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11 Most-asked Questions about iPhone Backup with iTunes/iCloud

James Davis

Jul 12, 2024 • Filed to: Backup & Restore Data • Proven solutions

There are ways to back up playlists, apps, messages, contacts from your iPhone to the iTunes library and include for safekeeping. When you plug in your iPhone to your computer and launch iTunes, you can instantly view the options to backup your data to your computer or to iCloud.

However, when you try to backup your iPhone to iTunes and iCloud, you may see an alert message that your iPhone couldn't be backed up due to one of these reasons:

Part 1: iPhone backup via iTunes troubleshooting

Below are some problems you might meet when you backup iPhone to iTunes:

  • The backup session failed
  • A session could not be started
  • The iPhone refused the request
  • An error occurred
  • An unknown error occurred
  • The backup could not be saved on this computer
  • Not enough free space is available

If you see one of these messages or a different message, or if iTunes for Windows stops responding or the backup never finishes, follow the steps below.

1). The password to unlock your iPhone backup file:

You can do that by restoring your iPhone as a new phone. You will naturally lose all of your content, but you can restore most of it if you have ever backup your iPhone. Suppose it were possible to make an unencrypted backup after you created an encrypted one, anyone who stoles your iPhone could make an unencrypted backup of your passcode-locked iPhone and view all of your data.

2). Check your security settings

You may need to update, configure, disable, or uninstall your security software.

3). Backup or restore by using a new administrator account:

Create a new administrator account on your computer and use it to make a backup. Follow these steps for Mac OS X or these steps on the Microsoft website for Windows. If you can back up by using a new administrator account, log in using the original user account and follow these steps:

Create new administrator account

Step 1. Make sure the account is an administrator.

Step 2. Check the permissions for the directories where iTunes writes the backup.

Step 3. Rename the Backups folder.

Step 4. Open iTunes and try to back up again. Copy your backup before using iTunes Preferences > Devices to delete your backup.

4). Reset the Lockdown folder:

If you can't sync, backup, or restore your iPhone, you may be instructed to reset the Lockdown folder on your Mac or Windows.

Mac OS X

Step 1. From the Finder, choose Go > Go to folder.

Click on Go to Folder on Mac

Step 2. Type /var/db/lockdown and press Return.

var db lockdown return

Step 3. Choose View > as Icons. The Finder window should show one or more files with alphanumeric file names.

Step 4. In the Finder, choose Edit > Select all.

Step 5. Choose File > Move to Trash. You may need to enter an administrator password.

Move to Trash

Note: Delete the files in the Lockdown folder; don't delete the Lockdown folder.

Windows 8

Step 1. Click the magnifying glass.

Step 2. Type ProgramData and press Return.

Step 3. Double-click the Apple folder.

Step 4. Right-click the Lockdown folder and choose Delete.

Windows Windows 7/Vista

Step 1. Choose Start, type ProgramData in the search bar, and press Return.

Step 2. Double-click the Apple folder.

Step 3. Right-click the Lockdown folder and choose Delete.

Windows XP

Step 1. Choose Start > Run.

Step 2. Type ProgramData and click Run.

Step 3. Double-click the Apple folder.

Step 4. Right-click the Lockdown folder and choose Delete.

5). iTunes could not back up the iPhone "iPhone Name" :

This is a solution for Windows (7), which doesn't apply to the OP, but his problem seems to have been solved already at any rate.

Step 1. Close iTunes.

Step 2. Make sure your Explorer displays hidden files.

Step 3. Go to C:UsersusernameAppDataRoamingApple ComputersMobileSyncackup

Step 4. Delete everything there (or move it somewhere else, to be on the safe side)

Step 5. And done. In my case, I deleted two folders with long, cryptic, alphanumeric names, one empty, the other over 1GB in size. When I opened iTunes again, I could create a brand new backup without any errors.

6). iTunes could not back up iPhone because the backup could not be saved.

This is a solution for Windows (7), which doesn't apply to the OP, but his problem seems to have been solved already at any rate.

Step 1. Navigate to the C:UsersUSERNAMEAppDataRoamingApple ComputerMobileSync.

Step 2. Right click the Backup folder and select Properties.

