It is not always evident how to save iOS applications to a computer. Even more so, after restoring apps back to the iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch, not everyone is sure whether the app data is conserved and restored.
The following is a quick demonstration of two methods used to backup iPhone apps and app data to computer.
- Transfer iOS apps to PC via iTunes
- Backup iPhone app data via iTunes
- Backup iPhone apps using iCloud
Transfer iOS apps to PC via iTunes
iTunes allows you to back up individual iOS apps into IPA files to your PC. To do so:
- Run iTunes and connect your iPhone or iPad
- With iTunes window in focus, press the ALT key on your keyboard. The menu bar appears on top. Navigate to “View > Show Sidebar”
- Right-click on your iOS device and click “Transfer purchases”. Accept the subsequent iTunes prompts and if needed, use your Apple ID and password to authorize your PC
- The iPhone app files are transferred to the computer in the form of IPA files. This folder is called “Mobile Applications” and exists within your iTunes Media Folder.
NOTE: The “iTunes Media” folder and “Mobile Applications” folder locations where IPA app files are transferred to vary slightly with different versions of Windows (or Mac).
- Windows 8, 7: \username\My Music\iTunes
- Windows Vista: \username\Music\iTunes
- Windows XP: \Documents and Settings\username\My Documents\My Music\iTunes
- Mac OS X: /Users/Music/iTunes/iTunes Media
Backup iPhone app data via iTunes
To back up iOS app data to your computer with iTunes, you’d need to effectuate a full iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch backup (also called iOS backup). The iOS backups are holistic which means that they contain a complete image of your iDevice (excluding multimedia contents in the Music app.
To back up iPhone with iTunes:
- Run iTunes and connect the iPhone
- Select your iPhone from the top right
- From the Summary tab, click “Back up Now”
Your iPhone app data will be backed up along with the iPhone settings, and other data such as emails, text messages etc. iOS backups are encrypted and can only be restored back to the iPhone via iTunes.
You can find the iOS backup location on your PC as indicated below.
- Windows Vista, Windows 7, and Windows 8: \Users\(username)\AppData\Roaming\Apple Computer\MobileSync\Backup\
- Windows XP: \Documents and Settings\(username)\Application Data\Apple Computer\MobileSync\Backup\
- Mac: /Library/Application Support/MobileSync/Backup/
Restoring app data to the iPhone or another iOS device via the backup made with iTunes will bring back the device settings, messages, contacts and other contents to a previous state as they existed on the date of the backup.
Backup iPhone apps using iCloud
You can back up iOS app data easily via iCloud. If you already have an iCloud account, simply navigate to the iCloud settings on the iPhone by going to Settings > iCloud > Storage & Backup > Manage Storage.
Next, tap on the iOS device.
From the following screen, you can select which app data to backup.
Finally, tap the “Back” button twice to return to “Storage & Backup” and tap “Back Up Now”.
Both iTunes and iCloud backups should work at 100% - this is in a perfect world of course. There’s always something which could go wrong with the backups so be sure to have your iOS apps and app data backed up by at least two alternative methods (for example, both by iCloud and iTunes) at the same time.