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.
- Make a manual backup of the “%APPDATA%\Apple Computer\MobileSync\Backup” directory.
- Create a directory where you want your backups to go from now. In this example, I created “c:\itunesbackup”.
- Use the “cd” command to make the backup directory your active directory.
- In File Explorer, navigate to “%APPDATA%\Apple Computer\MobileSync\Backup” and remove the Backup directory and its contents.
- 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.
- Open iTunes on your PC.
- Select Edit and Preferences.
- Select Advanced and Change.
- 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.
- Launch iTunes on your PC.
- Select File and Add Folder to Library.
- 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.