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iTunes creates quite a big backup directory on my C: drive whenever I back up my iPhone.

Is there a way to tell iTunes to back up the iPhone data to another location?

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9 Answers 9

up vote 30 down vote accepted

According to this article you can't change the iTunes behavior. However, you can use a feature of NTFS to point that folder to another drive. This feature is typically called a "junction".

You can use this tool to create a junction: http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/sysinternals/bb896768.aspx

For example, let's say you want your iPhone backup to be D:\backup. You would do this:

  1. close iTunes
  2. Move the folder "C:\Documents and Settings\User\Application Data\Apple Computer\Mobile Sync\Backup" to D:\
  3. Extract the junction.zip to Desktop
  4. Open a command prompt and enter these commands:

    cd Desktop
    junction "C:\Documents and Settings\username\Application Data\Apple Computer\Mobile Sync\Backup" D:\backup
    

NOTE 1: Change "username" to match your current username, of course.

NOTE 2: I did not test the above! In general, junction points work OK, but only if programs don't mess with the linked directory (like rename or remove it). For example, if iTunes does something like delete the ...\Mobile Sync\Backup directory and then recreate it, it will no longer go to the D:\backups folder.

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15  
+1 - but you don't need to download/install extra software for this on Windows Vista and 7. You can just use mklink from an elevated command prompt. –  DMA57361 Aug 25 '10 at 10:19
    
Tanx for your help because I am MBP user I just use XP in old times and don't know features of vista and 7. –  Am1rr3zA Aug 25 '10 at 12:25
2  
Or you could move the whole directory and just type: junction.exe "%APPDATA%\Apple Computer" D:\iTunes –  Parsa Sep 26 '11 at 10:05
    
This also works for mklink: mklink /J "%APPDATA%\Apple Computer\MobileSync\Backup" "M:\iTunesMobileSync\Backup" –  Soviut Sep 20 '12 at 8:10

I finally managed it - the above steps were only half right for my Windows XP Professional system but thanks a lot anyway. Junction would not work from the desktop using those commands. To get it working I had to put the junction program file (junction.exe) into the c:\Documents and Settings\<username> folder.

The correct sequence is to close iTunes then:

  1. Download Junction from Sysinternals and unzip Junction.exe to your username folder, usually in here: c:\Documents and Settings\(USERNAME)

  2. Create a folder for the backups in the desired new location. Move the existing iPhone "Backup" folder from its default location (C:\Documents and Setting\username\Application Data\Apple Computer\MobileSync) to your new location. In my example this is H:\Backups\Iphone Backup.

  3. Open a Command Prompt: Start > Run > cmd

  4. In the Command Prompt, type the following:

    junction "C:\Documents and Setting\<username>\Application Data\Apple Computer\MobileSync\Backup" "H:\Backups\Iphone Backup"
    

    (Replace your own file path where I have "H:\Backups\Iphone Backup")

  5. Close the Command Prompt. Open iTunes and start the backup.

You can move any of the other iPhone folders from their default locations using this approach.

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It only took one HDD movie on my iPad to gobble up all the available space on my C: drive when the next sync occurred. Thanks to Paul and Wolfgang, I saved myself from buying a bigger SSD with one easy command:

junction "%appdata%\Apple Computer\MobileSync\backup" F:\Temp\backup
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+1 for using %APPDATA%, tidy –  Andy Jun 10 '12 at 6:46

Instead of using junction you can use the Windows command line as follows:

  1. Move the backup directory wherever you want (e.g. from C:.....Backup to D:\bu)
  2. Completely remove the Backup directory from C:
  3. Run the following command from Backup's previous location:

    mklink /J Backup d:\bu
    
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For what it's worth, here are instructions for Windows Vista, 7 and Mac OS X as well: http://aaltonen.us/2011/01/03/change-the-location-of-your-iphone-backup/

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instead of "C:\Documents and Settings\username\Application Data\" you may use "%appdata%" which makes it easier do to copy and paste. E.g.: %appdata%\Apple Computer\MobileSync\backup

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Wrong Command Line:

junction creates the link named after the first parameter and lets it point to the second.

The correct command line would be:

junction "C:\Documents and Settings\username\Application Data\Apple Computer\MobileSync\Backup" C:\Backup

iTunes now looks at "C:\Documents ...." which is a link to C:\Backup

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Here is part of the help displayed by the program itself:

usage: junction <junction directory> <junction target>
       example: junction d:\link c:\windows

The junction directory is the 'fake' location, where you go to access the file/directory The junction target is where the file/directory actually resides (disk:\folder\file)

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1  
While I was able to make the junction work, iTunes still throws an error message about c:\ has only 5GB available and it needs 20GB (which IS available on L:\Backup - the target of the junction) I don't understand why it's not working (XP SP2, 1 drive, several NTFS partitions) –  OUM Oct 16 '11 at 4:55

So, actually it should be:

junction I:\iTunesBackup "C:\Documents and Settings\<username>\Application Data\Apple Computer\MobileSync\Backup"
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protected by Community Oct 26 '11 at 23:14

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