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A16 Corrected: How to Change Location of iTunes BackUp (or of Any Windows App)

Page no: A16

Page no: T53

Via How to Geek,


The vast majority of Windows applications park their backups and bulky data directories right on the primary partition. This means the precious space on your SSD is chewed up by backups, a less than ideal situation. Read on as we show you how to move your backups to a data disk.



Why Do I Want to Do This?

Many people have switched to using a speedy Solid State Disk as their primary drive. These drives are known for their snappy response time, not their expansive storage capabilities. There’s no sense in storing bulky and infrequently accessed data like your iPhone and iPad backup files on your SSD.

Furthermore, in many instances, application functions will outright fail because the primary disk isn’t large enough. The last time we went to do a complete backup of our iPad before installing a new version of iOS, for example, the backup failed because out small-but-speedy SSD simply couldn’t hold the entire contents of the iPad. Modern applications simply assume you have a modern hulking 300GB+ primary hard drive with space to spare.

In today’s tutorial we’re going to look at a quick and painless way for Windows users to easily move their backup and/or data directories for iTunes (or any other Windows application that doesn’t support in-app backup/data directory changes) to a secondary disk.

What Do I Need?

You need precious little for this tutorial. The tools for adjusting the location of the directories within Windows are built right into Windows.

Beyond that, the only thing you’ll need is a secondary drive to move the backup data to. For this tutorial, we’ll be moving our backup data to the G: drive, but any large disk that isn’t your operating system disk will do.

Finally, although we’ll be specifically moving the iTunes backup directory to our secondary disk, you can use this trick to move any bulky data or backup directory off your small primary disk onto a larger secondary disk–you’ll just need to locate the data directory on your primary disk and adjust the commands accordingly.

Moving the Backup Directory via Symbolic Links

The magic that drives this entire operation is the symbolic links system. A symbolic link is effectively a very advanced shortcut that is transparent to the requesting application. After we move the iTunes backup directory, iTunes will never be the wiser (but the iTunes data will end up on the secondary disk). If you would like to read more about symbolic links, check out our Complete Guide to Symbolic Links (symlinks) on Windows or Linux. Otherwise, let’s dig in.

Create a new backup directory. Before we point an application at a new backup directory, we need a new backup directory. As we noted above, we’re going to redirect iTunes to the G: drive. In light of that, we’ve created a new folder “iTunes Backup” on the G: drive. Create a new backup folder on your secondary drive now.

Locate and rename the current backup directory. We need to locate the current iTunes backup directory and rename it.


Step 1: Change into Itunes Mobile Sync Directory

Press the Start button. In the shortcut box paste the following:

This will take you to the backup folder used by iTunes. Within that folder you will see a folder simply titled “Backup”. Rename that folder “Backup-Old”.


Corrections by George DorganGeorge Dorgan




Step 2: Create Junction

Open a command prompt. Hold down the SHIFT key and right click inside the explorer pane of the current folder (/MobileSync/). Select “Open command window here” to conveniently open a command prompt already focused on the current directory.

The following description by Jason did not work on my Windows 7 Ultimate installation:


Create the symbolic link.
At the command prompt, again ensuring you’re in the MobileSync directory, enter the following command (adjust the G:iTunes Backup entry to point at your chosen backup directory):

The “mklink” command is the Windows shell command for creating a symbolic link and the “/J” switch creates a special type of symbolic link known as a Directory Junction, which will seamlessly redirect any applications that query the original Backup directory to the iTunes Backup on the secondary disk.

Correction: Instead I had to use

[Important]mklink /J Backup “t:!backups!itunes”[/Important]

Itunes Symbolic Link2


Jason continues:

At this point you should see a folder with a shortcut icon in the Mobile Sync folder, labeled Backup. If you click on this folder it will appear to open like a normal folder (you will not appear to switch over to the secondary drive like you would with a regular shortcut) but anything placed in this drive will be physically stored on the secondary disk.

Step3: Test the junction.

If you can click on the link without an error, everything should be good to go, but we’re going to double check it to be safe. While in the MobileSyncBackup directory (accessed via the new symbolic link you just created) right click and create a new text document as a temporary file place holder. After creating it, navigate to the actual backup directory you created on the secondary disk (in our case, G:iTunes Backup). You should see the file sitting in the directory. Delete the place holder file once you’ve confirmed that it is in the secondary directory.

Initiate an iTunes backup. Whether you’re following along with this tutorial to transfer the iTunes backup directory or the backup directory of another Windows application, the real test is whether or not the application works as intended with the symbolic link in place. Let’s fire it up and see.

After initiating the backup process, visit the backup directory on the secondary disk:


There we can see a brand new collection of backup files created at the time of our new backup. Success!

Step3: Copy the original backup data.

In the beginning of the tutorial we renamed the Backup directory to Backup-Old. That Backup-Old directory contains all your old iTunes backup files. Now that we’ve successfully tested the symbolic link and performed a successful backup operation, it’s time to move the backup data to its new home.

Unlike a regular same disk-to-same disk transfer, this transfer will take a little longer as Windows copies the data through the symbolic link to the secondary disk. Once it has completed the copy you can again confirm that the data is safe on the secondary disk.


