iOS Device Backup

23 01 2014

iOS devices, particularly the iPad, are more often used for working on documents with Apple’s iWork suite, storing relevant information in databases, using mind mapping tools for brainstorming, etc.

So the data stored by apps should be backed up to prevent data loss.

Apple’s backup strategy …

Apple offers two versions of complete device backups, via iTunes and via iCloud. Both backups are contain all data of your device and, in case of a device’s malfunctioning, can be used to restore the complete device.

Please read again: The complete device.

It’s not possible to extract the data of a single app which was deleted before because of an operation error or in case of a necessary re-installation.

An exception would be if the app supports iCloud and it’s data are stored there. If the app then is re-installed it might get it’s data back from iCloud. This depends on the app and has to be proven before deleting an app with the help of the developers manual or support.

A further exception would be an app supporting cloud access like the mind mapping tool iThoughts. This app supports Dropbox and all the locally managed mind maps should be additionally saved on your Dropbox account to seamlessly get them back if the app was deleted.

Keep in mind that iOS always stores app specific data in app specific folders which means that the data stored on the device get lost if the app is deleted.

20131029-192818.jpg

For apps which do not support iCloud or any other cloud storage you have to save data manually by connecting your device to a computer with an installed version of iTunes and save the data from within the File Sharing section of iTunes to your local hard drive.

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That’s the only way to restore data for this kind of apps.
There are some tools available for restoring app specific data as mentioned under ‘Related links’ but these tools are not supported by Apple and so it’s off topic for my blog. It’s always a risk to use such tools. It might work or it might go wrong. So it’s your decision to use them.

Device failure …

If you no longer have access to your device because it’s locked or the operating system malfunctions you have to Recover your device.

20131029-191108.jpg

Please refer to my article

Recovery

iTunes or iCloud …

See this mind map to decide whether you should prefer backups via iTunes or iCloud. It’s recommended to use both backup procedures if you use your iOS device for creating valuable content.

20131223-145126.jpg

Feel free to download this map from my Box account.

The alternative file formats have been created with iThoughts HD for iPad (.ITMZ file format). Compatibility to other tools is limited. The DOCX file format is suggested for those who don’t use a mind mapping tool. The file contains the image as well as a detailed outline of all topics.

Application File format
Adobe Reader PDF
Apple iWork/Microsoft Office DOCX
iThoughts ITMZ
MindManager MMAP
XMind XMIND

Using a backup password …

Ising a password is highly recommended. If you don’t use it sensitive data like E-Mail account information, saved WiFi access credentials, or iTunes account information is not stored in the backup files.

But keep in mind …

If you encrypt an iOS device backup in iTunes and forget your password, you will not be able to restore and your data will be unrecoverable.

If you cannot remember the password and want to start again, you must perform a full software restore and when iTunes prompts you to select the backup from which to restore, choose set up as a new device.

Location of iTunes backups …

The folder where your backup data are stored depends on the computer’s operating system. Make sure the backup folder is included in your periodic backup of your computer.

iTunes stores the backup files here:

Mac
home/Library/Application Support/MobileSync/Backup/

Windows Vista, 7, 8
\Users\(username)\AppData\Roaming\Apple Computer\MobileSync\Backup\

Apple’s backup files are XML files. Any manipulation of the folder’s content may destroy the backup.

Summary …

Better sage than sorry. So an iCloud backup should regularly be completed by an iTunes backup.
Sad to say that this is a task which cannot be done if you move into the Post-PC era.

Related links …

Recovery

Troubleshooting

McBackup, backup of contacts

Every app is an iLand

iOS Backup Extractor

Thanks for stopping by.





Mac Back

25 03 2013

If you use iCloud contacts can be automatically synced across your other iOS devices. Go to Settings – iCloud – Contacts and switch the slider to ON.

