Where does iTunes store iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch Backups

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iTunes backups are one of the great mysteries of owning an iOS device — and since they end up taking up a lot of storage space it is quite important to know where to find them. In this tutorial, we show how you can find these elusive files. Once you know where the files are located, you can move them, delete them or try to extract their contents with a third-party application if needed. Read on to find out where these backups are stored on a Mac and a PC.

On a Mac

In OS X, iTunes stores its backup files in the folder: ~/Library/Application Support/MobileSync/Backup/. Finding this location on your hard drive is easy, here’s how:

  • Open a Finder window.
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  • Click on “Go” in the Finder menu and then select “Go to Folder” at the bottom.
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  • Type the folder location into the dialog box: ~/Library/Application Support/MobileSync/Backup/
  • Finder will then open the folder that contains the iTunes backup files.

Once you are in the folder with the backups, you can browse through the folders and delete ones as needed. Unfortunately, each backup is saved with an obscure name that makes it difficult to identify whether it is from iPhone, iPad or iPod touch. To figure out which backup is associated with which device, you need to find that information in iTunes.

  1. Open iTunes and select iTunes > Preferences from the menu.
  2. Select the “Devices” tab in the dialog box.
  3. You should see a list of devices and the dates of their backup.
  4. Right-click or Ctrl-click on the backup you want and select “Show in Finder” from the contextual menu.

This procedure will open a Finder window and bring you to the “~/Library/Application Support/MobileSync/Backup/” folder. The selected iTunes backup will be highlighted, so you can find it easily.

On a PC

Users who are running a recent version Windows also can find their iTunes backup nestled deep in the file structure of their computer. Windows 10 is much different than OS X so the directories where the backups are stored are different between platforms. While OS X stores the files in ~/Library/Application Support/MobileSync/Backup/, Windows stores them in \Users\(username)\AppData\Roaming\Apple Computer\MobileSync\Backup\. Read on to find out how to locate the folder where iTunes stashes these important files on your PC:

  1. Click on Start (or hit the Windows key in Windows 8 to launch the Start Screen)
  2. Type %appdata%, and press the Enter key to open the user’s AppData folder
  3. Go to Apple Computer > MobileSync > Backup.

Once you are in the folder with the backups, you can browse through the folders and delete ones as needed. Unfortunately just like in OS X, each backup is saved with an obscure name that makes it difficult to identify whether it is from iPhone, iPad or iPod touch. To figure out which backup is associated with which device, you need to find that information in iTunes as follows:

  1. Open Edit > Preferences from the menu
  2. Select the “Devices” tab in the dialog box
  3. You should see a list of devices and the dates of their backup.
  4. Hover the mouse pointer over the backup to see more details.

Once you locate the backup in the preferences, you then can find it using Windows Exploer.

As someone who owns a MacBook Air with only 128GB of hard drive space, I frequently locate and then delete old iTunes backups, using this method as a quick and easy way to free up disc space. Do you ever need to find and remove or modify your iTunes backup? Let us know in the comments.

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Related Topics: How To, iTunes