How to Restore iPhone from Older iPhone Backup in iTunes

Tips to restore your iPhone with an Older Backup copy using iTunes.
by Updated October 16, 2014

When restoring an iPhone using a backup copy, iTunes will automatically use the most recent backup copy that you made. Usually, this is fine, but in some cases you might want to restore a new iPhone with your old iPhone's backed up data. For example, if you upgrade from iOS 7.0 to iOS 8.2 on a new iPhone, iTunes will automatically do a backup after the iOS upgrade, but after the upgrade you may still need to restore the new iPhone with all your old iPhone's data. When you try to do a Restore Backup with iTunes, it's going to use the most recent Backup from the new iPhone and that backup copy may not contain any of your old data.

In this case, the first thing you want to do is find out what backups iTunes actually has stored for your iPhone, which you can then use to restore your new iPhone.  To do this follow these steps:

  1. Open iTunes (I'm using iTunes version 11.4.0)... Recommend you upgrade to latest version.
  2. On the iTunes menu bar click on Edit -> then click Preferences
  3. In the Devices Preferences popup box click on the Devices tab
  4. You will now see a list of all your iPhone and iPad backups with the Dates of the last backup within the Device backups section.  If you hover your mouse over the Dates, you should see the Phone Number, IMEI, and Serial Number for your device associated with the backup.

What you need to understand is that iTunes only keeps one normal iPhone backup for your device, which gets incrementally backed up each time iTunes runs a backup for your iPhone. The other backups you see listed within the Device backups section with date/time stamps, are backups from previous restore points (or backups from a different (older) iPhone). Essentailly, these restore point Backups are backups that you have used previously to restore your iPhone from (which could occur when you restored a new iPhone, using your old iPhone backup data). Itunes does not overwrite these backups, and can be used to restore your iPhone. 

With that said, if you don't see a backup listed in the Device backups section in iTunes that you want to use to restore your iPhone with then you may be out of luck, unless you have included the iphone Backup folder in your computer's overall backup routine (using a service like Carbonite that automatically backs up your computer) and it has a saved copy of an older iPhone backup that may not have been overwritten by iTunes incremental backup.

Here's the folder on your computer where the iPhones backups you see currently listed in iTunes are stored on your computer:

Where are iTunes backups stored on your computer

The folder where your backup data is stored depends on your computer's operating system. Make sure the backup folder is included in your data-backup routine. iTunes places the backup files in these places:

  • Mac: ~/Library/Application Support/MobileSync/Backup/
    The "~" represents your Home folder. If you don't see Library in your Home folder, hold Option and click the Go menu.
  • Windows XP: \Documents and Settings\(username)\Application Data\Apple Computer\MobileSync\Backup\
    To quickly access the Application Data folder, click Start, and choose Run. Type %appdata% and click OK.
  • Windows Vista, Windows 7, and Windows 8: \Users\(username)\AppData\Roaming\Apple Computer\MobileSync\Backup\
    To quickly access the AppData folder, click Start. In the search bar, type %appdata% and press Return.

Now, as a precaution in case something goes wrong while attempting to restore your iPhone using an older backup, the first thing I would do, is to "Copy and Paste" your iPhone's entire backup folder, and paste it somewhere safe on your computer (such as in your Documents folder), so you have a backup of your iPhone backup's. If you're using Windows 7, copy the entire folder contents located here and save it:  Users\(username)\AppData\Roaming\Apple Computer\MobileSync\Backup\   

When you are ready, here are the Steps to Restore an iPhone using an Older Backup

  1. Connect your iPhone to iTunes
  2. In the iTunes sidebar, click on your iPhone to bring up the Summary tab page.
  3. In the Summary page -> click on Restore Backup button   (If you have Find My iPhone turned on, you'll need to turn it off first. Go to Settings -> iCloud on your iPhone and turn Off Find My iPhone before restoring your iPhone).
  4. Now, a Restore from Backup box should pop-up. This will allow you to choose a backup to restore. Just click on the Drop Down box next to "iPhone Name:" to select an older backup to restore from. 
    • NOTE: If you don't get a Restore from Backup box pop-up, see below.
  5. Click the Restore button.  (You may need to enter your iTunes password to confirm the restore).
  6. Now just let iTunes restore your iPhone.
  7. That's it!

For those who may not get a Restore from Backup box pop-up when click the Restore Backup button, and need to select an older backup when Restoring your iPhone, try the following (WARNING: ONLY DO THIS IF YOU HAVE MADE A SAVED COPY OF THE MOBILESYNC BACKUP FOLDER as explained above):

  1. On the iTunes menu bar click on Edit -> then click Preferences
  2. In the Devices Preferences popup box click on the Devices tab
  3. You will now see a list of all your iPhone and iPad backups with the Dates of the last backup within the Device backups section. 
  4. Now in the Device backups section, click and select the most recent iPhone Backup that you "DO NOT" want to use to restore your iPhone.  For example, in my case I have an iPhone back up with date/time stamp of 10/13/2014 and the next older backup is dated 9/19/2014.  I want to restore my iPhone using the older backup dated 9/19/2014. So in this case, as long as I don't need it, I would delete the 10/13/2014 backup.  This is because when you go to do a Restore Backup, iTunes will use the latest backup copy automatically. 
  5. Click the Delete Backup button. (Just be absolutely sure you don't need the most recent Backup copy that you are deleting.)
  6. Now go back to the iPhone Summary tab page.
  7. In the Summary page -> click on Restore Backup button
  8. Now just let iTunes restore your iPhone.


Hopefully, the tips above worked for you and allowed you to restore your iPhone with an older backup copy in iTunes.




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