How to back up your jailbreak tweaks before updating in iOS 6

By , Feb 21, 2013

Cydia App Icon

Many of our regular readers have been asking us about backup solutions for their devices after the release of iOS 6.1.2 and the jailbreak that followed shortly afterwards. I want to be clear here: automated backups can be very bad news. If you restore your tweaks without going through Cydia, and an update breaks a single tweak, you won’t have a fun time attempting to find the incompatible package that crashes your phone at startup. While minor updates (like 6.1 to 6.1.2) are less likely to cause conflicts, the risk is never zero.

With that warning in mind, there are a number of options for backing up your Cydia tweaks when upgrading to iOS 6.1.2…

openbackup

OpenBackup is currently the best solution for restoring your Cydia tweaks. I’m happy to report that the utility has matured significantly since Jeff originally reviewed the app in 2011. OpenBackup still syncs with iCloud, but it now supports backups of paid tweaks, has a clean user interface, and can now be used to download copies of installed packages along with their dependencies. This way you can keep a complete local copy of your tweaks on your computer’s hard drive in case Cydia is knocked offline. The best thing about OpenBackup is the price; it’s a completely free option. So even if the backup doesn’t work, at least you haven’t wasted your money.

Openbackup debsManually saving downloaded debian packages with OpenBackup

The only other working backup app that was updated in 2013 (or since 2012 for that matter) is PkgBackup. PkgBackup is a $9.99 utility that includes premium features like automatic backups, cloud saving to DropBox, and support for Bonjour, Bump, Facebook, and Twitter. This may be reason enough to stick with PkgBackup, but it’s a hard sell for an unreliable category of utilities when the best alternative is free.

For what it’s worth, I also attempted to use the recently released Total Backup. Disappointingly, Total Backup was unable to backup jailbreak tweaks on my iPad in iOS 6.1, but the tweak does allow for archiving photos, contacts, SMS messages, contacts, calls, and notes, as well as saved Cydia repositories, so you might be able to get some use out of it.

For my money, the best option is to keep a list of your favorite jailbreak tweaks on hand and install the software through Cydia. Sure, it’s not a one-button solution, and it won’t work if Cydia is knocked offline after a major jailbreak, but this way you won’t be blindsided when you unwittingly install a dozen incompatible tweaks.

What has your experience with tweak backups been like? Share your thoughts in the comments section.

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  • jorith

    Personally i have bought and used pkgbackup, but im here to warn everyone. DO NOT WASTE YOUR MONEY! It has never done its job for me, except for restoring to the same version of ios. But because of the way pkgbackup works it is most likely to backup all the flaws in you system too, so that’s pretty useless. If you just want to have a quick install of tweaks only it is ok, SOMETIMES. But for the really useful part, backing up your settings, its more then useless, often resulting in even more errors and crashes after a restore. My advice would be the same as the one here, just take a pencil and a piece of paper and spend 5 minutes writing down names(if your really lazy, take screenshots). In most cases this is even faster as pkgbackup, seeing as usually a backup takes about an hour or so.
    Hope this helps.

    • http://twitter.com/dallasgroot Dallas Groot

      I’ve gotten success every time I have used it. And it was update couple weeks ago to kick out some minor bugs.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Lorenzo-Giovannacci/1524992263 Lorenzo Giovannacci

      You should install AppInfo. It gives you the possibility to create a mail with al, the tweaks installed. Better than a piece of paper!

      • deepdvd

        ^^^ This ^^^ Except I just copy and paste from the email to SimpleNote (similar to EverNote, but simpler and better for me)

    • http://twitter.com/researchrants Research Rants

      I agree completely. I had great luck with it when I first had it, but it was absolutely useless going from 5 to 6, and from now on, I’ll just be jotting down what I have,

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/David-Cawthorne/1711701718 David Cawthorne

      Hi, you can use PkgBackup to reinstall your tweaks to a different iOS version. But you still need to check your tweak list and deselect any tweaks which have not been upgraded for that iOS yet. The second thing I do is to ONLY select tweaks, never their dependencies as PgkBackup will do this for you when installing your tweak. That way you don’t get system/library files which were only compatible with your previous iOS.

