Is it possible to backup an iPhone that won’t turn on?

Quick Summary

Yes, it is possible to backup an iPhone that won’t turn on, but it requires some specialized tools and techniques. The main options are:

  • Use iTunes or Finder to backup a disabled iPhone if it is still being recognized by your computer
  • Use professional data recovery software to access the iPhone storage and retrieve a backup file
  • Send the iPhone to a repair shop where they can potentially access the data and backup the phone

The easiest method is trying to backup through iTunes/Finder if the phone is still connecting. If the phone is not being recognized at all, then data recovery software or professional repair may be necessary to access the storage.

Backing Up a Disabled iPhone Through iTunes/Finder

If your iPhone is having issues booting up fully, but is still being recognized by your computer when you plug it in, you may be able to backup the iPhone through iTunes or the Finder app on Mac. Here are the steps to try this:

  1. Connect your iPhone to your computer with a Lightning cable as you normally would to sync or backup
  2. Open iTunes on a Windows PC, or the Finder app on a Mac
  3. See if your iPhone shows up in the sidebar in iTunes or the Finder window under Locations or Devices
  4. If you do see the iPhone, try to select it and click the Back Up Now button in iTunes or Finder
  5. This will initiate a backup of your iPhone data to your computer if possible

The key things to check are:

  • Is your iPhone model listed in iTunes/Finder when you connect it?
  • Does the backup process begin when you click Back Up Now?

If you don’t see your iPhone show up at all, then your computer likely can’t communicate with the phone properly to access the data. This usually means there is an issue with the phone’s logic board or internal storage. In that case, professional data recovery would be needed (see below).

However, if your computer recognizes your iPhone, even if the screen is black and it won’t turn on fully, there is a good chance iTunes can complete a backup. This lets you save your photos, messages, contacts, and other data before attempting any repairs.

What causes an iPhone to fail to boot up fully?

There are a few common causes of an iPhone getting stuck before the main interface loads:

  • Severely discharged battery – Try charging for several hours
  • Corrupted operating system files – May require restoring in recovery mode
  • Logic board failure – Requires hardware repair/replacement
  • Storage failure – Causes freezes and requires professional data recovery

So in summary, hardware failures like the logic board or storage breaking are the main reasons an iPhone would get stuck before booting. But some software issues can also cause booting problems in some situations.

What data can you backup from a partially working iPhone?

If your iPhone is still partially working to the point of being recognized by a computer, you should be able to successfully backup:

  • Messages – iMessages, SMS, attachments
  • Photos and videos
  • Contacts and call history
  • Device settings and preferences
  • Health and activity data
  • Third party app data (if apps are working)

So most critical user data like messages, photos, contacts, and settings can be preserved from a backup in this situation. App data may not backup fully if the apps themselves are not functioning properly on the iPhone.

But essentially if you can view and access any data on the iPhone, it can likely be backed up while in that state. So backup as soon as possible before troubleshooting to ensure no data loss.

Using Data Recovery Software to Backup an iPhone

If your iPhone is totally unresponsive and not even being recognized by iTunes, you will need to resort to third party iOS data recovery software. These special tools are designed to access the iPhone’s storage at a very low level to copy data off of it.

Here are the key steps to using recovery software to backup an unresponsive iPhone:

  1. Download and install the data recovery software on your computer
  2. Connect the iPhone to the computer using a cable
  3. Force the iPhone into recovery mode if possible – this gives the software full access
  4. Scan the iPhone storage using the software to extract the backup data
  5. Save the recovered data to your computer

Some things to note when going the data recovery software route:

  • Recovery has decent success rates but is not guaranteed
  • It can take many hours to fully scan and process an iPhone backup
  • Opt for an advanced paid software with better iOS support
  • This bypasses any encryption or passwords set on the device

Overall, specialized data recovery software provides the best chance to backup an iPhone that won’t boot and is not recognized normally. It is a complex process best suited for tech professionals, but is an option before considering expensive repair shops.

Top data recovery software for iOS

Some recommended professional grade data recovery programs to attempt backing up an unresponsive iPhone include:

Software Key Features
EaseUS MobiSaver Free trial available, recovers 35+ data types
iMyFone D-Back Easy to use, faster scanning for iOS
MiniTool Mobile Recovery Recovers data directly from iTunes backups
Leawo iOS Data Recovery Lower cost, works on older iPhone models

These are all highly rated programs dedicated specifically to scanning iOS devices and extracting a wide range of data types from their storage. They can backup data when normal syncing fails.

How does data recovery software backup a frozen iPhone?

