Ultimate Guide to Backing Up iPhone With/Without iTunes

“How to backup iPhone to iTunes? I want to take a backup of my data but can’t seem to make it work with iTunes. Is there any provision to backup iPhone without iTunes?”

Even though iTunes is a freely available tool offered by Apple, users often face trouble using it. This is because iTunes doesn’t have a user-friendly interface and can’t help us take a selective backup of our data. Therefore, users often look for alternative ways to backup iPhone/iPad to iTunes . In this guide, I will provide a stepwise solution for how to backup iPhone using iTunes. Additionally, I will also help you back up your iOS device without using iTunes as well. Let’s get it started!

Part 1: What does iTunes Backup?

Before you learn how to backup iPhone to iTunes, it is important to cover the basics. Taking a backup of your data and syncing it with iTunes are two different things. When we backup iPhone using iTunes, a dedicated folder is maintained on the local system. The file can be encrypted for security purpose as well. An iTunes backup will include all the major data and saved settings on your phone like contacts, photos, calendars, notes, messages, and more.

Ideally, it is important to know the type of data that is not included in iTunes backup. Here’s what your iTunes backup will not include:

  • iMessages and text messages that are already stored in your iCloud account
  • Photos, videos, music, etc. that are already synced with iCloud
  • Books and audiobooks that are already present in iBooks
  • Touch ID settings and information about Apple Pay
  • Health activity

Therefore, before you backup iPhone to iTunes, make sure that the above-mentioned content is saved as it won’t be included in the backup file. Please note that the photos and videos not synced with iCloud will be included in iTunes backup.

Part 2: How to backup iPhone/iPad to iTunes?

Now when you know what kind of data an iTunes backup would include, you can easily learn how to backup iPhone to iTunes. Since the tool is developed by Apple, it is compatible with all the leading iOS devices like iPhone X, 8, 7 as well as iPad models.

  1. If you don’t have iTunes installed, then visit its official website to download it. Following simple on-screen instructions, you can install it on your computer.
  2. Launch iTunes on your system and connect your iOS device to it. If you are connecting your iPhone or iPad for the first time, then you will get a prompt like this. Tap on the “Trust” button to authenticate the connection.
  3. backup iphone to itunes - trust computer

  4. Wait for a while for iTunes to automatically detect your iPhone or iPad. After that, you can select it from the devices icon and go to its “Summary” tab.
  5. backup iphone to itunes - summary

  6. Move to the “Backups” section. From here, you will get an option to take a backup on the local device or iCloud. Select “This Computer” to save the backup file on your system.
  7. If you want, you can also encrypt the backup file as well. Just be sure to remember the password else you won’t be able to access your data.
  8. backup iphone to itunes - encrypt itunes backup

  9. Now, to manually backup iPhone using iTunes, click on the “Back Up Now” button.
  10. Wait for a while as iTunes will prepare a backup of your data. You can check the Latest Backup feature to view the details about the last backup.
  11. backup iphone to itunes - latest itunes backup

Due to their appearance, the overall method can look slightly different in Windows and Mac. Though, the technique is similar for both the operating systems.

Part 3: Where are iTunes backups stored?

There are times when users want to extract an iTunes backup or simply wish to move it to a more secure location. To do this, you need to know where the iTunes backup is saved. Ideally, it would vary among different operating systems. Below are the iTunes backup location on Windows and Mac.

On Windows 7, 8, or 10

  1. Launch the file explorer and go to the directory where Windows is installed. In most of the cases, it is the C: drive.
  2. Now, browse all the way to Users\<Username>\AppData\Roaming\Apple Computer\MobileSync\Backup.
  3. Alternatively, you can also go to the Users folder and look for “%appdata%” on the search bar as well.

On Mac

  1. The location for the iTunes backup is ~/Library/Application Support/MobileSync/Backup/.
  2. You can launch the Go to Folder app from the Finder. Here, you can enter the location of the iTunes backup folder and press “Go”. Make sure you type “~” as it represents the Home folder on Mac.
  3. backup iphone to itunes - itunes backup on mac

  4. Alternatively, you can also access it from iTunes as well. Launch iTunes and go to its Preferences from the menu.
  5. Go to the Device Preferences to see a list of all the saved backup files. Click the backup while pressing the Control button and select the “Show in Finder” option.

itunes backup location on mac

Please note that you can’t preview or simply copy selective content from the iTunes backup. To do this, you need to use an iTunes backup extractor. Therefore, after identifying the location of the iTunes backup, you need to use a dedicated tool to access your data.

