How to Backup iPhone Game Progress [Without Jailbreaking]

By , Mar 17, 2011

They say game saves are the most prized possessions for gamers. If you play the likes of Angry Birds and Cut the Rope on your iPhone, you surely will worry a bit about losing the game progress when restoring your iOS devices. Unless you restore from a previous backup, which is not always possible, you will lose all the gameplay progress and the levels you had earlier unlocked and gained access to.

Previously, Alex shared a tutorial on how to backup games using a Cydia application called AppLinks. However, that’s only available to those with jailbroken devices. Let me show you how to do the same without jailbreaking your iPhone…

To gain access to iPhone’s files, we will use a utility called iPhone Explorer which is available for both Mac & Windows user as freeware. Connect your iOS device over USB and launch iPhone Explorer. Navigate to Apps > [Application which you want to backup]

You should be able to see a sub-folder called Documents. Drag this folder to a backup location on your computer. I’ve illustrated this with Angry Birds in the following screenshot.

Usually, a single file is enough to restore the game saves. For instance, Angry Birds saves all progress in the file called “highscores.lua” highlighted above. After you have installed the app on a freshly restored iOS device, follow the same steps to replace the highscores file or the full Documents folder in the case of other games.

When restoring to iOS 4.3, this is how I got back all the stars I had previously earned in Angry Birds Seasons.

For the changes to take effect, quit the application manually using the multitasking bar and then relaunch it.

This was a guest post from Rajat Kumar.

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  • soccerkrzy

    Huh? A sync with iTunes saves all that information, also, a update to 4.3 won’t lose the information to begin with.

    • http://www.trenpennrepairs.com Jj

      You must have failed language arts in school. Read the article again

      • soccerkrzy

        True, I mentioned the update whenever I was incorrect. But I’m still correct in a sync with iTunes, it saves your apps and your data embedded in the app in iTunes. So unless you’ve never sync’d your apps with iTunes, this is rather a pointless solution to a trivial problem.

      • fl0wingfire

        This is in case you need to restore

    • azharhamzahya

      @soccerkrzy Boo Hoo!!

    • QuarterSwede

      His point is that if you need to restore and NOT restore from backup because something in it is causing you issues then you still have a way to retain your games saves. This is useful.

    • Emre SUMENGEN

      What if you need to “restore” your iPhone’s iOS, but can’t/won’t restore from a backup?

      And, no, iTunes doesn’t save game status in anyways, let alone “embedded in the app”.

      Try again…

  • JB

    They should probably have linked the suggested application, “iPhone Explorer”. I know it’s a Google away, but some people are lazy. [http://www.macroplant.com/iphoneexplorer/]

  • Justin

    Sometimes this doesn’t work. IPhone Explorer is not reliable software and won’t send all the files over in many cases.

    I also have not been able to write files back to my phone…

  • Zenin

    i have had the same issue as Justin this isnt a reliable way. i have all my saved data but transfering it back doesnt restore anything on my phone.

  • Rajat

    @soccerkrzy
    truly, iTunes does a great job at backing up. This article serves those for whom restoring from a backup is not an option. For instance, when you do a fresh iOS install from scratch try syncing your apps.

    @Justin @Zenin
    iPhone explorer is a freeware and does have some issues. thankfully they have fixed the frequent crashes that used to happen earlier. As for file write not working, its a bug with replacing stuff. to fix it, just delete the file to be replaced on the iPhone, and then copy it over from your computer.

  • zEz

    I use a software called “iFunbox”. I think it’s a better software than which much more friendly GUI. You guys can check it out… just google =)

  • Weebsurfer

    I’ve performed a similar process to restore saves from angrybirds but since it seems to restore or reinstall games in a different and cryptic directory structure based on a guid the game freezes. Be great if game centre served some purpose of saving game progress to the “cloud” (I hate that word) instead of just achievements.

  • Maglor

    What about if I want to save all the notes, bookmarks, etc from another app like the BibleReader from Olive Tree? What do I have to do?

  • Edgar

    My issue with iPhone Explorer is that it does not get as far as this page shows. I can open the Apps folder but if a click on anything below, it says folder not available. I ran it as administrator (Vista) and same thing happened.

    • zEz

      try iFunbox, does wonders.

      • Edgar

        I tried it. It works on my jailbroken iphone but my wife’s iphone is updated with iOS 4.3 and it doesn’t work on hers. I thought about rolling back the firmware but it sounds riskier than jailbreaking.

  • http://surreystore.com iMacker

    To back up iPhone data before updating I used the method in the link/URL below; by accessing the root directory and copying the Library>Documents Folder

    http://surreystore.com/cms/articles/7-apple/32-how-to-back-up-data-before-update.html

    Worked like a charm!

  • Pre

    Sorry for a terrible question, but this conversation has baffled me! So if i were to perform a back up of mu iphone 4 onto itunes and then restore my phone and reinstall from the last back up, would my game progress on angry birds and cut the rope be saved? and can i start from the place i ended at?
    Thank you

    • Weebsurfer

      @pre – yeah, you’ll be fine. Stabdard backup and restore saves game files and you won’t loose progress. The scary parts of this conversation are for when you need to “restore as new” to get rid of some corruption or usually in an attempt to just help your phone run smoother (and better battery life).

  • Pre

    @Weebsurfer, thank you very much for your fast and very useful help! :) i am doing it because my iphone has stopped vibrating and apple want me to restore it! So in the end i may have to use the process stated in this blog anyway :( i hope not!

  • mike

    this didnt work for Cut the rope… it did for angry birds but cut the rope wont load my saved data, i had to start all over again meh…

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Channon-Forstner-Sawdon/100001655197560 Channon Forstner Sawdon

    I cannot purchase the Mighty Eagle because the app says I need to purchase the app first. I have Angry Birds Seasons, Rio and Space versions but cannot buy the Eagle for any game. I’ve been in contact with Rovio and they have suggested un-installing the games, re-booting my iPod Touch, then re-installing the games. I followed the link Rovio sent me to here, but am not understanding. Can someone out there assist me? Thanx in advance.
    AB gamer with issues

  • http://twitter.com/robin086 robin

    In My Case I Downloaded Planet Burn without any Cost Just after getting Itunes Cheers!

    • Planet Burn

      you can Enjoy its Full Version having added features for few bucks

  • Rome Balde

    The main problem here, everyone would agree, is that Apple did not program a user-friendly feature to save appware game saves, personal configuration, etc.
    The simplest solution would be to program a separate easy-to-find user-friendly folder totally independent of the appware itself. This way whether the app is installed/uninstalled/reinstalled/corrupted, it won’t affect the saves and config files, only the app itself.
    The problem with Apple is that they promote the iPhone as a cool hand-held computer and gaming console but totally disregards the needs of a computer and gaming console, most important of which is the need to ISOLATE the program from the saved filed/configurations.
    Computers can practically save their document files anywhere. I’m not sure about the iMac but in Windows, you can copy a single *.ini file that contains the configuration of a software. Gaming consoles save their game on a memory stick.
    So I really don’t understand why Apple did not think of this.
    It’s not too late. Apple simply needs to add this as an added feature in the next iOS and iTunes update. Even if the user cannot determine what saved game/configuration she is looking at inside the “saved game/config” folder, at least you know that it’s there – safe and sound.