I had recently organised all the storage on my Mac and was finally able to back up my MAC and my iPhone. In order to create more space, I found an article online which told me how to move the back up folder to my Passport, however this never mentioned creating symlinks or anything similar and simply told me to delete the original file, which I did.

My phone has since died and I need to restore my new phone from the back up. I have the back up on my passport and have attempted to create symlinks as shown on: https://www.imore.com/how-move-your-iphone-or-ipad-backups-external-hard-drive https://medium.com/re-write/how-to-back-up-your-phone-to-an-external-hard-drive-using-terminal-1dd60f1129e5 However when i go to restore my phone from the back up, iTunes does not recognise the file, it does not show up. When i press cmd + shft + G , it shows the back up folder and then a new back up its made for itself today and then shows the three attempted symlinks, however these show up as a white file with the black arrow rather than a blue folder, and I seem to think this may be the issue.

Can anyone help me, and is it possible to restore from the back up on my passport as the original file on my mac was deleted. (if it helps I also have a laptop back up from then).

  • hey even i'm facing same issue, lack of space in my MAC, I took backup to external hard drive but now I'm trying to restore backup from external hard drive to new iphone but no luck. Could you please help me if you solved the issue.
    – user488202
    Feb 24, 2023 at 3:08

2 Answers 2


To restore iPhone Backup from a Hard Drive you can just copy and paste the backup folder from the Hard Drive to the iTunes Backup folder on your Computer.

On both Windows and macOS, iOS backups are stored in a MobileSync folder.

On macOS, iTunes will store backups in /Users/[USERNAME]/Library/Application Support/MobileSync/Backup. (macOS 10.15 creates backups using Finder rather than iTunes, but these backups are stored in the same place.)

Under Windows Vista, Windows 7, 8 and Windows 10 iTunes will store backups in \Users\[USERNAME]\AppData\Roaming\Apple Computer\MobileSync\Backup.

The Microsoft Store version of iTunes stores its backups in \Users\[USERNAME]\Apple\MobileSync\Backup.

Under Windows XP, iTunes will store backups in \Documents and Settings\[USERNAME]\Application Data\Apple Computer\MobileSync\Backup".


In Windows you can just open Run and type %AppData%\Apple Computer\MobileSync\Backup (Won't work if installed from Windows 10 Store)

Or else you can do the easier way that is Hold Shift when pressing the Restore button in the Summary section of the iPhone

  • I'm unsure about the last point, the restore button is to restore an OS, and shift-restore is for selecting an IPSW to restore, I can't select a folder. Am I clicking the right restore button? Perhaps a screenshot might help?
    – grg
    Dec 11, 2020 at 8:32
  • This is a good answer but what about the situation where the target computer does not have enough disk space to accept the iPhone backup? (For example my backup is 111GB and I only have 55GB free on my MBP) Dec 30, 2021 at 12:40
  • @andrewbuilder I don’t know if that’s possible, but feel free to ask that on Ask Different and hopefully someone will clear your doubt.
    – an4s911
    Dec 30, 2021 at 19:24

these show up as a white file with the black arrow rather than a blue folder

The symlink is invalid, pointing to a location that doesn't exist. Double-check you have created the symlink correctly, providing the right path to the backup. You should be able to double-click the symlink in Finder and be taken to your backup. See How can I create a symbolic link in Terminal?

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