Part 4: How to restore iPhone/iPad from iTunes backup?

Once you know how to back up your iPhone or iPad to iTunes, you can restore your data afterward. The only catch is that in order to restore an iTunes backup, the existing data on your device would be lost. If you are ready to take this risk, then you can follow these steps to restore a previous iTunes backup to your iOS device.

  1. Connect your iOS device to the system and launch iTunes on it.
  2. Once your device is detected, select it, and go to its Summary tab on iTunes.
  3. Under the “Backups” option, click on the “Restore Backup…” button.
  4. restore itunes backup to iphone

  5. A pop-up window will appear where iTunes will list the compatible backup files. You can view their respective details from here.
  6. Select the desired iTunes backup file and click on the “Restore” button.
  7. select the itunes backup

  8. Wait for a while and make sure that your device is connected to the system as the backup is restored. Your iOS device would be restarted with the restored content of the backup file.

Drawbacks of iTunes

  • In order to restore the iTunes backup, the existing data on your iOS device would be deleted.
  • There is no way to preview the data so that you can restore it selectively.
  • Users often face compatibility and connectivity issues with iTunes
  • It is a more time-consuming and tedious method.
  • It can’t take a comprehensive backup of your data. For instance, photos previously synced with iCloud won’t be included in the backup.

Alternatively, you can use dr.fone - Backup & Restore (iOS) to restore iTunes backup to iPhone selectively.

Since there are so many pitfalls with Apple’s native tool, users often look for other techniques to backup iPhone without iTunes. We have provided a recommended third-party solution in the next section.

Part 5: How to backup iPhone/iPad to computer without iTunes?

Due to its limitations, a lot of users look for ways to back up the iPhone without iTunes. If you are also looking for an iTunes alternative, then we recommend trying dr.fone – Backup & Restore (iOS). It is an extremely user-friendly application that will let you backup and restore your data with a single click. It is a part of the dr.fone toolkit, which is developed by Wondershare.

Known as one of the most reliable iOS backups and restore software, it will certainly meet your requirements. Here are some of its features.

dr.fone - Backup & Restore (iOS)

Backup & Restore iOS Data Turns Flexible.

  • One click to backup the whole iOS device to your computer.
  • Support to backup Social apps on iOS devices, such as WhatsApp, LINE, Kik, Viber.
  • Allow to preview and restore any item from the backup to a device.
  • Export what you want from the backup to your computer.
  • No data loss on devices during the restore.
  • Selectively backup and restore any data you want.
  • Supported iPhone 7/SE/6/6 Plus/6s/6s Plus/5s/5c/5/4/4s that run iOS 10.3/9.3/8/7/6/5/4
  • Fully compatible with Windows 10 or Mac 10.13/10.12/10.11.
Available on: Windows Mac
3981454 people have downloaded it

Simply follow these easy steps to backup iPhone without iTunes using dr.fone – Backup & Restore (iOS).

  1. Launch the dr.fone toolkit on your Mac or Windows PC. From its home page, select the “Backup & Restore” option.
  2. backup iphone without itunes using dr.fone

  3. Connect your iOS device to the system and let the application detect it automatically. Click on the “Backup” button once your device is detected.
  4. connect iphone to computer

  5. Now, you can select the type of data that you wish to backup. If you want, you can take a complete backup of your device as well. From here, you can also view or alter the location where the backup would be saved. Click on the “Backup” button to continue.
  6. select iphone data to backup

  7. Sit back for a few minutes as the application will take a backup of the selected data. Once the process is completed, you will be notified.
  8. iphone backup completed

  9. In order to restore the backup, you can connect your device to the system again and launch the application. Instead of Backup, click on the “Restore” button.
  10. A list of all the previously taken backup files will be displayed here with their details. If you want, you can load a previous backup from here as well. Select the file of your choice and click on the “Next” button.
  11. select iphone backup to restore

  12. The application will automatically extract the backup and display it under different categories. You can just visit any category and preview your data.
  13. Select the content you wish to retrieve. You can choose an entire folder and make multiple selections as well.
  14. preview iphone backup

  15. To restore the data directly to your phone, click on the “Restore to Device” button. In no time, the selected content will be transferred to your iOS device.
  16. Alternatively, you can save this data to your computer as well. Click on the “Export to PC” button and specify a location where you wish to save your data.

restore backup to iphone

In this way, you can easily backup iPhone without iTunes (or restore it without resetting your device). The process for restoring an iTunes or iCloud backup is quite similar as well

Part 6: How to fix iTunes could not backup iPhone issues?

