How to recover a lost iTunes backup password

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iTunes enables users to password protect their backups, and when they choose to do this their data is secured in an encrypted iTunes backup.

Over the years Apple have used a few different formats for protecting their encrypted backups. The last big change was made as part of the iOS 10.2 release.

Reincubate iPhone Backup Extractor fully supports all versions of encrypted iTunes backups. (It also fully supports retrieval and decryption of iCloud and iCloud backup data.)

When you choose to protect your backup, you'll need to remember your backup password to ever access that backup's contents. This password isn't the same as your iPhone's password or your Apple ID's password.

If you forget your backup password but don't need access to your backup's contents, you can overwrite it with a new backup:

  1. On your iOS device, go to SettingsGeneralReset.
  2. Tap Reset All Settings and enter your iOS passcode.
  3. Follow the steps to reset your settings. This won't affect your user data or passwords, but it will reset settings like display brightness, Home screen layout, and wallpaper. It also removes your encrypted backup password.
  4. Connect your device to iTunes again and create a new encrypted backup.

Be aware that this will overwrite any pre-existing iPhone backup you might have, and all data included in them.

Recovering a lost iPhone backup password

If you've lost or forgotten your iTunes backup password, there are a few techniques you can use to try to recover it.

Try known passwords

First, it's worth trying a bunch of passwords that you might have used. There's no penalty to trying a number of different passwords in iTunes, although each check can take a little while.

Perhaps you used one of the following:

  • Your iTunes, Apple ID or iPhone password
  • Your email password
  • Your computer's login password
  • Something simple like password, 1234, letmein, 0000, or so on.

Passwords are set on the device, not by your computer. If your device was bought or configured by somebody else, it's possible that you need to ask them for the password.

Check the macOS keychain

If you use a Mac and configured the iTunes backup password on that Mac, your computer may have kept a record of the password in its keychain.

You can check this by loading the "Keychain Access" app that comes with every Mac.

  1. Launch Keychain Access by opening Spotlight with ⌘ Cmd + ., typing "Keychain Access", and then hitting ⏎ Enter.
  2. Click "Passwords" in the left-hand category sidebar.
  3. Type "backup" into the search box in the top-right of the window.
  4. View the saved password entries by double-clicking on results named iOS Backup or iPhone Backup.
  5. Check the "Show password" box and the password will be displayed.

Unfortunately, there's no simple equivalent of doing this for Windows users.

Backup to iCloud, erase the device and restore

There's also a nuclear technique for removing an iTunes backup password setting from your device. Enable iCloud backups under settings, back it up, then erase and restore it.

This process is long-winded -- especially for users with a lot of data or a slower connection -- and ideally avoided. You can see our guide to making an iCloud backup to follow this approach.

If in doubt: reach out

Our support team are able to help customers with recovery of lost passwords in some cases. Please do reach out to us using the support details below.

About the author

Aidan Fitzpatrick founded Reincubate in 2008 after building the world's first iPhone data recovery tool, iPhone Backup Extractor. He's spoken at Google on entrepreneurship, and is a graduate of the Entrepreneurs' Organisation's Leadership Academy.

Reincubate's CEO at Buckingham Palace

Pictured above are members of Reincubate’s team meeting HM Queen Elizabeth Ⅱ at Buckingham Palace, after being awarded the UK’s highest business award for our work with Apple technology. Read our position on privacy, safety and security.

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Comments (5)

God Bless You! I was just about to give up after many hours of tech support etc.

Aww, thanks. Don't be a stranger, reach out if you need help!

Hi! I have same problem can’t remember my password, is it any solution to recover the password?

Sure, drop us a note the support team may be able to help you.

Can't recall "password" used to encrypt my iPhone backup. Please help. OS is Windows 10 Home. Assuming without this password I can't recover any files in my backup.

Hi Tony -- please drop us an email on the link below (or use live chat) and we'll do our best to help.

I backed up my old phone yesterday to itunes not knowing it was encrypted and when I went to restore my new phone to that backup I was unable to because I do not have the encryption password.

Hi Brianna, thanks for commenting! Buzz us on live chat and we'll help if we can. 🙂

goodmorning i've lost all files stored in one backup, because i don't remember the Itunes Backup Password. what can I do? thanks in advance

Hi Nicolas, drop us a note on live chat and we'll see if we can help!

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