry about that. In the new library, I have all of the apps that are on my phone along with all my music. That part was easy.

What I am concerned about is all of the DATA assocatied with the apps on my phone. For example, RoadTrip has a complete log of every fuel fill-up I’ve made in my car for the past couple years, Clinks has all of the data about the wine I’ve tasted, and heaven forbid if I lose my progress in Angry Birds. Stuff like that.

I assume that if/when I sync my phone to the new library file, all of that associated data will be lost because the only thing that library knows about is the applications themselves.

I know there’s a backup associated with my old library that my phone is still syncing to. How exactly do I get the data for my apps over to the new library?

And, finally, what about things like contacts and photos and notes in the basic/default Apple iPhone apps? Is there anything special I need to do to maintain them?

  1. shamsudheen.TK
    May 7, 2012 at 4:15 am

    @Mindie: thanks for the insightful info.

    "You can also right-click your device in the iTunes list on the left and select Back Up"

    Yeah. I have done the below steps.

    1. installed my app through iTunes.
    2.Disconnected from iTunes.
    3.Done some database operations and UI changes.
    4.Again connected my device to iTunes.
    5.Right-clicked my device in the iTunes list on the left and selected "Back Up"
    6. After i deleted my App from device.
    7.Right-clicked my device in the iTunes list on the left and selected " Restore from Back Up"
    8.My device restarted after restored.
    9.Again i synced my App from iTunes to device.
    10.Well,all database changes and UI changes are existing in the synced app.

    salute to Apple......

  2. Mindie
    June 24, 2011 at 8:00 pm

    I dove in and tried something. I had copies of a couple of recent iPhone backups at the ready. Since the main backup is stored on my computer, and I'm still using the same computer, I wasn't sure how this would all play out. I figured if it failed horribly, I could sync back to the bad/old library and restore.

    So, all I did was open the new/good library file, turn on all the sync options for music, apps, and such, and told it to sync. It gave me the message about being synced to another library, and do I want to erase everything on my phone and sync with this new one instead? Said Yes. I expected to have to restore, or at least I thought I _might_ have to. But I didn't. It still knows all of my app data.

    All this worrying for nothing! (Knock on wood.)

  3. BinarySemantics
    June 23, 2011 at 10:05 am

    I don't know how to take backup

    • Tina
      June 23, 2011 at 2:10 pm

      Try to follow the instructions by ha14 above to copy your iTunes folder.

      What else would you like to know about taking a backup?

    • Mindie
      June 24, 2011 at 7:54 pm

      That's the easy part. :) A backup is automatically made each time you sync. You can also right-click your device in the itunes list on the left and select Back Up. Be aware that it just keeps overwriting your backup though, so if you need an older version, you're going to have to pull something from whatever backup software you use. If you use a Mac, Time Machine should include these backups. See and for more info.

  4. Anonymous
    June 22, 2011 at 3:42 pm

    If you have your old itunes then you can copy as follow
    Go to Edit> Preferences (Windows) or iTunes> Preferences (Mac). Click Advanced; we’re interested in where it says ‘iTunes Media folder location’. The folder we need to copy is called iTunes (not iTunes Media).
    Open Finder or Windows Explorer and browse to the location of the iTunes folder (in our case, that’s in C:/Users/YourFolder, and so on). Right – click the iTunes folder

    . Copy the iTunes folder to it. Once everything’s across into a usb key

    find the location of the iTunes folder as you did earlier,  move the existing iTunes folder elsewhere to avoid overwriting it.

    Now copy the iTunes folder from your storage device into the exact place that we established above. Once it’s copied, open iTunes. Now you recovered your files and are ready to be synced.

    • Mindie
      June 24, 2011 at 4:15 pm

      Thanks for the response. However, this isn't working for me, and I'm not able to follow these steps as written. I feel like there are pieces missing. I right-click the iTunes folder and copy the iTunes folder to "it"... Itself? When did the USB key come into play? Is that what the "it" was? Sorry, I'm confused. I can't tell which location you're talking about when you refer to the iTunes folder throughout these steps--the original/bad or the new/good?

      Some more details. I'm on a Mac. I know the location of my iTunes Media folder. That's on the root of my external drive that I want to stop using. However, the folder called iTunes in that same location is what contains all of the wacky information that I want to get away from. Seriously, over the past few months, it has created a nested mess of folders that contain multiple copies of all of my music. There's no way I want to copy that mess over to the Time Machine. Furthermore, there's no way that would fit on a USB drive.

      From what I've read elsewhere, it really seems like I should be able to use the iPhone backup file that's created when I sync to get my data set up again. I am just hoping that someone can fill in the gaps about how exactly to do that and verify that the backup really does include what I need for it to.

    • Mindie
      June 24, 2011 at 4:18 pm

      One other detail: the iTunes library on the Time Machine contains additional stuff that I've bought for the iPad, so I don't want to overwrite or replace it. If possible, I really need to focus everything on my iPhone backup... and how to get just that data into the new Time Machine library.

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