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>
<key>Product Version</key>
<key>Serial Number</key>

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
16.2 16.1.2
14 beta 12.4.6
13.6 13.5.1, 13.5, 12.4.8
13.5.1 13.5, 12.4.6
13.5 12.4.71
13.4.1 12.4.7
13.4 13.3.1, 12.4.7
13.3.1 13.3
13.3 13.2.3, 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 (45)

As for Oct 22 It works for iOS 17.03 > 17.0.2 on a iPhone XS Max however you need to change the Product Version value as well on the Manifest.plist file located in the root folder of your backup.

Excellent, thanks very much! Went from iPad mini5 16.5.1 to iPad mini4 15.7.6

iPhone 8 (16.5.1) can restore backup on iPhone 7 Plus (15.7.7).

LFG. Your the man Restored 16.1.2 to 15.7.7 & worked great

Successful from: 16.3.1 (iPhone X) to 15.7.3 (iPhone 7 Plus). Thanks so much.

iPhone 8 (16.2) -> iPhone 7 Plus (15.7.3) = success

It worked to change IOS 12.5.5 to 12.2, though there was a slight glitch. After the backup was completed from my 5s with the 12.5.5 to my erased 6s with the 12.2, iTunes SAID it could not sync to the new phone. But when I checked the 6s phone it was fine! Everything's there, far as I can tell. Great article, really helpful! Awesome solution, thanks!

10.3.4 (5) to 10.3.3 (5C) also works :)

Thanks a lot for this great article.

It worked for me from iPhone 7 with IOS "13.4.1" to iPhone 6 with IOS "12.05.04"

Works for iOS 15.0 > 14.6! This article saved me so much pain thank you Aidan

13.7 to 13.6 works fine!

Thanks a lot!

Thanks!! Worked for 14.4.1 on SE to 12.5.1 on 6

It was a backup from an iPhone SE 14.4.1 to an iPhone 5s 12.5.1

Thank you so much for this. I'd like to say it worked like a charm, but it did not at first :D

After several tries, the very thoughtful message from itunes that it did not work because it does not work and a little mental breakdown I did get it done!

Maybe helpful for some and quite logical for everyone else:

It worked nearly perfectly after I set back the 5s to factory settings and put in the SIM card before trying to do the backup again. And voila it worked.

Some stuff is missing but I'll figure that out! Thank you so much for this very helpful article! I hope Karma is good to you in return!!!

The backup worked from an iPhone SE first generation (iOs 13.5.1) to an old iPhone 6 (iOs 12.5.1). The only issue was with three newer apps that are not supported with the previous iOs and were not installed.

Thank You!

iPhone 6s iOS 11.3 restored from a iPhone 6s i0S 11.4.1 backup

13.6.1 to 12.2 worked

Great job

worked for me 6s 14.2 to 6 12.5.1

That's great! Thanks for sharing.

Thank you so much! iPhone 6s 14.2 128GB to iPhone 12.4.9 64GB worked flawlessly.

Worked from 14.2 xs max to 12.5 iphone 6

Thank you so much it was a time saver!!!!

Problem: New iPhone12 with 14.3, second hand old iPad with 12.5. Data transfer with iCloud refused because of IOS incompatibilty. So a try with iTunes. Same thing. Then I applied your suggested patch. Excellent. Thank you. You are THE expert!

Thank you — glad it helped! 🙂

from 6s 14.1 to 6Plus 12.4.9



Worked on with iphone SE (first gen) 14.2 --> iphone SE (first gen) 13.6, except for sms/imessages. Those were subsequently recovered by turning on icloud on both devices, turning sync messages to on, and giving the devices time to sync/download the messages (this takes several hours).

Thank you!!

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 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


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


how about 13.3 to 13.3.1?

That'll work fine. 🙂


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!


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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