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What is the best technique for changing the backup location of one's iPhone to an external drive. It would seem that with small SSD's (256GB) and very large iOS devices (128GB) that Apple would easily enable this.

I found the below answer, but asking a non-techie friend to create a sym link is really not ideal.

http://ismashphone.com/2012/05/how-to-change-the-location-of-your-iphone-backup.html

If you have any number of iOS devices, you likely back your stuff up onto your computer. Perhaps iCloud, but after a certain point, you may have so much stuff to back up that it’s best to just put it all on your computer than it is to pay for the additional iCloud storage. That’s especially the case if you have multiple iOS devices. You can save a lot of space on your drive if you have lots of iOS apps, etc. For instance, we were able to free up 100GB, no joke.

OS X

1) Make sure that iTunes is closed.

2) You will now move your folder called ~/Library/Application Support/MobileSync/Backup/ to the drive you want to back up to. For instance, an external drive or secondary drive within your computer. Whichever works for you.

3) Launch Terminal Applications/Utilities/Terminal and type in the following command line:

ln -s /Volumes/DriveName/Backup/ ~/Library/Application\ Support/MobileSync/Backup

In the above example, ‘DriveName’ would be the name of the new backup location.

  • 4
    Do you want to know whether this is a feasible way (which will likely result in a "yes, of course" type of answer) or are you looking for an easy way for a non-tech user to accomplish this? Instead of answering with a comment, please edit your question accordingly. – nohillside Apr 14 '14 at 20:06
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Ok I FINALLY got this to work!! The alias solution mentioned above actually really helped. I tweaked the process slightly and looked at other references to get this to work. I'm using a WD My Cloud NAS drive to store iOS backups. Heres' what I did, step by step:

  1. Create a new folder on the WD external drive and name it 'Backup'
  2. Opened the Terminal app and typed in the following line:

ln -s /Volumes//Documents/Backup ~/Library/Application\ Support/MobileSync/Backup

*Be sure to use the name of your external hard drive where I've used the WD My Cloud drive.

What this ended up doing was to create a brand new Alias folder of the 'Backup' folder that I created on the WD MY cloud drive (alias folders have the arrow on them meaning they point elsewhere. In my case to the WD drive). It created this new Alias folder within the original 'Backup' folder on my computer. This is the new folder that I want iTunes to back up my iOS devices to, as it sends all the data to my external hard drive without taking up space on my computer. A few more steps to get this finalized

  1. Now since the Alias folder resides within the original 'Backup' folder on my computer, we need to remove it from there and bring it up one level to be at the same level as the original backup folder. Before moving it, we need to rename the original 'Backup' folder to something like 'Backup_Old'.

  2. So this is what things look like now: Library > Application Support > MobileSync > Backup_Old > Backup (this is the Alias folder with the arrow). Now all we have to do is move the 'Backup' folder up to the same level and we're good to go!

Test it out by backing up your device through iTunes and you'll notice that the Alias folder on your computer takes up like 4kb while, the contents inside actually take up a whole lot more. Also to verify, check the folder on your external hard drive and it should be fairly large.

I used this site to help with the terminal syntax part: http://support.digidna.net/hc/en-us/articles/203504123-Storing-your-iPhone-Backups-on-an-Alternate-Location

  • Finder aliases and symbolic links are NOT the same thing. While their behavior in Finder is roughly the same, aliases do not function on the command line and are treated like regular files. For anything "important" (where function extends beyond using Finder) I always create symlinks (ln -s) over using aliases as things get murky when you use aliases. However, a full directory listing (ls -la) will reveal what a symbolic link points to whether the target file is there or not. In other words, avoid using aliases in favor of symlinks for situations like this scenario. – Darf Nader Jun 3 '18 at 23:01
1

Much easier yet to just make an alias to the desired folder, name it Backup and drag it into ~/Library/Application\ Support/MobileSync/

To clarify: There are two Library folders in Mac OS X. The correct one is /Users/[USERNAME]/Library/Application Support/MobileSync. It is not in /Library/Application Support/, which confusingly also exists (~ in the above answer stands for /Users/[USERNAME], which might not be obvious to some).

I found a good how-to on symlinks here: https://gigaom.com/2011/04/27/how-to-create-and-use-symlinks-on-a-mac/

I moved the iTunes Backup folder to Dropbox in Yosemite, no issues.

  • Are you recommending an alias or a symlink? Alias failed for me. Symlink works, but that's not really answering the question (since symlinks were specifically addressed as being too hard for a non-techie friend). – Robert Jul 9 '15 at 15:02
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The answer above worked very well. There was one change in the Terminal command; the SymLink. If you follow what is said below, this will now work. I'm unsure if this is due to my computer being on OS X Mavericks... In the original there was a Folder made in the Backup folder that was redundant and deeper than needed. Now run the SymLink and you are good to go. I now have an extra 64GB on my laptop, yeha!!

OS X

1) Make sure that iTunes is closed.

2) You will now move your folder called ~/Library/Application Support/MobileSync/Backup/ to the drive you want to back up to. For instance, an external drive or secondary drive within your computer. Whichever works for you.

3) Launch Terminal Applications/Utilities/Terminal and type in the following command line:

ln -s /Volumes/DriveName/Backup/ ~/Library/Application\ Support/MobileSync

In the above example, ‘DriveName’ would be the name of the new backup location.

I now have my computer backing up my iDevices to my Synology DS415+ NAS. No loss of hard drive space on my laptops anymore.

0

I would do this by using Automator. Use the 'do shell script' action in Automator and input the ln command you detail above, and create a .app file. Then send that file to your friend and have them execute it, thus creating the symlink for them without having to have them load Terminal.

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protected by Community Jul 31 '15 at 3:52

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