How to back up your iPhone or iPad to an external drive to save space on your Mac

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  • Reply 21 of 54
    Mike WuertheleMike Wuerthele Posts: 6,323administrator
    jim01 said:
    I desire to back-up my iPhone to a PC running Windows 10 (my Mac is still running OS9, I know...). Can the symbolic link process be specified for this platform?
    We have no plans to do that tip in the immediate future. I'll toss it on the queue, though. In theory, it should work fine, obviously not with these Terminal commands, though.
    edited August 2018
  • Reply 22 of 54
    ednlednl Posts: 61member
    jim01 said:
    I desire to back-up my iPhone to a PC running Windows 10 (my Mac is still running OS9, I know...). Can the symbolic link process be specified for this platform?
    We have no plans to do that tip in the immediate future. I'll toss it on the queue, though. In theory, it should work fine, obviously not with these Terminal commands, though.
    The problem is making sure the external drive gets the same drive letter every time. Can be done via Computer Management > Storage > Disk Management > Change Drive Letter. Then a mklink in Command Prompt (reverse argument order to Unix “ln”...)
  • Reply 23 of 54
    Every time I execute this terminal command, it creates the link in my home folder, not in the MobileSync folder.  Below is the exact command that I'm running, but still hasn't worked, and being that I'm seemingly the only one having this issue I'm sure it's my fault somehow!

    ln -s /Volumes/Backup\ 3/Documents/iPhoneBackup/Backup/~Library/Application\ Support/MobileSync
  • Reply 24 of 54


    An iTunes backup copies the apps and everything in them.
      incorrect. I believe it was iOS 9 when iTunes removed the App Store from the Mac. At which time iTunes stopped syncing apps. if you do a restore they are also downloaded via wifi
      macplusplus
    • Reply 25 of 54
      airsmooth said:
      Every time I execute this terminal command, it creates the link in my home folder, 

      ln -s /Volumes/Backup\ 3/Documents/iPhoneBackup/Backup/~Library/Application\ Support/MobileSync
      You're missing the space.
    • Reply 26 of 54
      It doesn't work for me. It still tries to backup to my local Mac instead of external drive...any advice? I actually copied and pasted your text in Terminal but changing the hard drive and folder names...
    • Reply 27 of 54
      Hi there, I need some help. I followed the steps and when I tried to backup on iTunes, it failed and ask me to delete the backup on Device Preferences. What should I do? Also, how do I undo the changes to save my backup on Mac instead?Many thanks.
      slp5
    • Reply 28 of 54
      WLWL Posts: 1unconfirmed, member
      Please help!

      It is not working for me! I'm getting the message "Operation not permitted" after hitting the return button.
      surfsageedred
    • Reply 29 of 54
      slp5slp5 Posts: 1member
      how do you reverse this? i did this but i copied your sierra verbatim and realized after my external drive is not called sierra! how do i reverse the steps to make it go back to normal, what do i need to type in terminal?
    • Reply 30 of 54
      Similar to WL's issue --

      I did a little digging and thought I knew how to resolve this.  Alas, I need more guidance.  I will keep digging around until I find or figure out a solution.  (I am an old UNIX hack, so I am comfortable doing so).

      This no longer seems to work with Mojave by default due to OS security changes.  The ~/Library/Application Support/MobileSync directory is locked down by the OS (not by a simple, standard chmod!).  I suspect we have to tweak System Preferences->Security & Privacy->Full Disk Access, but I am uncertain what application I need to enable to create the requisite symlink in Mojave.

      For a test, I tried adding each of the commands -- ls, ln, mv, rm as well as my bash script name -- to the Full Disk access list all to no avail.  For security purposes, I backed that out, but if that does not work, then I am stumped for now.

      Can you (or someone) help?

      A few years ago, I wrote a bash script on my MacBook and successfully used it until Mojave to replace the link to alternate periodically between my two external HDDs called A and B based on which one I had backed up to last as well as which HDD was currently connected.  I would love to get this working again.  Will not upgrade safely to iOS12 until I do.
      GinoM
    • Reply 31 of 54
      WilliamGallagherWilliamGallagher Posts: 8member, moderator, editor
      Folks, I wrote that original article and just want to tell you that following your experiences with it, I'm planning to revisit the topic after Apple's October 30 event.

