How to recover lost files from iTunes backups - iPhone Backup Extractor
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How to restore iPhone or iOS data from an iTunes backup

Learn how to find, preview and download files from iTunes backups, including encrypted backups. This is your complete guide to recovering old or lost files from iTunes backups created for your mobile Apple devices, on iOS.

Use iPhone Backup Extractor for all your iTunes backup recovery needs

Find lost iTunes files

  • Find files in older iTunes backup
  • Easily preview & save individual files

Encrypted backups support

  • If encrypted, only you can access your backup files
  • We do not store any of your data

Easy to use

  • Edit backup files manually
  • Option to export in various file formats

What can be restored from your iTunes backup

iMessages iOS


Videos iOS


Photos iOS


Call logs iOS

Call logs

Contacts iOS


Notes iOS


Calendar iOS


WhatsApp iOS


App Data iOS

App Data

Everything else iOS

Everything else

Before you get started, make sure you have a recent iTunes backup file downloaded on your computer or a local drive. If you don't, connect your iPhone to your computer and create a full iTunes backup. Not sure how to do it? Here’s the official Apple guide to creating iTunes backups.

Be extra careful when creating a new iTunes backup. It usually takes a little while, and you may be tempted to unplug your iPhone by mistake. Always set aside up to 20 minutes to go through the entire process, and wait patiently - without disconnecting your device - to get the “Successful backup” notification.

Even with older backups available, if they were not created properly - you can run into problems such as “corrupt backup”. Patience always pays off!

You will need

Mac and Win

A computer (Mac or Win)

An iTunes backup

An iTunes backup

iPhone Backup Extractor Lite

iPhone Backup Extractor Lite

How to restore deleted data from iTunes backups

1. Download and install iPhone Backup Extractor

  • Download and install the latest version of iPhone Backup Extractor. If you’re a new user, you will be downloading our free (Lite) plan, which you can use to browse and recover 4 random files from each data category.
  • To unlock full iTunes backup support, you can upgrade to the Basic plan. iPhone Backup Extractor Basic supports encrypted backups as well, but you need to remember the password used when you created the backup.
  • When you run iPhone Backup Extractor the first time, it should detect and iTunes backup automatically, otherwise, you have the option of adding one manually with the "+" button in the left menu.

2. Select the iTunes backup file

Click on your iTunes backup list to reveal all backups made over time.

Select one you want to recover files from. In the main window there are several tabs, each helping you navigate through available data categories and files in your backup. In this window you can recover files one by one, by app type, by data category or the entire iTunes backup.

3. Preview and restore data

You have multiple options to preview your iTunes files: "Overview" mode (the default one, available for a few categories), “Preview” mode (for messages you want to preview before), “App view” (for apps data recovery) and “Expert mode” (very useful in forensics).

Select the files you need to restore, click on "Download" and choose a place for data extraction. Your files are restored instantly on your computer.

How to restore iPhone from iTunes backup1. iPhone Backup Extractor in Overview mode
Recover iPhone data from iTunes backup 2. iPhone Backup Extractor in Preview mode
Retrieve iPhone data from iTunes backup3. iPhone Backup Extractor in App view mode
Guide: Retrieve iPhone data from iTunes backup 4. iPhone Backup Extractor in Expert mode
Tutorial: Get back iPhone data from iTunes backup 5. Choose how you need to restore data
Guide: Restore iPhone data from iTunes backup6. Successful data extraction

NOTE: For some files (deleted contacts, notes etc), a full recovery may not be possible. Use an older iTunes backup instead, created before files got deleted. Don't overwrite any older backup if you need to restore deleted data from the aforementioned mentioned categories.

How to backup, restore or recover iPhone or iPad files using iTunes

An iTunes backup preserves what's currently on your device, so you can easily restore your apps and files at a later date. Let's say you go on a vacation, and start taking a lot of photos and making videos, until you run out of space. You delete a few photos to make some room, then an entire album by mistake.

Easy guide to iTunes

If you want to recover them, you still can, but you must act fast! First, avoid taking more photos. This is valid for any other type of file you want to recover. New files can overwrite old files, making a full recover a bit problematic. Second, create an iTunes backup, and use the iPhone Backup Extractor to recover deleted files. It's easy. Would you like to try for yourself?

Creating, restoring and recovering data from iTunes sounds complicated, but it doesn't need to be. Follow the steps below, download the iTunes Backup Extractor, and recover four files from iTunes for free. If you need to recover more files, start with the iPhone Backup Extractor Basic Edition. Let's get started.

How to create an iTunes Backup

Frequent iTunes backups should be on everyone's monthly to-do list, however Apple users frequently confess they have never backed up their devices. Don't take that risk.

