How to disable automatic iTunes backups

Aidan Fitzpatrick

by Aidan Fitzpatrick

Updated

When you sync your iPhone or iPad with iTunes, it triggers an automatic backup. Whilst it's a sensible precaution to backup regularly, it is possible to skip iTunes backups. We don't recommend performing an iTunes sync without a backup, but here's how you can disable those backups -- and re-enable them if you change your mind.

How do disable the iTunes backup process on macOS

  • Ensure iTunes is completely closed. (Use "Quit" in your dock.)

  • Launch the macOS Terminal application. This can be found using Finder, under Applications / Utilities / Terminal. Alternatively, it can be launched using Spotlight by pressing ⌘ Cmd +  and typing Terminal before pressing ⏎ Enter.

  • Instruct the Terminal to change disable automatic iTunes backups, by entering the following command before pressing ⏎ Enter:

  • defaults write com.apple.iTunes DeviceBackupsDisabled -bool true
    

    From this point on, if you open and sync iTunes it will skip taking a backup. If you'd like to undo this, follow the same steps 1 - 3, but run this command, instead:

    defaults write com.apple.iTunes DeviceBackupsDisabled -bool false
    

    From now on, if you open iTunes it will allow you to sync your iPhone's without triggering an automatic iTunes backup. If you'd like to undo this, follow the same steps 1 - 3, but instead of true at the end of the command, use false.

    Skipping automatic iTunes backups on Windows

    1. Ensure that iTunes is completely closed.

    2. Open a Command window. Press ⊞ Win + R and the Run window should appear. Enter cmd and press ⏎ Enter.

    3. You'll need to type one of the following commands into the black Command window that will have opened, depending on your version of iTunes. If you don't know which version you have, it doesn't matter: if you run the command for the wrong version it will fail, but it won't cause any harm.

    Microsoft Store version of iTunes (most common since 2018)

    iTunes.exe /setPrefInt DeviceBackupsDisabled 1
    

    64-bit version of iTunes (most common since 2015)

    "%ProgramFiles%\iTunes\iTunes.exe" /setPrefInt DeviceBackupsDisabled 1
    

    32-bit version of iTunes

    "%ProgramFiles(x86)%\iTunes\iTunes.exe" /setPrefInt DeviceBackupsDisabled 1
    

    From now on, if you open iTunes it will allow you to sync your iPhone's without triggering an automatic iTunes backup. If you'd like to undo this, follow the same steps 1 - 3, but instead of the 1 at the end of the command, use a 0.

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