What I Backup When Restoring My iPhone

Apple iPhone SchoolBefore the recent event from Apple I was waiting for the announcement of new iPhone OS so I could upgrade and get all the new features. Unfortunately, there was no update as of yet. So, I decided to rejailbreak my iPhone. I’ve been missing push notifications from my last jailbreak and wanted to go a different route. Before I restore my iPhone I sync my iPhone and then use SSH to backup all kinds of stuff. Here’s the process I use. Some are redundant because the iTunes sync backs them up but many times I’ve had a bad backup or want to start fresh and if you don’t back up everything, you will lose it. If you can think of anything else, please add it in the comments and I’ll add it to the list.

1. Sync with iTunes. This will save all of your App Store & stock app information like notes, game saves, logins, etc. Again, if you are not going to restore from this backup then you don’t need to do this.
2. Remove all pictures and videos using the USB connections. If something has happened where you can’t access your iPhone via USB to see pictures, like me right now. You can go to /private/var/mobile/Media/DCIM/ and manually download them via SSH. Beware, if you have a lot of pictures and videos, it may take a while.
3. Take a screenshot of every page of your springboard. I also take them of Winterboard and my Settings app where the jailbroken apps list is.
4. Open Cydia and write down or take screenshots of everything under manage>packages that you’ve installed.

You don’t need to do the following if you are using a synced backup but I still do this incase the backup is corrupt.

5. Backup Voice Memos: manually SSH off from /private/var/mobile/Media/Recordings If you want to put them back later, make sure you get the Recordings.db file.
6. Backup Contacts: manually SSH off /private/var/mobile/Library/AddressBook/AddressBook.sqlitedb and contact’s picture from the same folder: AddressBookImages.sqlitedb
7. Backup Calendar: manually SSH off /private/var/mobile/Library/Calendar/Calendar.sqlitedb
8. Backup Call History: manually SSH off /private/var/mobile/Library/CallHistory/call_history.db
9. Backup Keyboard Auto-Corrections and Dictionary: manually SSH off /private/var/mobile/Library/Keyboard/user_autocorrections.plist and user_dictionary.plist You can also copy the dynamic-text.dat file. It seems to be a collection of phrases of words you use the the keyboard can adapt and predict what words you’re typing.
10. Backup Maps Bookmarks, Directions & History: manually SSH off /private/var/mobile/Library/Maps/Bookmarks.plist, Directions.plist & History.plist
11. Backup Notes: manually SSH off /private/var/mobile/Library/Notes/notes.db & notes.idx
12. Backup Safari Bookmarks, History & Last State: manually SSH off /private/var/mobile/Library/Safari/Bookmarks.plist, History.plist & SuspendState.plist
13. Backup Text Messages: manually SSH off /private/var/mobile/Library/SMS/sms.db
14. Backup Voicemail Messages: manually SSH off /private/var/mobile/Library/Voicemail/voicemail.db and any other files ending with .amr
15. Backup WebClips (bookmarked webpages you’ve added to your home screen): /private/var/mobile/Library/WebClips/(all folders ending in .webclip)
16. Backup AppStore app info: some App Store apps may store info for you that you will want. For example, a todo list, twitter accounts, etc. You will have to check each folder in /private/var/mobile/Applications. It’s a guess sometimes as to which folder is which app. Sometimes you can see the name in the folders or something that gives it away. Usually you can find what you need in each app’s “Documents” folder. Some of this will be different for each app so good luck!

After backing everything up I restore with iTunes, re-jailbreak and sync it back up. All Cydia apps will have to be reinstalled. Let me know if you think I missed anything and also share with others your process of backing up and restoring.

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  1. Wow,that is really time consuming,but I too hope for my push notifications to work.

    Does anyone know how to get quick reply without jailbreaking the phone?

    • Impossible to get quickreply without jailbreaking the iPhone.
      and it doesn’t take that long. People at Apple have done this for years.
      Ordinary people do take longer to find everything, but with this page giving you the location of it all, it shouldn’t take long.

      I will work the same way, if I am ever jailbroken >=)

    • I use to have my iphone jailbroken and unlocked,but once i did the upgrade from 3.0 to 3.1.2,then it all went south for me. My data portion would not work once i had to use the Bite SMS(since it request to reboot,thats is when data is not present anymore for me) but as tonefx works fine.

      i really dislike leaving a app to answer text messages,i do agree jailbrake is the way to go,but again,once i reboot the phone i get no data on my phone,the voice part is active(texts/voice).

      Wondering about jailbraking the phone again with the new redsnow,i am sure this may help me,i used blackra1n about three times.

  2. hey nice one!
    i just wanted to update my firmware, since gta doesn’t work eith 3.0….;)
    so what do u recommend for updating an iPhone 3G to 3.1.2 and unlock it?

  3. I don’t see the point in taking screen shots of everything in cydia. Going back and readding ur sources and redownloading all ur packages one by one is extremely time consuming. Cough up the $1.99 or how ever much it is and download PKGBackup from cydia. Well worth the price. I’ve used it and love it.

    • and this is really working? i’m unsure about using it.

    • Yes its really worth it. Works a treat!!!

    • Unfortunately Cydia had crashed a while back and lost track of everything I’ve installed. I’m just going to have to remember what I’ve installed this time. I’ve heard good things about PKGBackup so I’ll have to try it next time.

    • Ok, I think I give it a try. And all the sources are backed up too? Yet, I’d make a copy of the sources.list.d folder.

    • Yeah they are backed up. Then packages from custom sources are restored too

    • Get aptbackup for free.

