Don't risk losing all the precious information and files on your phone – use one of the following techniques to back it up.
You've probably got lots of important files on your iPhone: photos of your friends and family, video clips, phone numbers and text messages. iTunes automatically makes a backup of your iPhone every time you sync it with your computer (assuming you haven't switched your backups over to iCloud), and the idea is that if you lose your iPhone, or it bricks and you need to do a system restore, you can load your most recent backup and be right back where you left off.
Use iPhone Backup Extractor to restore your backup to a non-iPhone device.
But what if you can't afford a new iPhone and/or you decide to switch to a different smartphone platform like Android or Windows Phone? The bad news is that iPhone backup files are in a proprietary format designed to be read only by iTunes. The good news is that you can still retrieve all your data using a Windows application called iPhone Backup Extractor or a Mac application, also called iPhone Backup Extractor. Using these programs, you can retrieve photos, videos, contacts, call history, SMS, MMS, calendar entries, notes and app data.
iPhone Backup Extractor for Windows comes with a free version, but it only lets you extract two files at a time. If you want to extract all of your files at once, you’ll need to fork over the US$24.95 registration fee. To use this program, you’ll first need to find the backups on your computer. On a Windows PC, all iOS backups are found at C:\Users\[username]\AppData\Roaming\Apple Computer\MobileSync\Backup. All the files from each backup are kept in a folder named after the iOS device’s UDID identifier.
If you back up multiple iOS devices to the same computer, you’ll see a few different UDIDs in the backup folder. Never mind if you don’t know which UDID is your device -- just load one at a time and iPhone Backup Extractor will tell you the name of the iOS device the backup belongs to.
Once you find the right backup, you’ll see all the files you can extract under ‘Available data’. The different file types are hyperlinked; clicking on any of the links will let you save that data type to a folder you specify. Contacts are saved as individual vCard files, while call history and SMS are saved as CSV files (which you can open in a spreadsheet program like Microsoft Excel), and notes are saved as individual HTML files (which you can open in a web browser).
If you’re a Mac user, you can use the free iPhone Backup Extractor to grab files from your backups. Launch it, and then click 'Read Backups'. It automatically finds all the backups on your computer and lists the name of each iOS device to make it easier. But you’ll need to jump through a few more hoops to use this program; once you load the right backup, select ‘iOS Files’ in the next window, then specify the folder you want to save the backup files to.
Photos and videos are saved to Media /DCIM/100Apple and the rest of the data can be found in its respective folder under the Library folder. All of the files have a .db extension, which you can open using SQLite Database Browser.