How to Downgrade iOS and Keep Your Data.
IOS updates can be incredibly exciting. Not only do they come with amazing features to improve the functionality of your iPhone, but most of the additional updates also contain many fixes that fix known bugs and issues.
However, this does not apply to beta versions of iOS. They often interfere with essential functions, interfere with the proper functioning of applications, or cause battery-related problems. On rare occasions, you may encounter this with stable iOS releases as well.
If you’ve exhausted all other troubleshooting options (have you tried resetting your iPhone?), Then it’s likely that downgrading to an earlier version of iOS can help.
How Downgrading iOS Works
Depending on whether you are using beta or stable iOS, here’s how downgrading iPhone system software works:
- You can downgrade iOS beta to the latest version – and stable – system software version by restoring iPhone in recovery mode. It’s easy and you can do it whenever you want.
- You can upgrade from stable version of iOS to another stable version by restoring your iPhone using IPSW (iPod software) file. Apple stops “signing” (or authenticating) older versions of iOS for days or weeks after a new version is released. In most cases, this makes it impossible to go back to anything other than a previous iteration of the system software. If you miss the time window, you will not be able to downgrade.
Downgrading your iPhone (from beta or stable) will also delete all of your data. This includes apps, settings, documents, photos, messages, contacts, etc.
If you have an iCloud or Finder / iTunes backup from the same (or earlier) iOS version to which you are going to downgrade, you can get your data back by restoring it later. You can also get certain forms of synced data in iCloud, such as photos and messages, simply by signing in with your Apple ID.
However, iPhones with an earlier version will not accept a backup created in newer versions of iOS. For example, you cannot use iCloud or Finder / iTunes backup from iOS 14.3 to recover data on iOS 14.2. You also can’t use backups from iOS 14.4 beta in iOS 14.3 stable.
If you don’t have old backups, the only way to get your data back is to create a new Finder / iTunes backup and use a workaround that involves editing the backup PLIST file. You can read about all this below. However, we do not accept any responsibility if you lose your data.
How to Downgrade iOS Beta to iOS Stable
Downgrading an iPhone from beta to iOS stable (for example, iOS 14.0 beta to iOS 13.7, or iOS 14.4 beta to iOS 14.3) is pretty straightforward. However, you cannot select the version to which you want to downgrade.
1. Connect iPhone to PC or Mac via USB.
2. Open Finder or iTunes and select your iPhone.
3. Force restart iPhone and enter recovery mode.
4. Select “Restore” in Finder or iTunes.
5. Select “Repair and Update” to confirm your desire to continue.
6. Accept the license terms.
7. Wait for Finder / iTunes to finish downloading the stable version of iOS to your Mac or PC. Depending on the speed of your internet connection, this can take anywhere from a few minutes to an hour.
Important: If your iPhone exits recovery mode during boot (which happens automatically after 15 minutes), just wait for the boot to complete and put it back into recovery mode. Then repeat steps 4-6.
After Finder / iTunes finishes downloading the update file, your Mac or PC will automatically start restoring your iPhone. When you receive the message “Your iPad has been restored to factory settings …”, click OK. However, don’t turn off until you see the Hello screen on your iPhone.
How to Downgrade iOS Stable to a Previous Stable Version
Downgrading an iPhone from a stable build to an earlier stable build can be a little tricky. To get started, you must download the signed version of the system software IPSW file to your Mac or PC. Then you have to use Finder / iTunes to restore your iPhone from the downloaded file.
1. Open the Settings app on your iPhone. Then go to Apple ID> Find My> Find My iPhone and turn off Find My iPhone.
2. Go to IPSW.me from your Mac or PC.
3. Select your iPhone model. Then select the signed iOS version to which you want to downgrade. If you do not see a signed release (other than the current version), you cannot downgrade.
4. Download the IPSW system software file.
5. Connect your iPhone to your computer or Mac via USB.
6. Open Finder or iTunes and select your iPhone.
7. Hold down the Option (Mac) or Shift (PC) key and click the Restore iPhone button.
8. Select the downloaded IPSW file. Then select “Open”.
9. Select “Restore”.
Your Mac or PC will immediately downgrade to an earlier version of your iPhone. Click “OK” when you see the pop-up message “Your iPad has been restored to factory settings …”. However, do not disconnect iPhone until you see the Hello screen.
How to Restore Your Data From an iCloud or Finder/iTunes Backup
After downgrading iOS, you can restore your data with a compatible iCloud or Finder / iTunes backup. When you set up your iPhone, select “Restore from iCloud Backup” or “Restore from Mac or PC” on the Apps & Data screen and follow all on-screen instructions to get your data back.
Since you cannot restore your data with an iCloud or Finder / iTunes backup created in a newer version of iOS, the following workaround should help you. However, it is only limited to Finder / iTunes backups.
1. Download PLIST editor to your Mac or PC. Here are some suggestions:
PC: Plist Editor Pro
2. Browse to the folder containing the Finder / iTunes backup on your computer.
Mac: Open Finder, press Command + Shift + G, copy the path below and select Go:
~ Library / Application Support / MobileSync / Backup
PC: Press Windows + R to open Run, copy the path below and select OK:
% USERPROFILE% / Apple Computer / MobileSync / Backup
If the directory does not exist, use the following path instead:
% APPDATA% / Apple Computer / MobileSync / Backup
3. Select the iPhone backup folder.
4. Find and open Info.plist in the PLIST editor.
5. Find the line that says “Product version”. Press Cmd + F or Ctrl + F and use the PLIST editor’s search function to get to the line faster.
6. In the Product Version line, replace the iOS version number with the earlier iOS version number. For example, if you’ve just upgraded to iOS 14.2, add this as a version number.
7. Press Cmd + S or Ctrl + S to save the change. Then exit the PLIST editor.
Now you can restore the data from the backup. Return to iTunes or Finder. Then select your iPhone, select the backup using the menu next to “Restore from this backup” and select “Continue.”
How Did It Go?
Switching to the iOS version is not difficult. You simply don’t have a choice of the version you want to downgrade to. However, there is no reason for this, unless you run into serious issues on your iPhone. Downgrade to an earlier version only as a last resort.
If you have any questions, please leave a comment and we will try to help you.
How to Downgrade iOS and Keep Your Data
How to Downgrade iOS and Keep Your Data