Daily Tip: How to upgrade from an existing jailbreak

This tip will help you learn how to upgrade from an existing jailbreak. If you're currently jailbroken on an older firmware version and want to update, it can sometimes be a bit trickier than just restoring in iTunes and backing up. In most cases, it's always best to start with a clean slate and not restore from a jailbroken backup (with a few exceptions). Luckily there are a couple apps and tweaks out there that make the process not as daunting. Hit the break for some suggestions and a walk-through!

Starting fresh

Most jailbreakers will agree that not restoring from a previously jailbroken backup is the best way to upgrade. For the most part, I'd have to agree. The only exception I see to this rule is if you have to restore (not upgrade). For example, I recently had to swap my iPhone out. I was already running on iOS 4.3.3 jailbroken. After I swapped my phone, I just restored from a backup. I have never typically seen ill results from restoring on the same firmware version. It gets a bit more hairy when you are dealing with different firmware versions and different jailbreak utilities. Whenever you are upgrading to a newer firmware version, always start fresh if you can.

Before restoring

  1. You'll always want to make sure your contacts, calendars, and camera roll are backed up elsewhere. I use MobileMe so I already know my information will come down. Either store them to your Mac or PC, or use an online syncing service like Google Sync or MobileMe.
  2. To save your Cydia packages and settings, check out XBackup. There are also other jailbreak utilities that perform similar functions, which one you choose to use, it completely up to you. I've had good experience with XBackup.
  3. To save your in-app game data, you can use an app such as DataDeposit or appbackup. Both are free but DataDeposit may be a bit more convenient for some folks as it just saves your data to your DropBox account which is an added bonus.


  1. Next you'll want to restore your device via iTunes. (If you are an unlocker, you should probably stray away from this process. You'll almost always want to use custom firmware bundles to preserve your unlock with a jailbreak utility such as PwnageTool. You'll want to make sure the firmware version you are upgrading to offers an unlock.)
  2. Let your device restore in iTunes and then select "Set up as new device" as opposed to restoring from a backup.

Re-jailbreaking and restoring data

  1. Once you have restored your device, you'll need to re-jailbreak and re-install XBackup and DataDeposit (or whatever two apps you chose to use previously). These should bring down your jailbreak settings and app save data.
  2. Now you'll need to re-sync all of your content via iTunes. Just make sure you selected to set up as a new device.

Re-jailbreaking is definitely not the easiest process in the world but a clean start is always best. I've found bad jailbreak bits can come over when restoring from a previously jailbroken device. So doing it right the first time can save you a lot of headaches in the long run. If you've done this process or are just trying it for the first time, let us know your experiences in the comments. And if you have issues, let us know in our TiPb jailbreak forums!

Tips of the day will range from beginner-level 101 to advanced-level ninjary. If you already know this tip, keep the link handy as a quick way to help a friend. If you have a tip of your own you'd like to suggest, add them to the comments or send them in to news@tipb.com. (If it's especially awesome and previously unknown to us, we'll even give ya a reward...)

Have something to say about this story? Leave a comment! Need help with something else? Ask in our forums!

Allyson Kazmucha

Senior editor for iMore. I can take apart an iPhone in less than 6 minutes. I also like coffee and Harry Potter more than anyone really should.

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Reader comments

Daily Tip: How to upgrade from an existing jailbreak


Ehhh Pkgbackup sounds like a better option than all of the utilities listed in this article for backing up settings and data. It's one app to do it all and saves to dropbox.

PKGBackup is fantastic, and I use it as well.
Also, Allyson forgot to add that you need to change the default "alpine" password every time you upgrade to a new firmware, then jailbreak.

Not unless you have openSSH access will that matter. If you have nothing installed that gives remote root access and leaves a port open, no one would be able to access your device by default. That's like saying stock users need to change it. For this, it's pretty irrelevant.

I just upgraded from 4.3.1 to 4.3.3 this afternoon. I used to jump through all these hoops (as you describe), but for the last two upgrades I've just let iTunes perform the update and then run the appropriate version of redsn0w to re-jailbreak. It's simple and it works great!

