A case for disabling automatic iPhone sync

Last weekend I let my 6-year-old play with my iPhone. After a few rounds of Angry Birds he navigated to the Notes app and deleted some important information that I was saving. Fortunately, I was able to recover it because I’ve disabled automatic sync in iTunes. Here’s how.

By default, iTunes will automatically synchronize an iPhone, iPad or iPod as soon as it’s connected, overwriting the previous backup. Otherwise, the computer simply charges the device 1. If I had that left that setting, iTunes would have overwritten the backup that contained the deleted note. Instead, I was able to restore from the backup and get the note back.

To disable automatic sync, open the iTunes preferences and select Devices. At the bottom of the window, select “Prevent iPods, iPhones and iPads from syncing automatically.”

To restore from a backup, connect your iPhone to iTunes. Next, click Restore.

Alternatively, I could have disconnected the iPhone, launched iTunes and then launched Time Machine to recover an earlier version of the backup before restoring the iPhone.

This brings up another point. I wish iOS would let me “lock” my kids into a certain app. There’s nothing to prevent them from navigating away from a given app and availing themselves to anything else the iPhone can do. Yes, I can set up parental restrictions, but I don’t want them enabled for when I use the phone, which is the vast majority of time. Perhaps if there were a “guest mode.”

  1. Unless iPhoto launches, but that’s another post