  1. Download and install the latest version of iTunes, from Apple.
  2. Take your iPhone or iPad and connect it to your computer using a USB cable. iTunes will recognise the device and display it in your window.
  3. Go to the File menu, then click Back Up to start. You may be prompted to log in with your credentials. You can also click on the "Back Up Now" button, but make sure "This computer" is selected. If you want to encrypt your data, select the encryption checkbox and choose a password for the backup.
  4. Generate iTunes backup
  5. Wait until the backup is finished. Don't disconnect the USB cable until the entire backup process is finished.

That's it! Now you have an iTunes backup downloaded on your computer that can be restored.

How to restore an iTunes backup

Now that you have an iPhone or iPad backup in iTunes, you can restore it. The backup data will replace your current data. Make sure that any new photos or files created from the date of the backup onwards are saved separately.

  1. Start iTunes and connect your iPhone or iPad to your computer using a USB cable.
  2. Go to File > Devices > Restore from backup. If you have multiple backups, choose the backup you want to retrieve from the drop down menu, and click "Restore". You can also click on the device icon, which will open a "summary" window, and click on "Restore Backup" there.
  3. Restore iTunes backup
  4. Wait until the data is transferred to your device. NOTE: Unplugging the USB cable too early can damage your device.

How to recover missing or deleted data from an iTunes backup

Let's say you have an iTunes backup file downloaded, but instead of restoring it on an iPhone or iPad, you want to save these files to your computer. The only way you can do this is by using the iPhone Backup Extractor, which extracts these files (even deleted ones!) in a regular, accessible format.

  1. Download and install the iPhone Backup Extractor, then open it.
  2. On the left window you'll see a list with iTunes and iCloud backups. Select the iTunes backup from where you want to recover data. If the backup file is encrypted, use the password to open it.
  3. In the right window you'll have four tabs. Depending on data you need to recover, you can choose different ways of extraction.
    • Use "Overview" mode to recover data from the shown categories. To get the files associated with the categories from this tab, click on the links in the right hand side window, select the file format, and the folder in which you want to save your files.
    • iTunes retrieve overview mode
    • Use "Preview" mode to preview and download data from a few categories: Photos, Messages, WhatsApp, Snapchat so on. Click on category you need to download and from the right window, select the files to be recovered and use the Extract button. Chose a place for extraction and the file format, then the selected data is recovered.
    • iTunes extract preview mode
    • Use "App View" mode to get data from the installed apps. On the right side you'll see a list of them. Select the app from where you need to recover data, then click on the blue letters and numbers from the right window. You'll be asked where you need to extract the files and which format you prefer, then the files will be recovered on your computer.
    • iTunes recover app view
    • Use "Expert Mode" to extract the data in a forensic way. Select the files to be recovered then click on Extract button and choose a place for extraction. The data will be extracted from the iCloud backup and downloaded on your computer.
    • iTunes recover expert mode

Any type of data can be easily recovered as long as you have an iTunes backup and you use the iPhone Backup Extractor. If you want to be sure that your iPhone or iPad data is safe, build a habit of creating iTunes backups on your computer every month or so.

If you need guidance or want to ask us anything about data recovery, our experts are ready to answer your questions. Found this article useful? Share it with your friends and help them recover files from iTunes as well.

View iPhone backups from any iOS iTunes backup version

Read our full guide to restoring and recovering data from iTunes backups.

Back up and keep your iOS data safe!

No matter if you are an early iOS beta adopter or using the public release iOS 11 or iOS 10 versions, if you haven't already created an iTunes backup you definitely should. Even if you have chosen to use the iCloud to backup your data, its is good to have an alternative to secure your data.

Backing up with iTunes can save all your iPhone data (iPad and iPod too) into various files within the iTunes backup folder located offline on your PC or Mac. All your iOS device data is stored - including WhatsApp, Viber, WeChat, iMessages or regular SMS text messages and your photos, videos, contacts, app data, configs and many more files.

iTunes backup file locations for your iOS data

The default iTunes backup location depends on the operating system you are running, they can be found in the following directories:

  • On Windows Vista, Windows 7, Windows 8 or Windows 10 backups are stored in: \Users\(username)\AppData\Roaming\Apple Computer\MobileSync\Backup\
  • On macOS and Mac OSX, backups are stored in: \Users\(username)\Library\Application Support\MobileSync\Backup\.

The iTunes backup contains files in hex-encoded SHA1 hashes. These file hash names differ based on the type of data stored and which version of iOS the device being backed up is running. Below is summary of a few of the main data filenames found in iOS 11 and iOS 10 versions:

Contents Real Filename Filename in Backup
SMS sms.db 3d0d7e5fb2ce288813306e4d4636395e047a3d28
Contacts AddressBook.sqlitedb 31bb7ba8914766d4ba40d6dfb6113c8b614be442
Calendar Calendar.sqlitedb 2041457d5fe04d39d0ab481178355df6781e6858
Notes NoteStore.sqlite 4f98687d8ab0d6d1a371110e6b7300f6e465bef2
Call history call_history.db 2b2b0084a1bc3a5ac8c27afdf14afb42c61a19ca

iPhone Backup Extractor supports recovery for both iTunes and iCloud backup data for all iOS versions. The iPhone Backup Extractor's interface simplifies access to these files with the use of previews and conversion options converting files and data often stored in SQLite into usable file types. There are often tens of thousand of files in an iTunes backup and while restoring an iTunes backup can be really easy, if you want to manage or recover any of you data outside of a restore process and iTunes, iPhone Backup Extractor is your best solution.

