When I try to sync my iPhone with my computer, I get the following message:

Screen Capture

iTunes could not back up the iPhone "iPhone Name" because the backup was corrupt or not compatible with the iPhone.

Delete the backup for this iPhone, then try again.

Yet, here is no option to delete the backup. Where are backups stored / how can I delete the backup?

This is iTunes version 10.5.3 running under Mac OS X 10.6.8.

  • Do both devices have the same amount of memory? Also was iCloud backup turned on?
    – Tyson
    Jan 2, 2015 at 15:39
  • Just checking - you did it exactly as this method? support.apple.com/en-us/HT2109 edit - Google found a mumble about Win 64bit iTunes doing this more than 32bit. Mac, of course doesn't distinguish. What platform are you on?
    – Tetsujin
    Jan 2, 2015 at 18:25
  • Yes both had a memory space of 16 gb and i never had a backup of my phone on icloud.
    – jerry
    Jan 4, 2015 at 4:51
  • Your new phone may be running an older version of iOS. Try updating/restoring it without a backup, and then restoring from your backup. Mar 2, 2015 at 5:05
  • This is really annoying.
    – simon
    Jan 28, 2017 at 23:21

8 Answers 8


From within iTunes navigate to the menu iTunes > Preferences > Devices. Select the backup file, then hit the delete button:

iTunes Device Preferences


It's somewhat (sadly) common to run into this "Corrupt/Incompatible" error. Most of the time the backup is just a little bit buggy.

I work on a program called Decipher Backup Repair, which scans the backup and shows you/fixes the errors so you can restore in iTunes.


Here's an article I wrote with a few other things to try first as well:


From that link, you can also poke around to learn more about corrupt backups if you want.

(Note: As I mentioned, I am the author of the software I'm recommending above, so I stand to benefit from my recommendations. I definitely stand behind our software :) but I like to put a little note like this anyway!)

  • 5
    WOW. Normally it can be distasteful when people post about their own products, but this app is fantastic and removed some stupid file that was preventing my backup from restoring to my phone. Now I have all my stuff back. Thanks so much for making this.
    – AriX
    Apr 24, 2015 at 21:20
  • 1
    Agree with the comment above. I got stuck with this error after years and years of problem-free backups. The program solved the problem quickly and easily.
    – uvesten
    Jul 5, 2015 at 20:39
  • 1
    Same situation -- iTunes backup/restore has always worked perfectly, but I ran into an issue with all my backups in the latest version. This program fixed it. Always test your backups before you need them…
    – Kevin Chen
    Sep 3, 2015 at 22:26
  • 1
    It worked for me! Unbelievable.
    – simon
    Jan 28, 2017 at 23:22
  • Worked for us as well. Normally a bit skeptical about these apps, but kinda floored that Apple can't even create a well-formed backup file w/o screwing things up.
    – iwasrobbed
    Nov 17, 2017 at 0:47

I had the same problem, no idea where it came from. I had a jailbroken iPhone 3G and switched to a non-jailbroken iPhone 4, i.e. I transferred the backup to the new phone, which worked. Some time later, however, I got that error message. I tried the solution above, I even deleted all backups, even the ones not related to that phone, but the error persisted.

I found a solution in a comment to the thread iPhone could not backup because backup file was corrupt or not compatible, fix, more details in a following comment. Here’s what to do, summarized:

(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.)

  • Close iTunes
  • Make sure your Explorer displays hidden files
  • Go to C:\Users\username\AppData\Roaming\Apple Computers\MobileSync\backup
  • Delete everything there (or move it somewhere else, to be on the safe side)

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.

  • In newer versions of iTunes from the Microsoft Store, the path in question is `C:\Users\<username>\Apple\MobileSync\Backup`.
    – fefrei
    Nov 12, 2021 at 12:31

The following is the solution if you are getting the corrupt backup error during a sync or backup in iTunes (during a sync, the sync is just triggering a backup):

During a sync or backup, deleting the backup is the way to go, and iTunes will create a new one from scratch. However, the original poster has the additional issue that the backup isn't appearing in iTunes.

