iTunes and moving the iPhone/iPad backup location via symlinks

iTunes has recently been eating up the C drive of one of my machines with backups of an iPad. The C drive in question is purposely small at around 15gb to allow for a Windows XP install only; with all other data being stored on other drive letters. This is partly to improve fragmentation and to maximise the performance of read/write operations. iTunes stores the backups of Apple devices within the user profile of the current user.
"C:\Documents and Settings\yourusername\Application Data\Apple Computer\Mobile Sync\Backup"  

iTunes at current does not seem to allow you to alter this backup path so the way around it is to create a symbolic link (symlink) from this original iTunes backup location to the new location where you actually want to store the backup files. This can be accomplished in Windows XP with junction.exe from SysInternals that creates symbolic links.

Here's what to do:
  1. Download the junction executable to your C drive at C:\ 
  2. Close iTunes
  3. Create your new backup location folder i.e. D:\NewBackupLocation
  4. Copy your current backup from "C:\Documents and Settings\yourusername\Application Data\Apple Computer\Mobile Sync\Backup"  to your new backup location
  5. Delete your old backup folder* "C:\Documents and Settings\yourusername\Application Data\Apple Computer\Mobile Sync\Backup"
  6. Open a command prompt through Run > Cmd.exe 
  7. Use the following commands updating for your username:

cd C:\
junction "C:\Documents and Settings\yourusername\Application Data\Apple Computer\Mobile Sync\Backup" D:\NewBackupLocation

Voila reopen iTunes and your backups should be present under Edit > Preferences > Devices

*Note in the current version of junction the symbolic location folder should not already exist before creating the symlink, hence your have to delete the iTunes original Backup folder (after moving the Backup to its new location!!) since junction creates the Backup folder as a symlink.

i.e. the Backup folder should not exist at "C:\Documents and Settings\yourusername\Application Data\Apple Computer\Mobile Sync\Backup" 

folders should only be present as far as "C:\Documents and Settings\yourusername\Application Data\Apple Computer\Mobile Sync\"

Junction will create then create the Backup directory as a symlink. Another tool you may want to try with a simple and effective GUI for creating symlinks on Windows is Junction Link Magic.


  1. This says it successfully created a junction. Trouble is when I try to do an iTunes backup it still says I do not have enough disc space because it's still looking at free space on my C drive and not the T drive I've pointed the junction at (which has 500G free).

  2. Can you follow the junction through Windows Explorer to the mapped drive?

    For my setup it doesn't complain about disk space, my C drive only has 2gb free whereas the symlinked drive has several terrabytes.. for a 64GB iPad backup. Have you had any further success?


Note: only a member of this blog may post a comment.