Like a lot of people I’m not a huge fan of iTunes, and occasionally I like to backup some of my most important apps to my local PC so that it would be a breeze to set it up again should I ever need to. With iTunes and iCloud you can’t choose to perform an on-demand backup of a certain app, and that’s why I turn to the free iExplorer.

This program lets you navigate many of the files on your iOS device, and it includes the ability to copy your settings/data out of any of the apps you have installed. Those backups can be used to restore the state of an application without having to restore your entire device, which can also be good for anyone wanting to do a fresh iOS install without, you know, losing your Angry Birds progress. It also means you can transfer app settings between multiple devices without having to configure each one manually.

Backup iOS Apps

  1. Download the free iExplorer.
  2. Connect your iOS device, and then open up iExplorer.
  3. Expand the Apps section and find the app you want to backup.
  4. Expand the folder for the app, select all of the files inside it, and then export them using the appropriate option in the right-click menu. I should point out that you probably don’t need to copy the *.app folder since that is the actual application, which will get created when you re-install the app from the iTunes store:
    Backup ios app
  5. The files for that particular app will now be safely tucked away on your computer.

Restore iOS Apps from Backup

  1. First you’ll need to install the app on your iOS device (if you haven’t already) so that it creates the necessary folder structure.
  2. Now you just need to reverse the process used above to backup the files. Just drag the files you had backed up into the app’s folder on the device.
Tomorrow we’ll show you how you can use a similar process to extract app configurations directly from an iTunes backup.

iExplorer Homepage (Windows/Mac; Freeware)