The data recovery tools use advanced techniques to essentially bypass the standard sync process and directly access the raw storage:

  • Puts the iPhone into recovery mode giving deep system access
  • Communicates with low level storage controllers and controllers
  • Identifies the file structure and data types stored
  • Extracts data in a organized backup file
  • Recovers as much data as possible before hardware fails completely

This is similar to advanced computer hard drive data recovery, applied to the smaller iPhone solid state storage chips. When all else fails, this professional software can sometimes save user data off a crashed iPhone before other major repair is needed.

Backing Up a Non-Working iPhone at a Repair Shop

The last resort if your iPhone suffers complete hardware failure is to take it to an electronics repair shop skilled in iOS device data recovery. They will have access to professional tools and methods similar to the data recovery software, but applied hands-on to the iPhone.

Here is the general backup process at most reputable iPhone or electronics repair shops:

  1. Shop disassembles the iPhone to access the internal storage chips
  2. Storage is removed and connected to data recovery hardware
  3. The storage chip data is imaged or directly read
  4. Data is reassembled into a working iPhone backup file
  5. Backup file delivered to the customer
  6. iPhone hardware repaired/replaced to restore functionality

The advantages of taking your iPhone into a shop over using software yourself include:

  • Higher success rates in difficult hardware failure cases
  • Direct access to iPhone internal components
  • Experience removing storage chips from logic boards
  • Faster data transfer using dedicated hardware
  • Same day service in most cases

The disadvantages are mainly the higher cost. Apple Store rates for data recovery start around $500-$600+, local shops vary from $300-$1000+. Cost depends on the iPhone model, storage amount, and type of failure.

Overall, repair shops should be able to reliably backup and save user data in nearly any situation where the iPhone does not power on normally. It is the last option before complete data loss, but is worth it for valuable photos, messages, etc. if no other DIY method works.

Questions to ask iPhone repair shops before backup

When selecting a repair shop to recover data from an unresponsive iPhone, ask the following key questions beforehand:

  • Do you have experience recovering data from iPhones that won’t turn on?
  • What methods do you use to remove/access the storage chips?
  • What is your typical success rate for backups on severely damaged devices?
  • How long does the process take to attempt a full data backup?
  • What format is the backup file provided to the customer?
  • Is there any risk of data loss from your recovery methods?
  • What are your rates for iPhone data recovery services?

Any reputable repair shop should be able to answer these questions in detail and provide information on their experience, processes, and costs. Avoid shops that sound unsure or vague in their capabilities. And be wary of extremely low prices that may indicate lack of proper tools.

Preventing Future Data Loss on an iPhone

After securing a backup of your unresponsive iPhone through one of the methods above, it is also a good idea to take measures to prevent being in the same situation again down the road:

  • Have Apple replace any parts related to the issue if under warranty
  • Consider upgrading your iPhone model if it is unreliable due to age/damage
  • Setup automated iCloud backups for your new device for offsite protection
  • Use encrypted iTunes backups for enhanced security and backup options
  • Install a compatible iOS manager app to access advanced iPhone backup features
  • Maintain device health by updating software, avoiding damage, and not jailbreaking

The key backup lessons after data loss are:

  • Don’t rely only on a single on-device backup
  • Have multiple cloud and local backup sources
  • Backup regularly to have recent restorable data
  • Consider backup systems that work at a low hardware level for worse-case scenarios

No backup method is perfect, but having redundancy across multiple destinations and backup technologies offers the best protection against catastrophic data loss in the future.

Backup Methods Comparison

iTunes/Finder Backup iCloud Backup Data Recovery Software
Backup Capabilities Full device backup with wide file support Backs up core user data to iCloud Recovers data from unresponsive devices
Security Encrypted backup option available Encryption depends on iCloud settings Bypasses on-device password protection
Ideal Use Cases Local quick full device backups Secure cloud backup repository Last resort data recovery from damaged device


Backing up an iPhone that won’t turn on fully requires using iTunes/Finder if possible, otherwise employing data recovery software or professional repair techniques. The key points to remember are:

  • Try to backup through iTunes if phone is partially recognized
  • Data recovery software can read unresponsive iPhone storage directly
  • Repair shops have specialized tools for iPhone data access
  • Multiple backup sources are needed for full protection

With the right tools and techniques, there are options to salvage your data even from an iPhone that is completely frozen or unusable. But regular readable backups to cloud and local sources can prevent most situations of severe data loss if maintained properly. Being prepared with recovery methods ready can give peace of mind against potential iOS device failure.