I've had my jailbroken iPad for nearly a year. Over time, I've completely abandoned the idea of connecting it to iTunes at all - it just doesn't seem necessary, it's basically a full fledged computer itself. In addition, with it being the 64gb model, I wouldn't have the space to back up everything I have on there anyhow. Recently I decided to upgrade to 4.2.1, and as a safety net against data loss, I tar'd up the entire contents of the iPad to a USB drive (permissions, soft/hard links and all).

The upgrade was successful, but I'd like to be able to restore applications directly instead of re-downloading them from iTunes and then copying over the data/documents/library directories from my backup. Once caveat of doing things this way is that there may be a newer version of the app now on iTunes and my backup is no longer compatible with it.

What I'd like is to have the ability to restore the app directly to "/private/var/mobile/Applicaitons/[RANDOM HASH OR WHATEVER THIS IS]/". I've tried to do this, but I get a blank icon on the screen that doesn't successfully launch. I assume that during a "normal" application installation, there is some sort of registration process that takes place and that's the part I'm missing.

Can anyone provide some clues as to how the app install process works or shed some light on how I might accomplish a manual install?

  • Do you have installous? and just a point, if you manually install an app, you wont be able to update it through the appstore.
    – eliben
    Commented Jan 27, 2011 at 22:37
  • Yes, but to the best of my knowledge, it can only be used to install IPA files. I'm looking to basically restore an application from a .tar file.
    – MPT
    Commented Jan 28, 2011 at 0:17
  • related: apple.stackexchange.com/questions/5923/…
    – cregox
    Commented Jan 28, 2011 at 11:34
  • The [RANDOM HASH] bit is a unique ID, for app sandboxing purposes.
    – Moshe
    Commented Sep 13, 2011 at 5:12
  • You might just want to wait for the release of iOS 5, which supports wireless iTunes device syncing. And with the introduction of iCloud, you can store all your backups and application files in the cloud. It is also of note that an IPA file is nothing more than a zip file. They contain the Payload (which houses the app, for e.g., Tetris.app), the iTunesMetadata.plist (housing things like name of the app, price, etc.), and the iTunesArtwork (a 512x512 PNG without the file extension).
    – user10355
    Commented Sep 13, 2011 at 10:50

4 Answers 4

  1. Make sure you have appsync and installous from cydia installed on your iPhone, installed from the source
  2. The app has to be a .ipa file. Place the file in /private/var/mobile/documents/installous/downloads.
  3. Open up installous and install from there.

Or use iPhone Explorer as described in this LifeHacker post:

Using iPhone Explorer, you can backup or copy apps (and their settings) to your computer or to other iOS device—and it can do all of that without a jailbreak. To backup system files or default applications, like iOS's built-in calendar, you'll have to jailbreak your iOS device. (Even if you're not interested in backing up apps, iPhone Explorer is still great for mounting your iOS device as a disk.)

  • My goal is to restore a backup of the app's directory from a .tar file (so that all my settings and data are restored), not install a new app.
    – MPT
    Commented Jan 28, 2011 at 0:18
  • have u tried installing the app (as new) and then overwriting the .tar file.
    – eliben
    Commented Jan 28, 2011 at 1:01
  • Or you can use iFile from cydia and locate the app and try to install it.
    – eliben
    Commented Jan 28, 2011 at 1:06
  • @eliben - I have tried installing the app and then overwriting, and this does work in many cases. However, when the app at the App Store is a newer version than the one I had backed up, incompatibilities occasionally arise. This is part of the reason I'm looking for an alternative.
    – MPT
    Commented Jan 28, 2011 at 18:59
  • Try this. lifehacker.com/5747990/…
    – eliben
    Commented Jan 31, 2011 at 21:11

Quoting myself from another answer, this is how I add apps to jailbroken iOS. It's not easy to setup, but it's really simple and easy once you're done:

I believe the best way is using the iPhone Configuration Utility, yet again like that guide from corona. I've confirmed it works just like using the Organizer, but it doesn't need the Xcode. Just download it (this needs a free login, or find another place on the web with that file, v3.2 is about 10Mb), and drag the app / ipa inside your phone. Dealing with licensing the iphone is a whole nother issue (don't you love self promoting?).


I think you mean to restore data to an app and not install a new app right? If you wish you install you can use the methods mentioned but to simply restore data which your backing up yourself you simply need to restore/overwrite the Documents and Library folder of the app in question. It's worked for me numerous times. There may or may not be other folders in the main application folder but so far Documents and Library have been all that's needed. I use Chronus (from Cydia) to backup data from certain apps every onces in a while.


To add to eliben's answer, you can do this directly within your jailbroken iPad at least one way. I like to download stuff with wget directly to my iPad and am able to do this with OpenSSH and a standard regular-AppStore app called prompt which allows me to ssh directly into my iPad ( as root or as the non-root "mobile" user. Password is always alpine by default.

Anyway, to do this one you can use unix's 'cp' or 'mv' functions

root#: cd current/path/of/file
root#: cp file.ipa /private/var/mobile/installous/downloads

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