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Where are data files backed up?

Discussion in 'iPad Help' started by The_Eck, May 30, 2011.

  1. The_Eck
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    The_Eck iPF Novice

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    I got my iPad2 in early April and until today I haven't consciously backed it up (by right-clicking it in the iTunes devices and selecting "backup"). Although I got messages stating that it was backing up, I really can't confirm it as I have no idea where those files were backed up to on my Mac.

    I went to my user Library and into Application Support > MobileSync > Backup and there was a folder with this name:

    348e763bbc0647d419f26d934c5592d43bfc662f

    and it contained some 5,000 files, all of them with similarly cryptic names.

    I can only assume that these are the data files but I have no idea what any of them are.

    Am I correct in this assumption? How can I find a particular file among all these? Say, one of my epub books?
  2. twerppoet
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    twerppoet iPad Legend

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    To the best of my knowledge there is no (easy) way to pick a specific file out of the iPad backup. However, your ePub (if it's is in iBooks) won't be in that file anyway. It will be stored in the Media database.

    All content added directly to iTunes, or purchased through one of Apples stores gets atted to the media database. It can be stored in a few different ways, depending on how you've got iTunes set up, but every way involves the file being stored on the computer in a normal folder, somewhere.

    You can track down the location of the file by right clicking on the file in iTunes and choosing Get Info. The bottom of the Summary page will give you the complete file path to the original file. That can be really long if iTunes is set to organize your media for you.

    Basically backups take care all the stuff that is not Music, Movies, Podcasts, Apps, or Books (with the exception of stuff that has been added or created in third party apps). Here is a description of what the backup does, and where the files are stored. Dig through it for more than you probably wanted to know. ;)

    iPad: About backups

    But it's for the most part an all or nothing backup. It's intended to completely restore the iPad. Not only that, but depending on your settings the backup can be encrypted, making it all but impossible to retrieve individual files.

    The moral of the story is, always have another backup of your important files and media. For the stuff that is in the iTunes library, you can just back up the library. It's a confusing mess, but it is all there. For other ebooks or media that you are using with third party apps, keep copies on the computer, and back them up there.

    Wishy washy disclaimer: I did read an article the other day about a program that promised to extract the camera roll and other saved pictures from a backup, so I suppose it is at least technically feasible to find other types of files, so long as the backup is not encrypted. But the photo extractor is the only solution I've heard of.

    Maybe the hacker forum could offer better advice.
  3. The_Eck
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    The_Eck iPF Novice

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    @twerppoet: Thanks for responding with some thoughtful comments, which I have copied into my "iPad tips" folder.
  4. twerppoet
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    twerppoet iPad Legend

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    No problem. Pedantic isn't always bad. :)

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