Posted by Livia Stroie, 16th October 2012. 

Have you a corrupt iPhone or iPad backup from a failed iOS upgrade? Read on!

Every now and then, when creating an iTunes backup it can become corrupt, sometimes without you realising it until you need to restore. This can be a real problem for Apple fans and invariably it has happen to most of us at one point or another. Maybe you have lost data from your iPhone after a failed iOS upgrade or a seemly good previous backup has been overwritten. Alternatively, maybe you are trying to restore data from a previous iTunes backup which iTunes refuses to restore. The iPhone Backup Extractor and our expert support offer people solutions for all types of corrupted backups. Try it out and see what data you can recover from your corrupt iTunes backups!

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iPhone backup is corrupt: Common iTunes error

Error messages shown in iTunes for a corrupt backup can vary depending on the situation as mentioned, sometimes without any clues, but some of the most common are:

  • 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

Can I repair an iPad/iPhone corrupt backup file?

It is NOT possible to repair corruption found in a backup for most instances, and certainly not without a full understanding of what is missing and how to fix it. The best option is recovery of data and files that do still exist, simply using the free version of the iPhone Backup Extractor that can show what is in a backup and the data contained.

Need to get back iPhone contacts, calendars, SMS, MMS, notes?

Data like contacts, calendars, SMS messages, MMS, notes are all stored in sqlite databases named as specific iTunes hash files within the backup folder. Our application can covert these databases to user-friendly CSV and Vcard format for your convenience. Here are the steps to try if your backup is corrupt and you need the data inside:

  1. Try the quick links for data extraction, the simplest way to extract data with our application
  2. Use the "File" Menu of the application to convert files to the format you need (CSV, VCards, ICAL for calendar or HTML for notes)
  3. Use the "Extract" Menu of the application to extract the files you need (contacts, calendar, SMS, MMS, notes, etc.)
  4. Use "Expert Mode" of the application to extract the SQLite databases and work with them directly if possible

extract photos iphone ipad

How to recover iPhone photos and videos

Photos and videos might still be found in your iTunes backup even if the iTunes process was incomplete and led to a corrupt backup file. Usually the size of the backup folder itself is the tell-tale sign: a backup folder of 1-2 GB or more might mean that some photos and videos may still be inside. So try to:

  1. Extract photos and videos by the quick links in the iPhone Backup Extractor
  2. Use the "Extract" menu to extract photos or videos
  3. Enter "Expert Mode" of the application and navigate to "Media/Media/DCIM" and "Media/Media/Recordings" to see if there are still media files you can recover

Corrupt iTunes backups vary in their usefulness depending on what has happened, iOS upgrade, power failure, incomplete backup process and how far iTunes was in completing its task, all are factors. It is difficult for a novice to iTunes backups to determine whether a backup has all the data and files needed or none at all when corrupted. If data is recoverable, however bleak may seem our backup experts are happy to help and explain exactly what is possible. If you want to know more about obtaining data by manually extracting from a corrupt iTunes backup checkout our blogs.

What are manifest files and why do I need them?

The manifest files in the iOS are best described in laymans terms as a directory that lets the iOS, iTunes and our application know what files in the iTunes backup are called and where they are located. The manifests also contain important information about keychains and encryption, so if they are corrupted or deleted it can cause iTunes huge problems when restoring the backup. The main manifest and info files are:

  • Info.plist
  • Manifest.mbdb
  • Manifest.plist
  • Status.plist

If you get an error message saying 'There is no iTunes backup stored' or the backup shows as incomplete and gives no stats, this means that the manifest files are partly corrupted or even missing. If these files are corrupted or missing it's almost certain the backup cannot be restored via iTunes and the iPBE application in some instances could 'mis-report' the iTunes backup contents. Encrypted backups are even more difficult to work with when corrupt, as missing or damaged manifest files make the backup unusable”

Can I avoid iTunes corrupting my iOS backup?

Given the amount of ways that a backup in iTunes can become corrupt it is difficult to stop all instances of iTunes failure. However, there are best practices to follow to avoid losing precious photos or important contacts and also protect data already safely backed up in iTunes. When carrying out major iTunes process like iOS updates or full backups, we suggest backing up safely to prevent data loss.

  • Always make a copy of the iTunes backup before an iOS update
  • Store the safety copy on another location on your computer, other that the default iTunes folder
  • Do not disconnect the device while iTunes is making a backup
  • If your backup has been corrupted, tell us more below. Missing manifest files is a case for our support team, so contact us!