Encrypt your iPhone Backups

Jan 30, 2011 - 10 Comments

Encrypt iPhone Backups iPhone backups contain a huge amount of personal data, from various account and service logins, contact list and phone logs, personal notes, emails, fully readable SMS conversations, just about anything that is used or stored on the device gets placed in the backup file. That’s excellent for backup restoration purposes, but technically anyone with access to the computer can easily dig around in the backups locally if they wanted to. For this reason, it can be a good idea keep these locally stored iPhone backup files encrypted, which then require a password to access and restore from, and it also makes the backups safe from prying eyes.

Enabling backup encryption for the iPhone (and iPad and iPod touch for that matter) is a simple procedure that must only be enabled once. After it has been toggled on, backups will be placed through encryption, and all future backups that are made will be encrypted, making them unreadable and unusable without having the accompanying password that was set. This allows for a very secure layer of privacy and security for stored iOS data.

How to Encrypt iPhone Backups with iTunes

This sets encrypts and password protects your iOS backup files, whether for an iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch, and the procedure works the same in Mac OS X or Windows. We’re focusing on the encrypting iPhone backups to iTunes here:

  1. Connect your iPhone to the computer and launch iTunes
  2. Select the iPhone in the iTunes sidebar, and under the “Summary” tab scroll down to ‘Options’
  3. Click the checkbox next to “Encrypt iPhone backup” which will bring up a screen to set an encrypted backup password

encrypt iphone backup

Enter the password twice to confirm it and begin the encryption process, what this does is start a new backup that is fully encrypted with the password that was just set.

encrypt iphone backup password

For Mac users with complex passwords, or if you want the option to recover lost encrypted backup passwords, you’ll need to check the box for “Remember this password in Keychain”. What that does is make the password remembered by Keychain which is then guarded by the system-wide administrator password. That option is not available to Windows users however.

This is very important: Do not forget this password! Without it you will not be able to access backed up data, ever, because it is encrypted with extraordinarily strong protection. Likewise, you will need to enter the password anytime you restore your iPhone from the backups that have been kept locally, otherwise they will become inaccessible along with all data contained within them.

Do note this applies to locally stored backups that have been made from iOS devices through iTunes and stored onto a computer, and not iCloud. Backups created and stored with iCloud are encrypted automatically and stored on protected servers through Apple, making them only retrievable by using the Apple ID and login information associated with the Apple account.

For further securing your iPhone, don’t forget to set a lock screen access passcode. You can also take the passcode a step further by activating the “self-destruct” feature of iOS which will automatically erase all data on the device after multiple failed login attempts, though one must be cautious with that feature since someone could inadvertently erase the data on the device simply by entering the wrong passcode.

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Posted by: William Pearson in iPhone, Tips & Tricks


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  1. Peter says:

    This is an *absolute must* enable, it amazes me how many people do not even set passwords for their Macs or iPhones. What if something was stolen? Don’t make it easy for thieves or snoopers, always use passwords and encrypt when you can. There’s just too much data that you undoubtedly want kept private. Think about when the iPhone 5 includes the NFC chip and becomes tied to your bank account, get in the habit now.

  2. […] feature so that after multiple failed login attempt all your data will be erased automatically. [Via] […]

  3. […] track of your location. But, if you don’t want your location tracked, all you have to do is encrypt your iPhone & iOS backups. OSXDaily has covered that tip before, but here’s a reminder how to do […]

  4. George says:

    I forgot my password, how can I reset it or set a new password for the encryption backup ?

  5. bhavin says:

    how to decrupt or remove the encryption?
    please see image n my problem.

    its disabled, even when i enter the correct username and password.

  6. Tristen says:

    I have a problem with setting my password for the backup…it won’t accept any pass i typeit just says “The password you entered to protect your iPhone backup file could not be entered. Please try again” Can someone please help?

  7. […] devices can use an optional encrypted backup feature that protects all backups with a strong encryption layer and password, meaning those backups are […]

  8. Kelly says:

    Can Apple track the person who keeps accidentally attempting to log on my appleid acct? Will they for me? I understand it’s petty does anyone have an answer? Thanks

  9. Netbob says:

    I can’t emphasize enough how importantly simply setting a 4 (or more) digit lock screen passcode is.
    If you do not do this and your phone is stolen, all a bad actor would have to do is make an encrypted backup of your device, and all keychain details (account passwords, vpn passwords, wifi passwords, and Google authenticator codes) can be accessed with simple Python scripts. Google “Google authenticator recovery” http://dpron.com/recovering-google-authenticator-keys-from-ios-backups/)

  10. eleni says:

    recovery back up for my iPhone

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