Submit Hint Search The Forums LinksStatsPollsHeadlinesRSS
14,000 hints and counting!

Total iPhone Backup - requires jailbreaking iOS devices
iTunes never seems to backup all the data I need on my iPhone. So what I wanted was a way to access the root level of the device, and be able to copy everything, even all system and invisible files, to a backup on my computer's hard drive. The way to do this is to use a combination of the great iOS mount utility, PhoneDisk, and Rsync run from the Terminal.

[crarko adds: Note that to access the root level of the device, it must be jailbroken. Otherwise you can get more detailed (and perhaps quite useful) access to the sand-boxed area of the filesystem without jailbreaking, but ultimately it's not a different area than what iTunes backs up unless you jailbreak. This was not clear in the original text of the hint.]

Here's how:
  • First download and install PhoneDisk.
  • Make sure your iOS device is connected via USB to your computer. Run PhoneDisk to mount the device.
  • Under the PhoneDisk menu, goto Preferences, and rename your device to a single simple word (i.e., no spaces or other extended characters), under Use this name as mount disk name:. In my case, I just used 'iPhone' for the name.
  • Make sure that you have the latest version of rsync. Once installed, use the following command in Terminal, replacing the specifics of your home folder, your device name, and your backup location:
    cd /volumes;/usr/local/bin/rsync -avv --protect-args 'iPhone'/ 'Macintosh HD'/Users/Home/Downloads/iphone_backup
This will create a full backup of all files on you iOS device.

[crarko adds: I haven't tested this one. As noted, you'll need to edit the paths in the Terminal command to match your arrangement.

Note: As has been pointed out in the comments; this requires jailbreaking the iOS device to actually get to the root level of the filesystem.

PhoneDisk (like PhoneView) exposes parts of the filesystem not visible in iTunes, but it is still inside the sandbox and the procedure given here wouldn't really backup anything more than iTunes does without jailbreaking. This doesn't diminish the value of these utilities, of course. You can access things individually you'd have to really hunt for in the iTunes backup folder hierarchy.

My apologies for the confusion.]
    •    
  • Currently 2.60 / 5
  You rated: 1 / 5 (10 votes cast)
 
[22,190 views]  

Total iPhone Backup - requires jailbreaking | 37 comments | Create New Account
Click here to return to the 'Total iPhone Backup - requires jailbreaking' hint
The following comments are owned by whoever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.
Total iPhone Backup
Authored by: victic on Feb 17, '11 07:53:17AM

Author assumes that the hard drive name is 'Macintosh HD', which might not be true.



[ Reply to This | # ]
Total iPhone Backup
Authored by: karog on Feb 17, '11 08:11:58AM
In the last bullet point, the author states:

replacing the specifics of your home folder, your device name, and your backup location

[ Reply to This | # ]

Total iPhone Backup
Authored by: auntchilada on Feb 17, '11 08:59:12AM

still, the command is really bad form.



[ Reply to This | # ]
Total iPhone Backup
Authored by: Anonymous on Feb 17, '11 11:30:24AM

Yup. All that about "no spaces" is irrelevant when you're quoting anyway! Spelling error: "volumes" is not "Volumes". And why the single quotes? Use double quotes unless it causes you grief. And why specify which rsync? Surely /usr/local/bin is in your path? Or you might be using Fink or MacPorts... sheesh, stop micromanaging!

rsync -avv --protect-args "/Volumes/Whatever my iPhone is called without changing it/" "~/Some iPhone Backup Directory"

See? Easy.



[ Reply to This | # ]
Total iPhone Backup
Authored by: astack on Feb 17, '11 07:54:34AM

This is a great hint, thanks!

In addition to rsync, another thing that I do sometimes to preserve system states is to use the disk utility to make a disk image of the volume. When I need it, then just mount the disk image. I like this for archiving before I do something drastic because I can use compression on the disk image and the system state stays pristine, i.e. can't be modified by later processes, such as metadata that gets written by the Finder when you open the archive.

I haven't tried this particular method yet with my ipod hint so I don't know if it works or not, in the past I've done it on laptops and desktops that I mount in target disk mode over firewire (that's important -- you have to have the system unmounted so things in the var directory don't change their state).



[ Reply to This | # ]
Total iPhone Backup
Authored by: sd on Feb 17, '11 08:19:28AM

could be interesting, but how do you restore ?
Does it really work? (I mean if my iPhone is stolen, and I buy the same model, can I restore it exactly as a clone?)



[ Reply to This | # ]
Total iPhone Backup
Authored by: Bassman59 on Feb 17, '11 10:57:13AM

rsync goes both ways. Switch the arguments.



