Ask Lifehacker: Restoring Lost iPhone Apps

simplemindsDear Lifehacker, Something glitched when I was updating my iPhone to 3.01 this morning, so I had to do a full wipe and restore. Urk. All my purchased apps restored, except for my purchased copy of SimpleMind, the excellent mindmapping tool. Bad enough that I've lost a bunch of mindmap data - but who do I go to to get the app back? Appstore? Programmer? Anyone have advice or experiences on this issue? Thanks, Phil

Dear Phil, While standard advice is always to back up everything on your iPhone before any update, even that isn't always enough. I'll confess to having no particular expertise in this (I'm a BlackBerry fiend), so rather than bombarding you with a bunch of Google links you've probably already found already, I'll open it up to the readers. Anyone got any specific advice on getting iPhone apps back after a failed update?


    Maybe I'm missing something here, but why can't you just download the app again? Purchased apps can be downloaded again without repaying for the application and free apps are, well, free.

      Thanks Kade and Ben. Sounded obvious, I know... but all my other purchased iphone apps appeared in iTunes on my Mac under 'purchased apps.' SimpleMind wasn't there... and on the iphone you can't tell whether an app is going to reload free or not until you click to 'buy' it again. So the 'click' is a 9 buck risk. The mystery was why the purchased app wasn't showing up in my iTunes backup (which I assumed reflects the status of your online account)... and who to ask about it! Anyway - all good. It reloaded free (with a refund guarantee from the programmers), and best of all, the -big- mind map I'd been working on was miraculously intact.

    Hi Phil, if you go to purchase the lost app in the app store again (in itunes preferably) it will prompt you to re-download the app. The simplemind app data i'm afraid might be gone forever. I'm not sure of this as I've seen something about itunes backing up data with every sync so you may want to check in your windows User data folders (different for windows xp, vista and 7 - google helps here) for the correct locations. You may also want to check your itunes folder on your music folder.

    iPhone 3G updates make it better then any other device, now i love to purchase new apps for my 3G my recent purchase is iWound, EA new game and Vopium.

    Log in to your iTunes account through iTunes and check your purchase history. It should be listed there as a purchase. This may set your mind at rest about downloading again.

    iTunes -> Store -> Check for Available Downloads...

    (The option has ... after it. Weird as).

    That should help get it back. I don't know why it wouldn't reappear on it. I'd assume 3.0.1 or 3.0 has a problem with it or something.

    Hey mate.

    iPhone tech support here.
    iPhone backup's don't actually backup your downloaded applications, all it does in the way of apps, is backup a list of which apps were on your phone, and any data inside the apps.

    If you didn't have the particular app on your computer when you restored the backup, then it wouldn't have been dragged to your iphone.

    Also: If you buy an app you have already purchased, it should always come up with the message "You have already purchased this app, would you like to download it again?"\

    If it doesn't, and you get charged...Feel free to contact the iTunes Store Support Team via

    I had a similar issue after upgrading to 3.01. I had moved my library, and a few weeks later, my phone was having issues starting apps, so I restored it thinking I'd solved the problem. After it came out of the restore, iTunes wasn't reinstalling the apps, when they were clearly listed. The problem was becuase iTunes was still looking at the old location of the apps, so I found the current directory of the apps and deleted the icons from iTunes, I then ran each app from the iTunes folder, iTunes installed and updated apps successfully after doing this.
    The apps folder can normally be found at ..\My Documents\My Music\iTunes\Mobile Applications

      I have an issue where my the iphone restore did not restore my apps. Itunes restored my phone settings properly as well as photos, email..., but did not download the previosuly loaded apps. The apps are listed in itunes. Any help appreciated.

    I had a broken iphone. Went to the service center and was given a new iphone. When I restored many of my apps didn't come, but all the rest of my data did. In itunes under the "apps" section the apps that did not come had generic pictures for icons instead of the intended ones. When I clicked on the app itunes asked me to find it. It then directed me automatically to the right folder where I clicked on the file. After that on the next sync, the apps came to my phone. What a relief! Some of them were paid apps.

    Open 'App Store' and select Update. You will see a link Purchased and select that. You will be able to see list of apps purchased. Just download/install whatever you want from list. Good luck!

    My iphone 4s apps always reloading and reinstalling. Can somebody tell me why.

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