    • http://twitter.com/Nullbrand Niclas

      This is incorrect. Here’s some information for you:

      1. You can backup all packages(tweaks), but DO NOT RESTORE ALL PACKAGES. Make sure the ones you restore are compatible with the IOS version you are using. Also, never restore dependencies(like “APT 0.7..”, “libhide” or “PreferenceLoader”)

      2. If you are afraid of version mismatch going from ex. ios5 to ios6, first backup packages, then upgrade the standard way(iTunes) -> then backup the rest with PKGbackup.
      Note: I have never had any problems skipping this step.

      3. If you are restoring a large amount(~100mb+) of data, use backup to file for god’s sake! For an average used iphone, it will take ~10min for a full backup.

      4. Because of the way PKGbackup works it will NEVER transfer a system flaw to a restored device if you do not to restore system settings(witch you shouldn’t, if you had any problems previously).

    • http://mikelightman.com/blog mikelite

      same here. It’s failed me every single damned time. And the developer ignored the f out of me. He made time to hype his expensive products, but not to support them.

    • http://twitter.com/rcnino Ryan C

      If you had problems, you didn’t use the software properly. I went from 5.1.1 to 6.1.1 on Monday. I had been running the same backup for 3 years and I wanted to setup my device as new for iOS 6, but keep the important stuff like my 3 year old SMS database and saved voicemails. PKGBackup worked perfectly for this. As I started downloading tweaks from Cydia (so much from iOS 5 is incompatible with 6) I was able to restore the plists for my highly configured apps like BiteSMS and iKeyWi (others I just tick the few settings needed).

      My backup is stored on my phone, so as I slowly redownload apps and games I can restore the data and saves on a per app basis from iOS 5.

      Then I went from 6.1.1 to 6.1.2. This time I did a full PKGBackup restore without picking and choosing. As my App Store apps got redownloaded, they went to the exact same position (even creating the proper folders) as previous, and that is with my More Icons layout.

      As for support, I emailed the author yesterday and he responded within a few hours with steps to resolve my issue.

      I can’t sing enough praise for PKGBackup. It is a comprehensive backup solution with plenty of professional features. If you know what you are doing, you will be very happy with this software. It is well worth the $10 as I know I’ll be using it in the future.

  • http://www.facebook.com/johnny.tucats Johnny Tucats

    Used OpenBackup yesterday and it worked well.

  • http://twitter.com/dtourond Devon

    Thanks for this. I’ve used PKGBackup and the experience I got from using it wasn’t great. I’m going to try OpenBackup.

  • http://twitter.com/zackismetal Zack Fulmer

    To the person below, i agree. This tweak backs up all of the positives, not the negatives.

  • http://www.idownloadblog.com Sebastien

    Personally I never backup my tweaks because it’s more trouble than anything else. I like to do a clean restore and start fresh, and I usually end up installing less tweaks than I had on my previous install.

    • jorith

      another great point! reduce the tweak load!

    • http://twitter.com/doubleaa25 Adham

      I personally do the same as well. I have always had trouble when I backed up tweaks, and I also find since I am lazy I only install the tweaks I absolutely want.

    • Nikul Desai

      Hi Sebastien!! Big fan of IDB!! Hey do you know any tools/methods to backup some specific AppStore apps other than iTunes backup? I prefer fresh install too but I just want to have some app’s data restored when I upgrade. Any suggestions??

      • chepeloni

        ifunbox?

      • Nikul Desai

        Thanks chepeloni..let’s see how it goes…it’s just i haven’t read a lot about backing up app data like this and then restore what you like..so not sure how successful my approach is going to be.

      • chepeloni

        i saw your other message. what exactly do you want to do? app’s data restored?

      • Nikul Desai

        Well when I upgrade and do clean install I want to restore some app’s data. Since I would be doing a clean install, I won’t be using iTunes backup of the phone.

