Posts Tagged Windows

How to change the iPhone backup location on windows?

iPhone Backup

Well, some of us more technically-oriented people out there rarely stick with the standard hard drive configuration of a newly purchased PC/notebook.  This is usually because it is not terribly efficient or safe to have all of your data sharing the same partition as the operating system, amongst other things… so we usually set the OS partition of the HDD down to a more reasonable size (for example, my laptop uses a 40GB partition for it’s primary OS, while the rest of the 300GB drive is a partition for all my documents, development work, etc).

Of course, one can always be a bit too smart for their own good, especially when you are forced to use locked down applications like iTunes to backup/manage your iPhone. In the case of iTunes, it stores all of your iPhone backup data on the drive that it installs to, which for nearly everyone out there is the OS partition.  If you have a 16GB or 32GB iPhone, the backups for these can fill up your OS partition quite rapidly, you run out of disk space, and iTunes will start informing you that it cannot successfully backup your iPhone!

There is no way to change the backup location from with iTunes (thanks Apple!), so I googled my issue and came across a number of articles (for example, link) about changing the location of the backup files… However, they all relied on a little bit of command line knowledge, so I thought that I would clarify a bit more for the rest of you out there.

There is a tool called Junction (link) that creates an NTFS symbolic link between a “pseudo folder” and another folder that can be located on another drive. This means that “pseudo folder” will “fool” iTunes into thinking backup folder on the other drive is actually located where the “pseudo folder” resides.

For example, if your backup folder is located at C:\Users\UserName\AppData\Roaming\Apple Computer\MobileSync\Backup but you wish to move it to E:\iPhone\Backup, then you will want to do the following:

  1. Close iTunes
  2. Using Windows Explorer, copy the contents of C:\Users\UserName\AppData\Roaming\Apple Computer\MobileSync\Backup to E:\iPhone\Backup
  3. Create a folder called Temp at C:\Users\UserName\AppData\Roaming\Apple Computer\MobileSync.
  4. Move the contents of the ..\MobileSync\Backup folder to the newly created Temp folder (his just provides a backup of your current system which can be easily moved back to the Backup folder if anything goes wrong).
  5. Delete the now empty Backup folder (this is because we will be creating a new Backup “pseudo folder” here).
  6. Download Junction (via the link above) and extract it to the E:\iPhone\Backup folder.
  7. Open a command prompt and enter these commands:

cd E:\iPhone
junction "C:\Users\UserName\AppData\Roaming\Apple Computer\MobileSync\Backup" E:\iPhone\Backup

Points of Note

  1. Change UserName in the C:\Users\UserName\AppData\Roaming\Apple Computer\MobileSync\Backup folder detailed above to whatever your user name is.  Also, this location is for Windows 7, so Vista and Windows XP may use different paths for this sort of user data.
  2. I have tested this only to determine whether or not I can get iTunes to backup to the new location (which it does)… However, I am yet to actually attempt a backup restoration using this setup. If anyone does, please drop me a comment here and let me know.
  3. Also, if a newer installation of iTunes (I am using blows away the Backup folder and then recreates it (anything is possible in the world of software), then this new folder will no longer be linked to the E:\iPhone\Backup folder

Special thanks to Am1rr3zA at for his original answer to this question, which is where I sourced most of this information.  However, the main reason that I have written this article is primarily due to the fact that I found the syntax for the commands were incorrect, which caused a bit of frustration for myself when I was attempting to sort all of this out.

I hope that this helps the some of you out there.


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