How to Change the iTunes Backup Location in Windows 10

iTunes is Apple’s all-in-one media manager, storefront, and playback app for both Mac and Windows. Although some areas of the app are customizable, Apple has a long record of just deciding how certain things are going to work.

One area where the company has decided to rule with an iron fist is setting the backup location for iTunes in Windows 10. The default is C:\Users\%USERNAME%\AppData\Roaming\Apple Computer\MobileSync\Backup\ and there is no setting within iTunes to change it. That’s where iTunes is going to put your mobile syncs and backups whether you like it or not.

For some users, this is no big deal. However, many users do things like having a C: partition that includes only Windows and is very small, located on a solid-state drive (SSD) for optimum performance. They don’t want to have an ever-growing accumulation of phone backups clogging up that drive and using up its write cycles.

Regardless of the reasons why you might want to change the iTunes backup location in Windows 10, here is how to do it.

Change the iTunes Backup Location in Windows 10

The way to override iTunes’ decision making about your iTunes backup location is by using a symbolic link.

In Windows 10, a symbolic link creates a connection between two folders. You create the link at the operating system level, and from them on anything sent to the first directory in the link (in this case, the default backup location), is instead sent to the second directory (the directory you set up.)

It involves some command prompt finagling, but I will walk you through the process.

  1. Make a manual backup of the “%APPDATA%\Apple Computer\MobileSync\Backup” directory.
  2. Create a directory where you want your backups to go from now. In this example, I created “c:\itunesbackup.”
  3. Use the “cd” command to make the backup directory your active directory.
  4. In File Explorer, navigate to “%APPDATA%\Apple Computer\MobileSync\Backup” and remove the Backup directory and its contents.
  5. Type the command: mklink /J “%APPDATA%\Apple Computer\MobileSync\Backup” “c:\itunesbackup” Make sure to include the quotes.

You now have a link between these two directories, and your backups will go to “c:\itunesbackup,” or whatever directory you have chosen.

Change the iTunes File Location in Windows 10

Changing the default music storage location is a little easier than changing your phone backup location.

Here, you can just tell iTunes where to store your music and media and let the program get on with it.

  1. Open iTunes on your PC.
  2. Select Edit and Preferences.
  3. Select Advanced and Change.
  4. Select the drive or location where you want iTunes to store your media.

This is a simple folder change and not a symbolic link. The end result is the same though. Once changed, all the media you add to iTunes will be stored in this new location. That includes anything you buy and anything you import into iTunes.

Import Your iTunes Media Library into Windows 10

If you’re making the transition from Apple to Windows, you are going to want all your music available on your PC. Here is how to import your iTunes media library into Windows 10.

  1. Launch iTunes on your PC.
  2. Select File and Add Folder to Library.
  3. Select your music or media library folder and Select Folder.

You can repeat this as many times as you need to integrate all of your media into iTunes. You don’t have to organize them yourself beforehand, you can organize them all in iTunes. It is entirely up to you.

Final Thoughts

iTunes works pretty well in Windows 10. If you have an Apple device or are switching over from Mac, it makes for an easy transition. If you don’t have an Apple device or any history with iTunes, there are better ways to manage your media.

Do you know of any ways other than symbolic links to change the iTunes backup location in Windows 10? Tell us about it below if you do!

Need more iTunes resources?

Here’s our guide to canceling subscriptions via iOS and iTunes.

We’ll show you how to add music to your iPod without using iTunes.

20 thoughts on “How to Change the iTunes Backup Location in Windows 10”

Avatar Liam says:
Has anyone found that this redirect is no longer working on a recent Itune update ?