      • chepeloni

        you can RESTORE with iTunes and select the IPSW file you want (hold shift and then click restore) instead of upgrade, that’s a clean install and if you don’t want to restore the apps with itunes, you don’t have to, instead you can use ifunbox … but, why you dont wanna use itunes? by the way, in order to make ifunbox, you have to have itunes installed, not running, but installed on the pc.

      • Nikul Desai

        That’s how I am planning to install. And from my experience it’s always best to do clean install when you upgrade specially if you were jailbroken. I do use iFunbox at occasions so I knew about iTunes needed to be installed..i am just not sure how effective manual backup using iFunbox will be. Well we’ll see..Thanks chepeloni for the input..

      • http://Michaelschnier.tumblr.com Michael Schnier

        I think you’ll want to search for Tutorial: How To Save Your iOS Game Progress Before A Restore on iDownloadblog.

      • http://Michaelschnier.tumblr.com Michael Schnier

        You can also save a lot of time if you use iFunbox to open the folders directly instead of applinks.

      • Nikul Desai

        I wasn’t sure I could backup using iFunbox..So basically is there any functionality to backup data or just manually copying from Raw File System using iFunbox..
        Thanks

      • http://Michaelschnier.tumblr.com Michael Schnier

        No. Go to User Applications, open the application you want to save data from, and make a copy of the Documents and Library folders. That’s where your saved data is for each app. Copy the data back after you restore.

      • Nikul Desai

        Got ya!! Thanks Michael..I used to backup a few things using WinSCP back in the iPhone 2g’s days when iTunes wasn’t backing up everything…those were the days!!! ;)

      • JAE_NYCe

        You can back up your apps as .ipa’s with iFunBox which include data
        and all. Just go to user applications then select your apps and
        right-click and click on ‘Backup to .ipa Package’.

      • Nikul Desai

        Yea I checked that last night. Is there a way we can check the contents to see if .ipa has “Documents” & “Library” files in it?. Or those only gets created when the .ipa is installed? I used 7-zip to see .ipa contents and it had all the contents but I couldn’t find “Documents”/”Library” folders in it.

      • JAE_NYCe

        Not sure but it should backup all data.

      • http://twitter.com/monster_hazardo Roger Riekki

        get DataDeposit from cydia it works really well!

      • Nikul Desai

        Never heard of DataDeposit…i should look into this..

      • http://twitter.com/asafmoraz Asaf Moraz

        It’s a great tool look for it on Cydia. But i think iTools is much better and with a click of a button makes the same job and even better and faster.

      • Nikul Desai

        Thanks Asaf. I will try iTiools too..

      • http://twitter.com/burlow burlow

        I agree – datadeposit is genius, only fault is no option to back up all apps – you’re left selectively tapping each one….takes a long time if you have a lot of apps.

      • RarestName

        AppBackup

    • GuyBey0ndC00L

      Is the any real point to update to 6.1.2

      • http://twitter.com/asafmoraz Asaf Moraz

        If you don’t have problems don’t.

      • GuyBey0ndC00L

        I don’t use exchange but does your iPhone drain anyway

      • http://www.facebook.com/barz91 Alpay Barz Ozalper

        It’s fine bro u don’t need to update your baterry will only drain if you have a exchange account set up on the phone.

      • GuyBey0ndC00L

        Thankyou didn’t want to waste my time

      • Esteban Espinoza

        If you’re running iOS 6.1 then yes, since there is no app sync version compatible with iOS 6.1.

    • seyss

      just did this yesterday.. installed much less

    • http://twitter.com/asafmoraz Asaf Moraz

      But if you restore your device often, it can save you a lot of time.

    • http://twitter.com/Nullbrand Niclas

      Dont use OpenBackup, you can’t choose what to backup/restore.

      Real Pro Tip:

      Use PKGbackup. It can backup everything while keeping it clean.

      I backup:

      SMS+Photos+call record+maps favorites+icon layout+all app data+all tweaks without settings). Then I transfer/Sync all apps to my computer.

      The rest is taken care of by iCloud.

