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Issue #871: Mar 31 – Apr 6, 2024

Q: Can you recommend a non-iTunes option, Windows 11 compatible, program (free or paid) that will provide a 100 percent complete restore solution for an iPhone XR? The goal is to plug my inoperative iPhone in and, voila, have the iOS, data, and all apps restored to the same state they were before the outage/crash?

 – William R.
Fort Walton Beach, Florida

A:  This seems like an incredibly difficult ask, William.  It’s not entirely clear to me what happened to your phone, but from what I can glean from your question, some sort of “outage/crash” occurred, that left your device “inoperative.” So, it sounds like you want to perform a recovery and restore on a device that doesn’t work?  There may be some options, but there is absolutely no “voila” solution that will magically restore everything for you.  By the way, the iOS and the apps are all recoverable just by re-downloading them, so I wouldn’t worry much about those.  Any music you have on the device is likely just a copy of something you have stored elsewhere.  Even e-mail is probably nothing more than a view of what’s on your e-mail server.  That narrows your potential loss down to photos, and data generated on the device by apps, such as notes, reminders, etc.

Despite my being an iPhone user for more years than I care to remember, I will admit that what I don’t know about the product line could fill many volumes.  One of my suggestions to you would be to not try and solve this problem yourself, but rather take it to people who deal with such things for a living.  That’s what I did in gathering information for my answer to your question.  I turned to my friend Leah Kopp, Manager of the AT&T Store here in Niceville, who was able to give me some great, detailed advice to pass along.

First, and most importantly, before you have hope of doing any sort of recovery, the phone must be able to boot.  If it’s physically damaged, (“broken”, got waterlogged, etc.) there’s simply no way to access the in-built electronics, much less the phone’s flash memory.  A device that can’t be accessed in any way is referred to as bricked, and you’re about as likely to extract data from it as you would from any other brick.

Second, if, when the phone was operational, you were making regular backups, the data you seek should all be available in the backups.  There are two possibilities here.  Local backups are made through iTunes and are stored locally on a computer.  I suppose since you specifically gave “non-iTunes” as a condition of your recovery needs, that this won’t actually be an option for you.  The other possibility is iCloud backups.  If you pay a monthly fee to Apple for iCloud storage space, these backups should happen automatically when your phone is on Wi-Fi.  If you used this feature, you can go to on any computer, login, and see everything contained in the backups right in your browser.

That leads to third, and fourth, which are only options if second is true.  That is to say, if you have iCloud backups available, and the phone is operational, you can restore the backup to the device, or to a different device, even without the use of iTunes.

To proceed, put the phone into Lost Mode.  This marks the device in such a way that locks out all payment cards, Apple Pay, etc., and safeguards all on-board personal information against theft, and ultimately erases everything on the phone.  Sounds counterintuitive when your goal is to recover the information, but that’s why you have backups.  This lock down is Apple’s way of making sure nobody else can recover your personal information by simply restoring your data. 

Next, you must go through a restore process, which installs the latest supported iOS on the device.  When complete, the phone will behave like it’s new out of the box.  You’ll get the factory “Welcome” prompt, and you can proceed to set it up, or, when recovering, restore the phone from the latest iCloud backup.

I doubt this is the answer you were hoping for, William.  But there are some things that just can’t be fixed as easily as you described.  I’m hoping someone at your local phone store can help you out.  For more information on this sort of restoration, including a couple of apps that I didn’t mention, please read the discussion over at

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April 2024

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