I’m on Vers 12.10.8.5

Avatar Paul Becht says:
Hi Liam,
As mentioned in the posts below.
The default backup drectory in your iTunes version is ‘C:\Users\YourUserName\Apple\MobileSync\Backup’
Avatar Danny says:
Yes, I’m experiencing the same thing. It doesn’t work with new updated iTunes. Anyways to make it work on the new version of iTunes?
Avatar LX says:
this was terrible. it did not work. how are you going to remove the apple itunes back up directory and then ask the system to link the directory you just deleted to one you just made?
i erased all my back ups. i should have read the comments. fsmh
Avatar Bryan Dawson says:
I followed instructions exactly, and the link was created, however, when I started my backup, nothing went to the new location or old location where the new link lives, but my C drive space is dwindling indicating that the backup is going somewhere on my C drive, which does not have the free space for my massive 3GB iPhone backup. Please help. I am a novice at all this so talk to me like im 3, lol.
Avatar Paul Becht says:
Hi Bryan,
I followed the instruction several weeks ago and it worked just fine.
Today I installed a new iTunes version (12.10.8.5) and the software reported it couldn’t find my backups.
My impression is that iTunes has changed its default diretory for backups. I expect that in a few days the new directory will be mentioned in one forum or another.
In
Avatar Bill says:
This doesn’t work if you are trying to use a separate drive (for example i currently have backups in C Drive and wanted to move to D drive. CD does not allow me to create the new location
Avatar robert says:
problem solved! thanks
Avatar Art says:
The backup trick works like a miracle! Thank you so much!

PS: the only thing I needed to adjust is the location of itunes’ files as in my case in Win10 the path is different:
C:\Users\YourUserName\Apple\MobileSync\Backup

Avatar GABREL ROBERT says:
This works. Thanks Art.

tldr: What the author meant by “remove the Backup directory and its contents.” is just delete the damn “Backup” folder.

mklink /J “%APPDATA%\Apple Computer\MobileSync\Backup” “c:\itunesbackup”

The above command will create a new “Backup” and link it to your new preferred directory. Hence why u need to delete the folder first.

Avatar jobe1111 says:
SO, I am on Windows 10 v 1908 and iTunes Version 12.10.5.12 Installed via download from Apple. I used the mlink feature and have linked the backup drive on my small SSD C drive to a different folder on a larger internal D drive. Right now backups are MIRRORED, or at least appear to be. Either way, windows THINKS that the files are also on the C drive and is reporting that I am critically low on storage space. Is there a work around for this?
Avatar Fatih Anıl says:
Thank you, this hacking is right for me. i have just an addition about this issue is on Windows 10 version 1909 the directory which Itunes backup is different what you meant. The folder location on my computer is; “C:\Users\USERNAME\Apple\MobileSync\Backup”. My Itunes version is 12.10.5.12. Thank you very much.
Avatar Kevin D Kaufman says:
Thanks Robert! Recently I had to recover from a corrupted Windows 10 profile … searched for this topic … found your article — worked perfectly.
Avatar holly says:
I am getting error msg as follows:
“Cannot create a file when that file already exists.”
Avatar kk says:
you need to remove the original backup folder first.
Avatar gp says:
that was doing my head in but yes the backup folder thanks kk
Avatar Hicham says:
Working like a charm
Avatar AIsmaili says:
Thank you very much!

Once, I found out, that I misspelled mklink (I just used ‘mlink’ first) and that I cannot use powershell but CMD.exe (I used it as administrator), everything worked fine and my backups are now on my external drive (mounted to D: )

Cool!

