iPhone Restore from iTunes Backup Taking Forever? Here’s the Fix

Nov 9, 2017 - 5 Comments

Fix excessively long iTunes restore backup times

Whether you’re setting up a new iPhone, migrating to an iPhone X from an old iPhone, or just restoring an iPhone through iTunes for troubleshooting or some other reason, the process of restoring an iTunes backup to an iPhone should not take an excessively long amount of time. But sometimes a peculiar situation can happen where the iTunes “Restoring iPhone from backup” process can offer an extraordinarily long time remaining, sometimes in excess of 20 hours.

If you see an excessively long time remaining estimate when attempting to restore an iPhone from backup, it may be the result of an error, and with a few troubleshooting steps you can remedy the problem and dramatically speed up the iTunes backup restore process.


Before getting started, realize that it can take a while to complete a device restore from an iTunes backup. Waiting an hour or two to complete is fairly normal depending on the size of the backup file. What is abnormal are iTunes backup restore estimates with time remaining at excessive lengths of time, often continuously ticking up past 15 hours, 20 hours, 30 hours, etc, those situations are indicative of a problem. Also keep in mind we are talking about restoring backups made to iTunes on a computer, not iCloud backup restores which can take a significant amount of time to complete on slower internet connections. The following troubleshooting steps only apply to iTunes restores made to and from a computer directly to an iPhone over a USB connection.

How to Fix Excessively Long iTunes Restoring from Backup Time Remaining Problem

  1. Disconnect the iPhone from the computer and USB connection
  2. Update iTunes to the most recent version if you have not done so already
  3. Reboot the iPhone
  4. Reboot the computer
  5. When the computer boots back up again, launch iTunes as usual
  6. On the iPhone, go through the restore/setup process again and choose to “Restore from Backup with iTunes”
  7. Connect the iPhone to the computer with a USB cable and let the restore from backup proceed as expected

I personally ran into this problem when restoring and setting up a new iPhone X via iTunes from a freshly made iPhone Plus backup. The first attempt to migrate and restore the iPhone X with the backup in iTunes gave a time remaining estimate of 8 hours which slowly grew to 20 hours. After following the steps detailed above, I was able to fix the problem and get the entire backup restore process to complete in about an hour for a 128 GB backup being restored to the new iPhone – a reasonable time given the giant backup size. After searching around a bit I realized a fair amount of other users are experiencing the same problem with iPhone X, iPhone 8, and many older iPhones too over time.

Before, where iTunes restoring from backup estimated time was 20 hours:

iTunes restore backup times taking forever on iPhone

And after the fix, taking about an hour to complete the restore from iTunes backup process:

Normal restore from iTunes backup time remaining

For what it’s worth, this is not a particularly new issue, and in fact users have been reporting this problem for years on Apple Discussions, so it’s not a complaint to any particular iPhone model, iTunes version, or iOS version. There does not seem to be a particularly consistent reason why the iPhone “restoring from backup” process can erroneously report an excessive backup restore time, but the good news is it’s usually fairly easy to fix by jumping through the troubleshooting hoops outlined above.

Have you had any similar issues restoring backups to an iPhone or iPad with iTunes? Share your experiences and troubleshooting steps in the comments below, and let us know if the tips above resolved the problem for you.

Enjoy this tip? Subscribe to the OSXDaily newsletter to get more of our great Apple tips, tricks, and important news delivered to your inbox! Enter your email address below:

Related articles:

Posted by: Paul Horowitz in iPad, iPhone, iTunes, Tips & Tricks, Troubleshooting

5 Comments

» Comments RSS Feed

  1. arni says:

    Wouldn’t just restarting everything be enough? I’m on itunes 12.6.3, and don’t want to update to 12.7 and it’s complete lack of app ability.

    • ont says:

      iTunes 12.6.3 is an alternate release and considered on par with iTunes 12.7, except 12.6.3 has App Store support. But imagine down the road with iOS 12 etc, then updating iTunes to the newest version (iTunes 13 etc) will be necessary for compatibility reasons.

  2. Isidore says:

    Interesting! I had exactly this problem. The bottleneck seemed to be restoring the apps. I am using iTunes 12.6.3.6, having downgraded from 12.7 as soon as the alternative became available and even so it looked as if the apps were being downloaded from the app store rather than from the backup. I never use iCloud for anything so it’s not to do with that. The new phone was restored from the back up of my old one quite quickly but I did not have a working set of apps until well into the next day.

  3. RA says:

    Ich habe noch nie solche Probleme gehabt und aktualisiere iTunes regelmäßig, auch Backup geht nicht so lange, vielleicht deswegen weil ich mache Backup auf dem iPhone und iPad.
    Vielen Dank für deine Hilfe, bin sehr zufrieden 🙏🙏🙏

  4. Scatrat McFarzelhoffer says:

    I’m hating Apple more and more as time goes on…told me the restore would take “about an hour,” it actually took three (e.g. it would say “24 minutes” for about three, then “23 minutes” for about three, etc.

    Then, I finally get to the end, and it tells me it can’t do the restore (from what it had presumably just backed up recently) because there “isn’t enough room” – despite the fact that I still have 28 GB free.

    So annoying, so frustrating, so pathetic…

Leave a Reply

 

Shop for Apple & Mac Deals on Amazon.com

Subscribe to OSXDaily

Subscribe to RSS Subscribe to Twitter Feed Follow on Facebook Subscribe to eMail Updates

Recent Posts