Backup and Restore


First thing to point out - NEVER rely on iTunes or iCloud backups - they are designed to restore an entire device - you cannot restore individual files. They also tend to store just the latest backup (overwriting previous backups) - so if the reason you need the backup is because you’ve lost a map (or deleted iThoughts entirely) then you might be out of luck as iTunes/iCloud may have already re-backed up your device (without the maps/app) and overwritten the previous backup in the process.

For this reason, iThoughts will archive all your maps once per day (into a ZIP file) and store the last 10 archives. Unfortunately the archives are still on the device (and reliant on iThoughts being installed) - so you will need to periodically copy the latest archive somewhere ‘off-device’. This can be achieved one of 2 ways:

  1. Use the ‘Send Archive’ feature to send the archive as an email attachment or upload it to the cloud.

  2. Use iTunes document sharing (see here) to copy the whole ‘backups’ folder onto your desktop.

So what exactly is in one of the archive ZIP files? See below for the unveiling...

The ZIP contains an ITM file for each map (this is the important stuff - your ideas.) The name of the ITM is a random series of letters and numbers known as a UUID. There is also a manifest.txt file which details the ‘human readable’ name of the map. Finally there is an fs.db file. This is what stores all the folder information.

It is possible to take one of the ITM files, rename it (with help from the manifest) and then import it back into iThoughts (see here) - but this feature is designed as more of a ‘total system backup/restore’.

To that end, it is possible to re-import (into iThoughts) the entire archive - which will overwrite everything.

To restore from archive:

All existing maps will be overwritten with the contents of the archive - NOT merged!

  1. Get the archive ZIP file either into the cloud (Dropbox etc.) or into the iTunes shared document area  (see here)

  2. Use the ‘Copy From Cloud’ feature to copy the archive from iTunes or the cloud (doesn’t matter which local folder you choose to download into.)

  3. You will be prompted to restore from archive and overwrite existing maps.

A copy of the existing maps will be made into a date stamped folder, so all is not lost - but to recover that, you’ll need to contact me.

I have my iTunes backup - can I extract the maps from there?

So long as it is not an encrypted backup then you should be able to extract the archive ZIP file and then follow the procedure above to restore from it.

Before doing anything else (especially plugging in your device) take a copy of your iTunes backup folder - which can be found at:

  1. Mac: ~/Library/Application Support/MobileSync/Backup/

  2. Windows XP: \Documents and Settings\(username)\Application Data\Apple Computer\MobileSync\Backup\

  3. Windows Vista and Windows 7: \Users\(username)\AppData\Roaming\Apple Computer\MobileSync\Backup\

Then you need to get hold of some iPhone backup extractor software. Two options which seem to work quite well are:

  1. Mac: 

  2. Windows:

The following screenshots show the Mac version in action:

The archives are now accessible and can be restored into iThoughts - or an individual map can be extracted from the archive and re-imported (see above)