      I too decided to jump to 3.1.2 and jailbreak this weekend, since there was no new OS timeline. I took screenshots of all the cydia package settings, ran aptbackup (free) prior to my last backup, set phone to forward to house, restored phone OS via itunes, let itunes activate it, restored from backup, synched in itunes, Blackrain’ed it (wow that thing is fast), then put cydia/ssh/aptbackup on and hand restored any custom repositories, then ran apt backup (it might have been smart to put something on to disable screen lock — maybe even something in the standard phone settings, but i just kept tapping it every 30 seconds). And everything came back (except clearcam which has been pulled from the repository). I did have to rearrange my desktop icons by hand, dumped and rebuilt all my categories folders, and had to adjust the buttons i wanted to see in sbsettings.

      Overall not bad. Last time I tried to use aptbackup (probably upgrading from 2.0) it got itself very confused and didn’t install all the packages. This time it went very well.

    • Wow that is the first person I have ever seen to get APTBackup to work. I have used PKGBackup since it failed on me and it works great!

    • Pkg backup worked like a charm for me when I migrated to3.1.2 the nice thing about it is u get to chose which pkgs to restore or u restore all and the face book connection makes u sure of what apps u backed up

  4. I always backup via SSH too. For App Store app saved data I use App Backup from Cydia. Then you just SSH into /var/mobile/Library/Preferences and copy the App Backup folder over.

    To backup installed Cydia apps I use PkgBackup from the Cydia Store which works great. It backups in the form of a contact.

    For Camera Roll I copy the 100APPLE folder from /var/mobile/Media/DCIM/

    Also you can backup settings for Cydia apps and also stock settings by copying some of the plists from /var/mobile/Library/Preferences

    To save on springboard layouts I use Stack V3 to separate my apps. To backup stacks you go to /Applications and to backup which apps are included you copy all of the stack related plists from /var/mobile/Library/Preferences. This way when you restore all you need to do is copy the few files over and then hide the apps using SBSettings.

  5. Maybe I’m missing something, but Rock.app has a backup tool built-in. When I updated from 3.1 to 3.1.2, Rock.app pulled down a list of everything I had before and downloaded it all in one go, including purchased apps like gpSPhone and NES v.3. It even had all my Winterboard settings back to the way it was. It was the easiest update I’ve ever had on the iPhone. I don’t think there is a separate install you need to do within Rock.app to back up your stuff, I think it does it automatically.

    • Rock is definantly the way to go, it saves a list of all the programs you have installed by either Cydia or Rock and when you re-jailbreak, you just log into Rock and it downloads the full list of apps/cracks/themes ect.

  6. i think it would be good to mention how to backup themes. it seems, only to copy the themes folder is sufficent, isn’t it?

  7. Netatalk. If you are using a Mac to SSH, try Netatalk on Saurik’s source in Cydia. It allows complete file system access to your wifi connected iPhone using finder on your mac. Why make it any harder then you have to? Use your existing tools to backup. I also highly recommend pkgbackup to restore your Cydia Apps and SBCategories.

  8. PkgBackup is the best to use when updating my iDevices. It creates a list that’s saved to your contacts and saves when you sync to iTunes. I always make a list of the repositories I have installed from Cydia, add those back before I install and restore using PkgBackup.

    I have tried making backups of files like my calendar and notes, but it doesn’t work for me. The info I had on my calendar and the notes I had kept come back after SSHing them back onto my iPhone, but neither of those apps allowed me to add new information. After realizing this, now I manually add all my calendar info and I email my notes to myself and copy and paste them back onto the notepad.

    • PKgBackup backs up repos and restores them so it will restore apps from these repos. Just thought I’d tell you to save you some time :)

  9. I use apt backup for all my cydia apps. It creates a list that is backed up on iTunes. Just save, restore, jailbreak and download. It will download all your apps. Very easy and the best part is it’s FREE!

    • A secure way to backup contacts is iDriveLite (for free on AppStore).
      The contacts, including images when you use Cyntact or Contacts+, are stocked online where they can be visualized and modified, too.
      The backup is quick and complete and dependent of your iDrive account and not of the device.

      What I did not get with AptBackup this time was: all the functions are restored but do not appear in the Packages list
      (Five icons Dock, Backgrounder, Battery Control, Cyntact, CyDelete, Weather Icon, Make it Mine, Recent/Call Log delete, SBSettings…).

  10. How can I get my push to work perfectly? PushFix doesn’t work well for me. It keeps pushing other peoples alerts to my iPhone. Could the tethering I activated be the cause of PushFix malfunction?

  11. You may like this program:
    iTunes Backup Manager ( http://www.icopybot.com/itunes-backup-manager.htm )
    You can browse and edit iTunes backup file with it, no jailbreak required!

  12. Levi Morton says

    To avoid having to do all the screen shots of cydia stuff and all summerboard pages I just use a cydia paid ap called PkgBackup. It saves all the cydia apps there settings and restores your page lay out. Hope this helps.


  14. Kayvan Sylvan says

    Push notification has worked perfectly for me on my jailbroken (with blackra1n) iPhone 3G, updated soon after 3.1.2 was released.

  15. Also, once you copy all the different databases back to the iPhone, you might have to reset the permissions on each database. I had to do this last time I restored my SMS and call history databases.

  16. Pkgbackup is the one to use, it’s really good. Also aptbackup works nicely and it’s free, but doesn’t backup your settings

  17. how can u backup iblacklist database, when u want to do a clean restore ?

  18. ive tried this method several different times in the past. it worked on past firmwares. On recent ones tho it crashes my phone app or it will run for a couple days then it will erase everything as if i didnt ssh it in. and on occasion it will run but wont let me add new contacts. Kinda weird. Oh and tryin to ssh ur sms messages is a definate crash. Wont even work. It will not let you send any new messages until u delete the file you ssh and start off new. Just my input but still is not a very difficult task to try.