How to Change the iTunes Backup Location

iTunes is a useful program that organizes your music and videos so that you can easily manage them. The trouble with iTunes in particular, and Apple products in general, is the company’s uncompromising approach to doing things. If they set a default drive for saving data then changing it isn’t very simple unless they allow it. This is true when it comes to iTunes backups which don’t officially have a way to specify a different backup drive.

How to Change the iTunes Backup Location

In this article, we’ll show you how to change the iTunes backup location to manage the amount of space that the program occupies in your drives.

How to Change the iTunes Backup Location on PC

As mentioned above, iTunes will have its default save location in drive C. The iTunes program itself doesn’t have an option to change this. There are a few ways to get around it though, and even a passing knowledge of computers is enough to handle it. Depending on the platform you’re using, the methods will be slightly different.

How to Change the iTunes Backup Location on Windows 10

In order for your iTunes auto backup to copy files onto the directory of your choice, you’re going to have to trick the program with a symbolic link. Symbolic links redirect any files copied into them onto a different location. If you’re using Windows 10, then the steps you can follow would be:

  1. Open the Windows run window. To do this, you can either press the Windows key + R on your keyboard or type in run on your task search bar.
  2. On the Run window type in %APPDATA%\Apple Computer\MobileSync. This should open the default location for iTunes backups.
  3. In the folder that opens, there should be a folder named Backup. Rename this folder to save its contents. A useful name would be Backup (Old) so that you know what it contains. Alternatively, you can either move this folder to another location or delete the folder entirely.
  4. Create the backup directory where you wish to send all of your iTunes backups.
  5. Open the Command prompt by typing in cmd or command in the taskbar search.
  6. Navigate to the iTunes backup folder. You can do this by typing in cd in the command prompt, then typing in the folder address. You can also click on the folder address bar on the top, then copy it, then hit ctrl + v to paste t in automatically. The command should look like cd %APPDATA%\Apple Computer\MobileSync.
  7. Type in the command: mklink /d “ %APPDATA%\Apple Computer\MobileSync\Backup” “target directory” including quotation marks. Replace target directory with the address of where you want the backup to be copied to. As with the previous step, you can copy and paste the folder address to the command. Just make sure it’s enclosed in quotation marks.
  8. If you encounter an error saying that you don’t have the privilege to perform the operation, make sure that you run the command prompt as an administrator. You can right-click on the command prompt app on the search bar and choose Run as administrator.
  9. With this, every time you hit auto-backup on iTunes it will send all the backup files to the target directory that you’ve created.

How to Change the iTunes Backup Location on Mac

If you’re using a Mac, the process will be similar to Windows. You’ll also have to create a symbolic link to trick iTunes into redirecting its backup files. The process for doing this on iOS is as follows:

  1. From your Dock, open the Finder App.
  2. Click on the Go Menu.
  3. Select Go to Folder from the dropdown menu.
  4. In the pop-up window, type in ~/Library/Application Support/MobileSync.
  5. Rename the folder that you find there. You can also delete or move this if you want to, though deletion isn’t recommended as this will remove all previous backups.
  6. Open a new Finder window. You can do this by pressing Command + N on your keyboard. Go to the place where you want to redirect your backup files then create a new backup folder there.
  7. Open the Terminal App. You can access this by going to Applications, then Utilities.
  8. Type in sudo ln -s “target” ~/Library/Application\Support/MobileSync/Backup replacing “target” with the address of the folder you want your backup files in. If you don’t know the exact address, dragging the folder into the Terminal App will provide it.
  9. Press Enter on your keyboard.
  10. Type in your admin password when prompted.
  11. A symbolic link will now be created in the iTunes backup directory. Performing a local backup will redirect the files to your specified location.

How to Access Backups in iTunes

As mentioned in the above steps, you can access your backup files by either typing in %APPDATA%\Apple Computer\MobileSync in the Run App on Windows, or ~/Library/Application Support/MobileSync in the Finder app for Mac. This is the default backup save directory. If you’ve changed the directory by creating a symbolic link, you can access the backup files in the new directory you created.

How to Automatically Change the Backup Location in iTunes

If you think that using Command or Terminal codes are a bit too complicated for your taste, then you can download apps to do the job for you. CopyTrans Shelbee for Windows 10 and iPhone Backup Extractor for iOS can be used to do this process automatically. This will entail downloading another application to your computer, but if typing in directory codes isn’t your cup of tea, then at least you have an alternative.

Additional FAQs

Can I Move My iPhone Backup to Another Drive?

Technically, no. Apple doesn’t allow you to mess with the location of backup folders. There hasn’t been an update that allowed users to specify backup target directory ever since automatic backups were introduced. That said, there are ways to subvert this restriction.

One of them is creating symbolic links as shown above which redirects backup files to another folder. You can also just copy and paste the files manually if you wish. Until Apple itself decides to change its policies, getting around their default limits will be the only way to use another drive for backups.

How Do I Change My iPhone’s Backup Location?

There is no way to change the backup location of your iPhone officially from the device itself. Apple doesn’t want you fiddling with their default settings, and it seems there won’t be any updates to change this. However, creating symbolic links for either Windows or Mac can bypass this.

Alternatively, you can just copy and paste your backup folder to another drive. All Apple devices, regardless of whether it be an iPhone, an iMac, or an iPad, use the iTunes app to backup their files. By following the steps already given, you can trick the iTunes app into automatically backing up to a different drive.

How Do I Customize My iPhone’s Backup Location?

You can’t. Apple doesn’t allow users to change the default location for its system backups. There is no official command in the iPhone device or the iTunes app that gives the user a choice to change this. You can either use symbolic links or download a third-party program that will move backups for you.

Where to Find Your Backup Folder in iTunes?

Depending on the platform you use, it can either be in %APPDATA%\Apple Computer\MobileSync, or in ~/Library/Application Support/MobileSync. If you can’t find the folder, try to search for MobileSync in either the Search App for Windows or on the Finder app for Mac.

If you’ve already redirected your backup, however, then it should be in the directory that you specified. Please refer to the instructions given for Windows and Mac above to search for the exact location of your backup folders.

Is It OK to Delete the Backup Folder When Creating a Symbolic Link?

When creating a symbolic link, you have the choice to either rename, move or delete the folder. Deleting the folder outright isn’t recommended, even if you succeed in creating a symbolic link. The original backup folder contains older backup files that you may need if you encounter a system error.

Automatic backups usually have files with different timestamps to restore your system to a time before encountering an error. Deleting the default backup folder outright will deprive you of those timestamped backup files.

Finding a Way Around Limitations

Although Apple itself has set limitations on user’s abilities to mess with the default settings concerning its devices’ backup files, intrepid users always find a way. Knowing how to change the iTunes backup location allows you to manage the space that your backup files occupy.

Do you know of another way regarding how to change the iTunes backup location? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

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