How do i restore an old MAC iphone back up from inside iTunes using a PC

Posted on 2011-02-14
Last Modified: 2012-05-11
I have an older MacBook with a full backup of an iPhone that i need to restore onto a replacement iPhone without upgrading the MacBook to make it compatible with the new handset.
How do i/can i rip the itunes backup from the MacBook and load it onto a PC which I can upgrade to the latest version of iTunes then restore the user data ?
Are the file formats even compatible ? Am I locked into a MAC upgrade at this point ?

Full story below....

Corporate dignitary had an issue with one of his family's  iPhone (3GS) -  'no SIM card' issue. ATT changed the SIM card which failed to fix the problem.
Apple genius asked that i change the SIM card despite showing him the receipt showing i had done exactly that 20 minutes earlier. Second genius decided that it was simply dirty contacts and so used a can of air to blow out any offending dust, to no effect and so genius number three was called over. There were more Apple staff that customers on this day as this coincided with the launch of the Verizon iPhone with few in store buyers it seems.
Anyway after three geniuses and two other staff it was decided that a new phone was required and so as 'Apple isnt responsible for any users data' i had to locate the users machine that this was synched to.
Day later I go back to the Genius Bar and ensure that i have the phone backed up and they hand me the new phone at which point they are stunned that i want to restore the back up and test the phone while i am at the store.
Lo and behold the phone requires a newer version of iTunes and so genius 1 says not a problem after i explained that i have already trashed my daughters iPod with an 'upgrade to nowhere' on an older Macbook and can we check before we go ahead. Genius 2 tells me its routine and automatic so the iTunes version upgrade is downloaded but then fails to install as it requires a newer version of the Mac OS. I ask genius 1 & 2 to explain how after explaining the upgrade to nowhere issue we are in this mess.
The answer is simple i just need to upgrade the Mac OS at a cost of around $200.
I ask genius 1 & 2 if the MacBook can actually support the new OS in its current configuration and as expected it cannot so i now need a memory upgrade as well.
Looking at the new OS before I go into that process I see that the barest minimum spec is the maximum that this machine can be expanded to which would also requires a severe hard disk cleansing or larger drive installed.
At that point we are probably $500 into the upgrade process to basically replace a faulty phone under warranty.
The shop manager seeing this confused mass of geniuses trying to resolve an issue to the amusement of the customers and recognizing that this is not exactly a selling point decides to intervene to tell me that it wouldnt be any different with my Blackberry !
Well head genius let me show you the 'Enterprise Activation Feature' ...the response ? Wow thats pretty cool !
Question by:dsam1961
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Expert Comment

ID: 34892366
It's a good question...

On a Mac, the iPhone backups will live in HOME/Library/Application Support/MobileSync/Backup

In that directory will be other directories whose names look like GUIDs, (e.g.:  e21225a623fcadfd524715fddc262e366818938e ),
these contain the backup files.  You'll probably need to use the file dates to figure out what you need.

As for whether you can move them to a PC iTunes install... I don't know.
Presumably, you could try to copy it (the appropriate GUID directory) to the PC, under C:\Documents and Settings\USERNAME\Application Data\Apple Computer\MobileSync\Backup

IF, and this might be a big IF, iTunes recognizes it, (you could tell by going into the iTunes preferences, devices tab, and seeing if that device backup shows up in the list) you could try plugging in the iPhone and attempting to recover from that backup.

Of course, assuming this works, at that point the iPhone is now going to be sync'd with the PC, and not the MacBook.  You may still have to upgrade iTunes (and thus Mac OS X) on the MacBook in order to sync the phone with it.

My unsolicited opinion:  upgrade the MacBook... it's the path of least resistance and headache, and keeps you from chasing this other path with the PC which may or may not work.

Author Comment

ID: 34892443
Thanks for the advice and I know that probably throwing some cash at the issue would resolve things quickly,  problem for me is that I am committing someone else to spending the cash as this isnt my Macbook. The machine in question belongs to a family member of one of the senior level people where I work so its really a damned if you do damned if you dont scenarios.
Just makes it really tough to resolve as Apple really havent resolved this issue for corporate level clients as one2one synchronizing is really a flaw but it clearly from the sales numbers doesnt seem to bother that many people.
I have seen a 'genius' trash an iPod and now an iPhone with this process but there is nothing that i can do about it unfortunately.

Expert Comment

ID: 34892514
Oh, I was aware it's not yours...  don't you just love fixing someone else's family members problems?  (My boss routinely brings me her kids' (3!) laptops to fix... at least she usually bribes me with a bottle of wine.:P)

The problem is, and you can run this up the flagpole to the senior person...  their MacBook, as is, CANNOT solve the problem.

So their choice is :
a) assuming that moving the backup to a PC works, which is by no means a sure thing, they have to sync with the PC from now on
b) pay to upgrade their MacBook, which at least we know will solve the problem.

So... damned if you do, damned if you don't...  however (at least in my experience), senior people who bring in family laptops for you to fix should be at least willing to listen to your recommendations, even if it involves spending some money, because they clearly can't deal with it themselves and they brought it to you for your knowledge.

Not that this helps you deal with them, of course. :)

But again, even if you get it to work with the PC, then that still would require that the iPhone be wiped and restored (AGAIN) to get it to work with the MacBook, which still isn't going to work without spending some money.  The PC thing is a dead end.  To get it to work with their MacBook, they're going to have to spend the money to upgrade.  They'd have to upgrade it if they got a newer iPhone model too...
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Author Comment

ID: 34893014
Not being a MAC guy as you can probably tell what about the issue of this needing effectively a new MAC as upgrading the old one isnt actually worth it even medium there a way of moving all of the iTunes data easily to a virtual environment where I can then just drag it back to the new machine.
I use carbonite pro at the office to do this with my remote users and have found that its a pretty cost effective way to accommodate traveling teams that often loose hardware or insist on saving data locally for that presentation just prior to loosing the entire machine.
Wondering is i use Carbonite to back the machine up then restore onto a newer MAC which can then populate the phone which I hand back as working leaving the decision to somebody else to make fact thats the solution to this ;)

Expert Comment

ID: 34893072
If you just copy the entire user directory over to a new machine, it will accomplish that.

Accepted Solution

rodness earned 500 total points
ID: 35357853
I gave plenty of suggestions for moving iTunes data, both in the beginning and when the question changed.

Author Comment

ID: 36328380
Sorry for not attending to this sooner it had dropped off the radar as other items caught fire.
The solution was the mac upgrade unfortunately but it did work.

Author Closing Comment

ID: 36328389
Problem was resolved by doing what I had sought to avoid although other users did give me some really useful pointers in terms of how the files were stored for my own future reference.

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