      After this, I do a full ipsw restore+set up as new. Sync my apps from computer.

      Next I restore all native content(SMS, app data etc) with PKGbackup.

      The last thing I do is go through the tweaks list and choose what I really need. If I’m missing a tweak I enter PKGbackup and restore it.

      No unwanted settings, jailbreak files, modifications, etc. is left.

      Its a fresh Install with the stuff you want.

    • http://twitter.com/Hitul_Gandhi Hitul Gandhi

      I Agree

  • sai nathan

    Jeff a video on this bro?

  • Michael

    I have had no problems with my phone and im on 6.1 , should i update?

    • http://twitter.com/asafmoraz Asaf Moraz

      If you have no problems so don’t look for them lol

  • http://www.facebook.com/liamsagooch Liam Googolplex Merlyn

    Could have done with this just an hour ago. Once again, I put my faith in AptBackup and once again it let me down. Thanks though

  • http://twitter.com/dallasgroot Dallas Groot

    I’m my opinion out of the two, Pkgbackup worked better for me. Often things that have a price tag work out better (in my opinion :))

  • Mads Teland

    But I can recommend AptBackup and it’s free :)

  • Nikul Desai

    Little bit out of topic question for you pros: After jailbreak, It’s always better to start fresh and set up your iphone as a new device rather than using backup and I prefer that. Any suggestions on how can I backup App Store App data without using iTunes backup. Manually using SSH or is there any tool? I would really appreciate some advise. Thanks a lot

    • http://www.facebook.com/liamsagooch Liam Googolplex Merlyn

      It’s usualy saved into iCloud assuming you have “Documents and data” turned on. Don’t think this applies for all apps though, only one’s that the devs have integrated into the app.

      • Nikul Desai

        Exactly!! It’s not integrated to all the apps.

    • http://twitter.com/Nullbrand Niclas

      It’s spelled PKGbackup.
      I can’t understand why iDB won’t put up a guide on it since it is the only tool for starting fresh, with just the data you need restored. They must hate the dev or something.

  • http://twitter.com/jahoys jahoys

    like jorith said, just make a copy of all the tweaks/apps you installed via Cydia. screenshots are the quickest way. i trasfer the photos to my mac via iPhoto and it’s done.

  • http://www.facebook.com/formulajohnny Johnny A. Rojas

    I just updated my iPhone 5 and used source saver first then openbackup

  • Tom

    Does anyone know of one that at least makes a list of all installed packages and sources so i can add them again by hand ?

    • bloodshed

      do it manually, unless you have a massive number of tweaks..personally, i use 15 at most..so it’s not a problem..and i totally agree with some respectful members here about backing-up your cydia packages, it’s even more headache ‘n it’s not recommended..in my pov, i prefer a fresh install.

  • Tom

    Anyway to get a list of installed packages and sources

    • mdgcat

      You can on the command line. dpkg and aptitude is what you’re looking for.

  • http://www.soundwrightpro.com/ Duwayne A. Wright

    Thanks Mike! Just what I was looking for!

  • http://www.facebook.com/linton.findlay Linton Findlay

    I dont like restoring all the time because i hate resetting my games and settings all the time, so wish there was a utility that cleans backups of jailbreak data so we can Have a semi-clean install

    • mdgcat

      You might look into iTools.

    • http://twitter.com/Nullbrand Niclas

      Look no further. PKGbackup is what you’re looking for.

  • DTM

    Just don’t get the customizing, jailbreak stuff? Whether iOS or Android. People rather have a phone that looks “cool” than a phone that works reliably. Don’t get it.

    This from someone that bought their first car phone in 1985 (3 days to activate) and first handheld in 1986, a Uniden. And is a tech geek who has owned many a phone in those years since (and every iPhone since release times 3 on my account) on every service available. I’m so old I lived the $1.00 a minute call either incoming or outgoing and the monthly bills of that time.

    Buy “cool” phones and leave them reliable. One really needs that cool background wallpaper? A Dock that looks like on a Mac OS? icons that bounce. Apps that can access your personal info without telling the phone owner?