      I can't promise when it'll be ready, though, as right now I know I'll have to do some digging. My editor Mike says that he used the feature for himself some time after Mojave's final release and it worked perfectly for him. 

      So it's going to be a fine-toothcomb kind of research job but I will be on it.

      Thanks,
      William

      surfsage
    • Reply 32 of 54
      WL said:
      Please help!

      It is not working for me! I'm getting the message "Operation not permitted" after hitting the return button.
      I have experienced this problem too, and after much searching I had an idea after reading Surfsage's post on Reddit (which bought me here).

      Surfsages' post mentioned 'Full Disk Access' in System Preferences. If you go in to System Preferences / Security & Privacy / Privacy tab, then click on 'Full Disk Access', and add the Terminal application (you'll have to unlock the padlock first). You should now find you're able to create the symbolic link using Terminal.  

      It worked for me and I'm currently backing up my iTunes account to an external HD. 
      surfsageedred
    • Reply 33 of 54
      __Mat__ said:
      WL said:
      Please help!

      It is not working for me! I'm getting the message "Operation not permitted" after hitting the return button.
      I have experienced this problem too, and after much searching I had an idea after reading Surfsage's post on Reddit (which bought me here).

      Surfsages' post mentioned 'Full Disk Access' in System Preferences. If you go in to System Preferences / Security & Privacy / Privacy tab, then click on 'Full Disk Access', and add the Terminal application (you'll have to unlock the padlock first). You should now find you're able to create the symbolic link using Terminal.  

      It worked for me and I'm currently backing up my iTunes account to an external HD. 

      Indeed.  You nailed it.  Thank you very much for batting this home, _Mat_!  Works like a charm.

      (I clearly need to update my frame of reference for the Application-centric world we have today).  :-)

      Cheers,
      surfsage
      edited October 2018 edred
    • Reply 34 of 54
      So i just did this and now my itunes "can't connect to device"? I am not sure how to remedy this? help!
    • Reply 35 of 54
      Hey I try to backup to my external hard disk using this method, but it only works partially. I have created the symlink successfully as per the guide and can properly do a backup of my iPad onto the external drive now without issues as intended. But when I tried to backup my 64gb iPhone it does not work, as iTunes says there is not enough disk space. There is more than 500gb on the external, 50gb on the internal disk, while my iPhone is basically full. It seems that before starting to do the backup, iTunes checks the built in disk’s available space only and thinks there is not enough to do the backup? What can I do then?
    • Reply 36 of 54
      R_TR_T Posts: 1member
      Hi to all! 
      I follow the instructions, but the terminal displays messages: "File exists" or "No such file or directory".
      Where can I be wrong?
      GinoM
    • Reply 37 of 54
      My drive has a name that has a space into it that I can't change, is there a way that terminal can read the spaces?
    • Reply 38 of 54
      Would love it if an iPhone or iPad could be connected directly to an external drive and self-backup the entire device. I know a couple of people who have no home computer, but they do have iPhones and iPads. As of now, if they suffer a fatal problem with their devices, they would lose a lot of irreplaceable photos and other files.
      edited December 2018
    • Reply 39 of 54
      I've followed the instructions provided but getting "Operation not permitted". I know nothing about Terminal but think that I've typed everything correctly. Looking for any help to determine what the problem is. Here is my Terminal entry: Last login: Thu Dec 27 17:34:15 on ttys000 Matthews-MBP:~ matthewmiller$ ln -s /Volumes/TimeMachineBackups/BackupiPhone/Backup/ ~/Library/Application\ Support/MobileSync ln: /Users/matthewmiller/Library/Application Support/MobileSync/Backup: Operation not permitted Matthews-MBP:~ matthewmiller$
    • Reply 40 of 54
      GinoMGinoM Posts: 1member
      Hi, we all seem to have the same problem with OS Mojave and trying this external back-up solution. As stated by Surfsage on Oct 31, security issue ... Does anyone know if this has been resolved or if there is a workaround? Yeah, not happy with MacBook Air limited storage and doing one full IPhone back=up eats  70G! Thanks for any help and suggestion., 
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