iOS: Recover photos, messages and more with PhoneRescue

Many users attempting to install the recent iOS 7.1.2 update may have needed to reclaim space in order to upgrade their phone -- for many, this meant deleting photos, music or even messages. There is another way that lets you keep your data and make space, PhoneRescue.

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Rescue your data

PhoneRescue is developed by iMobie, which also makes PhoneTrans and PhoneClean. Now, I don't know much (anything) about the company, but I thought the software worth a look all the same.  I've been using the $69.99 Windows/Mac utility for a few days and it will extract or rescue 22 types of data from an iOS device or device backup. This includes messages, music, mail, images, bookmarks, contacts. It can sometimes even recover data you thought deleted.

I've tested PhoneRescue both with my own phone and to recover data from a faulty device. The utility worked well in both cases, making recovey possible through a simple interface. There are a few foibles -- I noticed the software sometimes stalled, but tried again and it managed the job. You can even choose to rescue specific data -- photos, contacts, calendar, messages, for example.

You should always backup your device to iTunes/iCloud before using this utility, in case something goes wrong.

Solving Messages problems

I think PhoneRescue's capacity to archive your iMessage/SMS messages is really useful, as that's something I've been looking for. This is particularly useful if you need to archive message threads for legal or sentimental reasons. When you rescue your messages PhoneRescue saves them as HTML files, which you can read in your browser. It's not perfect -- it doesn't recognize who sent you a message, but files them by phone number, however you can preview individual messages before you archive them off your device.

The capacity to archive messages in a usable format is also useful if you need to create space on your device. Open Settings>General>Usage and you may find your Messages app occupies a few GB of space. That's very likely because of photos and videos you've sent and received.

The utility lets you offload these messages from your device before you Delete them individually, or delete the whole collection (Settings>General>Usage). I don't recommend you delete anything before you check they've backed up, of course.

A potentially useful utility

As well as Messages, the app will retrieve your contacts, photos, videos, notes. It will recover Call History, Voicemail, Calendar, Safari bookmarks, Safari history, playlists, ringtones, iBooks and audio books. It can also rescue App data. PhoneRescue can sometimes recover deleted content, the manufacturers claim, though I don't believe this is always possible.

PhoneRescue seems pretty helpful because it lets you get hold of your data in a usable form, it can also help you rescue data from a damaged device, supplementing the iTunes Backup you should already have.

The only reservation I have with the utility is that it can also be used to pull data off devices without permission, so long as the person making the attempt has your Passcode. This is yet another reason to keep your Passcode a secret, and to begin using a Passcode if you haven't already. Note that there are only 10,000 combinations of 4-digit passcode -- so it makes sense to use a complex passcode if you can.

PhoneRescue could be a very useful tool for any iOS device user, though I would like to find out more about the company from people who have used its solutions before I can give it a glowing recommendation. However, if you're looking for a data recovery tool for your device, this may be worth a look.

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