    Don’t get it.

    • mdgcat

      And yet you’re on a jailbreak site.

      What’s the point of posting this “get off my lawn” old man routine? Do you feel better about yourself? Chastising people just for the sake of it?

      What’s next? Going to Weight Watchers meeting to call them fat?

      Don’t get it.

    • ThisBrian

      My jailbroke phone is very reliable and now it has many features I want. I don’t jailbreak to have a cool looking phone, no themes here just lots of shortcuts. So you really don’t know until you try, but that doesn’t mean you don’t need to do your homework.

      I get it!

      • smtp25

        ditto no themes, well I did find barrel amusing :) but yeah more functional than stock but still stable

    • smtp25

      Jail break tweaks can over come short comings in the products (iOS mainly). In iOS to change brightness for example; Settings then Brightness then adjust it .. With Jailbreak I can have a slider right on the springboard. Same with quick access to airplane mode, wireless, Bluetooth – without digging through menus.

      I think you mislabel yourself a tech geek – JB / tweaks are the epitome of geeks, to change and improve technology

    • http://mikelightman.com/blog mikelite

      A tech geek does not a tinkerer make, brother. Sure, themes are a big & important part of JB’ing, but making my phone “look cool” isn’t the main appeal. Your first two examples are pretty weak. I get folders that close when I expect them to, I get faster access to my camera, I get better messaging – overall, I get a better, more personalized experience. It’s the ability to do what I want with my property. My phone is totally reliable. And thanks to this kickass community, I know more than the average user that Apple prefers to keep dumb. And I know that if something goes wrong, I’ve got the community to help me figure out what happened. I’m not as young as most of these kids, but for the time being, the tinkerer spirit is alive in me and jailbreaking scratches the itch to make my phone better than when it came out the box.

    • http://twitter.com/rcnino Ryan C

      The point of jailbreaking is being free to do whatever you want on YOUR (not Apple’s) phone/device, whether it’s to make it look like nothing else out there or to get a task done more efficiently. Through trial and error you learn. It took me a while to learn that Winterboard, while awesome, really degrades performance. But now with my great PKGBackup experience, ayecon is looking very appealing. If it hurts reliability, I’ll spend the hour to redo my phone from scratch and not lose a thing.

  • Tum

    How’s about xBackup? Anybody have experience with this app?

    • 4p0c4lyps3

      I used it on ios 4, I think. It didn’t seem to work on subsequent ios’ tho.

  • Patrick Mock

    wow this article came up the day after i restored and then rejailbroke and the reason i restored in because i was still on evasi0n 1.0 lol

    • RarestName

      If you upgraded the untether from Cydia, there’s no difference between the jailbreak tool versions.

  • http://www.facebook.com/UchihaItachiLegacy Volker Lobato

    I have updated my iphone 4s to 6.1.2 .. battery issue solved! But the overheating while playing.. Still there :c anyone know how to fix it? It really gets hot while playing any game :(

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/John-Hazlett/100000399685156 John Hazlett

    OpenBackup failed miserably for me when called on to perform. I had kept a list of apps and tweaks, just in case. That worked.

  • http://twitter.com/e420kush e420Kush

    This app has never worked for me, just upgraded to 6.1.2 from 6.1 and guess what, still did not work or do anything. WTF. Am I missing something, Backup, restore/jailbreak, reinstall openbackup, click restore, says “reboot” and after reboot nothing is installed? WTF

  • Ray V

    xBackup works for me. I used it recently when my phone got fucked up from a tweak. I re-installed ios and then restored with xBackup.

  • wadjj

    My suggestion: update everything beforehand, restore tweaks only right after backup your tweaks and restore your system, never ever use a old tweak backup, it’s way more trouble than help

  • Damian W

    PKGBackup is the most complete backup tweak you will ever find. Pricey but top quality.

