iPhone Backup Password: A Consumer’s Guide

Learn how to protect your iPhone backups so nobody except you can read its contents.

forgot iphone backup password

This is a comprehensive guide to iPhone backup password.

iPhone users store an incredible amount of important information in their iPhones. From financial information and health data to other sensitive data, their privacy has never been at stake than before.

Whether it’s via iCloud or iTunes (Finder with MacOS Catalina) it’s important for iPhone users to keep a backup of their data. In case if they lose or break their iPhones, they can have a copy of their personal information.

Well, it’s one thing to keep a recent backup of your iPhone and another thing to keep that backup safe from prying eyes. That’s why it’s critical to use password protection and encrypt your backups in Finder or iTunes. So, if someone goes through your iPhone encrypted backups, he/she won’t be able to view backup contents because it will require a password.

Here’s what you’ll learn about in this guide:

Let’s get started.

What’s an iPhone backup password?

An iPhone backup password, sometimes referred as iTunes encrypted backup is password that an iPhone user set to his or her backups in Finder or iTunes that prevents unauthorized access to its contents.

This will encode and lock the data. The only person that can read the contents of your backup is who has the encryption password.

The password lives securely on your computer and creates an encrypted backup each time you back up your iPhone. So make sure to keep your password safe and not share it with nobody. If you have problems with keeping your password safe, you need to use a password manager.

You don’t need to enter the password every time you sync or back up your iPhone, but you must enter the password to access the backup data or restore an earlier backup.

Importance of iPhone Backup Encryption

As a quick reminder, there are two different ways to back up your iPhone:

  1. With iCloud:
    • Your data is stored in iCloud.
    • Backup happens when you plugged in your iPhone to a power source with the screen locked and connected to a Wi-Fi network.
    • End-to-end encryption only to select iCloud data, such home data, health data, the iCloud keychain, payment information, screen time, Wi-Fi passwords, and Siri data. The password is the only key that stands between someone and the data.
  2. With Finder (Mac running macOS 10.15 or later) or iTunes (Windows PC or a Mac running an earlier version of macOS):
    • Your data is stored on your Mac or Windows computer.
    • You need to connect your iPhone to your computer with a lightning to USB cable.
    • En-to-end encryption is available.

As you can see iCloud provides end-to-end encryption only to certain data (check above). That means Apple can access your unencrypted iCloud backups at anytime and hand them over to law enforcements with valid subpoenas and search warrants.

Apple planned to provide its users end-to-end encryption to iCloud backups. However, the company had to abandon such plan due to increasing pressure from the U.S. government agencies and law enforcement, reports Reuters.

If that concerns you that Apple can access your unencrypted iCloud backups, it’s time for you to stop using iCloud to backup your iPhone. It’s not really a big deal. You can use your computer or a cheap high capacity hard drive to back up your iPhone.

Matters could be worse if Apple had created a backdoor OS for its iPhones. This would create a vulnerability for all of its products.

How to Encrypt iPhone Backup

Now that you know what is at stakes with your iPhone backups, it’s time to take matters into your own hands. To password protect your iPhone backups, follow the steps below:

encrypt local iPhone backup
Screenshot: Herby Jasmin/Gotechtor
  1. Connect your iPhone to your computer and open Finder or iTunes. (it depends on what computer you’re using).
  2. From the left-hand side, select your device.
  3. Under the Backups section, check the box for “Encrypt local backup”.
  4. You will be asked to create a specific password. It can be different from your Apple ID password or your device’s passcode, which unlocks your device. Make sure to check the “Remember this password in my keychain” box.
  5. In order to access data in a backup, or to restore a backup to another device, you will be asked to enter your backup password.

How to Disable iPhone Backup Password

disable iPhone backup password
Screenshot: Herby Jasmin/Gotechtor

If you wish to disable the data encryption feature, you can do so by unchecking the box beside to “Encrypt local backup”. You’ll need to enter your backup password before the change can take effect.

Keep in mind, anybody that has access to your computer can read the data in your backups. So before you uncheck this box, make sure you know what you’re doing.

Forget iPhone Backup Password?

If you forgot your iPhone backup password, you have a few options in your hand. Both iTunes and Finder save a copy of your iPhone backup password in your macOS keychain if you check the “remember password” box when prompted. 

Keychain revealing iPhone backup password
Screenshot: Herby Jasmin/Gotechtor
  • Open the “Keychain Access” app. You can do so by opening Finder > Utilities > Keychain Access. Alternatively, you can type “Keychain Access” in the Spotlight Search bar, and then hit “enter”.
  • Select the Password category in the left-hand category sidebar.
  • If you have many keychain items, type “backup” into the search box in the top-right of the window to narrow down your search.
  • From the results, double click items named “iOS Backup” or “iPhone Backup”.
  • Then, select the “Show Password” box and the password will be displayed.

If you did not check that “Remember this password in my Keychain” option, your computer would not keep a record of the password in its keychain. In that case, you have to use a third-party application to recover your iPhone encrypted backup password on your Mac.

However, with iOS 11 and later you can make a new encrypted backup of your iPhone by resetting the password. Open the Settings app from your iPhone, select “General”, then “Reset”. Next, tap “Reset All Settings” and enter your device passcode when prompted. This will remove your encrypted backup password.

Go back and connect your iPhone to the Finder or iTunes again and create a new encrypted backup using the steps above.

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