The JBnator Diaries – Upgrading your jailbroken phone WITHOUT losing app information and savegames! (Updated for iOS 4.x)


Hey you, happy jailbreakers! Your favourite iPhone blogger ChiffaN here! I have decided that there is regrettable lack of comprehensive information on iPhone Jailbreaking. Well, not really. There is actually loads of such info on the web. But there are a number of issues, still left untouched by the general community, some of which were even deemed impossible! And here’s where I come in. In our new section, The JBnator Diaries, I will tackle such and try to put them in layman’s terms! Yeah, so even YOU can understand!

I will not bore you with what jailbreaking is. If you’re reading this, you likely already know about it. If not – google it, you’ll get more than enough results to satisfy your curiosity. And I will not describe the simple out of the box jailbreaking procedure, at least not separately. If you’re interested in that – you can check one of my recent posts on blackra1n, which has that. Rather, I will tackle one issue, any jailbreaker faces at the dreaded time when Apple releases a new OS version – upgrading without losing all the precious data on the phone. Yes, it CAN be done!

15.10.2010: Updated for iOS 4.x

Ok, folks, you’re probably asking yourself: “Why can’t we simply use the stock backup/restore feature of iTunes?” Well, strictly speaking, you can. But I would seriously advise against it for the following reason – apps, installed through Jailbreaking go quite deep into the OS files, and not all of them are backuped using the stock iTunes option. This can lead to rather unexpected crashes after the upgrade and tracking them is hellishly difficult. A lot of such problems were the widely hyped about problems with battery life after the upgrade to 3.0 and beyond, as well as a lot of the connectivity issues. My way is a bit more complex, but gives you a stable iPhone without any bugs carried over from the older OS versions.

Our toolbox for today:

  • iPhone 3G/3GS/4 or iPod Touch 2G/3G/4G or iPad
  • redsn0w (if on iPhone 3G or iPod Touch 2G) or limera1in (for everything else)
  • Windows or Mac OS personal computer with the latest version of iTunes
  • iPhone Folders – download latest version at the author’s site
  • Cydia apps
    • AppBackup
    • afc2add
    • iFile
  • The original Apple OS for your specific device – you can download it using iTunes or from the links below for version 4.1 & 3.2.2:

Phew… So, armed and ready, chaaaarge!

Ok, first of all, if your iDevice isn’t jailbroken yet – do so now. If you’re on iOS 4.x ahave and iPhone 3GS and above (or equivavalent)  – just follow my recent limera1n tutorial. If you’re on the iPhone 3G or iPod Touch 2G – search on the net for a redsn0w tutorial or just run the app – it’s rather straightforward.

Backup phase:

  1. Run iTunes, transfer purchases, sync and do a complete backup of the iDevice just in case.
  2. Navigate to \Documents and Settings\%username\Application Data\Apple Computer\MobileSync\Backup and sort by details to find the last updated folder
  3. Archive it and store somewhere safe!
  4. Pull off all photos and/or videos from your iDevice (most easily – by opening the iPhone from the Explorer, where it mounts as a Digital Camera)
  5. As a personal recommendation – I would advise you sift through your apps in iTunes and delete all you don’t use/have on the iDevice. You can always re-download them later for free and this way you don’t have to go and manually pick them for re-installation after the update – just pick all.
  6. Run AppBackup on the phone and save the data of all apps and games you want to. You can also press “All” on the bottom of the app, but seriously, I usually have lots of apps I simply don’t care about and it will take a whole lot of time to do all of them.
  7. Now open iPhone Folders and navigate to \var\mobile\Library\Preferences\AppBackup and copy everything to your PC
  8. Now it’s time to get the other stuff of the device as well (you may skip through some if you want to restore them after by syncing with iTunes)
    1. Contacts – navigate to \var\mobile\Library\AddressBook and copy everything to your PC
    2. SMS/MMS – navigate to \var\mobile\Library\SMS and copy everything to your PC
    3. Mail – navigate to \var\mobile\Library\Mail and copy everything to your PC
    4. Notes – navigate to \var\mobile\Library\Notes and copy everything to your PC
    5. Springboard icon layout – navigate to \var\mobile\Library\SpringBoard and copy IconState.plist to your PC
    6. Now take a piece of paper, go into Cydia, open the Manage tab, go into Packages and write down all of your installed apps. You can also do a backup of the list using AptBackup, but since some of the apps differ in name from version to version, I would advise against any automatic restoration of them. Believe, I had to do a complete rejailbreak once because of this.

Finally, we’re all set.

Jailbreak and (if necessary) unlock phas

If you’re on iOS 4.x ahave and iPhone 3GS and above (or equivavalent)  – just follow my recent limera1n tutorial. If you’re on the iPhone 3G or iPod Touch 2G – search on the net for a redsn0w tutorial or just run the app – it’s rather straightforward.

Congratulations, now you have a jailbroken iDevice, capable of working with any operator!

Restore phase:

  1. Run Cydia, upgrade essentials, reboot
  2. Run Cydia, install afc2add (it is required for all file managers), reboot
  3. Run Cydia, queue all of your apps (that you wrote down), AppBackup and press confirm.
  4. Now it’s time to put back all of the data you pulled from the phone in steps 5 and 6 of the Backup phase (except the SpringBoard file).
  5. Connect to iTunes and set up the phone as new one.
  6. Now check all of the apps that you had installed and run sync. Now you can really go drink some tea. My first sync took about an hour and a half  (provided I DID have more than 8 GB worth of apps)
  7. Open iFile and navigate to \var\mobile\Library\Preferences\
  8. Tap on the arrow to the right of the AppBackup folder
  9. Toggle the Apply hierarchically switch to On
  10. Scroll down and tap on Owner and choose mobile
  11. Tap on Done
  12. Exit iFile and run AppBackup and restore all of your saved app and game data
  13. Put back the SpringBoard IconState.plist and reboot

Hooray, hooray, you’re now the proud owner of a freshly jailbroken and upgraded “Jesus” phone, running the latest OS with all of your carefully organized icons on their rightful places.

That’s it for the the first installment of The JBnator Diaries. Hope you enjoyed it and feel free to comment with requests on future topics.

A project manager in a major telecommunications supplier, an iPhone junkie and lately - a TMA editor. Love long walks on the beach and my wife, who is the most beautiful girl on the face of this planet. You can also follow me on twitter for all things iPhone and project management (and some personal stuff as well):

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