GroundControl Blog

Create a Backup

Created: Modified: Knowledge Base

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.

GroundControl allows you to restore a single backup to many devices. In this way, you can control settings that aren’t available to MDM or DEP. For example, using a backup you can set the following:

  • Turn on Location Settings
  • Trust a developer for enterprise apps
  • Set brightness and volume, and disable automatic volume settings
  • Set airplane mode
  • Set a restrictions passcode
  • Configure settings for your apps, such as a specific server address

Some settings are never preserved within backups.

  • You can not save a device passcode
  • You can not grant permissions for camera or microphone for specific apps

When creating your master backup, remember that any settings will be duplicated to all your devices. Try to avoid adding an Apple ID on the master. Also we recommend starting with an erased device each time, to be sure you don’t have any undesired settings.

GroundControl helps you by automatically “scrubbing” the backup to remove Apple ID, MDM, saved WiFi networks, and supervision. GroundControl also “depersonalizes” the backup so that a common backup may be used across any iOS device type, and nearly any iOS version.

Follow the instructions below to create your back up, compress it and upload it to GroundControl.

Step 1: Configure your Master Device

  1. Make the master from an erased iOS device. The device does not need to be supervised, but it can be.
  2. Configure the device as desired.

Step 2: Create the 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 Backups section, choose “This computer.” Do NOT encrypt the backup.
  6. Click the button “Back Up Now”.
    Screen Shot 2015-12-16 at 3.21.02 PM

Step 3: Locate the Backup folder

On Windows backups are stored in %AppData%\Apple Computer\MobileSync\Backup\. Macs store backups in ~/Library/Application Support/MobileSync/Backup/.

On Mac an easier way to locate the backup is to open iTunes > Preferences > Devices. Control-click on the backup you want and select “Show in Finder”.

Continue below to compress the backup files.

Step 1: Prepare the DEP profile in your MDM and your Master Device

You need a Mac to create this process. You’ll need a DEP device running iOS 10.3.3 or greater.

Your MDM DEP profile must contain two supervision identities: GroundControl’s an Configurator’s.

You may export GroundControl’s supervision identity in Admin > DEP.

To create a supervision identity in Configurator, please use Configurator 2.5 or greater.

  1. Open Configurator’s Preferences
  2. Click on the “Organizations” tab
  3. Select the organization you want use to export the supervision identity. If you don’t have an Organization setup you can create one by clicking on the + sign to create a new organization. You can skip the Apple ID, and choose “Generate a new supervision identity.”
  4. Click on the gear icon and select “Export Supervision Identity…” give a name and save it in a location you find it later.configurator-sup-id
  5. Enter a password to encrypt the private key.

Upload both supervision identities (GroundControl and Configurator) into your MDM’s DEP profile by following these instructions.

Once that is done, ensure your master device has this DEP profile assigned to it. If already set up, you’ll need to erase your device for the profile to take effect.

Finish setting up the master device with your desired settings.

Step 2: Create the backup using Configurator

  1. Connect the device to your Mac, and launch Configurator. The device should appear in the main Configurator window. If you see a warning that the device did not attach, you may have not properly exported or uploaded Configurator’s supervision identity in Step 1.
  2. Control-click on the device, and select “Back Up” from the menu. If the backup warns that the device requires encryption, please disable profile encryption on your MDM, erase the device, and try again.

Step 3: Locate the Backup folder

The backup will be located in ~/Library/Application Support/MobileSync/Backup/. The backup folder is named with the device’s UDID. You can check the timestamp on the folder to find the latest one.

Step 4: Compress the Backup for use with GroundControl

The backup folder is named with the device’s UDID. You can sort by date and time, and find the most recent folder.

We need to compress these backups files before we can upload them to GroundControl.

  1. Open the folder in order to display the list of folders within
  2. Select all folders inside the folder as shown in the image above. Important: do not select the backup folder itself, only the folders contained within.
  3. On Windows, right-click and send to “Compressed (zipped) folder”. On Mac, control-click and choose “Compress”.
  4. A zip file will be created, e.g. “”.
  5. Rename the zip file as desired. You may keep the .ZIP extension, or rename it to the traditional .iosdevicebackup.
  6. 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 (or Configurator), 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.