Plenty of times while using iTunes to back up their iOS devices, users face unwanted issues. Here are some of these common issues and how you can fix them in a jiffy.

6.1 iTunes could not backup the iPhone because an error occurred

Sometimes, while taking a backup of iPhone to iTunes, users get this prompt. It mostly occurs when there are compatibility issues between iTunes and iPhone. A network security setting could also be a reason behind it.

iTunes could not backup the iPhone because an error occurred

  • Fix 1: Close iTunes and restart your computer. Launch it once again and check if you still get this error.
  • Fix 2: If you haven’t updated your iTunes in a while, then you can encounter this error. Just go to the iTunes menu and check for updates. This will help you update iTunes to a latest stable version.
  • Fix 3: Just like iTunes, there could be a problem with the iOS version on your device as well. You can go to its Settings > General > Software Update and upgrade your iPhone or iPad to the latest available iOS version.
  • update iphone software

  • Fix 4: A firewall setting on your system can be tampering with iTunes too. Simply turn off the firewall or stop any third-party anti-malware tool that you have and try to backup your device again.

6.2 iTunes could not backup the iPhone because the iPhone got disconnected

While taking the iPhone backup on iTunes, you might encounter this problem as well. It usually happens when there is a connectivity issue between your device and the system (or iTunes).

iTunes could not backup the iPhone because the iPhone got disconnected

  • Fix 1: Firstly, check for any hardware issue. Make sure that you are using the original Apple lightning cable to connect your device and that it should be in a working condition. Also, check the USB sockets on your iOS device and the system to make sure there is no hardware problem.
  • Fix 2: There could be a network issue with your iOS device as well. To fix this, go to its Settings > General > Reset and choose to Reset Network Settings.
  • reset network settings

  • Fix 3: Go to the Settings on your device and make sure the “Background App Refresh” option is disabled. A running app in the background mostly causes an issue like this.
  • Fix 4: Disconnect your phone, put it in the Airplane mode, and connect it again to iTunes.
  • turn on airplane mode

6.3 iTunes backup corrupt

Getting an iTunes backup corrupted prompt is one of the most unwanted situations for any iOS user. Chances are that your backup is actually corrupted and can’t be retrieved in any way. Nevertheless, you can try some of these techniques to fix it.

iTunes backup corrupt

  • Fix 1: Delete the previous unwanted iTunes backup files. We have already discussed how to locate iTunes backup files on Mac and Windows systems. Simply select the files that are no longer needed and delete them. Once it is done, launch iTunes again and try to restore the backup.
  • delete previous itunes backup files

  • Fix 2: If you don’t want to delete an existing backup file, then you can rename it or simply move it to another location as well.
  • Fix 3: Make sure that there is enough free space on your iOS device. Otherwise, the content from the backup file can’t be restored.
  • Fix 4: The best way to resolve this issue is by using a dedicated third-party tool that can extract the iTunes backup file. You can use dr.fone – Backup & Restore (iOS) to do the same. Simply load an iTunes backup to the application and restore its content to your device without any trouble.

By following these easy instructions, you can learn how to backup iPhone to iTunes. We have also provided an ideal alternative to iTunes as well, so that you can backup and restore your important files selectively without losing the existing data on your device. The dr.fone toolkit provides a user-friendly and highly reliable solution that will come handy to you on numerous occasions. You can even try it for free before buying the full version and be a judge of it yourself!

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dr.fone - Backup&Restore (iOS)

dr.fone - Backup&Restore (iOS)

Backup data on your iOS devices easily and restore backup files selectively to any device.

dr.fone - Transfer (iOS)

dr.fone - Transfer (iOS)

Transfer contacts, SMS, photos, music, video, and more between your iOS devices and computers.

Wondershare Editor

Aug 29,2018 17:36 pm / Posted by Selena Lee to iPhone Backup

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