May 272013

Many applications, including iTunes, save data on the system drive.  This includes very large files like backups.  In this post, I explain how to get around this restriction using symbolic links.  This post only applies to Windows.

Since iTunes backups are a common cause of a system drive filling to capacity, I will use iTunes to demonstrate how to apply symbolic links to move data to an external drive.

  1. iTunes saves its backups into a users directory by default.
    • C:\Users\<username>\AppData\Apple Computer\MobileSync\Backup
  2. Move or copy the “Backup” directory to another location.  Or rename it.  Later on, the backups can be moved to the new location as specified in the symbolic link.
    • Make sure there is no longer a directory named “Backup” under the “MobileSync” directory.
  3. Create a directory on the external drive where you want to save your iTunes backups.
    • mkdir “F:\iTunes Backup”
      • This can also be accomplished through the GUI using Windows Explorer or another file management tool.
      • In the above command line example, my F: drive is assigned to an external hard drive.  But it can be any drive connected to your system that has ample storage for iTunes backups.
  4. Create the symbolic link between the iTunes backup directory (what iTunes expects) and the newly created directory on the external hard drive.  This must be done at the command line.


The symbolic link is now created and iTunes backups can resume without worrying about filling up the system drive.

For more detailed instructions, checkout the Additional Reading section.


Additional Reading