How to restore an iOS backup to an earlier version of iOS

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If you find yourself needing to restore a backup from a device with a newer version of iOS than the target device, you'll need to be aware that restoring a newer backup to a downgraded iOS device isn't possible without a few tweaks. If you try without, you'll see this message:

iTunes could not restore the iPhone "Renate's iPhone" because the backup was corrupt or not compatible with the iPhone that is being restored.

Trying to restore an iOS beta backup to an older version of iOS
Trying to restore an iOS beta backup to an older version of iOS

What are your options, then? Well, there's two:

  1. Patch your backup to make it compatible with the earlier iOS, or

  2. Pull the data you need from your iTunes or iCloud backup, and import it

We describe how the first technique below, and our guide on backup recovery covers the second technique.

How to patch downgrade an iOS backup version

Patching a backup for an iOS downgrade is pretty straightforward, although it isn't possible to move between just any version. We've highlighted the version downgrades that we've tested and know are working below.

Step 1. Take a copy of your iOS backup before you modify it.

Step 2. Open the Info.plist file in the root folder of your backup.

You can open this file with any simple text editor.

Step 3. Search for Product Version, and you'll find a section that looks like the text below.

<key>Product Type</key>
<string>iPhone10,6</string>
<key>Product Version</key>
<string>12.3.2</string>
<key>Serial Number</key>
<string>C8QH6T96DPNG</string>

Step 4. Change the Product Version value and save the file.

For example, from 12.1.3 to 12.1 or 12.0 and save the file.

Which backup versions are possible to downgrade from?

It may be that other version downgrades work, but these are the ones we've tested and confirmed working. This technique relies on there being little different to the underlying storage format between some versions. If you have success with other versions, please let our readers know in the comments below.

iOS version Backup downgrade confirmed for
13.4 13.3.1
13.3.1 13.3
13.3 12.4.4, 12.3.3
13.2 12.3.4
13.1.3 12.3.3
12.3.2 12.3.1
12.1.3 12.1.2
12.1.3 12.1, 12.0
12.0 11.4
9.0 beta 8.4
8.0.1 8.0
8.0 beta 7
7.0 6.1.4, 6.1.3

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Comments (23)

Successful from : 13.5.1 (iPhone X) to 12.4.6 (iPhone 6) Thanks a lot

Restoring from iPhone 7 iOS 13.6 to iPhone 5S iOS 12.4.8 worked fine!

worked for me iPhone XR 14.0 beta 2 > 13.5.1

IPhone 13.6 > 13.5.1 sucessfull !!

Thanks

thanks for this write up, worked on iPhone SE 13.4.1 to iPhone 6 12.4.7.

You're a life saver! Worked from 7+ iOS 13.3 backup to iOS 13.2.3 iPhone 11 Pro Max

Working 13.5.1 to 13.5 on iPhone 11 Pro Max

WORKED FOR 11 PRO MAX 13.5.1 TO 13.5 JAILBREAK LIVE BRASIL

Thank you so much! Worked for an old iPhone 5, restoring from an iPhone SE, 13.4 to 12.4.7

I KNEW it. There had to be a way. THANK YOU, thank you THANK YOU.

Don't know how I stumbled on to this page, but grateful beyond words, that I did. Used option #1 Worked like a champ. iphone 5se destroyed. Picked up a 5s for next to nothing. OS on the 5se was 13.5 The 5s only goes up to 12.4.7 I Tunes or I Cloud wouldn't restore the backup. Called Apple support, and they didn't have a clue. Thanks again. Really worked.

I'm trying to restore my backup from iphone 7plus(iOS 13.3.1) to iPhone 8(iOS 13.4.1). I was getting the error message while progressing the restoring process. The message is 'iTunes could not restore the iPhone "iPhone" because the backup was corrupt.'

I changed the Product Version in the Info.plist file in the root folder to 13.4.1 from 13.3.1. But still the same error popping up!

Please help me to get my backup :(

Hi Sreekanth. Changing the version like this won't help if the backup is corrupt. We've got a guide for fixing corrupt backups here. If you get stuck, drop us a note!

It work for me too. Thanks a lot. 13.4.1 (iphone 7 plus) to 12.4.6 (iphone 6)

Thank you so much! It worked from 13.3 (iphone 7) to 12.4.6 (iphone 6) :) it just saved me from a loooot of trouble :)

Great article.

worked from iphone 7 (13.4) to iphone 6 (12.4.6)

It is working for IOS 13.4 to 13.3.1

Brilliant!

how about 13.3 to 13.3.1?

That'll work fine. 🙂

Hi!

Worked for iPhone 5s with iOS 10.3.3 importing backup from iPhone X with iOS 13.1.4. Thanks!

can I restore my 13.3.1 to 13.3?

Yes, that should be no problem.

Great Article! I was able to use a 13.3 ios BackUp on a 12.4.4 ios on iPhone 6!

Thanks!

Worked for iPhone 6 with iOS 12.4.4 importing backup from iPhone 7 with iOS 13.3. Thanks!

iPhone 8 13.3 > iPhone 6 12.4.4 = fail iPhone 8 13.3 > iPhone 6 12.3.3 = success!

I succesfully downgraded from an iPhone 6s on 13.2 to an iPhone 6 on 12.3.4 ! Thank you for your precious information !

Awesome! Thanks for commenting.

Just did a restore from 13.1.3 ver on 12.3.3 Thanks for info

Thanks for letting us know!


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