As you can see in the screenshot above, after we copied the iTunes backup directory, we freed up around 5GB of data on our primary disk. The entire process took around 5 minutes from start to finish and our reward is extra space on our primary disk,  and backup data stored on a secondary disk, and we can finally do a full device backup because there’s enough room for everyone to get along.


  • Jim Walsh

    Another reason to do this symbolic linking occurs to me. I like to keep the operating system and programs on an operating system partition and data on a separate data partition. I keep scheduled disk image backups of each partition for a few weeks on another drive. This symbolic linking should make it easy to restore the operating system and programs to an earlier state without affecting data by keeping it all on the data partition. If I decide I don’t like something I’ve installed (or find there is malware in my operating system partition), I can usually find a recent operating system partition disk image to restore to without having the data overwritten with old data. Therefore, keeping the operating system partition as free of data as possible reduces unwanted data loss when I restore the operating system partition.

  • Miriam Stark

    Usually I don’t have any issues following the directions in these articles, however I can’t seem to get this one to work. The most recent error I have is “Location not available” when I click on the Backup shortcut. Has anyone else had any difficulty with this? It looks like a very useful thing; I would like to get it to function. Thanks.

  • Gerard Mc Carthy

    You must create the backup directory folder on your “G:” (or similar) drive. Should solve your problem if you got the <<===>> symbol from command prompt.

  • Jack Kitchen

    You say”Initiate an iTunes backup” I am lost, because I don’t know how to do that. Could someone tell me how to do that.Details please.


  • dpb

    Connect your device to your computer with iTunes on it. Once it shows in “Devices” (in the left sidebar), right-click next to devices and choose “BACKUP”.Also an automatic backup is usually done when you connect your device or when you sync it to sync your purchases.

    AfaIk, the ‘change of backup in iTunes’ only works if you actually backup to it. A lot of users use iCloud instead. Would be interesting to find out if that backup could be copied to a computer to a location of choice.

  • dpb

    I had “location not available” too at first. I solved the problem by formatting the new drive first. Make sure it’s FAT32. I used an empty USB stick. Make sure everything on there is temporarily moved, otherwise it will get lost during formatting. In Computer, right-click and choose format. After that, create a new folder in it called iTunes and a subfolder within that called Backup.

    In the original MobileSync folder on drive C:, I made sure, that in the command line, the new location is divided by backslashes. Like so

    mklink /J “%APPDATA%Apple ComputerMobileSyncBackup” “F:iTunesBackup”press ENTER. Notice that the slash before J is a forward slash and all others are backslashes. Now try clicking on the new “Backup” in the original MobileSync folder and create a textfile.It showed up perfectly for me. Of course to continue with this, make sure the stick is plugged in when a backup of iTunes is performed.

  • Jack Kitchen

    Thank you very much. Everything worked great. One problem along the way. This part I had to type in manually: mklink /J “%APPDATA%Apple ComputerMobileSyncBackup” “F:iTunesBackup” – It would not accept a copy & paste. I tried a number of times, but when I typed it in it accepted it.I have made other symbolic links in the past, so I was familiar with it.


  • dpb

    I am not sure which OS you have…I am on Windows 7 (Command Prompt might be different on yours).Once I copied the link in the post for the command prompt with CTRL+C, I’ll right-click within the title bar of command prompt and chooseEDIT and PASTE followed by pressing ENTER.

  • Jon Woellhaf

    I can also paste to the command window by right clicking the prompt and clicking paste.

  • Jack Kitchen

    Here’s a neat trick,while still in the command prompt in the MobileSync folder, type in dir and ENTER and it will show this: JUNCTION Backup B:iTunes BackupThis is another verification that the symbolic link was created.

  • Roel Wyman

    Not quite clear on one point: I want to move all my iTunes files to another disk, not just the backup. If I follow these instructions, can I delete my files on C:? If not, what’s the best way to transfer my iTunes library tom another drive?


  • Will_Patey

    Im getting “‘mklink’ is not recognized as internal or external command, operable program or batch file”.

    Any ideas why?!


  • Frank479

    I tried this awhile ago (moving my entire iTunes folder from my C drive) and it did work but, if memory serves me correctly, Windows Backup then wanted to back up my C drive and my G drive which was NOT what I wanted it to do.

  • lmg93

    I tried this and it changed the backups location but now I can’t restore to any of my older backups that I moved. It used to give me options to back up from at least 2012, and now I don’t have the option to restore to any of those. Any help?

  • Ryan

    I followed your tutorial down to the T. The symbolic link works great. I am trying to free up the 29gb space my backups are hoarding on my 70gb hdd. I don’t want to lose my backups. Any new backups are being stored on my R: I want my backups transferred to my R: drive now. Can you go into more detail on how you did this? I used your folder naming method to make everything easy.

    Thanks for the article!

  • John Drago

    I’m desperately trying to get this to work so that I can upgrade to iOS 7. (My SSD is nearly full, thanks to Steam Games.)

    I’m using the mklink command and get the error “Cannot create a file when that file already exists”. But it does not exist – I’m creating a new directory on a HDD with little else on it.

