Backup or Restore iPhone SMS, Contacts, Notes, Calendar and Mail Manually

It is always a better idea to manually restore the data in the iPhone during major firmware upgrade (like moving from 2.2 to 3.0) and not restoring it from the backup made in the iTunes. So if you cannot restore the backup from iTunes then will you lose all your data? No as you can manually restore all your data in the iPhone.

Using the same method I was able to restore all my old and saved SMS, Notes, Calendars and Mail Accounts in the new upgraded firmware. What we need is the location where iPhone stores these SMS, Notes etc and an iPhone file explorer.

To backup all your data just follow the following steps


1.    Either download the latest iPhone Browser or SSh into the iPhone via WiFi.

2.    Now we need to copy the .db (Database) or plist files of the SMS, Notes etc and save with ourselves.

3.    These are the locations where the iPhone saves these databases

SMS:         /Var/Mobile/Library/SMS

Contacts /User/Library/AddressBook

Mail:         /Var/Mobile/Library/Mail

Calendar:     /Var/Mobile/Library/Calendar

Call History:     /Var/Mobile/Library/CallHistory

Notes:         /Var/Mobile/Library/Notes

Safari:         /Var/Mobile/Library/Safari

4.    So after you have saved the DB and plist files, just copy them back to the same location after the upgrade.

Your data will be restored back to the iPhone.

37 Replies to “Backup or Restore iPhone SMS, Contacts, Notes, Calendar and Mail Manually”

  1. Is it possible to get to data on an Iphone (not jailbreak one) after it’s saying it needs to be restored? I didn’t do a back up recently and it just went into the “need to restore” mode. I want to get the new pictures & phone numbers off it before I do it.

  2. Issue was that I set it up to backup and after 2 hours and it hadn’t finished I had to give up. Just shouldn’t have attempted the download. So, in answer to the question? I’m out of luck???

  3. Is this possible that we can access database /Var/Mobile/Library/CallHistory through Xcode application.If yes then How?


  4. errr… mistake! if you are on 2.1 and manually backup via ssh, after upgrading to 3.0 or 3.1 and restoring the backup (from 2.1) the archives ar not compatible with 3.0 so the iphone software crashes and youll have to do the upgrade again

  5. Thank you for this!
    However, let’s assume that the point of doing the back-up is to restore a jailbroken phone to factory condition… After the backups are made, how would one then re-load the saved .dbs and .plists back to the phone without a re-jailbreak?
    Many thanks!

  6. I syn my iPhone calendar with my office PC using iTunes today. iTunes warned me that I have syned the iPhone with other computer and whether I would like to replace the iPhone calendar with the PC or merge them. I select “merge”. However, my iPhone calendar was replaced with iPhone (I very sure I selected “merge” option), is there any way to recover my lost calendar entries?

  7. My iphone calendar was wiped out after a sync. How can I recover it? I tried opening Outlook 2007 but it was wiped out from there too!!!

  8. I have an Iphone with backup (iTunes). I would need to have the mails. Not on my phone, on my desktop. Is it also saved somewhere in the backup?

    The phone is not jailbroken. I assume, if I jailbrake it now, the data on the phone will be deleted.


  9. @Mark
    The backup is stored in encrypted form. Try the option of syncing outlook with Mail Accounts and bookmarks(present in iTunes).

  10. I had to share this with someone. I wanted to find my notes from a backup after wiping my old iPhone. Did a little crazy work but finally figured out how to do it and read them. First I used iPhone Backup Extractor ( to find the backup. I selected “read backups”, then “iOS files”. I extracted those files and found the notes folder in the library folder. I then used Base ( to read notes.sqlite – the trial/free version was good enough. Then, using Base, I exported sqlite_master. Then I used Text Wrangler to read the .sql file that Base exported. All of my notes were in that file. It was formatted weird but I only needed a little text from one notes so it was exactly what I needed. I’m freaking amazed.

  11. Am i able to recover my lost pics, contacts , sms on my iphone if i didnt bak it up on itunes? Help pls, been stuk with no numbers!

  12. @Dee
    If the data has been lost then the DB files have been modified, so with this method you could copy only the files after the data loss.

  13. I know this is only tangentially related, but in the course of upgrading my wife’s 3G it seems to have wiped the internal Calendar. In it’s infinite wisdom, when I plugged it in again today to restore from the pre-upgrade backup, iTunes started another backup and overwrote the old one. However, iTunes backup information appears to be incremental so the backup information from yesterday is still in the directory. Is there any way to work out which is the Calendar backup and somehow override the “empty” one in the current backup?

  14. Is this valid on iPhone 4 jailbroken by greenpais0n ??
    I tried to delete some sms’s and copy back the backup, but the deleted sms weren’t restored

  15. Hi

    I’m running 4.1 firmware on iphone 3gs and wanted to know if this method of backup and restore would work on it..

    hope you can help


  16. I try to recover my iphone through backup but it said it failed due to some reason! Is there any method i could recover from crashed backup file?

    million thanks for your help!

  17. i had an iphone 3 and just bought an iphone 4. how can i copy my calendar from the 3 to the 4?

    Thank you!!!

  18. I have an iPhone4 and want to save my notes. Followed your guide but I have no notes.db
    I have notes.idx and notes.sqlite
    Now what do I do?

    Thanks in advance

  19. Hi Lars,
    The mentioned files and folders are present in the jailbroken iPhone, so if you havent then you should just backup using iTunes.

  20. I have iphone 3G. I just downgraded to 3.1.3 OS from 4.2.1 without Jailbreaking it. I don’t really want to jailbreak but iOS4 is too sluggish for iphone 3G. itunes won’t let me restore my backedup contacts and other data because it was backedup with newer OS. I also have .db versions of all these data that I gathered using iBackupBot. I could not restore these data with it though (gives some error). Is there a way to restore this data without jailbreaking my iphone?

  21. Hello my phone out of the blue said it needs to be recovered. It is an Iphone 4 with the latest update I believe. I have pictures on im phone that are VERY valuable to me. I need to recover them but I have no backups because my computer has been dead for over 2 months. Now I have a friends laptop I can use and backup if necessary but I DO NOT want to restore because I know it will erase everything. Is there any hope for me to extract my photos.

  22. hi! my only concern is the sms. i found the .db files but i cant see the plist. is the .db file just what i need? thanks

  23. thanks. i kinda played with it a little, removing the .db and pasting it back in, it works! now i will try a total restore. fingers cross.

  24. i havent tried it restoring my phone yet. but i just found out today when i tried to send an sms that it affect it somehow. my sms app keeps on closing. i cant receive or send any sms.

  25. I upgraded my iphone to iOS 5 and have consequently lost all my entries on the calendar. Is there a way to restore them please? Thanks.

  26. Its just awesome …it helped me to take backup of my important contacts , notes, bookmarks , mails & all above sms
    thought itunes is an alternative but this software us quite handy….

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