  • Leonardo

    Hello! I need help here please!
    I jailbroke my iPod and I installed a few tweaks and for some reason my iPod 5G reboots by itself sometimes and I can’t like pictures on Instagram by double tapping anymore. What’s going on? Can someone please help me? Thanks

  • http://www.facebook.com/JusR23 Justin Rowe

    I’ve always wondered why Cydia didn’t use back up facility Rock had after they purchased it.

  • http://twitter.com/MattDaddyG3 Matt Millegan

    I use xBackup on 3 devices. Worked very well when I updated from 6.1 to 6.1.1 and 6.1.2. I’d probably start fresh if I was to do a major update like from 5.1 to 6.1

  • http://twitter.com/rasramanirish JAB

    Hi all, iPhone 4S 6.1.2 jailbreak users, DON’T turn off the device manually or let it off without charge, WEATHER CRASHING BUG will start.
    Anyone please know how to fix???????

  • Dave Middleton

    Here’s what I do: Before I upgrade to a new jail breakable firmware, I take screen shots on my two devices of all my cydia packages, sources, my Xpander shortcuts, etc.. Anything that might be important. Once those screenshots are in the my Photostream, I back up and jb one device and make sure it’s working we’ll. Then I do the other. What’s amazing is that a lot of the settings for tweaks (like Xpander for example,) carry over

  • http://www.facebook.com/pravin3677 Pravin Francis

    Does openbackup works?anyone tried?

  • http://twitter.com/burlow burlow

    i find out i actually don’t like most of the tweaks I install – especially those that modify the look of the phone, so I always start fresh after a restore (I do keep a spreadsheet with a running list of current/old tweaks and repos).

    The one thing that got me away from backing up all my tweaks is datadeposit – I love this app, as it lets you selectively back up data for individual apps. Games, photo editing apps…they all return to how they were pre-restore.
    this has made updating/restoring SO much easier.

  • http://twitter.com/burlow burlow

    what is the best method for just backing up call history, call favorites, map bookmarks, and other obscure data like that?
    (datadeposit is great for downloaded apps, but I can’t find anything for stock apps).

  • http://twitter.com/jmarsh5 Justin Marshall

    Anyone having problems with their apps not staying open after you switch to another app. None of my apps are staying open and I have to start all over. For example if I am playing a podcast, pause it from the app switcher, and then go to another app, say maps, once I go to the app switcher again it has closed the podcasts app and I have to comletley restart it. This only started happening after I jailbroken. I assume it is a tweak I installed but can’t seem to figure out which one it is.

  • becoolyolanda

    Hey guys – will those who skip 6.1.2 on jb’d phones be able to upgrade to later firmware (assuming the hack is still valid) or does apple force these to be done sequentially? (6.1.3 beta has already been seeded to devs) -thanks

  • http://twitter.com/drewstone2 drewstone

    i, like Sebastian, do a fresh restore, and keep a list on my computer of paid apps/tweaks then install each one. i do use aptbackup, and that seems to backup most things. i know it takes time, but like he said, i install less because some tweaks cover others.

  • Dan

    So why the hell I’m going to update? It is worthless.
    I’m fine on 6.1

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Zeljko-Nikolic/1646404156 Zeljko Nikolic

    I never use backups because they never work for me but a backup for my cydia apps is nice if i can install it on another iphone like my brothers so i dont have to do the procedure two times.

  • http://twitter.com/gind1yoss1 yoss

    Use xbackup on cydia for $1.5 saves sources repos and all cydia data including icon layout and more
    Worth evry dime and it also backsup on the cloud so no fiddling after restore

  • http://www.facebook.com/Gaugeprower Jonathan Matias

    I used a tweak called BACK2DEB. It was simple, and backed up all my packages to the original .deb files which i saved to the computer with ifunbox. After the restore i dragged the deb packages i wanted into the cydia app install in ifunbox an rebooted my phone. Done.

  • DTM

    Thanks mdgcat I wasn’t aware idownloadblog is a jailbreak site. Good to know, After I post this I will be deleting my bookmark and Reader RSS feed of idownloadblog. Bye idownloadblog

  • zach b

    my jailbroken ipod will not connect to itunes