How to change the iTunes backup location

Support centre iPhone Backup Extractor › Advanced configuration & forensics

The default iTunes backup location is set to the PC or Mac's primary disk. Many users have large backups or backups from a number of iOS devices, and as a consequence they find themselves running low on disk-space.

It is possible to configure a computer such that iTunes backs up to a secondary hard-disk, or to an external HDD or NAS.

Simply put, this is done by replacing the iTunes' backup folder with a symbolic link to the desired location. This is an easily revertible change, so it is possible to restore the default backup location to its original directory.

Please note that if the iTunes backup location is changed to a volume that is not available at all times, the iTunes backup process will fail when the new location is unavailable.

What you'll need

In order to change your computer's default iTunes backup location, the following is necessary:

  • Medium competency with a PC or Mac
  • 10 minutes
  • An understanding of the desired new backup location path
  • A Mac running macOS 10.7 or newer, or a PC running Windows Vista or newer
  • The Reincubate support team are on hand to help, and can advise customers on how to do this.

Changing the iTunes iOS backup folder on Windows

  1. Open the default Backup location in Explorer using the Windows Run command. Press ⊞ Win + R and the Run window should appear. Enter %APPDATA%\Apple Computer\MobileSync and press ⏎ Enter.
  2. The Explorer window that opens will show a folder named "Backup". This contains any iTunes backups which are already present on the computer. In order to change the backup folder's location, this folder must be renamed, moved or deleted. As an example, one could rename it to "Backup (Old)".
  3. Once the "Backup" folder has been renamed, moved or deleted, a symbolic link can be created to the desired backup location. In order to do this, a Command window must be opened. By holding ⇧ Shift and right-clicking in the recently opened Explorer window, users will see a menu with the option "Open command window here" or "Open PowerShell window here". Click that.
  4. Use the following command mklink /J Backup "[desired-new-backup-path]". Once this command has been entered, press ⏎ Enter and the change will be complete.
  5. After restarting Windows, iTunes will store its backups in the new location.

Changing the iTunes iOS backup folder on macOS

  1. Launch the macOS Terminal application. This can be found using Finder, under Applications / Utilities / Terminal. Alternatively, it can be launched using Spotlight by pressing ⌘ Cmd +  and typing Terminal before pressing ⏎ Enter.
  2. Instruct the Terminal to change the to the default iTunes backup location, by entering cd ~/Library/Application Support/MobileSync and then pressing ⏎ Enter.
  3. Reveal the current backup folder in Finder by entering open . and then pressing ⏎ Enter.
  4. The Finder window that opens will show a folder named "Backup". This contains any iTunes backups which are already present on the computer. In order to change the backup folder's location, this folder must be renamed, moved or deleted. As an example, one could rename it to "Backup (Old)".
  5. Once the "Backup" folder has been renamed, moved or deleted, a symbolic link can be created to the desired backup location. Use the following command ln -s [desired-new-backup-path] ~/Library/Application\ Support/MobileSync/Backup. Once this command has been entered, press ⏎ Enter and the change will be complete.
  6. After restarting the Mac, iTunes will store its backups in the new location.

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