Step 3. Select the Security tab

Step 4. Click the edit button and highlight Everyone.

Step 5. Check the Full control checkbox and hit Apply and then OK.

Step 6. Click OK again

Part 2: iPhone backup to iCloud troubleshooting

Would like to backup iPhone via iCloud? In the following part, I list out some troubleshooting. If you happen to have the same problem, hope it can help you.

1). Why is iCloud not backing up ALL of my contacts?

iCloud seems to be working fine, except that it is NOT backing up all of my contacts, only a partial list.

If recent changes to Contacts on your iPhone don't appear on your other devices, and you are syncing contacts with multiple accounts on your iPhone (iCloud, Gmail, Yahoo), make sure that iCloud is your default account for Contacts:

Tap Settings > Mail, Contacts and Calendars. In the Contacts section, tap Default Account, then tap iCloud.

Default Account iCloud

If you're using iOS 7, quit and restart the Contacts app on your iPhone:

Step 1. Press the Home button twice to see preview screens of the apps you have open.

Step 2. Find the Contacts preview screen and swipe it up and out of preview to quit the application.

Step 3. Tap the Home button to return to your Home screen.

Step 4. Wait a minute before reopening the Contacts app.

Turn iCloud Contacts off and back on:

Step 5. Tap Settings > iCloud.

Step 6. Turn Contacts off. Choose to delete the data only if your data exists at icloud.com/contacts and on one or more of your devices. Otherwise, choose Keep Data.

Step 7. Wait a few minutes before turning Contacts back on.

Step 8. Restart your iPhone by holding down the Sleep/Wake button and then swiping the screen when prompted to power off. Then turn your iPhone back on. This may sound simple, but it does reinitialize your network and application settings and can frequently resolve issues.

2). iCloud Backup message won't go away & locks the screen

Hold the Sleep (On/Off) & Home button down (together) for about 10-12 seconds.

Hold down BOTH the above buttons UNTIL you see the Apple Logo (restarts), (very important)

Once the Logo appears let go of the buttons. Wait 1-2 minutes for the software and home screen to load up.

3). There is no backup available against my login:

I have a new iPhone and went to restore from iCloud but it says there are no backup available against my login. If you're using iCloud, it can automatically back up your data as long as you've chosen this option. You can verify your iCloud backup and make sure that it's up to date by following these steps:

Step 1. Tap Settings > iCloud > Storage & Backup.

Step 2. Turn on iCloud Backup if it's off.

Step 3. Tap Back Up Now. If you have a new iPhone, or if you need to restore your iPhone to resolve an issue, follow these steps.

setting iCloud storage backup

Step 4. Follow the initial steps in the iOS Setup Assistant (select your language, and so on).

Step 5. Select Restore from iCloud Backup when the assistant asks you to set up your iPhone (or other iOS device).

Step 6. Select the backup you created earlier. You can restore a backup only by using the iOS Setup Assistant.

Restore from iCloud Backup

If you've already set up your iPhone, you can erase all current content to go through the iOS Setup Assistant again. Tap Settings > General > Reset > Erase All Content and Settings. Do this only if you already have a backup, because this step will remove all current content from your iPhone.

4). How do I restore from an iCloud backup if my iPhone is already set up for use?

Step 1. You'll need to erase all data and settings from your iPhone. First, make sure that you have an iCloud backup to restore:

Step 2. Go to Settings > iCloud > Storage & Backup > Manage Storage. Then tap the name of your iPhone to view a list of iCloud back files.

setting iCloud storage backup Manage Storage

Step 3. Check the date of the backup you want to restore, because you can only restore the iPhone from what iCloud has backed up on that date.

Step 4. After you confirm that an iCloud backup is available, connect your iPhone to a power source and make sure that it's connected to the Internet via Wi-Fi.

Step 5. Follow the instructions for restoring your iOS device from an iCloud backup, which include making sure that your iPhone is using the latest version of iOS.

5). How can I verify that the restore process of iCloud is underway?

Go to Settings > iCloud > Storage & Backup. When the restore process is underway, the iCloud Backup setting is dimmed and you have the option to tap Stop Restoring.

James Davis

James Davis

staff Editor

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