Tag Archives: read iOS backups without manifest.mbdb file

Recovering data from the iPhone corrupted backups

At times when iTunes couldn’t finish the backup process (USB cable disconnect during backup/iOS upgrade, Power failure during backup), the backup gets corrupted and remains unreadable. As the corrupted backup does not contain meta files like Manifest.plist & Manifest.mbdb, it is not possible to restore the backup onto the iPhone and it is also not possible to read the backup using backup reader software like iPhone backup browser & iPhone backup extractor. So I wrote a python script that can read & recover data from the corrupted backups. Usage of the script is listed below.

Steps to use (Windows):

1. On windows, install Python 2.6.
2. Download and place it in C:\ drive.
3. Create two folders backup & output in C drive.
4. From the iOS backup directory C:\Users\[user-name]\AppData\Roaming\Apple Computer\MobileSync\Backup\[iPhone-UDID]\,  copy all the files and place them in C:\backup directory.
5. Open  the command prompt, navigate to C:\ drive and type the below command.

\Python26\python.exe c:\backup c:\output

6. It converts the backup files into readable format and places them in C:\output directory.

Steps to use (Mac OS X):

1. Create two folders backup & output on Desktop.
2. Download and place it on Desktop.
3. From the iOS backup directory ~/Library/Application Support/MobileSync/Backup/[UDID], copy all the files and place them in backup directory.
4. Open the terminal and run the below command.

Python ~/Desktop/backup/ ~/Desktop/output/

5. It converts the backup files into readable format and places them in output directory.

The script extracts and structures all the default files like Contacts, SMS, Calendar, etc. into directories with actual file names. Other third party application files are converted into readable format and gets stored in other-data folder in output directory without actual file names. Manifest.mbdb file maps the actual filenames to backup filenames and the mbdb file is not available in the case of corrupted backups. So it is not possible to get the exact file names. In general, most of the iOS applications store the data in plist, sqlite and Jpeg format. You can use plist editor sqlite spy and image viewers to open the files and read the data manually.

Note: Data recovery is only possible in the case of normal backups. If the backup is encrypted (encrypt backup option is checked in iTunes), it is not possible to read & recover the data from the corrupted backups.


Posted by on April 1, 2013 in iPhone


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