[ Reply to This | # ]
Total iPhone Backup
Authored by: Anonymous on Feb 17, '11 11:32:54AM

Well, almost, but not quite.

First path should end with a /, the second should NOT.

You want the CONTENTS of the first path to be copied into the directory you specify. Get it mixed up and you'll end up with a new folder named "Whatever your iPhone was called" at the root of your iPhone's filesystem.



[ Reply to This | # ]
Total iPhone Backup
Authored by: xcgr on Feb 17, '11 08:33:02AM

I'm guessing that this hint is meant for jailbreak users, whose data might be in locations that iTunes doesn't back up. I'm not sure how this would be useful on a non-JB iPhone. AFAIK iTunes backs up and restores everything of mine that goes on my iPhone.



[ Reply to This | # ]
Non-Total iPhone Backup
Authored by: FlaSheridn on Feb 17, '11 09:17:22AM

Syncing to iTunes certainly doesn’t back up everything—it doesn’t even try to back up music and caches, and there have been sporadic reports of third-party data not getting restored properly. And restoring via iTunes is a very slow process. Whether restoring via this approach is a better alternative is a separate question, of course.



[ Reply to This | # ]
Non-Total iPhone Backup
Authored by: xcgr on Feb 17, '11 05:43:04PM

Music doesn't need backing up because you're already syncing it from your Mac to your phone. And if you download new music or podcasts on to your phone, iTunes copies the new music back to your Mac the next time that you sync.

Caches are temporary files for use by apps and the system. By definition, they do not need to be backed up. The phone will regenerate the caches as needed. 

It's possible for a poorly written 3rd party app to store important data in its cache. Then iTunes wouldn't back it up, and this hint would be the only way to get a real backup. Personally, I would ditch the app for something less buggy.



[ Reply to This | # ]
Non-Total iPhone Backup
Authored by: FlaSheridn on Feb 18, '11 07:45:51PM

> Music doesn't need backing up because…

I was not correcting the claim that iSync backed up what needs backing up, but that it backs up everything, which it does not. Whether a selective backup program’s idea of what ought to be backed up and restored, matches a given user’s needs, is a question with a long and interesting history, but I’m afraid that much of my evidence is covered by non-disclosure agreements.


> It's possible for a poorly written 3rd party app to store important data
> in its cache. … Personally, I would ditch the app for something less buggy.

The sporadic reports I mentioned (but haven’t confirmed independently) were not about data in the cache, but in the parts of the file structure which are documented as being backed up. As I said, I have not confirmed these reports, but I’m surprised that you know that the app is buggy.



[ Reply to This | # ]
Total iPhone Backup - for what?
Authored by: macnixer on Feb 17, '11 09:20:57AM

I really am with some other posters. What is the purpose of the backup? Nice to know that I can backup?

I have used the regular backup and have restored my iPhone(s) many times over but never needed it to come from some special backup.

Cracko: Just having a hint does not suffice it's purpose. Please drop such hints that have no use.

Someone could say - 'Why I read this hint in the first place?', my answer would be, 'To find out what the author has for us to do with the backup. Is there some advantage? No.'



[ Reply to This | # ]
Total iPhone Backup - for what?
Authored by: rusty on Feb 17, '11 09:59:32AM

Also, without information about how a total restore could be done from a total backup performed in this way, I don't believe this hint holds much utility.



[ Reply to This | # ]
Total iPhone Backup - for what?
Authored by: everkleer80 on Feb 17, '11 10:49:10AM
Everyone has a reason for their hints. Whether other users agree with it shouldn't determine its relevance. The author mentioned in the hint that iTunes doesn't back up everything that he/she wants, and another user clarified this above:
Syncing to iTunes certainly doesn’t back up everything—it doesn’t even try to back up music and caches, and there have been sporadic reports of third-party data not getting restored properly. And restoring via iTunes is a very slow process. Whether restoring via this approach is a better alternative is a separate question, of course.


[ Reply to This | # ]
Total iPhone Backup - for what?
Authored by: Anonymous on Feb 17, '11 11:35:50AM

While there have been some trivial hints before, I think this falls under the category "badly wrote" rather than "purposeless".

Is it for jailbroken phones only? What iOS versions does it work on?



[ Reply to This | # ]
Total iPhone Backup - for what?
Authored by: astack on Feb 17, '11 02:52:22PM

It's not badly written, you are just ignorant. It treats the iphone as it actually is, a device with it's own operating system and file structure and makes a copy of that file structure. It doesn't matter which iOS version.



[ Reply to This | # ]
Total iPhone Backup - for what?
Authored by: Anonymous on Feb 18, '11 10:45:36AM

No, it's poorly written. Take a look at that rsync command and the prerequisites. Note the commenters asking if it applies only to jailbroken iOS devices.

