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How To Change the iTunes Backup Location in Windows 10

Posted by Robert Hayes on July 24, 2019

NOTE: According to Apple, sometime later in 2019 or 2020, iTunes will be going away. Users will still have the ability to buy, archive, and play music and video content, but the iTunes app itself as a one-stop-shop will be replaced with multiple apps handling smaller areas of functionality. Accordingly, the tips in this article, while accurate as of the time of writing, may become obsolete if and when iTunes disappears for good. We will keep on top of the story and update this article as needed.

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. For example, I have all my files on the C: drive and so this location is fine with me. But 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’ decisionmaking 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. Apple still recommends leaving it to iTunes, but then Apple is all about control so they would. If you want to take control, here is how to do 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 straight 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.

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.

Did you know you can listen to your iTunes with your Amazon Echo?

If you podcast, check out how you can use iTunes to publish your podcasts.

If you have a Chromebook, you’ll want to see our tutorial on accessing your iTunes using a Chromebook.

 

7 thoughts on “How To Change the iTunes Backup Location in Windows 10”

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?
Reply
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.
Reply
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.
Reply
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”

Reply
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

Reply
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.

Reply
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
Reply
Andy says:
looks like similar problem as mARC in the comments above, check my solution and see if it works for you
Reply
ckoh says:
I’m using powershell windows, it doesn’t recognize mklink, what can i do?
Reply
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
Reply
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?
Reply
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
Reply
huy says:
Me too and can’t change back up file. And now i have only 1gb free.

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