For backing up your contacts you can use iCloud or iTunes backup or sync your contacts e.g. with Microsoft Outlook. The disadvantage of iCloud backups as well as iTunes backups is that you cannot restore contacts (or other app specific files) separately. Apple’s backup system allows only to restore the whole device.

So in some cases it’s useful to backup the contacts separately.
To do so you need an app and it would be nice to have some additional features like Deleting Duplicates. Duplicates may occur if syncing via iCloud failed for any reason.

Here is an app available at Apple’s App Store which makes you independent of iTunes and iCloud.

My Contacts Backup Pro
by GLOBILE BILISIM BILGISAYAR HIZMETLERI ILETISIM DANISMANLIK SANAYI TICARET LIMITED SIRKETI

Note
This was not written by a child when exploring iPad’s keyboard it’s just the company name of the developer. It’s like my last name when multiplying the number of characters by 5.33.

The app has a plain and simple user interface with meaningful help text.
I myself use it since more than one year without any problem.

Here are the features …

  • Backup contacts using vCard or CSV file format
  • Send backup file via E-Mail
  • Save backup file to Dropbox by linking the app with a Dropbox account
  • Restore the generated backup file from within an E-Mail by simply tapping on the attached backup file
  • Transfer of contacts between different iOS devices with different Apple IDs
  • Supported iTunes and WiFi File Sharing
  • Remove duplicate contacts
  • Delete all contacts in Apple’s address book
  • Set reminder to backup regularly

Here is the UI …

20130130-215001.jpg

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Feature requests …

While writing this article I contacted the McBackup support and here are the answers.

Can vcf backup file used for transferring contacts from Android to iOS devices?

Yes it can. iOS and Android platforms support vCard (VCF) since it’s an universal contact file format : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/VCard

But because of following reasons, transferring VCF files between these platforms are not always %100 compatible or successful:

* Now there are 3 different versions (2.1, 3.0 and 4.0) of vCard format and some properties (fields) are not supported on some versions. But all iOS devices Mail clients support vCard 3.0 and some of Android devices (especially) support vCard 2.1. But new Android devices support vCard 3.0

* Device manufacturers use some non-standard (private) fields in their Address Book and vCard supports these private extensions, with an “X-” prefix but transferring these fields between platforms are not always successful. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/VCard#vCard_extensions

Is there any option to encrypt the backup file?

Not yet but we can add an option like this easily such as storing backup file in a pasword protected zip file. But this backup file can not be restored with Mail clients easily. Our solution is very easy and simple because you need any app or program to restore contacts from backup file. But encrypting a backup file needs extra operations and apss.

Managing duplicates …

If you just want to manage duplicates in contacts use the free app OneContact developed by Hasso Plattner Insitute and CAS Software, IT Systems Engineering at the University of Potsdam, Germany.
With this app you can manually resolve conflicts of nearly identical contacts and delete duplicates. The app investigates about 1000 contacts per minute.

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Thanks for reading my blog.





iCloud Backup fails

28 01 2013

The last backup could not be completed.

This message may occur if you back up your iOS-Device on iCloud.
It’s unrewarding like many other error messages shown on any devices.

I get this message every time I delete the last iCloud backup for my iPad or iPhone going to Settings – iCloud – Storage + Backup – Manage Storage – (device name) – Backup options: Delete Backup
It never occurred on any later incremental backup regardless of whether it was started manually or automatically.

At the time you cannot find any support document on Apple’s support website explicitly mentioning this error message.

Apple iCloud: Troubleshooting creating backups

Apple never publishes support documents about not fully investigated issues.

For the protection of our customers, Apple does not disclose, discuss, or confirm security issues until a full investigation has occurred and any necessary patches or releases are available.

So it is not fully investigated and there are many potential reasons for failing backups.
If the involved hard- and software works normally and there is enough free space in iCloud it’s usually a problem of accessing one or more files on the device or on Apple’s servers.

