A backup is a snapshot of the current state of your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch.
Apple restricts direct access to the data stored on your iPhone, iPad or iPod. This is meant as a safeguard to protect your privacy. Because of this, quite a bit of your data can only be accessed via a backup, not directly from the device itself. In short, backups keep your data safe on your computer, and let you access data which isn't directly available when you connect your iPhone or iPad to your computer.
Backing up an Apple iOS device is not equivalent to copying your files. Apple's iOS backup format is 'flattened': each file is assigned an ID which will be used as a a file name on the computer, and all files go to the same backup folder. The files do not have human friendly filenames, or file extensions. In short, it's impossible to know what a file is by looking at it's name.
This is where tools like iMazing are needed. iMazing creates a virtual reconstruction of your backup. From there, you can easily preview the files, or extract them to your computer.
An iOS backup contains the following datasets and settings:
|Datasets||Accounts, settings, other|
For more information, see What data is included in an iOS backup?
The device 'decides' itself what is backed up and what isn't (well, Apple does via iOS). iMazing cannot control the backup process itself, but it brings several key enhancements to the table:
iTunes maintains only one backup per device. Every time you back up your device, your last backup is overwritten, potentially resulting in data loss.
iMazing 2 archives your backups automatically, a unique solution that is comparable to Time Machine, but for your iOS device.
iMazing makes a 'shallow' copy of your current backups, so that the next time you backup, you still have access to your previous backup, and only the files which have changed take up disk space.
Precise numbers depends on the frequency of backups and on how much new data you generate. But, on average you'll be able to keep dozens of backups for about twice the disk space of a normal backup.
For more information, see Backup Options in iMazing.
For instructions on how to back up your device, see How to backup an iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch to your Mac or PC computer?
Backup locations are set per device. You can back up your iPhone locally on your hard drive, and your iPad on an external drive or NAS.
You can change your device's backup location from the Device Options Window.
For more information, see How to backup an iPhone or iPad to an external drive, or another location?
Some datasets can be accessed directly from your device, whilst others can only be accessed via a backup. In order to access and display all of your data, iMazing needs to backup your device.
|requires a backup||can be accessed without a backup|
💡 Voice Memos only require a backup up on iOS 15 and above.
By default, iMazing will display the current state of your device. To view the contents of an earlier backup, open the Backup List from the upper toolbar.
For more information, see How to view the contents of an iPhone or iPad's backup?
When you restore a backup, you can:
With iMazing, you can restore the entirety of your backup, or choose what datasets and/or apps you would like to restore. You can also restore a backup to multiple devices in one go.
For more information, see How to restore an iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch from an iTunes backup?
You can export an iPhone or iPad backup from iMazing and choose a location where you want to save it.
Export the latest backup:
💡 Tip: You can also drag out any device from iMazing's sidebar to export the latest backup
Export a particular backup version:
You can import an iPhone or iPad backup in iMazing to browse its content, restore or edit it.
💡 Tip: You can also drag in a backup folder to iMazing's sidebar to import it in iMazing
Since iMazing maintains multiple backups of your device, you have the option to delete a single backup, or all backups of that device.
To delete a single backup:
To delete all backups:
Backups are read-only by default. Clicking the Edit button creates a ‘shallow’ copy of your backup which barely uses any disk space and keeps your original backup safe.
Editable backups appear in the sidebar, tagged with the Edit icon:
For more information, see How to edit an iPhone or iPad's backup?
❗Important: Backup editing is an advanced feature only recommended for advanced users.