Who's "ignorant"?



[ Reply to This | # ]
Total iPhone Backup - for what?
Authored by: astack on Feb 18, '11 02:48:38PM
Ignorant -- adj. 1. Lacking knowledge or awareness in general. I understand precisely what the command does and the hint makes perfect sense to me and is concise and understandable. If you don't know what rsync does or don't know how your iphone works, i.e. you are ignorant, that is not the fault of the hint writer. Next time perhaps you could do a little googling on your own instead of roasting the hint submitter. Jailbreaking the device or the iOS version has nothing at all to do with this hint, I can't imagine why the thought would even occur to the submitter to inform people of those things. Considering I get 706 hits on this site alone for rsync, it's reasonable to expect the readers of this site to be less lazy and not expect every single hint to tailor to their precise needs/level of knowledge.

[ Reply to This | # ]
Total iPhone Backup - for what?
Authored by: everkleer80 on Feb 21, '11 09:51:01AM

Just thought I'd mention that I for one was not aware that this hint did not require jailbreaking. Can you really mount and access your whole filesystem without jailbreaking?



[ Reply to This | # ]
Total iPhone Backup - for what?
Authored by: jayhawkbabe on Feb 21, '11 11:57:29AM

Not in my experience. I posted about it somewhere on this link, but I'm only able to mount media using PhoneView on an unjailbroken iOS device. PhoneView will mount media AND root for a jailbroken device as I recall.



[ Reply to This | # ]
Total iPhone Backup - requires jailbreak
Authored by: everkleer80 on Feb 22, '11 05:58:19AM

That's what I thought. (I didn't actually try it myself.) So this hint does require jailbreaking.



[ Reply to This | # ]
Total iPhone Backup - requires jailbreak
Authored by: mantrid on Feb 22, '11 06:11:58AM

Did any of the complainers even go to PhoneDisk link conveniently provided in the hint? Right on the developer's front page, it says "Works with or without jail breaking the device".

Bunch of stupid, whiny, lazy, and yes, ignorant bums.



[ Reply to This | # ]
Total iPhone Backup - requires jailbreak
Authored by: everkleer80 on Feb 22, '11 06:25:28AM

Umm... yes, PhoneDisk works, but as many have said, you can't access the root without jailbreaking.

From the FAQ on the website:

How do I get access to the real-root on my device?

Gaining access to the "real" root of the iPhone requires jailbreaking the device and in many cases installing "afc2add" from Cydia. Once you've got that figured out, from the Phone Disk menu make sure to connect to the "root" instead of the "media" one.
Perhaps you can tell us how to get a full system backup without having access to the whole system?

[ Reply to This | # ]
Total iPhone Backup - requires jailbreak
Authored by: crarko on Feb 22, '11 03:14:27PM

You are correct; to gain full access requires jailbreaking. I have amended the hint accordingly.

Craig A.



[ Reply to This | # ]
Total iPhone Backup - for what?
Authored by: makip on Feb 22, '11 05:32:55PM

It's arrogant to think that others might not have a use for this information, I can think of a half dozen reasons, none of which I might personally have a use for, to want to perform a manual full backup of an iPhone's file system.

Probably the most obvious one is perhaps the user doesn't want only an iTunes backup image file for restoring via iTunes; maybe they want a record of all app data period. For instance maybe the user has some data in an app that wont be restored as the app doesnt provide for it as they've switched phones. The app is not "buggy" it just doesn't offer the functionality to restore data from an online source like other apps. Or perhaps someone has an old text message or photo they desperately need to extract. You can maintain a history of and get to these databases and files easier with an rsync dump like this. I have personally restored ebooks libraries to eReader on to a new additional phone in exactly this way. This allowed me to keep the accompanying notes and bookmarks for each book, as the app doesnt provide for this. I no longer bother to jail break my phone but I think others who do and are technically minded might find this rather useful information.

It's best if people avoid expressing negative and superior attitudes and allow hints that might seem basic and useless to pass by without useless criticism.
I held my tongue on the recent "Using the Purchases Tab in Mac App Store" which I thought was rather obvious… I guess others did not.

The least useful thing on this page is not he hint, it's actually your comment. So you didn't find the hint useful... move along.

Edited on Feb 22, '11 05:35:14PM by makip



[ Reply to This | # ]
Total iPhone Backup - for what?
Authored by: philostein on Feb 23, '11 03:43:06AM

Amen.



[ Reply to This | # ]
Total iPhone Backup
Authored by: tobylane on Feb 19, '11 10:02:46AM

Is there anything to get that is more than a normal backup without including apps, or jailbreaking?



