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Is there any way to prevent iOS backups from saving iMessage videos I send as part of a conversation?

I'd like to still backup all iMessage text, other iMessage content, and videos received, just not videos I send. I'm willing to use iTunes or any other software to do backups.

Why the heck would that be useful?

I send video clips all the time via iMessage and they account for roughly 99% of the back up space I use in iCloud storage. Yes backups are a good thing. The problem is many people, including me already use services to back up their videos like Google photos or something else. So you effectively pay twice for the very large space taken by all iMessage videos.

This is a relatively new problem, I'm guessing for many users, when iOS started offering the new (and sane) option to keep iMessages synced across devices.

Photos have the same problem, just to a smaller degree because they're orders of magnitude smaller.

Why not turn off backup of just iMessage content using options available?

Potentially years of conversations with friends/family, I think of as a small part of a life archive.

Maybe 20 years from now, to read some insignificant exchange with a no longer living relative, I think is a cool option for the future. Time will tell if it actually ever has any value.

Why not just continue backing up videos elsewhere and then before a backup, delete them before starting a backup?

To start, I'm not sure it's possible for end users to specifically access and delete only videos that are attached as part of iMessage conversations. However even if it were, you might imagine how this creates a new manual process to worry about or a more complex process.

Environment?

iPhones and iPads. I try to ensure I waste enough money so all hardware is relatively current. Normally use latest iOS versions. Willing to use developer betas if it offered a new option for this.

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    Why not just exclude the video folder from the backup? Or exclude video files.. – Solar Mike Jun 18 '18 at 6:06
  • @SolarMike Sorry maybe I’m being dense here but during the backup process of running itunes and clicking the backup button there is a way to exclude folders? Even afterwards I thought the completed backups were combined into single archives and not directly accessible as folders? – whitneyland Jun 18 '18 at 10:41
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    Well I don’t use iTunes for backups, except for my phone, and in your question you didn’t say specifically iTunes : inessage icloud but not itunes... Perhaps you should consider archiving the video files elsewhere, deleting them then doing your backup with iTunes... – Solar Mike Jun 18 '18 at 10:59
  • @SolarMike I am open to other ways to backup if that helps anything. Regarding deleting the videos first, I've updated the question to try and address your point above. Thank you for your feedback. – whitneyland Jun 18 '18 at 23:58
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In your original question you mention iCloud backups, so I'll address that first. If you don't mind not backing up Messages at all, then you could turn off Messages in Settings app > Your Name/Apple ID > iCloud > Manage Storage > Backups > This iPhone under "Choose Data to Back Up" - that is assuming 1) you don't use "Messages in iCloud" and 2) you don't mind not backing up the entirety of Messages including just the message text themselves.

There's no such customization for making the iTunes backups that I know of. I make some software for filtering an existing iTunes backup before restoring, but that won't help with the storage on your hard drive.

  • Kelly good suggestion, but I'm afraid it wouldn't work in this case. I've edited my answer above to specifically address your point and explain why. However, your software sounds interesting. Would it not be similar to reading an existing backup with these unwanted videos, filtering them out, and resaving the backup after it had been filtered? – whitneyland Jun 19 '18 at 0:05
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    It would be similar yes. If you wanted to filter the video attachments out of the backup, and then restore that filtered backup, that would be an effective way to purge your current build-up of videos from the Messages app, while maintaining the text messages text content. It'd be painful to do frequently, but I have some customers that purge a lot of things when they switch phones, among them being keeping the messages text but purging all of the attachments. At the risk of self-promotion, if you want to reach out about this: deciphertools.com/support.html – Kelly Jun 21 '18 at 14:27
  • Cool. Why would it be painful to do frequently? Could not the process simply use the built in Windows 10 scheduler to run it on a regular basis on a local PC via command line options? I know this may not apply, just inferring what comes to mind. Thanks again. – whitneyland Jun 21 '18 at 22:55

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