Change the Location of Your iPhone Backup

Are those iOS backups taking up too much space on your boot drive? While there’s no built-in function in the iTunes preferences menu for moving the archive folder, it’s a simple procedure on most platforms. While others have mentioned this in the past, I haven’t come across a single page with instructions for all major operating systems. For reference, the instructions are below:

Mac OS X

  • Close iTunes
  • Move the existing ~/Library/Application Support/MobileSync/Backup/ folder to the destination drive (for example, named BigExternalDrive)
  • Open a command prompt by launching Terminal and create a symbolic link using a command similar to the one below, replacing /Volumes/BigExternalDrive/Backup with the path to your destination:
ln -s /Volumes/BigExternalDrive/Backup/ ~/Library/Application\ Support/MobileSync/Backup

Windows Vista and Windows 7

  • Close iTunes
  • Move the existing C:\Users\(username)\AppData\Roaming\Apple Computer\MobileSync\Backup\ folder to the destination drive (for example, D:\)
  • Open a command prompt and create an NTFS junction point using a command similar to the one below, replacing D:\Backup with the path to your destination:
mklink /J "C:\Users\(username)\AppData\Roaming\Apple Computer\MobileSync\Backup" "D:\Backup"

Windows XP

  • Close iTunes
  • Download and extract this junction utility to your Desktop
  • Move the existing C:\Documents and Settings\(username)\Application Data\Apple Computer\MobileSync\Backup\ folder to the destination drive (for example, D:\)
  • Open a command prompt an NTFS junction point using a command similar to the one below, replacing D:\Backup with the path to your destination:
cd Desktop
junction "C:\Documents and Settings\(username)\Application Data\Apple Computer\MobileSync\Backup" "D:\Backup"

References:

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91 thoughts on “Change the Location of Your iPhone Backup

  1. Since upgrading to ML, iTunes gives an error saying the location does not exist, yet the drive is there and the link work testing it in finder. Any tips?

  2. Junction points can only link to directories on a local volume; junction points to remote shares are unsupported.
    This means a junction point to a NAS drive would NOT work…

    • Try
      mklink /D “C:\Users\(username)\AppData\Roaming\Apple Computer\MobileSync\Backup” “\\Server\Share\Apple Computer\MobileSync\Backup”
      to create a linked dirtory to a NAS. That seems to have worked for me.

  3. i have windows xp, i tried to do the above junction point, extracted the junction utility to my desktop, but still the system does not allow me to move the folder (user/application data/apple comp) to the D drive saying its a windows system folder that cant be renamed or moved. can u help please?

  4. I am trying to switch back to having my backups on my start up drive. I have made a new “Mobilesync” folder in “Application Support” and made a new “Backup” folder in the Mobilesync folder. I am still getting error messages. How do I “undo” the Terminal command prompt? Catherine C. Turner said something about deleting an alias, where is the alias?

  5. When I run the command on my windows 7 I get the following message “cannot create a file when that file already exists”.

    • You need to remove or rename the old “C:\Users\\AppData\Roaming\Apple Computer\MobileSync\Backup” folder, because the command is trying to create a new one, which in in fact a pointer to the other drive

      So try renaming the old
      …..\Backup
      to
      …..\Backup.old

      and the command will work, You’ll then see 2 ‘folders in the MobileSync directory.

  6. Easy fix in Windows 7
    (C:\users\bill\AppData\Roaming)
    Open ‘Appdata’
    Right click ‘Roming’
    Select ‘Properties’
    Select ‘Location’ tab
    Change the file path as you like
    i.e.
    C:\users\bill\AppData\Roaming
    to
    D:\users\bill\AppData\Roaming
    NOTE:
    This changes the OS Default Location for all programs that use the Roaming Folder
    ie AppData\Roaming\Thunderbird\Profiles or Skype

    • BEST option!

      I couldn’t figure out with the other choices how to get the quotation marks and all that to work correctly in the command prompt. I’m sure I just didn’t understand how it all worked and it was frustrating because everyone else just KNEW! I couldn’t figure out if the quotation marks meant they needed to be input separately or all at the same time! And then I couldn’t get the initial command of mklink actually in front of my directory! ARGH! Nothing was working!

      But this solution was super simple and ended up saving me another 1.5gb of space on my SSD. I just hope it doesn’t cause problems down the road… but I don’t predict it will based on the contents of the folder.

  7. I do not have a “~/Library/Application Support/MobileSync/Backup/” No MobileSync folder at all. I have a backup from November SOMEWHERE, but I cannot find it and I want it on an external since I have the tiny MacBook Air.

  8. Thank you!! It worked without a problem, Hackintosh on 10.8.3, secondary drive formatted as exFAT.

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