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Question about iOS App Data iTunes Backups

help itunes app data apps iphone ios

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11 replies to this topic

#1 Glassed Silver

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Posted 15 August 2012 - 13:20

Heya guys,

I have a quick question:

If I deleted an app on my iPhone now, away from my Mac, would the app data backup on my Mac's iTunes be deleted, too and do I need to only delete via iTunes to maintain a backup of my app data or am I good to go?


Note: obviously I'm aware any changes since the last backup would get lost, but there are none.
Note 2: No, I won't use iCloud backup, I find it a horrible idea, I like my backups local as long as I have to decide between the two, it will be local, but I disgress...

Glassed Silver:win


#2 Packet1009

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Posted 15 August 2012 - 14:22

my understanding is that if you take a backup of the phone with apps X, Y, Z and their associated data - all that data is in the backup.

now if you delete app X (with its associated data deleted automatically when you delete the app) via the phone and then restore that backup you took earlier, you'd have app X and its associated data back on your phone.

so basically, you can delete an app from either itunes or the phone and the app with its associated data will be gone (upon next sync if deleted from itunes)

(and of course, backups are overwritten on each sync as you pointed out)

#3 Shadrack

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Posted 15 August 2012 - 15:00

Something on the platform that could be easier to manage IMO.

If you are on a Mac and use TimeMachine, you can restore your iOS backup to a previous date and then use that to get your data back if for some reason your iOS backup gets overwritten. Otherwise, copying the backup files to another location is also an option to preserve your app data.

#4 OP Glassed Silver

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Posted 15 August 2012 - 16:29

So, can I delete that game now and know that my game save is still there in iTunes whenever I want to re-install the game via iTunes?

I'm slow today lol...

Glassed Silver:ios

#5 LightShadow

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Posted 15 August 2012 - 16:31

The only other option is, if you really want to preserve the data and take the app off your device, you can use a problem like iExplorer for Windows, (surely an alternative for OS X).
This allows you to browse app data whilst unjailbroken, and you can simply just backup those folders. Then once you want the app data back, just put the app back on your device, and copy those folders you backed up.
Though I believe it only works for the same version, so make sure when you put the app back, it's the same version as what you backed up.

So simply, if I were you, I'd just backup the app data, delete the app from iTunes and your device (But keep the ipa file). But both in a folder, then when you want the game back. Just put the ipa in iTunes, restore it to your device, then restore the data and you're all set.

#6 OP Glassed Silver

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Posted 15 August 2012 - 16:37

The only other option is, if you really want to preserve the data and take the app off your device, you can use a problem like iExplorer for Windows, (surely an alternative for OS X).
This allows you to browse app data whilst unjailbroken, and you can simply just backup those folders. Then once you want the app data back, just put the app back on your device, and copy those folders you backed up.
Though I believe it only works for the same version, so make sure when you put the app back, it's the same version as what you backed up.

So simply, if I were you, I'd just backup the app data, delete the app from iTunes and your device (But keep the ipa file). But both in a folder, then when you want the game back. Just put the ipa in iTunes, restore it to your device, then restore the data and you're all set.

Wow, thanks for the insight and your time, however, I'll just stick with iTunes backups then :/
I'll put my apps that'll go in a special folder and when I get back to my Mac, I'll go from there.

Don't need the capacity now, but would have been nice.

I dispite how app data backups work, I really do. It's so important, but yet so untransparent. :(

Glassed Silver:ios

#7 Packet1009

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Posted 15 August 2012 - 17:33

So, can I delete that game now and know that my game save is still there in iTunes whenever I want to re-install the game via iTunes?

I'm slow today lol...

Glassed Silver:ios


Yes and no. Remember, the backup gets overwritten each time you sync.

Unless you back up that folder separately, your prior backup will get overwritten

#8 Shadrack

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Posted 15 August 2012 - 19:01

Yes and no. Remember, the backup gets overwritten each time you sync.

Unless you back up that folder separately, your prior backup will get overwritten


And in order to get the app data back in the app you would have to do a full restore from that backup.

I think that Possession's suggestion was probably the best one so far... Don't know whats out there for Mac though. I know there are utilities to modify your backup file. Otherwise Jailbreak and get them via SSH. I'm probably the most vocal about how pointless JB is to the vast majority of people, but I'm a hypocrite because my iPhone is Jailbroken for reasons similar to this vary problem.

#9 OP Glassed Silver

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Posted 15 August 2012 - 20:26

Waaaait: So if I delete an app via iTunes from my phone, I cannot get the app data back unless I do a full restore from that very backup, hence erasing newer app data effectively?

Jesus Baby Christ, I'm so thankful I don't use iOS for serious stuff unless I can sync it independently/export.

Glassed Silver:ios

#10 Packet1009

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Posted 16 August 2012 - 01:11

yes, if you delete an app via itunes or directly from the phone, the only way to restore its prior saved data is to do a full restore from backup which would overwrite any newer data.

#11 Shadrack

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Posted 16 August 2012 - 04:34

Exactly. Its a bit of a mess. It would be nice if Apple cleans it up. Until then, getting direct access to the filesystem is the best and probably the easiest way to accomplish what you want and have a good feeling about it.

#12 OP Glassed Silver

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  • Joined: 10-June 04
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  • OS: OS X ML; W7; Elementary; Android 4
  • Phone: iPhone 5 64GB Black (6.0.2)

Posted 16 August 2012 - 16:48

Exactly. Its a bit of a mess. It would be nice if Apple cleans it up. Until then, getting direct access to the filesystem is the best and probably the easiest way to accomplish what you want and have a good feeling about it.

Thanks a ton!

Guess keeping my old backups around (they seemingly don't auto-delete, guess I activated sich a setting somewhere, as my fiancé's Macbook doesn't keep them all...) is the best I can do. When needed I'd just extract from old backups.

Guess I'll soon maintain Numbers documents and log any install/uninstall happening on my iPhone, Macs and other hardware. (Time stamped)
That way I know exactly which backups contain which app data and this will also be helpful for all the background tools and services, especially folder actions on my Mac.

When I perfected this stuff, I'll make tutorials to get other paranoid home administrators informe as well! :laugh:

Glassed Silver:ios



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