How to Recover Deleted iTunes Backup on Mac and Restore It

Recover itunes backup

iTunes is a useful tool for backing up local data from your iPhone, iPad, and iPod devices – such as messages, call logs, photos, settings, etc. It also makes it very easy to restore this data onto your device as long as you have the backup file.

iTunes stores these files in a backup folder stored locally on your Mac. Unfortunately, any number of factors can cause this folder to disappear – which means all your data disappears along with it. This article explores the backup folder, how to recover it in case it does get deleted, and how to use it to restore your files with iTunes.

How to Find iTunes Backup on Mac

The iTunes backup folders (and simply iPhone or iPad backup folders for macOS Catalina and above), are stored in the “MobileSync” folder, which is located in the ~Library folder of your Mac – this is set up by default.

These folders have names that look like strings of names and numbers. For reference, here’s what they look like:

itunes backup folder with an outline highlighting the backup subfolders

As you can see, folder names are strings of random letters and numbers. To find them via Finder, navigate through the following locations:​​

Step 1. Open Finder by clicking its icon on your dock.
finder icon

Step 2. On the Apple menu bar, click Go > Home.
finder go menu with a pointer towards the home button

Step 3. In the home folder, navigate to Library > Application Support > MobileSync > Backup.
finder window with an outline highlighting the backup folder and the folder's path

If it’s not there, you may have accidentally sent it to the Trash folder. If you have already emptied it, you can still recover your files from Trash – just act quickly.

How to Recover a Deleted iTunes Backup

If you accidentally delete your backup folder, you can use certain tools to recover it. This is doubly important if you suspect that your drive is getting corrupted – once that corruption affects your backup files, it will be impossible to recover your data. And even if you simply deleted it by accident and it’s still stored in your filesystem, using that drive will eventually result in overwriting that data. So if your backup is missing, do this ASAP.

For this article, we’ll be using the data recovery tool Disk Drill. You can also use it to recover any deleted files on mac. To recover deleted iTunes backup, follow this guide:

Step 1. Download and install Disk Drill.

Step 2. If the deleted iTunes backup is saved on an external storage media, plug that in.

Step 3. Launch the Disk Drill app by navigating through Finder > Applications > Disk Drill, and double-clicking its icon.
finder applications folder with a pointer towards disk drill

Step 4. Select the drive where you last saved your iTunes backup. Leave all settings to default for the best results, then click Search for lost data in the right panel of the app.
Select the drive where you last saved your iTunes backup

Step 5. Wait for Disk Drill to complete the scan, then click Review found items.

Wait for Disk Drill to complete the scan

Step 6. Browse through the list of found data or type “backup” in the search bar at the top-right corner of the window. Disk Drill typically shows recovered data in a nested folder structure, so keep your eyes open for any of the following folders: “Library”,  “Application”, “Mobile Sync”, or “Backup.”
Browse through the list of found data

Step 7. To proceed with recovery, tick the checkbox to the left of any of the folders we mentioned in the last step, then click Recover.
recover iTunes backup

Step 8. On the popup that appears, choose a location on your computer to save the folder, then click Next to proceed with recovery.

Step 9. Copy the files or folder to Library > Application Support > MobileSync > Backup. Once done, you can now restore your iTunes backup using the data you just recovered. Proceed to the next section of this article for the full guide.

Disk Drill Basic for Mac (free version) does not offer free data recovery. However, you can preview as many files as you want – and Disk Drill’s scanning process will let you know if you can actually recover your files with DIY data recovery software.

How to Restore Files From iTunes Backup

When you have the backup file available, you can easily restore it using iTunes. Make sure that you have your backup file somewhere on your device, preferably in ~/Library/Application Support/MobileSync.

check itunes backup

While iTunes can restore data from anywhere on your Mac, MobileSync is the default folder. This simply makes it easier for iTunes to locate the backup. To navigate to this location, jump to the How to find iTunes backup on Mac section by clicking here. To restore a backup from iTunes, follow this guide:

Step 1.Connect your iPhone, iPad, or iPod to your MacBook.

Step 2.Open iTunes by opening Finder > Applications > iTunes and double-clicking its icon.

open itunes

Step 3.Click on your device’s icon near the top of the screen (beside the music icon).

open device

Step 4.Click the “Restore Backup…” button under the “Backups” section.

restore backup

Step 5.Using the dropdown menu, find your backup in iTunes, then click the “Restore” button.

select backup

Step 6.Wait for your device to restart and sync with the computer again. Once it’s done syncing, you can safely disconnect your newly restored device.

Conclusion

Whether you’re using iTunes (macOS Mojave and below) or Finder (macOS Catalina and above) to backup your Apple devices, this guide will work. The location of your backup folder remains the same, and the process is largely similar. Disk Drill will also work for Finder backups just as well as iTunes backups – just make sure to act quickly, so your data doesn’t get overwritten as you continue using your Mac.

FAQ

Your iTunes backups are saved on your Mac. Specifically, you can find them in the following folder: ~/Library/Application Support/MobileSync. You can easily go to this folder by opening Finder > Go > Go to Folder. This path is the default location but note that it can be changed via iTunes settings.
It won’t necessarily delete everything, but it will delete any new files created after the last backup.

Here are possible reasons why you can’t restore your iPhone from an iTunes backup and what to do about them:

  • Corrupt backup – Your iTunes backup may have become corrupted. Use an alternative backup. If you don’t have one, use data recovery software. You can also try contacting Apple support.
  • Incompatible backup – Your iOS or iTunes may be outdated. Try updating first.
  • Bad internet – Your network may be disrupting the restore process. Make sure you have a strong connection before attempting to restore.
To login to iTunes on your Mac, open iTunes and click Account > Sign in. Then, login with your Apple ID and password.
Alejandro is Macgasm’s Chief Writer and Apple ecosystem enthusiast. He pens the majority of troubleshooting guides and software reviews for this website, tapping into his love for technology and extensive background in technical writing. He started his career by helping multi-regional manufacturing companies in his home country communicate their products and operations to prospective B2B partners. After growing his writing business, he has since worked for top SaaS companies and finance/fintech resources like AgentFire and moneyGenius. He also helped market tech products to angel investors as well as on platforms like Indiegogo and Kickstarter. He is currently learning Swift on his MacBook Pro M1 so he can develop his own pomodoro app for his iPad Pro 11 and 2nd generation 256GB iPhone SE. He also has a gaming PC where he still plays Skyrim with 250+ mods and a Samsung Galaxy smartphone so he can keep using the aux cord in his '95 Nissan.