When backup + restore doesn't backup and restore all of your data

I recently did a full backup of my iphone 6 using Itunes on my Mac,
followed by “Erasing All Content and Settings” (under Settings, General, Reset.

I then restored the iphone to the latest backup, during whcih two unusual things occurred which surprised me.

After the restore had completed, to the point I was able to use my iphone, many of the apps still showed they were being restored- as if they were being downloaded via wifi, as opposed having been transferred from the restore procedure. This took a very long time, so I let the phone on overnight, hoping it would finish by the morning. All app icons looked normal in the morning, phew. Very strange indeed.

The second surprise is- the podcast episodes that I had downloaded into PocektCasts, were not restored (I don’t know if they were dumped during the backup or the restore). I usually have 8 or so podcasts downloaded at any one time, so I can listen to them while commuting. The podcast icons are still there, but there is no data.

While podcast episodes are not critical, one expects a full backup and restore to do just that, without question or doubt.

This begs the question- What other data hould have been backed up and restore, but isn’t?
Given that my iphone has about 10GB+ more free space now, than before the backup, I am quite concerned.

I wouldn’t expect a gain of 10GB due to defragmentation. A few GB perhaps…

The general philosophy of iPhone backups is not to back up anything that can be redownloaded from other sources.

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Chris is correct.

Also, iOS stores a lot of “temp” data that doesn’t need to be backed up/restored. System and application logs, system updates that haven’t been applied yet, app data caches, browser cache, etc.

I wouldn’t be concerned about it unless you see specific data missing like contacts or calendar entries.

Source: I’m an iOS developer.

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I have some apps, like the WSJ app, that cache content. Those types of apps can shrink by a GB or more on a restore (but they “grow” back as they start caching content again). If you are using Files and Photos with content in the cloud iOS takes a somewhat “lazy” approach to restoring the local copies. Some of it will show up pretty quickly and, depending on the number of docs/photos, the complete restore could take a day or two. But if you try to access a file or photo that hasn’t yet been restored iOS will grab it on demand.

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I wasn’t aware of this.

If this is correct, then the backup and restore process is quite misleading.

When I last looked, I had over 5000 songs on my ios device. They didn’t all come from Apple.
Does this mean I have to go find the non-Apple original sources and digitize them again?

Any songs you copied to the phone from your Mac (as opposed to downloading from the iTunes store), should be in the backup. No, you shouldn’t need to find the original copies. Are you missing songs?

I don’t know, and probably won’t know until 8 months from now when I find some missing. I’m not going to go through the 5000+ songs.

I shouldn’t need to inventory things. This partial backup of apple’s isn’t well thought out. How much time will be lost when users need to go find their missing files?

:thinking: Wait, have we determined that user files are missing from devices after a restore? User data and media the user loads on the device is in the backup. Media and app binaries that can be re-download are not. What’s missing?

If you are referring to the podcast files in your original post, that is probably working like the app developer intended. Without getting too far into the weeds, the app developer tells iOS which files in the app need to be backed up and which do not. PocketCasts told iOS to backup the podcast subscription metadata. But since PocketCasts can re-download the media files at any time, it told Apple not to back those up.

Excluding these files from the backup is good for the user. Backups run faster, use less network bandwidth and use less iCloud storage.

It’s a waste of the users time to 1. Find out what’s missing, and
2. Download all of that data again.

It’s a poor decision on Apple’s part to call this a backup, when so much data isnt backed up.