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Does iTunes sync/backup physically save app files on PC?


iPF Noob
Sep 18, 2013
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New to the forum. Just bought an iPAD 4th Gen for "family use". Purchased some games for the kids, plus some previously purchased with the wife's iPhone. I've put a limit on the number of games they can have on the iPAD at anyone time, so of course they've been merrily deleting and re-installing (i.e. re-downloading) games through the iPAD Apps store directly.

Having just fallen off my chair seeing the dramatic increase in internet data usage on my ISP account, and realizing that many of these purchased games are 1-2 GB each, it's clear I need to introduce some further means of control. Enabling restrictions on installing and deleting apps is one....much as they won't like it.

I've now got iTunes sync and backup working properly on my Windows (XP Pro) PC (had some device recognition/firewall issues), and done the PC authorization thing. So, I've synced and backed-up the iPAD a number of times so far, and looking at the iPAD Apps view in the iTunes screen, I see the list of all purchased apps and whether they are installed or not.

My question is - when apps are re-installed through iTunes sync, are they downloaded from the store all over again, or are they physically saved and retrievable from a library on the host PC, assuming they were actually installed on the iPAD when a backup was made? If they are not, is there any other way to save and restore apps to and from a PC (other than a full backup restore) to avoid having to re-download?

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When you sync apps with iTunes on a computer, they are indeed saved an can be reinstalled (synced actually) from the computer. No internet connection required. What is more, if you go to the App library you'll see that you can update apps there as well, saving you from having to download the updates manually on each device.

It is no where as simple as working directly from the device, as you'll have to individually check/uncheck apps when you want to make changes; but it can be done.

Sometimes iTunes will sync/install apps that were downloaded to itself or on other devices to the current device. Just delete the unwanted app from that device. It won't sync again unless you deliberately check it in iTunes' sync settings. It's a glitch. So maybe it will be fixed in the next version of iTunes.

Good luck.
Thanks TP, so glad to know that! I knew I was going to have to look into how they work together, and I waited all this time to do it for just that reason! :D
OK, thanks very much. Just to be clear -

1. For an app to be listed in the iPAD's iTunes app library, it must have, at some point, been installed on the device during a sync i.e. it does not include apps that may have been purchased with the same account through iTunes on a PC or another idevice, but not installed? Correct?

2. Clicking the 'install' button for any of the apps listed (not presently installed) will re-install the app from the PC, and not invoke a new download?

I guess what leaves me wondering is that if I disable the internet (LAN local area connection) on my PC, clicking on 'Install' changes to 'Will Install', which presumably implies that it will install when there is an internet connection. Is this just because the re-install requires iTunes store/account validation of the purchase?

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1) Yes and no. It is possible to download apps directly to iTunes on the PC without syncing the device they were purchased on. To do this you go to the main iTunes page in iTunes on the computer, click on the Purchased link near the top of the right column, select the Apps tab, the the Not On This Computer button to the right.

Note: This assumes all devices and iTunes on the computer are using the same account to purchase apps.

2) When copying apps from iTunes on the computer to a device there is no Install button. Instead you have to connect the device, select it, and go to the App sync settings. There you check/uncheck apps that you wish to be added or removed (respectively). When done you choose the Apply or Sync button.

If you are seeing an install button you're probably in the iTunes or App Store. You don't want to be in the App Store when syncing stuff to the iPad.

Or something has drastically changed since I last checked. I can't be sure at this moment because I just finished updating both my devices to iOS 7, and I can't connect them to iTunes until I update it to the latest version; which I can't seem to find in the Mac App Store. I may have to get it manually.

Edit: Oh, found it. I may be off line for a bit since the update contains a few other things and will require the computer to reboot.
The only device Apps sync screen I can see is attached below. This is iTunes version on a Windows (XP) PC. It's exactly the same screen whether signed into the Store or not.

There are no tick boxes. The available options are to select Remove (delete app installed on iPAD), Install, or else drag the icon from the listing to the desired iPAD home screen. Selecting 'Remove' changes to 'Will Remove', and 'Install' to 'Will Install' - the 'Will' (as I now understand) meaning that the app will be removed or installed at the next sync.

Taking, for example, the first game app there on the list - 'The Amazing Spiderman'. This was purchased and previously installed on the iPAD, and then deleted. If I understand your answer to my question correctly, selecting 'Install' should re-install this app on my iPAD directly from the PC (at next sync) and will not download it afresh from the Store?

You advised that I don't want to be in the App store when syncing. I assume you mean not signed-in? So are you suggesting that if I am signed into the Store, selecting 'Install' will result in a fresh download instead?

Sorry to be pedantic about all this, but I really need to be sure.....a father's credibility is at stake here.

BTW - how did the ios7 upgrade go? It's tempting, but I'm thinking about leaving it for a week or two....especially as I'm still learning about iTunes backups



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Ah, OK. Tried re-installing a few apps with the internet connection disabled, and they installed OK on next sync, so they must be loading from the PC. I'll maybe make that standard practice.
Sorry it took so long to get back.

Looks like the replaced the check box with the Install/Remove button. Like I said, it's been a long time since I did anything this way, and I have a Mac, so maybe it's still a checkbox there. I'll have to check. I got busy and never got around to connecting the iPad and testing iTunes 11.1. Tomorrow.

Anyway, I'm glad you got it figured out and working.

As for the iOS 7 upgrade. It went fine for me, with only a few bumps.

It's really a good idea to wait until the first bug fix version comes out, or at least a few days until the bloggers have beaten all the dead horses. Only crazy people update the first day. :D
Well I don't have anything mission-critical on our iPAD yet, but woe betide me if there was any problem playing games and other multimedia - so I'll hold off a bit on the upgrade.
Hey TP, that's me you are talking about! When I first bought it, the first time it was offered, but I'm wiser now! :D
THANK you, I must say I would love to be compared to be even remotely as esteemed as you, but I appreciate you humbling yourself , coming down to keep me company for a bit! I still can't figure out how to find out how to find my code on restrictions and that has been going on ever since I DID update to IOS6 on the very first day. Considering I haven't solved that problem yet I don't think I will be upgrading anytime soon!
Well, there are only 10000 (10 x 10 x 10 x 10) possible combinations. If you try 100 a day you could solve it 3 months max. ;)

Or you could just give up and do a clean install. It's a bit of work putting all the apps and stuff back, but might be worth the trouble in the long run. It's by far the cleanest, most likely to succeed method of upgrading. But I'd wait at least until the 7.1 version. If you're going to that much trouble it might as well be for a mature and stable iOS.
It says if I don't get it right the next time I try it will lock me out of my iPad! :-(

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