How to do a fresh installation of iOS 9 without losing data

31 Aug 2015 22:23 | apple | iOS

Despite Apple's best efforts, there are nearly always a number of users who
experience issues after a major iOS update.  Users might experience crashes,
unusually high battery drain, slowness etc etc.

Whenever I upgrade to a major iOS release I usually do a fresh reinstall of
iOS.  Although Apple provides no official way to do this without losing all of
your data, it is possible using a third party tool called iBackupBot which I
highly recommend:


Although this worked for me I take no responsibility for this whatsoever - if
you lose data or brick your device it's entirely your own fault.  PROCEED AT

What this does

This will reset all of the settings for your device, but allow you to retain
the data for your apps and your SMS and call histories.  Most of the glitches
with major iOS updates are likely due to things like settings schemas changing
which then cause the newly updated device to get confused and possibly get
stuck in a loop causing battery drain.


1. Install iOS9 and restore your backup as you normally would.

2. Take a backup in iTunes, go to the MobileSync directory, tar it up and copy
it somewhere safe just in case.

3. Close iTunes and open iBackupBot. Open the backup that you just took on the
left, you'll see these folders underneath it:

- System Files
- User App Files
- App Group Files
- App Plugin Files

The first two are the ones we care about.

4. Make a directory on your local machine called "ios data", and underneath
that, create "System Files" and "User App Files".

5. In iBackupBot, click on "System Files" in the left pane, then select all of
the directories in the right pane.  Click Export and choose the "System Files"
directory you just created.

6. Repeat step 5 for "User App Files".

At this point you should have a full backup of all of your device's system data
(sms, call history etc) and all the data for your apps.

7. On your device, go to Settings -> General -> Reset -> Erase All Contents and

This will restore your device to bone stock iOS 9.

Note: as of the latest iOS 9 beta there is a bug that after doing this and
putting your iCloud account in, your contacts may not appear.  Don't panic,
just go into iCloud settings, turn off Contacts, and then turn them back on
again and they should start appearing.

8. Install all of the apps that have data you need to restore.

9. In iTunes, make sure backup encryption is OFF and take a backup of the

10. Close iTunes and open iBackupBot.

Now what you need to do is import the various bits of your backed up data into
the fresh backup using the Import feature.  What you import here depends on
what you care about and want to restore, but I would suggest:

- System Files/HomeDomain/Library/CallHistoryDB/*   (call history)
- System Files/HomeDomain/Library/SMS/sms.db  (sms history)
- System Files/MediaDomain/Library/SMS/*   (media from sms history, eg pics and
- System Files/CameraRollDomain/Media/*    (camera roll images)

As well as any data for apps that you care about.  Note that you can import a
whole directory by clicking the down arrow on the Import button and selecting
"Import Folder(s)".

Sometimes iBackupBot will show a warning that the paths you've selected may be
invalid, just click OK to continue and ignore this.  The reason it does this is
because you're restoring files from the original backup that aren't currently
present in the new backup and it's worried that they might not be valid places
to put files.

Once this is all done, open iTunes, restore the backup to your device and you
should find your stuff has been restored.