How to get those large iTunes iOS device backups off your C drive

Posted by Paul Braren on Nov 7 2012 (updated on Feb 22 2013) in
  • HowTo
  • iPad
  • iPhone
  • If you have:

    a) a smallish C: drive (say, an SSD)
    b) iTunes installed for iOS device backups
    c) a need for always-with-you backup/restore via USB (on a laptop, for example)

    then this article is for you! Admittedly might be best to put iTunes on some always-on PC, perhaps in a VM, to sync via WiFi. But not all folks are allowed to do that. And some folks can't use iCloud for iOS device backups either. An example would be an iPhone or iPad corporate policy/mandate, for example.

    Well, I figure many such folks might be looking for a way to free up that precious C drive space, by moving those large iOS backups off C: to another drive (preferably encrypted).

    You are not supported by Apple, or me, in any way by following these instructions.

    The simple command appears harmless enough during my testing, and works quite nicely. You can see for yourself by watching the video I created. You will also see that despite my own system's iTunes install on my D: drive, the large (18GB) backups were still on my C: drive space, with a good dive into backups explained at Apple's site, About iOS backups.

    It's not hard to do this, using the simple magic of the mklink command. Think symbolic link for NTFS. Nice work-around to a problem Apple hasn't yet solved!

    Here's the basic steps I followed, on my Windows 8 64 bit system (same exact steps for Windows 7 64 bit):

    1) Close iTunes

    2) Move MobileSync to D:

    You can drag and drop the MobileSync folder to your D: drive, for example:

    C:\Users\_myusername_\AppData\Roaming\Apple Computer\MobileSync



    3) Open a Command Prompt as Administrator

    (in Windows 8, easiest to type Win+X, then select "Command Prompt (Admin)"

    4) Issued the following command (replace username with your actual username)

    mklink /J "C:\Users\_myusername_\AppData\Roaming\Apple Computer\MobileSync" d:\MobileSync

    5) Issued the following single command to verify it worked

    dir "C:\Users\_myusername_\AppData\Roaming\Apple Computer"


    I could see the <JUNCTION> indicating success, and found that subsequent iTunes backups behaved normally, seen in the walk-through video below.

    See also related article:
    Your SSD drive will need >20GB free space on C: to upgrade from Windows 7 to Windows 8, here’s some clean-up tips

    How to change the location of your iPhone backup and iTunes MobileSync Backup folder
    How to change iTunes device backups storage location in Windows

    Feb 22 2013 Update:
    Thanks for feedback from Anonymous, I added quotes to syntax for consistency, added better descriptive text for myusername