Restoring from an already jailbroken backup is really never a good idea. It can bring nasty bits with it that can cause unusually high level of spring board crashes. I will never recommend that route.

My question is this though. Once you use PKGBackup, or XBackup or whatever, and install every jailbreak aspect that was previously on your phone. Isn't that pretty much the same thing as restoring from a jailbroken backup?

No, because PKGBackup and other apps of the like are only bringing "in-app" data, not core OS files with them. Those are what cause issues between different firmware versions.

But wouldn't yu want to restore from backup so that yu have all yur text messages call history etc? That's the only reason I do a restore because I need all that. I don't delete my texts or call history or nothing.

You technically can pull those things manually out of a backup but it's a pain. I do not save texts or call history (I really don't see a need, if a text is important, i'll screenshot it and e-mail it to myself to save) - or forward it to my e-mail.
I'd rather not deal w/ incessant springboard crashing and other issues that can occur when restoring from a previously jailbroken backup.

I've been looking forward to an article JUST like this! Thanks. Now hopefully we'll see iOS 5 sooner rather than later. This article will come in handy!

I strongy disagree. While upgrading and re-jailbreaking can cause some storage loss (Cydia has a bad habit of creating multiple copies of the stock apps/other system files when it moves them to the user filesystem) these kinds of recommendations are what make most users wary of jailbreak.
I've never start fresh and I've been jailbroken from iPhone 1 through iPhone 4 without stability issues. I've had some bad jailbreak experiences due to poorly written j/b apps, but I've always been able to recover, even if it means a restore and re-jailbreak.

I've seen way too many phones thrown into DFU loops or that run extremely slow due to restoring from a jailbroken backup. Some users don't have issues but it always depends on what you have installed jailbreak wise. So it's different for everyone. That's why I'm recommending the best routes for the cleanest installs. It minimizes potential issues and storage loss from garbage files.

is the white iphone 4 a better then the black iphone 4...or are the same in all aspects?????/ please someon aswear this

...and a french tickler. It plugs in to the bottom port and there's a free app to change vibrations and girations. Best app ever!

Don't let these guys mess with you. They're just giving you a hard time. The two phones are IDENTICAL in all aspects, but one: color of the phone itself. Same storage capacities, same firmware, same screen res, same camera specs.... SAME.

I don't agree either. While I will never 'upgrade' over an existing jailbreak, this leads to malfunction or batteryloss. But once I have jailbroken I find no problem in restoring the phone and settings from a previous back up. Never had a prOblem with that

i recently did a clean jailbreak/restore using datadeposit and ibye and can say it worked a charm.
Started with 4.3.3 jailbrokem, did my backups, wiped to factory on 4.3.3 again, set up basics, then jailbroke installed the backup apps and restored, and hey presto.
Highly recommended, my old setup was some 11 months old and had seen a few jailbreaks unjailbreaks and had all sorts of c*** hanging around in the filesystem from old mods and such, phone runs much better for it now.

That is exactly why I never recommend restoring a new jailbreak from an old jailbroken backup. Some users may not have issues, but they are the minority.

Does anyone know of any plans for greenpois0n to work with the Verizon ip4 4.2.8? I am still running 4.2.6 w/ greenpois0n, not sure if it imperative to upgrade

Im late upgrading I have the same question. I still have my iphone4 and I need to update my jailbreak but not sure if I can do it.

Finally, a jailbreak upgrading tutorial that makes sense! Thank you. This article is a keeper for every time I need to re-jailbreak.

I've never had a problem with restoring from backup. I don't however "Update" over an existing software. I restore to the new updated firmware, then restore from backup. I don't lose any space, and its not buggy. Never done me wrong.

Same here. The only time I have ever had issues is when I "updated" to the newest firmware. Restore to the newest firmware and restore from previous backup works like a charm.

Okay...I just tried this step by step. I used xBackup and DataDeposit. I have no doubt that things should run smoother however...xBackup didn't quite work for me. I backed up my data per the instructions. restores...jailbroke it again...then got stuck there. Where did my cydia backup go? I checked the link for xbackup and it says you have to restore from a previous backup. Doesn't that defeat the purpose of this clean install guide? If I missed something please tell me.