    I’m using: mklink /j “C:Users,etcBackup” “E:Newbackup”

  • Sivampeta Prajwal

    I am unable to access the command mlink.Am using winxp sp 2.

  • jgeekw

    I keep getting a “syntax of the command is incorrect” error. I am copying your text and just modifying the target directory (mine is E:). Any ideas would be helpful.

  • jgeekw

    ok I got mine to work. Here’s what I did: instead of using the shortcut directory (%APPDATA%….), I typed out the entire directory path and it worked. Hope this helps.

  • WeedWhackerDood

    This is a great process! I have been backing up Crapple iTunez data and it has eaten up tons of HDD space. Speaking with Crapple Lack of Customer No Support, where they informed me that the default backup path could not be changed. Finding this process has enabled me to clear space off of my SSD and dump this data to another locally attached HDD.

    NOTE: I tried to create the link to place the data onto my NAS, however, that would not work and I had to point it to a local HDD. I REALLY want my data on my NAS as it is protected via RAID and I can always rely on that storage location vs. loss of my secondary HDD.

    Thanks for the process, it has saved me and I have sent the article to Crapple with a HUGE SMILE on my face.

  • Jaffar Shariff

    Hi Guys I use Windows XP and I’m stuck at the stage when you say to hold the shift key and right click at window pane… I dont get the option “open cmd prompt here” option at all what do I do?

  • Nick

    I am doing everything right, or so I think, and as you can see on the image I get a DOS syntax error. I also tried different combinations after using DOS help but had no lack. I am on Windows 7 64 bit.

    Image uploaded on imagehack.us

  • Mark Owen

    One of the problems of having iTunes backups is storage space. It’s a huge problem if you run a Windows machine with a lot of software / data in the C: Drive. This is because iTunes, by default, puts all the backup data into the C: drive and there’s no way to move this location from within iTunes’s preferences. (You can only move the media folder).

    So what do you do when you find yourself in a fix where iTunes backups are eating up a lot of space and you absolutely need to move them out of the C: drive? Here’s what you can do:

    Before we begin, you should read this primer on iTunes backups and what we’re trying to do.

    1. iTunes backups are stored in C:Users<username>AppDataApple ComputerMobileSyncBackup where <username> is your Windows uersname. This is the default location and we can’t change this. iTunes is configured to put all the backup data into this folder. 2. What we’re going to do is this: create a new Backup folder in D: (or E:) drive (wherever you prefer). And then link the original Backup folder (in the C: drive) to the new Backup folder created in another drive. Once we’ve linked them, every time iTunes tries to save a backup to the Backup folder, the files get saved into the new Backup drive. This keeps your C: drive free.How to Change iTunes Backup Location in Windows:

    Step 1: Create a new Backup folder.

    Open D: or E: (your preference) Create a new folder and name it BackupStep 2: Create a symbolic link to the new backup folder.(For this step, make sure you are logged in as the administrator)

    Open the command prompt (Start → Run → type “cmd” and hit enter) Type the following code into the terminal window:• Make sure that you type the correct folder location for new backup folder. If you have it created in the E: drive, you should type E:Backup in place of D:Backup.• Also, on some computers, the Apple Computer folder might have a slightly different location. You just have to check the location-bar to figure it out and make the necessary changes.The mklink /J command creates a symbolic link to the new folder from the old one. It’s like creating a shortcut of D:Backup from the original MobileSyncBackup folder. You can test the effect by double-clicking on the Backup folder in MobileSync. It will take you to the new Backup folder.Step 3: TestNext up is testing via iTunes. Delete (or cut-paste) all existing backups in the MobileSync folder. Then, connect your iPhone and allow it to backup. You’ll notice that the new backups are created in D:Backup (or wherever you created the new backup folder).

  • Everything works until creation of the junction. I paste the command:

    mklink /J “%APPDATA%Apple ComputerMobileSyncBackup” “E:iTunes Backup”

    at C:UsersLeeAppDataRoamingApple ComputerMobileSync>

    and get the return The syntax of the command is incorrect.

    I also have created the folder E:iTunes Backup thinking that it must be found by the mklink command, and have tried removing quotes, spaces, and just about every change that I can think of.

    I’m running win 7 pro 64 bit.

    What am I doing that invokes the syntax error?

  • Birch Williams

    I was so pleased to find this article. I followed all the instructions… Everything went as suggested…. I even managed to backup an old iPhone (with little data) as a “test run” & it all worked perfectly….. UNTIL…..

    1/ I tried to backup my current iPhone (which has a lot of photo, videos etc)…. It went for about an hour… & then failed citing “lack of space”….

    2/ I tried to move a previous backup to the new folder on G….. It went for about an hour…. & then stopped…. Saying there was a reason this action could not be completed…. It didn’t tell me the reason….

    3/ During my many MANY re-attempts I noticed that my “C” disk remaining available space dropped at the same rate as the “G” remaining space….

    I spent 24 continuous hours trying this method now to no avail…. & lost a whole days work. I really would appreciate it if someone could comment….. I am beyond distraught….


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