What you can and can’t restore through an iOS backup in iTunes

Glenn Fleishman, Macworld:

iTunes backups of an iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch don’t contain apps and some kinds of media. They contain settings and certain kinds of documents stored within apps, and may contain images stored in an iOS device’s Camera Roll. Some apps that use iCloud or other cloud-based sync mark their local content as not needing to be backed up, since it can be restored by logging back into an account or resyncing.

Confused? Fair enough. What does and does not get backed up, and where various elements do get backed up, is a bit of a jigsaw puzzle. Glenn Fleishman does his best do lay all this out.

My two cents? Backup your music library, photos, critical documents on removable media, store it somewhere safe. Update that backup periodically.



  • Caleb Hightower

    Looking forward to a day when Apple can provide unlimited cloud storage at an aggressively-competitive rate that’s powered by solar/bio fuel and liberates me up from managing multiple RAID scenarios. “What in the hell is a RAID 6+0?”

  • Sigivald

    Also, test your backups.

    An untested backup is a failed backup you haven’t noticed yet.

  • rick gregory

    No, backup locally and in the cloud. The entire ‘removable media’ thing doesn’t work for most people because people aren’t good at routinely remembering to cycle their media out of the house or office. One’s backup should be as automated and routine as possible and should eliminate the human factor.

    • Verna

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  • Cranky Observer

    That’s intuitive. “It. Just. Works.”