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How to Fix a Corrupt iPhone Backup in iTunes

Kelly Wilkerson, Co-Founder of Decipher Media
Kelly Wilkerson

Categories: iTunes, iPhone, Corrupt iPhone Backup | View Comments

How to fix a corrupt iPhone backup - fix iTunes iPhone corrupt or not compatible error

iTunes reports many iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch backup errors in the same two ways:

  • "iTunes could not back up the iPhone because the backup was corrupt or not compatible with the iPhone."
  • "iTunes could not restore the iPhone because the backup was corrupt or not compatible with the iPhone that is being restored."

(Both of these messages and the advice below are applicable to iPad and iPod Touch as well!)

These iTunes error messages unfortunately don't tell you how to fix the corrupt backup error.

We're going to list out several methods for fixing the iPhone backup was corrupt or not comptatible message.

The first section provides a solution if you have a corrupt iPhone backup while trying to restore the backup.

The second section of this article lists several solutions for fixing the corrupt backup while trying to make a backup of your iPhone.

iTunes showing the error message "iTunes could not restore the iPhone/iPad/iPod because the backup was corrupt or not compatible with the iPhone that is being restored."

iPhone Backup is Corrupt or Not Compatible Error During a Restore

If you see "iTunes could not restore the iPhone because the backup was corrupt or not compatible with the iPhone that is being restored." then we need to fix the bugs that made your iPhone backup corrupt. We put this section first, because there's a lot of bad advice online saying to delete the backup. That advice is fine if you're trying to make a backup, but not for restoring, because that data you need is in the backup! (Please don't delete it!)

Over the years of working with iPhone data, we noticed a lot of glitches in iTunes backups. We developed Decipher Backup Repair after seeing that people were getting errors trying to restore their iPhone/iPad/iPod backup, and there wasn't any solution to fix the corrupt backups.

If you are seeing an error during a restore in iTunes, like the iPhone backup corrupt error message, the solution is to fix the buggy backup with Decipher Backup Repair. Decipher Backup Repair automatically reviews corrupt iPhone/iPad/iPod backups for errors and fixes the problems in the backup so you can restore in iTunes. You can to preview the corrupt iPhone backup repair process, and then purchase a license code to complete the repairs.

Download Decipher Backup Repair

What you'll need:

How to fix the iPhone backup corrupt message in iTunes:

First, use Decipher Backup Repair to analyze the corrupt iPhone backup:

  1. Run Decipher Backup Repair, and select your corrupt iPhone backup from the list of iTunes backups.
  2. Click "Repair It!" to start the fixing the broken backup.
  3. Review the list of repairs to your corrupt iPhone backup then press "Next".
  4. Enter your Decipher Backup Repair license code to register the software.
  5. Wait until you see the "Time to Restore" screen with the iTunes instructions.

Analyzing problems that cause the iPhone backup corrupt error message

Next, restore the new repaired backup in iTunes:

  1. Open iTunes, and select your iPhone/iPad/iPod.
  2. Click "Restore Backup".
  3. Select the "Decipher Repaired" version of your backup.

Selecting to restore new repaired backup in iTunes

Decipher Backup Repair fixes corrupt iPhone backups in a few steps, first showing you information from an initial scan and overview of the backup. Then it will perform a full scan of your iPhone/iPad backup, reporting the problems in the iPhone backup as they are discovered.

Here's a video walkthrough I made showing how to fix the iPhone backup corrupt error message in iTunes:

iPhone Backup is Corrupt or Not Compatible Error During a Sync or Backup

This is an annoying one, because we're trying to make the backup! But the reason you see this error is that there is a problem with the previous backup of the iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch, and iTunes typically just updates the backups instead of making an entirely new backup. This is usually nice, since a full backup takes quite a long time. The solution is to remove your existing backup so that iTunes is forced to create the backup from scratch.

Here's how to fix a corrupt iPhone backup that is preventing you from making a backup in iTunes:

First, we can try to delete the backup via the iTunes interface (this works 90% of the time.)

  1. Open the Preferences window. On Windows, press the Alt key if you do not see a menu bar in iTunes. From the Edit menu, select Preferences. On Mac, choose Preferences from the iTunes menu option at the top of the screen.
  2. Select the Devices section of the Preferences window.
  3. Find your device in the backup listing and select to delete the backup.

If you didn't see your corrupt backup in the iTunes list, then delete the corrupt backup manually:

  1. Open the folder of iPhone, iPad, and iPod backups.

    For Windows users, the fastest way to get to your iPhone backup folders is:

    (Windows 7/Vista/XP) Start > Run > type %appdata% (with the percents) and press return.

    (Windows 8/10) Search > type %appdata% (with the percents) and press return.

    From the folder that opens, navigate to Apple Computer > MobileSync > Backup.

    For Mac users, the fastest way to get to your iPhone backup folders is:

    Open Finder, (hold the option key on OS X Lion or higher), and select Library from the Go menu. This will open your user account's Library folder.

    From Library, navigate to Application Support > MobileSync > Backup.

  2. In the backup folder, there will be one or more folders named by your devices' unique identifiers.

  3. In iTunes, click on Serial Number in the Summary section for your iPhone. The Serial Number field will switch to your iPhone's UDID. Reveal the iPhone UDID in iTunes by clicking on the Serial Number label

  4. Match the UDID you see in iTunes to a folder name in the MobileSync > Backup folder.

  5. Delete that folder! Or, if you're uneasy about deleting the backup, just rename the folder to any other name.

If you're still unable to make a backup due to the iPhone backup corrupt error:

  1. In the file browser window from the previous step, go back to the MobileSync folder.
  2. Rename the folder Backup to OldBackup.
  3. Create a new folder and name it exactly Backup.

If you're still getting the iPhone backup corrupt message after all of the above, you can contact us and we can help look into the specifics of your corrupt iPhone backup.

Special note for older iPhone models: iTunes 12 seems to no longer support the backup protocol used for iOS 4 and lower. So if you're trying to backup or restore an older iPod or iPhone, the latest iTunes may be causing your problems. If you have access to an older computer running iTunes 11 or lower, give that a try (without updating iTunes if asked!) Be sure to leave a comment to let us know if that worked for you!