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For those of us with larger storage size iPhone and iPad models, backupup up the device locally can be a burden on limited disk space. A simple solution to this storage dilemma is to create a backupup from an iPhone, iPad or iPod touch to an external hard drive, where often more disk space is available. We will help you further how to ensure this configuration in Mac OS X so that any locally created backupup from iTunes to an external drive instead of the internal drive, which preserves local disk space and reduces storage requirements.
In order to successfully automatically back up and save iTunes backups from iOS devices to an external drive, you will need some working knowledge of the command line and folder structures as we will be using symbolic links to do this for you. to get each other. Apart from that, you need the usual to do a generic iPhone or iPad backupup with iTunes, including a USB cable for the iOS device, and of course an external hard drive with enough free space to keep the backups. I personally use the same hard drive for Time Machine and for file storage and have created a subfolder in the file storage section for iOS backups, but you can use a separate drive, a dedicated drive, a partition, or whatever for you. Make sure to set if you haven’t already up Time Machine and make a backupup of the Mac before you start.
How to Back upup from iPhone and iPad to an external hard drive with Mac OS X
This works the same with all versions of Mac OS X, all types of iOS devices with iOS versions, and all versions of iTunes as the location of the iOS backup files on the Mac has remained the same. Technically, you could do this with a network volume as well, but we’ll focus on a traditional external hard drive here.
- If you have not already done so, quit iTunes
- Connect the external hard drive to the Mac if you haven’t already, then create a new folder on the drive (or partition) to dedicate to the iTunes backups. In this example, we will create a folder named “iTunesExternalBackupSymLink” to store the backups so that the target remains clear
- Open a new Finder window, hit Command + Shift + G and enter the following path:
- Locate the folder in this folder named “Backup” and copy it to the folder you just created on the external drive (in this example the folder named ‘iTunesExternalBackupSymLink’)
- Return to the original location of the backup folder (at ~ / Library / Application Support / MobileSync /), rename “Backup” to “Backup-Old”, or simply delete it – only do this after moving this folder to the remote folder copied. to drive
- Now run the “Terminal” application, found in / Applications / Utilities / and type the following command, rename your external drive and folder as needed, then hit the Return key:
- Exit Terminal and confirm that the symbolic link has been created by returning to “~ / Library / Application Support / MobileSync /” in the Finder, the “Backup” folder should now be a generic file with an arrow on it, indicating that there is now a direct link between those “back-up”and the location specified on the external hard drive
- Open iTunes and connect the iPhone, iPad or iPod touch to the computer as usual, select the device in iTunes, select ‘My Computer’ as the backup location (optionally encrypts the backupup), then choose Back Up Now ”to back up the deviceup to boot the external drive
- When the backupup completed in iTunes, double check that everything is okay by going to the folder on the external drive and confirming that there is a folder called “Back-up”is with a hexadecimal subfolder named – this is the backupup created from the device’s iTunes
~ / Library / Application Support / MobileSync /
ln -s / Volumes / FileStorage / iTunesExternalBackupSymLink / Backup / ~ / Library / Application Support / MobileSync In this example, the external hard drive is named ‘FileStorage’ and the iTunes backup folder on that volume is ‘iTunesExternalBackupSymLink’, so adjust it as needed for your situation
That’s all there is to it. As long as the external hard drive is connected to the Mac, iTunes will now back upup on that external storage volume instead of the internal hard drive. The backup fails if the external hard drive is not connected to the Mac. Likewise, it is impossible to restore an iOS device from a local backupup if the external hard drive is not connected to the Mac.
This provides a great way to save local disk space and move iOS backups created in iTunes to another hard drive. You should still continue backing up to iCloud as having duplicate backups provides a level of redundancy that is always appreciated when things go wrong.
If you are interested in storing backups on external volumes, you may also be interested in moving an iTunes library to an external hard drive as this can further unload media and be free up local disk space.
Create external iTunes backups completely with the command line
Advanced users can also perform the entire folder creation, copying, and mounting process from the command line if desired. The general syntax for that process would look like this:
mkdir / Volumes / ExternalFileStorage / iTunesDeviceBackups /
cp ~ / Library / Application Support / MobileSync / Backup / Volumes / ExternalFileStorage / iTunesDeviceBackups /
cd ~ / Library / Application Support / MobileSync /
rm -r Back-up /
ln -s / Volumes / ExternalFileStorage / iTunesDeviceBackups / Backup / ~ / Library / Application Support / MobileSync /
Once the symbolic link is created, open iTunes and launch the backupup as usual.
For what it’s worth, there are shoddy and less technical ways to go about this, mainly by manually copying the iOS backup files from an internal drive to an external drive, then deleting them from the internal drive and getting them back from the external drive back to the internal drive when needed, but that’s really a hassle, and considering how well the symbolic linking process works, it’s just not necessary.
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