Every now and then, iTunes backups turn out to be corrupt, and sometimes it's not clear until you try to restore or access them.
So as long as your data has been backed up or stored in the iCloud, you've got a good chance of recovering it with iPhone Backup Extractor. And failing that, we'll do our utmost to help you recover it.
Recovering data from a corrupt iTunes backup is difficult but not impossible, and our users have been delighted time and time again to find that "corrupt" or "incompatible" messages do not mean "irreversibly lost" at all. Recovering precious data like messages, photos, videos, contacts, WhatsApp is what we do! ❤️
Can I repair a corrupt iPhone backup?
It's usually easy to recover data from a corrupt iTunes backup, and unencrypted backups are straightforward to edit or extract data from. Corrupted encrypted backups are trickier, especially if the "manifests" are missing, as these files indicate how the encrypted backups are protected, and are used in the decryption process.
Backups can be corrupted to different extents, and the cause of the corruption tends to influences this. For example, running out of disk space in the middle of a backup, having a hard-drive fail (or Dropbox eating your files!), an iOS upgrade going wrong, or a power failure during the backup can each affect the backup in different ways.
How to tell if your iTunes backup is corrupt
Let's assume you've read our guide on troubleshooting problems restoring iPhone backups, or you're not looking to directly restore the backup. How you can tell the backup has a problem?
The easiest way is to install the free version of iPhone Backup Extractor, and load your backup in it. It'll show your backup's status: if it says "Complete and encrypted" or "Complete and unencrypted" that's a good sign. If iPhone Backup Extractor doesn't recognise the backup, labels it incomplete, shows no available data, or suggest the backup was created a very long time ago -- like
01/10/1981! -- then it's likely there's a problem with the backup.
Trying -- and failing -- to restore the backup using iTunes is another indicator.
4 tricks to recover data from a corrupt iTunes backup
iPhone Backup Extractor is designed to help you get your data when a backup can't be restored properly through iTunes. It opens iTunes and iCloud backups and extracts valuable data -- even if that backup has been corrupted.
1. Use iPhone Backup Extractor's built-in corruption handling
Even the free edition of iPhone Backup Extractor has a lot of cleverness built-in to it to handle corrupt backups, and it may be that it can extract your data normally.
Try the quick links for data extraction from "Overview", and see our conventional guides on recovering iTunes data.
If the overview doesn't generate what you need, there are two other approaches to try.
Check the "Preview" tab to see if data is available for extraction. If data is there, you can click the app's name, select the messages you need, and extract them in the format you want. As below:
Use the "Extract" menu to export available messages as HTML or as CSV, as shown in the screenshot below:
Data like contacts, messages and photos can still be retrieved from the corrupt backup, even if the steps above don't work. Don't give up hope -- let's go deeper...
2. Use expert mode to recover iPhone data from encrypted and corrupt backups
If the direct approach doesn't work for you, you can still use "Expert mode" and "App view" to recover your files from the backup. Data such as contacts, calendars, SMS messages, locations and notes are stored in specific files in your backup, and -- if you fish the files out -- iPhone Backup Extractor can convert them into readable formats for you.
Load your backup with iPhone Backup Extractor, and then navigate through "Expert mode" to pick out the files representing the data you need (these are usually . We've got a an article on where apps store their data in an iTunes backup which will be helpful when knowing where to look.
Once you have the necessary file, you can convert it into a readable format:
Click the "File" menu in iPhone Backup Extractor
Select "Convert Messages DB to CSV", "Convert contacts DB to vCards", or whichever option is most appropriate for your file
The app will export your contacts and messages.
3. Sift unencrypted iPhone backup for photos and video
You may still find photos and videos in your iTunes backup even if the iTunes process was incomplete and led to a corrupt backup file. In order for this to work, the backup needs to have not been created with encryption.
Find the backup folder in question (you can right-click on the backup in iPhone Backup Extractor and choose "reveal enclosing folder")
Make a copy of the entire folder -- we're going to heavily modify it...
Sort the files inside by size and remove all files smaller than 300KB
Download and install Bulk Rename Utility -- it's free and great for what we need here
Open "Bulk Rename Utility" and navigate to the copy of the backup folder you made, then select it
jpg(without dot) to
Extension Section (11)or
.jpg(with dot) using the
Add > Suffix (7)menu
Select all the the files in the top window (they’ll appear in green)
Click the "Rename" button and all the selected files will then be renamed to
In the folder where you saved them, select "Thumbnails view" in Windows Explorer or macOS Finder -- now you should be able to see which files are photos, as they'll be shown with previews
Move the recovered photos to a safe new folder, then repeat the process from step #5 with other file extensions such as
.heicuntil you've recovered them all
4. Using Reincubate's expert support
If none of the approaches above work, or if they get to technical, you can always just reach out to us. We'd love to help. Our support team will probably ask that you share a copy of your "manifest files" with them, and we've got an info panel below with some more information on them.