Avatar erg says:
MkLink/J : The term ‘MkLink/J’ is not recognized as the name of a cmdlet, function, script file, or operable program. C
heck the spelling of the name, or if a path was included, verify that the path is correct and try again.
At line:1 char:1
+ MkLink/J “C:\Users\ergo\AppData\Roaming\Apple Computer\MobileSync\Bac …
+ ~~~~~~~~
+ CategoryInfo : ObjectNotFound: (MkLink/J:String) [], CommandNotFoundException
+ FullyQualifiedErrorId : CommandNotFoundException
Avatar AIsmaili says:
Please use a space between mklink and /j parameter.
Please open in cmd.exe not in PowerShell and try to open cmd as administrator.
Avatar Fernando says:
Hi Guys I see your having same issue as me where my backup is in this folder C:\Users\user\Apple\MobileSync\Backup
but the other is there also
C:\USers\user\AppData\Roaming\Apple Computer\MobileSync\Backup
When i do a back up and half gets stored there it goes to the first one and not the second one so that code doesnt work. Ive tried making adjustments but it still doesnt work. Any info would be great thanks.
Avatar Steve says:
I have followed the above instructions, including the deletion of the folder named “backup” from the original C: drive location. I am using a D: drive which is an internal hard drive on my machine. When I backup my iPhone it is creating a backup on both my C: drive (it is creating a new “Backup” folder and in the D: drive where I was attempting to re-point it. Both backup folders have the same number of files (11,765) and take up 4.85 GB. Any idea what I have done wrong?
Avatar Hans says:
I experienced exact the same problem. I use my D: drive too, which is also a hard drive on my machine. I am curious to the solution.
Avatar NoStasis says:
Same thing happened to me, duplicated on both drives so there was zero space saving from it. Has anyone found a solution for this?
Avatar JZ says:
Adding a point of clarification to the instructions (which are technically correct” but perhaps not quite specific enough. So I kept getting a syntax error when trying to run the mklink command line. The catch (that I didn’t realize) was that the /j command makes a folder link with the name at the path specified. I misunderstood the directions here and only removed the actual backup folder (the one named 2a2f1ee4f6808cb4e19488b129b5562c7e5365aa (THE actual backup that also lived within the like named backup folder under the mobilesync folder). What I needed to do was remove the “Backup” folder that is direc tly under (within) the “mobilesync” folder. Rather than saying something like I can’t create a link because a folder exists at the specified directory, Windows just says it is a generic syntax error (a misnomer if you ask me). Anyway, once I removed the “Backup” folder that is directly under “Mobilesync”, it created the link and all worked well.
Avatar Hawary says:
Thank you all, works fine with me
open CMD and chage USERNAME with yours

mklink /J “C:\Users\USERNAME\AppData\Roaming\Apple Computer\MobileSync\Backup” “E:\Mobile backup\iPhone Backup”

Avatar mARC says:
I have the same issue, using windows powershare and directory different.

PS C:\Users\USERNAME\Apple\MobileSync\Backup> mklink /J “C:\Users\USERNAME\Apple\MobileSync\Backup” “D:\Marc iphone Backup”
mklink : The term ‘mklink’ is not recognized as the name of a cmdlet, function, script file, or operable program.
Check the spelling of the name, or if a path was included, verify that the path is correct and try again.
At line:1 char:1
+ mklink /J “C:\Users\USERNAMe\Apple\MobileSync\Backup” “D:\Marc iphone Ba …
+ ~~~~~~
+ CategoryInfo : ObjectNotFound: (mklink:String) [], CommandNotFoundException
+ FullyQualifiedErrorId : CommandNotFoundException

Avatar Andy says:
Try this, first you should rename the original backup folder on your C drive to Backup(old). Also the mentioned path misses out /Roaming/ following APPDATA.

I found that it didn’t work using Powershell for some reason so had to open CMD from windows, go to the location on my C:/ (type CD then space and drag in the folder from explorer, hit enter). Then just type in ‘ mklink /d Backup “[desired-new-backup-path]” ‘. After I did the above it worked.

Avatar Jim says:
mklink : The term ‘mklink’ is not recognized as the name of a cmdlet, function, script file, or operable program.
Check the spelling of the name, or if a path was included, verify that the path is correct and try again.
At line:1 char:1
+ mklink /J “%APPDATA%\Apple Computer\MobileSync\Backup” “D:\Backup”
+ ~~~~~~
+ CategoryInfo : ObjectNotFound: (mklink:String) [], CommandNotFoundException
+ FullyQualifiedErrorId : CommandNotFoundException
Avatar Andy says:
looks like similar problem as mARC in the comments above, check my solution and see if it works for you
Avatar ckoh says:
I’m using powershell windows, it doesn’t recognize mklink, what can i do?
Avatar Andy says:
Use Command Prompt – press windows key, type CMD, hit enter. if you type in ‘mklink ?’ or ‘mklink help’ it should show you the uses etc of the command
Avatar Patrick says:
Hi,
my back up file is in
C:\Users\USERNAME\MobileSync\Backup\ in stead of what you provide. How could I change the back up?
Avatar Arch says:
Do everything the same way and just change the command to something like this, according to your path mklink /J “C:\Users\USERNAME\MobileSync\Backup” “E:\Backup”
But are you sure your backup is not in C:\Users\USERNAME\AppData\Roaming\Apple Computer\MobileSync\Backup? Make sure that this path is invalid before continuing because I’m pretty sure this should be the correct path and Apple doesn’t allow you to change it anyway.
I hope I helped you
Avatar huy says:
Me too and can’t change back up file. And now i have only 1gb free.

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