[ Reply to This | # ]
Total iPhone Backup
Authored by: jayhawkbabe on Feb 21, '11 11:47:20AM

Unless I've misunderstood, this post is slightly misleading.

Various media files can be accessed from an unjailbroken device using PhoneDisk, but the root of the filesystem (what I assume the author means by "the root level of the device"), which contains system files and application settings, can only be mounted using PhoneDisk on a jailbroken device.

I've just double checked that this is true on my unjailbroken iPhone--only media shows up as a mount in /Volumes. I no longer have any jailbroken devices, but as I recall a second mount (root) was created when the iOS device was mounted using PhoneDisk. The system files and whatnot were located here.



[ Reply to This | # ]
Total iPhone Backup
Authored by: mark hunte on Feb 21, '11 02:03:55PM
Hi Craig,

Can you please mention if this Hint requires a Jail broken iPhone to get to the folders mentioned in the Hint. And save people who do not have or want a Jail broken iPhone from wasting time in trying this hint.

I supect that you can use the software to get to some of the iPhone content, but need to Jailbreak to get to the "/usr/local/bin/"

From the Developers pages:

How do I get access to the real-root on my device? Gaining access to the "real" root of the iPhone requires jailbreaking the device and in many cases installing "afc2add" from Cydia. Once you've got that figured out, from the Phone Disk menu make sure to connect to the "root" instead of the "media" one.

Cheers ---
mh

---
mh
Edited on Feb 21, '11 02:05:49PM by mark hunte


[ Reply to This | # ]
Total iPhone Backup
Authored by: crarko on Feb 22, '11 03:12:20PM

Yup; I've gone back and added a note to the hint about this.


Thanks to all who noted this; but no thanks to those people who think insulting other users is a good idea.

Craig A.



[ Reply to This | # ]
Total iPhone Backup
Authored by: Druid54 on Feb 22, '11 09:58:20AM

For those who reject the purpose of this hint, two words: Forensic Analysis. Though a way to clone the internal ‘drive’ would be much better for FA.



[ Reply to This | # ]
PhoneDisk... What ever for???
Authored by: Rlan on Feb 23, '11 05:11:42AM

JailBreakers know they can mount any iDevice using the free, ultra solid, very well known and established Netatalk. Netatalk has been mounting Unix filesystems using Apple's AppleTalk for eons. I didn't look but since Netatalk is free software, wouldn't surprise me that PhoneDisk is just an interface to it, which is doubly strange as the only difference I see between NT and PD is that the latter puts it's own icon in the finder?
Anyway, using Netatalk, once you mount your iDevice, you can do anything you can do with any mounted device including back it up. I always have both iPhones mounted, and they mount as soon as they're in range, so I can copy stuff from one to the other, to my computer etc.
Using rsync is one of many ways to backup a whole iDevice. What about using Carbon Copy Cloner or SuperDuper! to do it with a little more pizzaz?
All this to say: I honestly can't see the value in this hint or in PhoneDisk.



[ Reply to This | # ]
Total iPhone Backup - requires jailbreaking
Authored by: DDDAMORE on Feb 26, '11 12:40:33PM

Has anyone successfully used this hint?

In Terminal, after copying and pasting the proposed command line and modifying the particulars to match the specifics of my device, hard drive and intended backup location, upon hitting RETURN, the Terminal responds with ">" and nothing more. Successive RETURNS reproduce the ">" response and only exiting the Terminal window terminates this condition.

Incidentally, rysnc is functional and I have used it for other file backups.



[ Reply to This | # ]
Total iPhone Backup - requires jailbreaking
Authored by: everkleer80 on Feb 28, '11 08:53:41AM

Sounds like you may have not properly closed a set of quotes in your command or something like that. I'd check and make sure there is a closing quote for each opening quote (remember if you copied and pasted them, they may be curly quotes (not sure the 'technical' name for them) and the terminal won't recognise these as quotes - I have this problem all the time when copy/pasting from emails. If it still won't work, can you post the exact command line you're using?



[ Reply to This | # ]
Total iPhone Backup - requires jailbreaking
Authored by: GianPaJ on Mar 11, '11 03:04:16PM

Instead of paying for PhoneDisk.
You can use http://code.google.com/p/iphonedisk/ which requires https://code.google.com/p/macfuse/ if you don't already have it.
Install them, reboot and voilà!



[ Reply to This | # ]
Total iPhone Backup - requires jailbreaking
Authored by: gigel on Jan 27, '13 02:38:42PM

Has anyone managed to actually perform a FULL RESTORE using rsync?

http://apple.stackexchange.com/questions/80152/what-to-backup-and-restore-from-ios-using-rsync



[ Reply to This | # ]