How to Update an iPhone Without a Backup

Written by paul kemp
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The process of updating the software on your iPhone can take up to several hours, depending upon the amount of data on your phone and the content of the particular update you are executing. The most time-consuming part of the update process is the automatic backup of your iPhone that iTunes initiates when you update. You do, however, have a few options for disabling the program's capability to create an automatic backup or to speed along the backup process.

Skill level:

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  1. 1

    Use the terminal/command line code entry described on the AppAdvice page (see References). The process involves a few simple tweaks to your iTunes preferences that do not require you to be a hacker or coding expert. Windows users must locate and back up their computer's iTunesPrefs.xml file, open the file in a text editor and enter the following code in the document's User Preferences section:






    After you save these changes to the file and restart iTunes, automatic backup is disabled.

  2. 2

    Download DigiDNA's BackOff program, which is available free (see References) and allows you to shut the backup function on and off by simply launching the application and clicking an on/off icon. This program is ideal for people who are uncomfortable entering any sort of code and makes it simple to turn on the automatic backup any time you like.

  3. 3

    Put your iPhone into aeroplane mode prior to starting the update. You can do this by touching the "Settings" icon and setting the "Airplane Mode" switch to "On." This does not technically disable the backup but ensures that it moves more quickly and disables phone calls and text messages, which can stall the update process.

Tips and warnings

  • Make sure there is at least one backup of your iPhone's data, or perform a manual backup before making the update without automatic backup. You may lose things like contacts, calendar events and call logs through the update process, and you can easily restore your phone's information if you have a prior backup file.

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