As iCloud backup is an incremental backup access problems are rather likely especially for temporary files created by iOS apps. This problem is well-known also on Windows PCs (Office leaves a temporary beginning with ~).

An incremental backup is one that provides a backup of files that have changed or are new since the last incremental backup; it is one that backs up only the data that changed since the last backup. When a full recovery is needed the restoration process would need the last full backup plus all the incremental backups until the point-in-time of the restoration. Incremental backups consume minimum storage space and are quicker to perform than differential backups.

A test from Jan, 2013 …

The test environment

  • Backup of data of all apps configured
  • iPad and iPhone both connected to power supply
  • Backup size: iPhone 1.9 GB / iPad 2.7 GB
  • Backup started simultaneously on both devices

The results …

20121231-111043.jpg

On both devices the error message was displayed.
After repeating ‘Back Up Now’ the error was still displayed on both devices.
After rebooting both devices and repeating both backups one after another both backups were completed successfully.

Note
While backing up iPhone showed a reminder, got 2 new mails and one phone call.
Nevertheless the backup was completed successfully.

Solutions from forums around the world …

  • Do not include data stored in the Camera Roll
    Settings – iCloud – Storage + Backup – Manage Storage – (device name) – Backup options – switch the slider to off
  • Restore the device from an iTunes backup and start the iCloud backup
  • Exclude data of ALL apps and back up
    Add data of apps back one by one and back up manually to find out the offending app
    Note
    This process may last until Apple presents its new device!

Best practice …

Do not believe all these statements in the forums.
They are all not really verified and based on special prerequisites and therefore not necessarily valid.

I start a manual backup every month since the release of iOS 5 after deleting the backup via Settings – iCloud – Storage + Backup – Manage Storage – (device name) – Backup options: Delete Backup. The following procedure works since more than one year.

Reboot the device and start a backup manually while the device is connected to the power supply and locked. If the backup fails repeat it. If it fails one more time repeat it.
Don’t worry. Retaking a backup will only last some minutes unless there is already stored data of former attempts.

Note
When you back up the device shows an estimated time to finish.
You should know that these minutes are measured in DAMs (Dynamical Apple Minutes).
An Apple Minute may last an old fashioned minute or two or just 30 seconds.

Attachments …

Reducing space of backups

  • Settings – iCloud – Storage + Backup – Manage Storage – (device name) – Backup options: Exclude data of apps you do not need any longer.
  • Settings – iCloud – Storage + Backup – Manage Storage – (device name) – Backup options: Delete Backup
    Current backup sizes: iPhone 1.6 GB/iPad 3.2 GB
    Backup sizes after deletion: iPhone 1.2 GB/iPad 2.5 GB
    Deleting the complete backup for my 2 devices saved 1.1 GB

Rebooting an iOS-Device

Press Sleep/Wake button and Home button simultaneously.
Keep holding the buttons until the Apple logo appears.
Release the buttons.





ROBOCOPY the iOS-Backup

10 01 2013

You can backup your iOS-Devices on iCloud.
If you additionally use iTunes you may want to transfer the complete iTunes-Backup of your devices to another location.

For Windows Vista/7/8-Computers there is a powerful helper app shipped with Windows that can sync one location with another in one direction (source to destination). It’s called ROBOCOPY.exe.

Robocopy, or ‘Robust File Copy’, is a command-line directory replication command. It has been available as part of the Windows Resource Kit starting with Windows NT 4.0, and was introduced as a standard feature of Windows Vista, Windows 7/8 and Windows Server 2008. The command is robocopy.

