And thus began another chase.

I had, of course, backed up the fresh iPad restore. Twice. ITunes keeps only the most recent backup. Ponder, research…

I had been using a 320 gig portable drive for Time Machine for the 80Gig drive of the G3 Powerbook. The new 320 gig drive on the Mac Mini won’t go there with Time Machine. No backups over the last week weren’t a problem, because I really hadn’t done anything with the new machine yet. But, were the old backups from iTunes of previous backups of the iPad there? It turns out, yes they were. And they were loaded with hundreds of files with sesquipedalian numbered names.

I thinned the apps I wanted on the reinstall. I didn’t want to take everything back to March 9th, even if I did know how to restore the iPad wholly to that state. Mostly I wanted the spreadsheet data back.

iTunes puts the backup files in the following places: On a Mac: ~/Library/Application Support/MobileSync/Backup/

This is only the most recent backup.

About backups: http://support.apple.com/kb/HT1766iPhone and iPod touch:

Time Machine http://support.apple.com/kb/HT1427Mac 101:

The Time Machine Backed up file is buried.

So once you find those folders, you can of course figure out which file to replace, right? Nope. But trusting the developer community, someone has. Google and various discussion forums, website and Kagi later, MobileSyncBrowser.app can find them, with recognizable names and will extract documents from those cryptic files.

Some browsing later, I managed to recover images from Brushes which I had kept in the gallery, rather than previously exporting to iPhoto. I found the Chronicle entries I had synced, and the most recent iTunes backup of my Numbers file.

You can drag those Time Machine backups to the iTunes MobileSync backup folder, delete the previous folder and relaunch MobileSyncBrowser. You could also probably replace the iTunes MobileSync Backup file with any Time Machine backup file you chose, and do a complete restore from iTunes.

The most recently backed up file was of course not the one with the most recent entries. So I have merely to recreate the last two months of entries. Thank the gods I am not a million dollar industry.

If I hadn’t decided to restore the iPad, those entries would still have been in Numbers, the entries still in Chronicle. I hope someone else will not stumble into doing that. And back things up. Back it up again. And keep a copy of the most recent critical files somewhere. You can never tell when you’ll do something stupid.