@doncherry has the correct idea -- if iTunes isn't listing your backup in the Preferences->Devices list, then you need to delete the backup manually. He has pointed out the location to look in Windows. On a Mac, the backups are stored in

/Users/<your username>/Library/Application Support/MobileSync/Backup

Open Finder, (hold the option key on OSX Lion or higher), and select Library from the Go menu. This will open the Application Support folder, and from there, go to MobileSync -> Backup. In the backup folder, there will be one or more folders named by your devices' unique identifiers.

In iTunes, click on the Serial Number in the Info tab for your device, and the Serial Number field will switch to your device identifier. Match the identifier you see there to a folder name in the MobileSync -> Backup folder. Delete that folder!

If you are getting the corrupt backup error during a restore in iTunes, clearly deleting the backup isn't going to help you get your data restored ;)!

I'm the lead developer on a program called Decipher Backup Repair, which is why I know and care so much about iTunes backup and restore errors ;) Decipher Backup Repair will scan your corrupt or damaged iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch backup for errors and fix the problems in the backup so you can restore in iTunes. You can download the free trial from our website to see what it can find in your backup.


(Clearly, I stand to benefit from the links I am posting in this answer, as the author of the software. However, I wanted to give both sides of the issue, corrupted backups during the backup process, and corrupted backups during the restore process. Anyone is also welcome to follow the links above and navigate to our support page to send us an email if you have questions about your corrupted backup. Feel free to mention my name directly: Kelly.)

  • I'd also like to append an easy way to get to your backup folder on various Windows OS'es: Go to Start->Run (or search on Windows 8) and type %appdata% (with the percents.) Press enter and a file browser will open to the Application Data folder for your user. Navigate to Apple Computer -> MobileSync -> Backup, and you'll see your backup folders.
    – Kelly
    Aug 22, 2014 at 17:00
  • I ran into this problem after migrating from an older system that had 2 filesystems, one SSD and the other a HD. The backups were on the HD, while the user directories were on the SSD. During migration only the SSD files were copied over for some reason. The file ~/Library/Application Support/MobileSync/Backup was an alias to the old hard drive. After deleting that file it was possible to do backups.
    – ThomasW
    Jul 10, 2020 at 13:54

I had this issue also, but there were no backups listed in Preferences. My solution revolved around not having my external hard drive connected, which is where iTunes was storing my iPhone backup files. Connecting the hard drive solved the issue.


I had the same problem : can't restore a previous backup, even using right click on my iphone in iTunes.

I had a good backup in the directory :

C:\Documents and Settings\myuser\Application Data\Apple Computer\MobileSync\Backup but iTunes didn't detect it.

So I copied the full "Backup" directory in another location (copied, not moved) Then I create a new iphone with Itunes after restoring ipsw file, given the same name as it has previously.

I did a sync+backup.

At the end I checked the "Backup" directory and saw that Itunes recreated the same folder as the one I had copied earlier.

This time in Ituens when I right click my iphone, I have the menu "restore from backup". But before select this option, I just renamed the new created directory in Backup to xxx.old , and copy back the saved one (the one with same name) into the C:\Documents and Settings\franckca\Application Data\Apple Computer\MobileSync\Backup directory.

When the restoration was done, I recovered my last backup.

Hope this helps.


I also ran into this issue. Turns out after I made the backup of my iPhone, Windows defender detected a file from one of the apps that I had downloaded as a malware. When I looked into the file, it indeed was a malware however removing it from the back up directory cause the restoration process to fail repeatedly.

It wasn't until I restored the file back in the backup directory that the restoration completed successfully. I would highly recommend to disable antivirus and malware detection programs while doing iPhone backup and restoration.

Hope this helps.


I've had this happen 2-3 times in the last few years when doing processor intensive tasks while iTunes was backing up my phone. Deleting the corrupt backup, rebooting the computer and backing up the iPhone again took care of the problem.

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