Oct 3 2009

iPhone – Manually Backup SMS, Notes, Pictures, Video, MxTube Folder

iTunes although does a great job backing up all the data which you can restore at any time if you have issues but if you are upgrading hardware, i.e. 3G to 3GS or a major OS update like version 2.x to 3.x, restoring from old stuff may often create unnecessary legacy files left on the system, slowing up the OS or in some cases may also contribute to battery depletion issues (This has not been confirmed yet but there might be some conflicts in the system that might cause faster depletion of battery).


So the best way to get started with your brand new system would be to connect to iTunes and select “Setup as new”  instead of “Restore from backup”. This will ensure that you have a fresh and clean system running without any kind of conflicts going on in the background.

Before you do “Setup as new” phone you will need to backup your important files/data. The process of backing up your data described below is a manual backing up procedure and would require you to have SSH access to your iPhone. If you know what I am talking about go ahead and proceed at your own risk. Backup these following folders so that later you can restore them manually after you have your new System up and running. In most cases it will be a very easy Copy/Paste operation of the following folders after you SSH to your iPhone.

The important folders that you may want to backup first:

  • Notes Database:
    • /private/var/mobile/Library/Notes
  • SMS Database:
    • /private/var/Mobile/Library/SMS
  • Pictures and Video Recordings
    • /private/var/mobile/Media/DCIM/100APPLE
  • Call History Database:
    • /private/var/mobile/Library/CallHistory
  • Voicemail Database:
    • /private/var/mobile/Library/Voicemail
  • YourTube Downloaded Video Folder:
    • /private/var/mobile/Media/Downloads/YourTube
  • MxTube Downloaded Video folder:
    • /var/mobile/Media/MxTube

The following databases may not work directly by Copy/Paste method as they may require iTunes Syncing:

  • AddressBook DB
    • /private/var/mobile/Library/AddressBook/AddressBook.sqlitedb
  • AddressBook Images DB
    • /private/var/mobile/Library/AddressBook/AddressBookImages.sqlitedb
  • Maptiles DB
    • /private/var/mobile/Library/Caches/MapTiles/MapTiles.sqlitedb
  • Calendar DB
    • /private/var/mobile/Library/Calendar/Calendar.sqlitedb

My address book and calender is always synced with Google, so I don’t have to worry backing them up but if you backed them manually, feel free to share. I have tried this on 3G, 3GS using OS 3.x and worked without any problem. Please feel free to post your experience doing this below.

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9 Responses to “iPhone – Manually Backup SMS, Notes, Pictures, Video, MxTube Folder”

  • jens_miller Says:

    I think, it’s complain, maybe we can a tool, can to support back up or export data.

  • jens_miller Says:

    If I want to use software (back up SMS and Call), what apps I should you to solve this problem?

  • Foobar Says:

    I was trying to move Contacts from iPhone 3GS 4.1 to iPhone 4 4.3.3 and after copying the files, contacts would not show up. The phone would get a loading bar with apple logo that gets stuck about half way and never goes away.

    The way I got contacts moved from 3GS to 4 was this:
    1. Copy the /var/mobile/Library/AddressBook/AddressBook.sqlitedb from the 3GS to my computer (I did it via SSH (OpenSSH must be installed on the phone and enabled) and used “sshfs” command on Ubuntu to mount the iPhone in a directory).
    2. Then I used “sqlite3″ program on Ubuntu to recreate the database: (in Terminal, assuming you are in the directory with AddressBook.sqlitedb file):

    sqlite3 AddressBook.sqlitedb “.dump” > /tmp/foo; cat /tmp/foo | sqlite3 newdb; mv newdb AddressBook.sqlitedb

    3. Copy over the re-created AddressBook.sqlitedb to /var/mobile/Library/AddressBook/
    4. Just to make sure it works, open Contacts app on the phone and add a new dummy contact. Delete dummy contact you just created.

    This could be done on OS other than Ubuntu. For Windows, iFunbox could be used to copy file off the phone. For Apple, the above instructions should work providing you have sqlite3 installed.

    This method would probably work for any other .sqlitedb files. (such as SMS)

    That is it

  • [3G] Update do 4.2.1 + jb + unlock Says:

    [...] iDrive Contacts (z AppStore) 3. backup SMSów / notatek przez SSH(SCP) zgodnie z tym postem: iPhone – Manually Backup SMS, Notes, Pictures, Video, MxTube Folder | Rubayat Hasan 4. odpalenie Sn0wbreeze 2.2.1, wybranie oryginalnego softu 4.2.1 dla 3G, dalej advanced, [...]

  • Adam Says:

    you can backup your mxtube videos by download iphone browser ( alternative to ssh) and go to var/ mobile/media/mxtube then right click and hit backup folder :)

  • Rome Says:

    I copy/pasted both files back to addressbook folder, made a reboot and it doesnt seem to work.
    iPhone opens addressbook, shows a blank screen then closes. Looking for any advice. Cheers.

  • Jim Says:

    If you are looking for an easier way to backup iPhone notes, I found this


    Worked great for me

  • Ben Says:

    Presumeably restoring these is just a case of copying back by ssh, and rebooting yes? i seem to rememver you have to chmod the files after restoring, is that right?

    • Rubayat Says:

      Yes, its basically backing up by ssh and then restoring using ssh. I didn’t need to set permission but if you face problems the best bet is to chmod the folders 777.

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