Recovery & Repair
Data Transfer

Solved: Can’t restore iPhone from backup because the software is too old

author Carrie Murray
date Wednesday, September 25, 2019

When restoring iCloud/iTunes backup created by another iPhone to your current iPhone, you may get an error saying that the backup cannot be restored to the current iPhone because the software on this iPhone is too old.

This is a limitation set by Apple to ensure no backup from iPhone on a higher iOS version can be restored to a device on an earlier iOS version as some data files are different from iOS version to version. Let's say you have an iTunes backup created by an iPhone XS that has updated to iOS 13.1.5, while you just get a new iPhone 11 on iOS 13.1.2, restoring iPhone 11 from the iOS 13.1.5 backup will give you the error: the backup cannot be restored to this iPhone because the software on the iPhone is too old.

In this article, I will walk you through three useful ways to solve this problem. Read on to learn how to restore iCloud or iTunes backup from a newer iOS.

Update the software of your iPhone to restore iTunes backup

If you are restoring old iTunes backup and stopped by the "software too old" error, you must update the iPhone to the latest version of iOS before it can be restored from this backup. Here is what you should do.

Step 1: When iTunes reminds you that the iPhone software is too old and you must set up the iPhone as new to restore the iPhone to the latest version, click OK.

Software Too Old Error

Step 2: Then you can go back to the Set Up Your iPhone wizard, and click Set up as a new iPhone > Continue.

Set Up As New iPhone

Step 3: Next, uncheck the boxes of syncing contacts, media, apps, etc. to iPhone and click Done.

Step 4: On your iPhone, skip the steps to set up a passcode, Apple ID, etc. to quickly get started with the iPhone.

Step 5: After that, you can go back to iTunes, where you can see the Update/Restore wizard. click Update and click Update again when a warning pops up.

Restore iPhone to Factory Settings

Step 6: Let iTunes update your iPhone to the latest iOS and click OK to reboot the iPhone. Once it restarts, click Restore and restore the iPhone from an old backup that you need.

When the process completes, you've copied files from your old backup to the new iPhone. If you don't want to update your iPhone and just need to get data from the old iPhone to the new one, you can refer to Method 3 (opens new window), which can directly move data from one iPhone to another without restoring backups.

(Extra Tip: How to Extract Data from Old iTunes Backup (opens new window)******)

Set up iPhone as new to restore iCloud backup

Generally, when restoring iCloud backup from a later version of iOS, the Setup Assistant will guide you to update the iPhone to the latest version. Just choose to download and install the update and continue to restore the iCloud backup from the newer version of iOS.

Step 1: When you get to the Software Update step in the Setup Assistant, tap Download and Install.

Step 2: Enter the passcode you have set up and download the software.

Step 3: Tap Install Now to start installing the latest version of iOS to your iPhone.

Step 4: After updating, the iPhone will start to restore from iCloud backup.

Software Update to Restore iCloud Backup

If you still can't restore iCloud/iTunes backup

If you still can't restore iCloud or iTunes backup or you just don't want to update your iPhone to the newest iOS version, you should try FonePaw DoTrans (opens new window) to transfer files from iPhone to iPhone without the need of upgrading your iOS device. It is convenient, especially for users who own iPhone 6/SE that can't be upgraded to the latest iOS 13 but want to restore iCloud/iTunes backup from a later version of iOS.

In addition, DoTrans can move music, photos and videos that can't be restored from iTunes backup from one iPhone to another. It also allows you to selectively transfer files between Android and iPhone (opens new window). Here are the 3 easy steps:

Video Guide: FonePaw DoTrans - Transfer Data Among Android, iPhone, Windows PC

Step 1: Run DoTrans on Your computer

After downloading and installing, launch the program on your computer. Then connect two iPhones to it with USB cables.

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Step 2: Set two devices

Once your iPhones are detected by the program, you can see them displayed on the screen. Select the iPhone that has the data you want to transfer.

Connect Two iPhones

Step 3: Transfer files between two phones

In the left-side menu, you can see a list of file types like Music, Videos, Messages, and Contacts. Click one file type, tick the data and then click Export to Device > the new iPhone to transfer them.

Export Contacts to Devices

Comparing to restoring iTunes/iCloud backup to an iPhone, moving contents between iPhones with DoTrans allows you to get only the data you need and takes less time.