How to recover iPhone corrupt messages and contacts from a backup

Livia Stroie

by Livia Stroie

Recovering data from a corrupt iTunes backup is difficult but not impossible. Our customers are times and times again delighted to find out that "corrupt" or "incompatible" messages do not mean “irreversibly lost” at all.

Even if the iPhone Backup Extractor might signal an error on opening a corrupt backup,you can still recover contacts, SMS, notes, calendar events and call history! In this article we will help you work around this error and get your data back.

Corrupted iTunes backup

How to use the iPhone Backup Extractor on a corrupt iTunes backup

The iPhone Backup Extractor is a great tool for opening iTunes backups when data cannot be completely restored due to a corrupt file.

corrupt error message message

If the iTunes backup is heavily corrupted – the Available data section can be empty, and a popup message will provide details on the type of error encountered.

For example, important reference files called "manifests" inside the backup could go missing. We talked about manifest files in our blog on iTunes backup corruption and we mentioned why they are so important to the iTunes backup architecture. These are the "maps" that our app uses to know where everything is located inside the backup. If you navigate inside the backup folder itself and scroll down, you can see whether it still has manifest files. For reference these files are named:

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

Data like contacts, SMS and other database related data can be retrieved from the corrupt backup, even if the application shows no "Available data", so don't give up hope! Here is our guide on how to use our application to recover statically named data from the problematic backups.

Load the corrupted backup into the application, then go to “Expert mode” and try to download the file with your data. The location of the files depends on your iOS version. Take a look at this article, to identify the path to the files and their names. If the iPhone Backup Extractor can’t open the backup, perform a search in its default location for the filenames specified in this article. Once you have the necessary file, convert it using the iPhone Backup Extractor.

convert contacts

How to convert contacts and SMS databases with the iPhone Backup Extractor

  1. Load the backup by selecting it from the left side panel
  2. Click the "File" menu
  3. Select "Convert contacts DB to CSV" OR "Convert contacts DB to vCards"
  4. Select "Convert Messages DB to CSV"
  5. The application will save your contacts and messages as CSV files to the desired location
  • You can also use the menu to convert contacts database into vCards, learn more on how to import contacts from CSV into Outlook and how to import vCards into Gmail so you can get them back to your iPhone!
  • Here's a short tutorial to help you recover and restore your contacts:

    In fact, any other type of data like calendar entries, notes and call history in the backup can be recovered as well, once you’ve identified the file name and you get it from the backup folder. The menu also works to convert Calendar DB to iCAL and CSV and these can be restored into Outlook. Your notes can be converted to HTML files and the call history to CSV.

    Appointments extracted as CSV

    If you already have tried our app to open your backup and nothing works, contact our experts team for more help! Registered users are entitled to support from our iTunes and iCloud backups and data recovery team of specialists! Make sure to include a brief description of the problem and a screenshot of what the application reports on trying to open the backup.

    Recover lost or deleted data

    There are some instances when the recovery of iTunes backup files is more difficult than just missing manifests. If the backup files are actually missing or have been deleted, there are no files to examine. Missing manifest files, and even entire backups, can sometimes be recovered by using an undelete tool. Of course there are no guarantees when it comes to deleted files, as the operating system tends to overwrite data to recycle space – but it's worth a shot.

    Make sure to try all the options the iPhone Backup Extractor has to offer, if your backup is corrupt and files are missing! Contact us if you need more help!

    Livia Stroie

    by Livia Stroie on

    We've helped over 3,000,000 people recover their lost iPhone data. Let us help you too.

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