I got my Mac OS10.8.2, last month (Jan 2013), I had backup one iPhone using iTunes "Backup Up Now". Yesterday I did another backup again. But my Jan 2013 backup has not found in the Restore record. Is it auto merge?

I go to ~/Library/Application Support/MobileSync/Backup/[ID] only got 1 record which is last modified by yesterday date.

How do I retrieve my January record?

The reason why I need my January record is my photo. Jan - Backup my iPhone (with 1 years photo), due to full to photo cannot take more picture into the iPhone storage. After backup, I removed all the photo. Jan - Feb: I take around 1000 new photos. Feb - Yesterday my iPhone sleep button got problem, I need to claim warranty, then I backup again. Then I found only 1 record in my restore record.

However, I can see my iPad got few records with date listed beside it.

Anyone can explain to me what is going on to iTunes, am I able to restore back Jan backup record?


1 Answer 1


iTunes stores the most recent backup of your iPhone in ~/Library/Application Support/MobileSync/Backup/[ID] iTunes does not keep any history of your iPhone backups. It is a copy of the current state of your photos and other data on the iPhone.

To recover an earlier version of your iPhone backup relies on however you backup your Mac.

Time Machine backups include the MobileSync folders. So you could retrieve an old iPhone backup from Time Machine, replacing the current backup in ~/Library/Application Support/MobileSync/Backup/[ID], and then restore your iPhone. This would, of course, replace all your current photos (and other data) with that from the old backup. Probably, not quite what you want.

I suggest using iBackupBot which is able to open any folder on your Mac containing iPhone backups. So find an old iPhone backup in Time Machine, retrieve the whole folder to your Desktop (or somewhere convenient) and open it with iBackupBot. Your photos will be in the Media/DCIM/100Apple/ folder. You can then extract these to your Mac.

If you don't want to use additional software (like iBackupBot) then you can find your photos in the ~/Library/Application Support/MobileSync/Backup/[ID] folder of an old backup. The files have cryptic names and no file type, but your photos are all there - just hard to find. Sorting by size might help you get to the right files.

If you use some other backup method for your Mac, then use that to find and retrieve the old backup folder.

If you don't backup your Mac, or don't backup the MobileSync folder, then I am sorry to say you have lost them.

In future, I suggest you transfer all photos from the iPhone to your Mac using, for example, iCloud and Photo Stream.

Additional: No backup of Mac hard disk. Not all is lost - perhaps. In January your pictures were on your hard disk. Though they have since been deleted (by a more recent iTunes backup) at least some of the data which was you photo files is probably still there in the free space. This now getting well beyond the original question. Now we are talking about:

How to recover files which have been deleted from the hard disk. There are utilities which can help - for example Disk Drill. But, I think that should be new topic and that may get answers from those with recent experience of file recovery.

  • "iTunes does not keep any history of your iPhone backups", But from iTunes, my iPad showed the date there (PrintScreen: i.sstatic.net/r1qA6.png), how do you explain this. I remember iTunes do have achieve every time it backup, but sometimes got sometimes do not have it. I also checked in /Library/Application Support/MobileSync/Backup/[ID],it actually got few folder with same id + date and time at the end of the folder name.
    – Shiro
    Commented Mar 5, 2013 at 6:20
  • The only time iTunes makes a new backup folder is when you have done a major update of your iPhone. The old backup is kept in case you decide to go back to the old version of iOS. In our screenshot you have 5 devices. I don't know why some of them have so many backups unless you have made any copies of the [ID] backup folders. There are other Ask Different questions about how to keep multiple backups. In my answer I concentrated on your need to recover lost photos.
    – Gilby
    Commented Mar 5, 2013 at 9:37
  • I consider that one is major backup also, I backup first before deleted my photo, then 2nd time, I had taken around 1k new photos. I did the second backup. The size is around 10GB different. Ain't this is major backup? *My Mac does not have Time Machine. Is it possible to use iBackupBot?
    – Shiro
    Commented Mar 5, 2013 at 10:01
  • I did not made any copies of the [ID] backup folder, it was created by iTunes, this is the reason I am confuse, how come sometimes got, sometimes does not have. I show you another print screen for the folder name. i.sstatic.net/kdfFv.jpg
    – Shiro
    Commented Mar 5, 2013 at 14:37
  • iBackupBot will find all your backups. The Date Modified (and file name for some of them) tells you when they were made. But none have a January date.
    – Gilby
    Commented Mar 5, 2013 at 20:30

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