How to recover iOS data from iTunes backups

  1. Download and install iPhone Backup Extractor
  2. Open your iTunes backup. iPhone Backup Extractor will automatically load all the backups located under your default iTunes backup folder. If you have an iTunes backup located somewhere else simply browse to its location and add it by tapping on the 'Add backups'using the green button on the left.
  3. View and extract your iTunes backup data. You can chose to use one of the 4 tab choices we offer for extract your data: Overview, Preview, Expert Mode and App View. Our top menu offers as well direct shortcuts to extracting specific key data such as SMS as HTML or Calendar as ICAL.
    • Overview - suited for having an overview of your available data for extraction. Simply tap on the 'Extract' next to each data category and your data is shortly with you in the format of your choice.
    • Preview - here you can preview available data directly in the application before you extract to your preferred format.
    • Expert Mode - suited for iOS tech experts or power users that know specifics of the exact file they're searching for or that want to get hold of a file that is not displayed under Overview and is not that popular as the main data categories like photos, SMS, Videos, contacts and the rest. A good example would be your Safari bookmarks.
    • App View - suited for easy, direct access to recovering your app data. Viber, WeChat messages, pics sent over Skype or the Apple Camera pics? All data stored is here and easily accessible to extract. We are adding more app from here into the other section all the time.
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    Note: If you hope to recover deleted data that was once backed up in an iTunes backup, we recommend you don't sync your device with iTunes until you can recover the data from your backup or make a copy of the backup. An iTunes sync may delete or overwrite the iTunes backup data stored previously and make it impossible for your to retrieve your data.

    Contact our support experts for additional help with regard to deleted iPhone data recovery or any other data recovery question. If the data exists we can help.

    # How to see what's in your iPhone backup Do you ever wonder what iTunes backs up from your iPhone when you connect your phone to your computer? It would be nice to know whether it is safely backing up your important contacts, notes, photos, calendar, SMSes, etc., right? There's an easy way to find out what's in your iPhone backup: use iPhone Backup Extractor and [these instructions]( [screenshot:iphone-backup-extractor-overview.png|iPhone Backup Extractor] This tool is free to download and will automatically find your iPhone backup for you, then show you what it contains. As you can see in the screenshot here, it'll show you all sorts of information about your iPhone, including the firmware, IMEI, and whether it's an old classic iPhone, the latest-and-greatest iPhone, or something in between. You'll also get to see how many contacts are stored in your iPhone backup, whether the backup contains all those photos you've been snapping away, and whether those sentimental SMS messages are stashed away for safe-keeping. If you want to know what's in your iPhone backup, why not have a go with this today?

Supported iOS versions, backups and devices

iPhone Backup Extractor is fully compatible with Windows XP, Vista, 7, 8, 10, and any macOS version from 10.7 and above. See below:


Compatible with all iOS devices

iPhone 4, 4S, iPhone 5, 5C, iPhone SE, iPhone 6, 6S, 6S Plus, iPhone 7 and 7 Plus


It works with all iOSes

iOS 11, iOS 10, iOS 9, iOS 8, iOS 7 and lower


Full support for all backups

Corrupted backup, iCloud backup, 2FA iCloud backup, Encrypted backup

Data privacy and security

With more than 8 years of experience, Reincubate adheres fully to the strictest data privacy laws. Your iCloud credentials are not stored in any way on any third party server or on our servers. The connections are encrypted and secured. iPhone Backup Extractor is clean of adware, viruses or spyware.

iCloud and iTunes support
No viruses
Compatible with all iOS devices

Help us improve 😊

Can we improve this guide and help others recover more of their data, or have we helped you with your recovery? We’ve been doing this for 10 years but there’s always room to improve, and we love hearing how people get on. Why not drop us an email at the address below, or tweet us @reincubate?

Ready to test it with your iPhone?

See what iPhone Backup Extractor can do for you.

30 day money back guarantee
All iOS versions
Every iPhone, iPad and iPod

Why trust us?

Here's a photo of our founder Aidan (the tall guy) meeting Her Majesty the Queen Elizabeth II at Buckingham Palace, after Reincubate was awarded the UK’s highest business award for our work since 2008 on developing this technology. We invented the iPhone Backup Extractor, the first tool on the market for iOS data recovery. We're on a mission to help people make the most of their data in an ethical, transparent way.

Read more about Reincubate

Reincubate's CEO at Buckingham Palace

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iCloud and iTunes support

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This is iPhone Backup Extractor, think of it as a "personal forensics" utility. It's pretty awesome.

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