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Home / Tips and Tricks / Create an archived backup of your current iOS version so you can restore it after a downgrade «iOS & iPhone :: Gadget Hacks

Create an archived backup of your current iOS version so you can restore it after a downgrade «iOS & iPhone :: Gadget Hacks



If you want to try out Apple’s beta program on your iPhone – whether that’s by becoming a developer, joining the public beta, or using an IPSW from an available beta update – there’s always a possibility you’ll want to go back to the stable iOS version you were using before. Likewise, if you updated to the latest stable release, but liked how iOS worked on the previous version.

If you want to immediately downgrade from a beta, you’ll want to have an archived backup of your latest stable iOS version on hand to restore to. To immediately downgrade from the last stable iOS update on your iPhone, you want to have an archived backup of the previous iOS version you were on.

Anyway, if you have an archived backup of the latest iOS version, you can restore it once you go back to that iOS version. But it is only useful if Apple still signs the iOS version you want to downgrade to as restoring images is completely useless after removing them from Apple lineup.

When you want to leave an iOS beta or new release

The easy way to ditch an iOS beta from your iPhone is to wait. If you installed an iOS beta profile from the Apple Beta Software Program or Developer Program, you can simply delete that profile and wait for Apple to release a new stable iOS update, which should appear in “Software Update”

;.

However, that method is flawed as you have to wait for a stable update that is later than the current version you have. That means you will stay in the beta until Apple pushes out the stable version of the beta update you are currently using. You probably want to downgrade immediately, so that makes no sense.

If you want to downgrade from beta right away – or downgrade from the latest stable release before Apple stops signing the previous stable version – you’ll need to use a recovery image in IPSW format.

The recovery image method works no matter how you installed the software you no longer want. You will find the correct IPSW file for the specific iPhone model you have and the stable iOS version you want, then use recovery mode in iTunes or Finder to install it on your iPhone. You can then restore with an archive backup.

Why an archived backup is important

The only way to downgrade and restore all your data to iPhone is to use an archived backup. When using iCloud backup, it backs up your system daily if possible, but only some data – and iCloud backups cannot be archived. So if you are using the beta version or the latest stable update, it will continuously back up the beta or the latest stable version. You can’t use that to recover all your data after downgrading as it probably has newer features that are not supported.

To get a full backup, you need to use iTunes or Finder. But just backing up with iTunes or Finder isn’t good enough.

Whenever you have made a backup, chances are you connect your iPhone to your computer and inadvertently update it in the background to the iOS version you want to delete. If you are recovering with an IPSW, this can happen right after you connect it to the computer to install it. By default, only one backup per device is stored on your computer, so your iPhone will be overwritten with every backup. So after a downgrade, you cannot use that backup to restore your data.

An archived backup is set aside as a separate backup, independent of your normal backup. That way, if you downgrade from an iOS beta or the latest stable release to an older stable version, you can use the archived backup to restore your data, as long as it is backed up from a signed stable iOS. version older than the software that is downgrading from.

When you need to archive a backup

The ideal time to create an archived backup is right before installing beta software or a new iOS update. That way, it contains all your files and data up to that point, and this is the point you will return to after the restore.

If you use iCloud to store pictures and other files, anything you sync with iCloud during a beta period will still be displayed after you restore it to an earlier iOS version. However, if you keep everything on your iPhone, some content, such as photos and videos, cannot be recovered, so you’ll want to save it somewhere before you downgrade.

Archive a backup on macOS Catalina and above

After backing up your iPhone to your Mac as you normally would (see how to back up if you need help with that) – be it an encrypted or unencrypted local backup – make sure your iPhone is connected and visible in Finder. On the General page, click on “Manage backups …” to see all backups stored on your computer.

Find the backup you want, right-click on it and choose ‘Archive’. There should now be a date next to the device name to indicate that it is currently archived. Newer backups are made to a new file, which will also appear in this menu.

When it comes time to restore your data with iTunes after downgrading, you should be able to select your archived backup just like you would select a regular backup.

Archive a backup on macOS Mojave and earlier

After backing up your iPhone to your Mac as you normally would (see how to back up if you need help with that) – be it an encrypted or unencrypted local backup – make sure your iPhone is connected and visible in iTunes.

Now click on “iTunes” in the menu bar, then on “Preferences” and choose the “Devices” tab. Find the backup you want, right-click on it and choose ‘Archive’. A lock and a date should appear next to the backup to indicate that it has been archived. Newer backups are made to a new file, which is also shown in this menu.

When it comes time to restore your data with iTunes after downgrading, you should be able to select your archived backup just like you would select a regular backup.

Archive a backup on Windows

For some reason, Apple has not included the simple “Archive” feature for iTunes in Windows, so to archive a backup, you have to find the backup file and move or rename it. After backing up your iPhone with iTunes on your PC, close iTunes (see how to back up if you need help with that). Now if you’re using Windows 10, navigate to:

C:User[yourusername]AppleMobileSyncBackup

If you are using an older version of Windows, try:

C:Users[yourusername]AppDataRoamingApple ComputerMobileSyncBackup

Then find the correct update folder. Although the file names are completely random, if you just backed up your iPhone, you can identify the correct folder based on the last modified date. Select it, copy it and paste the copy as another folder in “Backup”. You can rename the copied version to make it easier to identify later. We recommend adding it with -xxx-archive-yyyymmdd-hummss, where “xxx” is the iOS version so you know exactly when the file was created and what iOS version it is.

The next time you update your iPhone with iTunes, the data in the original folder will be overwritten, so your iOS beta will use that now. Your archived backup will be neatly stored for a rainy day. You can go to “Edit”, click “Preferences” and then click “Devices” to see your list of backups. The original and archived backup have the same name, but you should be able to tell the difference by the date when it is time to restore your data after downgrading.

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Cover photo and screenshots by Justin Meyers / Gadget Hacks

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