How to Identify iOS Backups from One Another in iTunes
If you’re like many Apple users, you may have multiple iPhone devices spanning a couple of generations, maybe an iPad or two, and maybe even a few iPods. They’re all easy to tell apart by looking at the physical devices, but if you backup your iOS device to a computer (and you should, in addition to iCloud), you may find the iTunes backup browser to have multiple listings that are basically the same name – despite the backups being for completely different devices.
For example, you may have an iPhone 6, an iPhone 5S, and an iPhone 5, but because the user never changed the name of their iOS devices, they’re each named an amazingly descriptive “iPhone” in the backup browser – oops.
So the question is, how do you quickly identify which iOS device backup belongs to each device within iTunes, and how can you differentiate the backups without using them or digging through the backup files?
It turns out there’s a super easy trick to do just that, and all you need to do is hover the mouse over the backup name in iTunes to reveal additional identifying details about each specific backup, including the phone number, IMEI, and serial number attached to the device. Here’s exactly what you’d need to do to see those details in the iTunes app with your locally stored iOS backups:
- Open iTunes and head to Preferences
- Under the “Devices” tab, hover the mouse cursor over the individual backups to reveal the IMEI, Serial Number, and for iPhones, the Phone Number of each backups related iOS device
You can then right-click and choose “Show in Finder”, or delete a backup, archive it, make a copy of the backup that you intended to, whatever you needed to do with it, and be entirely certain that you’re modifying the correct backup file for the correct device, and not mistaking it for a different devices backup.
This should work on both Mac OS X and Windows versions of iTunes, and it is obviously so much easier to do the mouse-hover than jumping to the location of the backups and then trying to determine which belongs to what based on the cryptic hexadecimal folder names assigned to each iOS backup directory.
I’ve experienced this with my own backups before, especially when restoring from an old device to a new device and then keeping the iPhone name the same, and run into this same thing repeatedly with friends and family before as well. This is one of a variety of reasons it’s a good idea to give each iOS device you own a unique name, even if it’s variations on a theme, like “iPhone 5 – Paul” or “iPhone 6 Plus – Paul”. Whatever naming convention you want to use, keep the names different so they’re easy to identify if you need to, both from a backup perspective and with iCloud.