GroundControl Blog

Create a Backup Image using iTunes or Configurator 2

Created: Modified: Knowledge Base

What is an iOS Backup file?

iOS Backup files include device settings from the Settings app, home and lock screen images, icon arrangement and app content and settings. Backups do NOT contain apps or iTunes media.

Step 1: Configure your Master Device

  1. To make the Master, start with a erased iOS device. The device does not need to be supervised.
  2. Configure the device the way you want, paying attention mostly to settings. It is OK to enroll the device into MDM if you wish.
  3. When you are finished with the setup, open the Settings app and make sure you remove any unwanted personalization:
    • iCloud
    • iTunes & App Store
    • Mail, Contacts, Calendars
    • Messages
    • FaceTime
    • Twitter, Facebook, etc.

Step 2: Create a Backup using iTunes

  1. Open iTunes, but do NOT connect the master device yet.
  2. In iTunes open Preferences > Devices and check “Prevent iPods, iPhones, and iPads from Syncing automatically.”
  3. Connect the master device to the computer. If prompted on the device, tap “Trust”.  If prompted on the computer, allow iTunes to access information on the device. Select Continue.
  4. In iTunes select “Set up as a new iPad/iPhone/iPod.”
  5. In the left column, click “Summary”. On the right right, iTunes will display information about your iOS device.
  6. In the Backups section, choose “This computer.” Do NOT encrypt the backup.
  7. Click the button “Back Up Now”.
    Screen Shot 2015-12-16 at 3.21.02 PM

Step 3: Locate the Backup folder

To create the GC Restore Image you need to first find the iTunes Backup. The location of this folder is different for Mac and Windows.

On Windows

The Backup is store in the Application Data folder. To find the folder you can enter following path into your Explorer window: %AppData%\Apple Computer\MobileSync\Backup\


On Mac

Find device backups in ~/Library/Application Support/MobileSync/Backup/

To locate a specific backup:

  1. Open iTunes > Preferences > Devices
  2. Control-click the Backup you want and select “Show in Finder”.

Screen Shot 2015-12-16 at 3.30.30 PM

Step 4: Compress the iTunes Backup for use with GroundControl

The backup folder is named with the device’s UDID. If more than one Backup has been created using the same device, the name of the Backup will be the UDID followed by date and time of the backup. We need to compress these backups files before we can upload them to GroundControl.


    1. Make sure you select the correct Backup folder by checking date and time.
    2. Open the folder in order to display the list of files within it (and folders, if creating the backup using iOS 10).
    3. Select all files inside the folder and right click and send to “Compressed (zipped) folder”. A zip file will be created, e.g. “”. sign-warning-icon-3 Important: do not compress the entire backup folder, select the contents inside the folder instead.
    4. Rename the zip file as desired, adding an “.iosdevicebackup” extension, e.g. “MyRestore.iosdevicebackup”.
    5. Move the file to another location, such as your Desktop.The backup is now ready to be uploaded to GroundControl.

You’re done!  You should now quit iTunes, upload your image to GroundControl and test the restore.

Tip: Test on a different device from your master. The mastering process may require a few more trips to the master device to tweak your settings, and the process will be easier if you keep your master around.