Features of ROBOCOPY …

  • Ability to tolerate network interruptions and resume copying. (incomplete files are marked with a date stamp of 1980-01-01 and contain a recovery record so Robocopy knows where to continue from)
  • Ability to skip Junction Points which can cause to fail copying in an infinite loop (/XJ)
  • Ability to copy file data and attributes correctly, and to preserve original timestamps, as well as NTFS ACLs, owner information, and audit information using command line switches. (/COPYALL or /COPY:) Copying folder timestamps is also possible in later versions (/DCOPY:T).
    Access control list (ACL), with respect to a computer file system, is a list of permissions attached to an object. An ACL specifies which users or system processes are granted access to objects, as well as what operations are allowed on given objects
  • Ability to assert the Windows NT ‘backup right’ (/B) so an administrator may copy an entire directory, including files denied readability to the administrator.
  • Persistence by default, with a programmable number of automatic retries if a file cannot be opened.
  • A ‘mirror’ mode, which keeps trees in sync by optionally deleting files out of the destination that are no longer present in the source.
  • Ability to skip files that already appear in the destination folder with identical size and timestamp.
  • A continuously updated command-line progress indicator.
  • Ability to copy file and folder names exceeding 256 characters on to a theoretical limit of 32,000 characters without errors.
  • Return code on program termination for batch file usage.

The BATCH-File …

Use this BATCH-File with ROBOCOPY-Commands to do the job.

robocopy "c:\Users\%1\AppData\Local\Apple" "%2:\ios-backup" /mir /purge /tee /log+:c:\Users\%1\AppData\Local\Apple\ROBOCOPY-IOS-DEVICE.log /np
robocopy "c:\Users\%1\AppData\Roaming\Apple Computer" "%2:\ios-backup" /mir /purge /tee /log+:c:\Users\%1\AppData\Local\Apple\ROBOCOPY-IOS-DEVICE.log /np

Add these lines to the BATCH-File if you need some help.

@echo off
cls
echo -------------------------------------------------------------
echo Microsoft ROBOCOPY for transferring iOS-Backups to a location
echo .
echo 2012-12-21 by http://iNotes4You.com
echo -------------------------------------------------------------
rem Windows 7 .......................... Some ROBOCOPY Parameters
rem
rem /MIR Mirrors a directory tree
rem /PURGE Deletes destination files/directorys not in source
rem /XD Excludes directories matching specifies names/paths
rem /tee Write status output to console window+log file
rem /log: Write status output to the log file
rem /np no progress (%-Fortschritt nicht anzeigen, loggen)
rem
rem /XD set this parameter for drive mirroring
rem "g:\RECYCLER"
rem "l:\$RECYCLE.BIN"
rem "g:\WindowsImageBackup"
rem "g:\System Volume Information"
rem -------------------------------------------------------------
rem Parameter %1 .......................... your Windows username
rem %2 .......................... the destination drive
rem -------------------------------------------------------------
pause

The BATCH-File uses two parameters %1 and %2.
Either you modify the file by filling in your Windows username and the destination drive or you start the BATCH-File with the command
ROBOCOPY-IOS-DEVICE.bat username destination
e.g. ROBOCOPY-IOS-DEVICE.bat inotes4you d where d is the drive letter for the destination drive.

20121221-144626.jpg

Notes and some stats ...

Crash Reporter
While robocopying an iOS-Backup you may see files with extension .crash.
When an application stops functioning properly or crashes on an iOS device, a 'Crash Report" is created and stored on the device. Crash reports describe the conditions under which the application terminated, in most cases including a complete stack trace for each executing thread, and are typically very useful for debugging issues in the application.

Then each time you sync your iPhone to a Mac or Windows computer, iTunes transfers the crash log content to your local hard drive. You can locate individual crash log files on your computer and delete them in order to free space on your hard drive and device.

Navigate to the
/Logs/CrashReporter/MobileDevice
directory. Delete all files and sync your device via iTunes.

Some stats
The referred devices in the screenshots are an iPhone 4S (64 GB, 13.5 GB used by apps and data) and an iPad 3 (64 GB, 16.7 GB used).
The complete backup of these two devices is 3.95 GB.
The logs\CrashReporter\MobileDevice\... folder contains 4,113 files with 95,1 MB.
The overall number of files of the two device backups is 15,636.








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