Posted by Livia Stroie, 15th November 2012. 

Many Apple fans have received the infamous "backup corrupt and incompatible" message when restoring backups from iTunes and suddenly panicked about whether they can recover lost data. The iPhone Backup Extractor opens encrypted and non-encrypted iTunes backups and extracts valuable data (e.g. Address Book, SMS, Notes, Calendars, Photos), even if the iTunes backup is corrupt.

Corrupt backups can be the result of an incomplete iTunes process, a power failure or sometimes a difference between versions of iOS during an upgrade. If you are concerned about the safety of your iPhone, iPod or iPad data and have encrypted the iTunes backup, then a corruption issue like these may make it difficult or even impossible to get the data back.

Do you have an encrypted iTunes backup? Make sure you know the password!

The free download of the iPhone Backup Extractor is a valuable tool to show what data an iTunes backup contains and whether or not the backup is encrypted*.

  • The Free edition of the iPhone Backup Extractor can open any iTunes backup, including encrypted* backups. It can extract any file stored in the iTunes backup, but limited to two files at a time. Conversion of data (e.g. AddressBook, SMS, Notes, Calendars) to usable universal formats is also limited for up to four records per data category.
  • The Home edition of the iPhone Backup Extractor can extract any file from a non-encrypted backup with no limitation and includes email support. For encrypted* backups the limits are as in the free version.
  • The Pro edition of the iPhone Backup Extractor of our software reads both encrypted* and non-encrypted iTunes backups and allows full access to the files, conversion functionality and email support.

*It is important to know the password to your backup, as access to your data might be impossible without it.

corrupt encrypted iTunes backup

How to tell if your encrypted iTunes backup is corrupted

If you have a corrupted iTunes backup that was set to be encrypted in the iTunes settings, this can be a real headache when trying to recover data. An iTunes backup corruption can range in severity and issue, and being able to identify the situation and cause can be paramount to successful data recovery. There are ways to work around most issues and our experienced support team can help guide you into manually extracting the data where possible.

You know you have a corrupt backup if you get one of these messages or a variation:

  • The iPad could not be restored. An unknown error occurred
  • iTunes could not restore the iPhone because the backup session failed
  • The iPhone could not be restored because the firmware file was corrupt

If the iPhone Backup Extractor does not recognize the backup or labels it incomplete, shows no available data or shows the backup in an incorrect date format such as “1/10/1981 Livia’s iPhone”, this means that some important files (manifest files) inside the backup are partly corrupted or even missing.

If you have lost or corrupted manifest files this could spell trouble for an encrypted backup. This is because the manifests contain information to decrypt the iTunes backup and without it the password is redundant. Read more about this on our blog about corrupt backups.

Encrypted and corrupted iPhone, iPad or iPod backups - How to find data and files

If you can open the backup, there are ways to search inside for the data you need. If you are trying to find photos, checking the size of the backup is always useful: if the folder is large, this may show that files like photos or videos may be present. The iPhone Backup Extractor will extract the photos, provided there is no error due to the corruption.

Data like contacts, calendars, SMS, MMS, notes are all stored in sqlite databases named as specific iTunes hash files inside the backup. These hash files have a fixed location and can be converted with our application.

If the loading of the backup is troublesome, as long as the manifests are intact as to decrypt the backup, data still contained in these files can be extracted, our experts can help.

iPhone Backup Extractor convert db menu

And remember, to avoid corrupted data, always backup safely before a major iTunes process, it can save you a lot of trouble.

If you have run across a corruption issue on an encrypted backup, please tell us about it below. Could you open the backup with the iPhone Backup Extractor, are you getting any errors?