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Archive iOS device backups iOS devices
When you sync an iOS device to iTunes, it is backed up; by default, this backup goes to your Mac, but you can also set it to go to iCloud. When you save backups on your Mac, there's plenty of data and settings saved, so you can restore the device, or even set up a new device, using a backup.

Dave Hamilton, writing at The Mac Observer, recently pointed out that you can also archive backups. To do this, go to iTunes' Preferences, then click on Devices. Right-click or Control-click on one of your devices, then choose Archive. The name of the backup in the Device Backups list will change, to contain the name of the device and the date it was last backed up. The next time you sync your device, iTunes will create a new backup, and retain the old one.

Interestingly, when I checked my backups, I found a number of older ones, with dates, that weren't there before. I suspect this feature is new to iTunes 11.0.3, the latest update to iTunes, because I'd not seen these older backups before.
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Archive iOS device backups
Authored by: xplora on Jun 05, '13 02:18:28AM

While I didn't know you could tell iTunes to archive old device backups, I have seen plenty of cases where iTunes has done this automatically.

The most obvious example is when restoring a backup to a new device (replacing an old device because it was faulty, or being upgraded), iTunes will archive the old backup being restored from. This will also be because all the saved passwords are encrypted, and can only be restored to the original device and no other, including replacements due to fault or upgrade.

I think the odd iOS update can also trigger iTunes to archive the old backup and perform a full fresh backup.

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Archive iOS device backups
Authored by: TokyoJimu on Jun 05, '13 10:49:41AM

Keep in mind that these backups can be quite large. The one for my iPhone is 2.5 GB.

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Archive iOS device backups
Authored by: zoff on Jun 05, '13 05:08:39PM

I don't see a new backup in MobileSync>Backup. Is the archive saved somewhere else?

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Archive iOS device backups
Authored by: raphaeladidas on Jun 05, '13 06:28:38PM

Quite large backups indeed. I just deleted two iPad and two iPod touch archives and freed over 16GB!

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Archive iOS device backups
Authored by: Strod on Jun 05, '13 06:41:30PM

Nice hint. But if disaster strikes and you no longer have on your Mac the old backup of your iOS device that saves your bacon, don't forget that the backups are... ahem... backed-up in Time Machine.

The iOS device backups are stored in: ~/Library/Application Support/MobileSync/Backup/

The name of each iOS device backup is in hexadecimal gibberish so it may be hard to identify the one you want if there are several of them in a particular TM backup. In that case you will need to apply some trickery to get iTunes to look at the Time Machine version of the Backup folder (or, preferably, a copy of said folder, as you should avoid messing up with TM's backups). In iTunes you can then identify the one backup you want.

It may take some work, but I did say "if disaster strikes"!

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Archive iOS device backups
Authored by: marrie125 on Jun 09, '13 09:17:17AM

That's all well and good, how ever what if you are out on the road and disaster strikes and you are not able to carry your time machine back up?

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Archive iOS device backups
Authored by: Strod on Jun 10, '13 08:55:53AM
Ah, you are presenting a situation where:
  • Your iOS device croaked, or got corrupted, or something vital got deleted from it (probably you deleted it by accident).
  • In the laptop you are carrying, all the backups for that iOS device are either non-existent, or are from a time after the needed info got deleted/corrupted.
  • You are on the road, away from all your Time Machine backups.
  • You can't VPN to access your Time Machine backups (as is the case for most of us).
  • You really can't wait until you get back "home" where your Time Machine backups are to retrieve a "good" iOS backup.
In that case, my friend, your bacon is getting fried. But come on, the stars really aligned against you today!

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Archive iOS device backups
Authored by: marrie125 on Jun 09, '13 09:12:51AM

I've noticed though starting with iTunes 10 that it deleted the last backup you created so there's only 1 back up in the path one of the posters gave. I'm wondering if all of these years now that I read this hint if archiving was turned off by default?

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